Diet Nutrition

Four fantastic health benefits to giving up alcohol

Sounds good to us!

With the festive season behind us, you may be ready to take a break from alcohol, and the good news is that not drinking makes it a whole lot easier to commit to those other New Year's resolutions you might have made too, like cutting out junk food, exercising more and living a healthier lifestyle.

Drinking alcohol disrupts our sleep and increases our appetite as well as dehydrates us - here are four happy outcomes to saying no to booze:

1. You'll sleep better

While drinking alcohol before bed may help us fall asleep, over the course of the night it also disrupts our sleep, resulting in a poor-quality, fitful night's sleep. One recent study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found drinking before bed increases alpha wave patterns in the brain – a kind of cerebral activity that usually occurs when you're awake but resting.

One of the first things that people who give up alcohol report is how much better and more deeply they sleep each night. They wake each morning feeling sharper, and ultimately make better decisions throughout the day: 'I think I will go for that walk', 'I'll have the chicken salad, not the burger'.

You'll stop overeating

Have you noticed that with your first glass of wine you're also likely to open that packet of Kettle potato chips or set out a platter of cheese and crackers? You are not alone and there is a reason - alcohol has been recognised in studies as one of the biggest drivers of overeating.

According to a study published in the journal Obesity, alcohol heightens our senses. Researchers found that when people had had the equivalent to about two drinks, they ate 30 per cent more food than those who received a saline solution.

Even mild intoxication can increase your brain activity in the hypothalamus, making you more sensitive to the smell of food and prompting you to eat more.

You'll lose weight without even trying

As we all know, alcohol is full of sugar. A 175ml glass of wine is equal to about 120 calories while a 250ml glass contains around 180 calories (depending on what kind of wine it is). Wine is more calorific than soft drink! There are around 141 calories in your standard full sugar 330ml can of fizzy drink, according to nzrealhealth.co.nz.

If you can cut out alcohol and not replace it with other high-calorie food or beverages (and here we warn you, your body may crave sugar to begin with), you will reduce your calorie intake significantly.

Your skin health will improve

Alcohol is a diuretic, which causes you to urinate more; alcohol also decreases the body's production of an antidiuretic hormone, which helps the body reabsorb water. (Less water in the body means drier-looking skin.)

So within a few days of cutting out alcohol, you'll notice your skin looking and feeling more hydrated.

Other skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea may improve.