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Cutting down: 6 great things you can expect to happen to your body when you drink less

Sober curious? Reducing your alcohol intake can help you feel better inside and out.

Image: Shutterstock

ACTRESS ANNE HATHAWAY recently spoke out about her decision to cut her alcohol intake until her toddler son hit adulthood.

“I don’t totally love the way I do it,” she said of her old drinking habits.

Hathaway isn’t the only one out there who has reaped the benefits of drinking less. Irish model and nutritionist Rosanna Davison says she keeps alcohol to “special occasions… as I really don’t like the feeling of being drunk”, while Niall Breslin says he still enjoys having a drink with friends, “but I just don’t do it in excess.”

Thinking of cutting down? As well as having endless mileage for smug #sobercurious, #alcoholfree or of course #hangoverfree Instagram posts, you’ll also be opening yourself up to a huge range of health benefits, in the short and long term.

For example…

1. Drinking less means your body can fight illness better

Excessive alcohol consumption disrupts your body’s immune defence mechanisms, making you more vulnerable to repeated colds and infections, or more serious illnesses like pneumonia. The less you drink, the better chance you have of fighting sickness.

Drinking less  also means your body is better equipped to absorb and hold onto nutrients from the food you eat – like immune-boosting vitamin C.

2. Your sex life might even improve

Alcohol can interfere with your body’s ability to feel sexual stimulation, as it disrupts the signals between the brain and the genitals. Plus, heavy drinking can lower the production of testosterone, lowering sex drive and leading to erectile dysfunction in men.

And there’s a reason you’re advised to cut down on alcohol consumption if you’re trying for a baby: cutting down can help reverse temporary fertility issues linked to alcohol.

3. Cutting down can help you work out longer and harder

shutterstock_679609972 Source: Shutterstock/nd3000

Your body relies on blood sugar for energy, produced by your liver releasing glucose into your bloodstream. If your liver is busy metabolising alcohol, it can’t release as much glucose. The better your glucose stores, the lower your risk of burning out during a workout or training.

Plus, alcohol is a diuretic, which promotes water loss. When you cut down, it’s easier to stay hydrated, boosting your stamina and making your post-workout recovery smoother. 

4. It can make your skin clearer and brighter

One result of decreased alcohol consumption that you’ll notice as soon as you look in the mirror is brighter skin. This positive effect is generally linked to water levels in your body.

When you’re dehydrated (a common hangover symptom), your body works to hold onto any water it can. If you’ve ever woken up after a night of drinking with puffiness under your eyes and a general feeling of bloating, you’ll know what water retention looks like. The less you drink, the less likely you are to experience it.

5. Cutting down on alcohol can boost your sleep quality

shutterstock_748510720 Source: Shutterstock/baranq

Consuming high levels of alcohol can significantly reduce the amount of REM sleep you get during your first few hours in bed. REM, or rapid eye movement, happens at intervals throughout your time asleep, and is believed to benefit brain function and memory.

And in the short-term, a lack of REM sleep means you’ll wake up feeling groggy and badly rested.

6. When you drink less, your cancer risk could drop too

Consumption of alcohol is linked to cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, bowel and breasts. These cancers are thought to have what’s called a “dose-response relationship”, meaning the more you drink, the higher your risk is, and vice versa. 

Drink less, gain more. Cutting back on alcohol can improve your health and make you feel better, physically and mentally. Find out more about the benefits of drinking less, plus tips to help you stay on track, at askaboutalcohol.ie.

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