It may just seem like a drink or two in the evening, but long-term, the effects of alcohol on your health can be severe. You might notice that you’re building up a bit of a spare tyre, if you drink alcohol regularly. That’s because there are a lot of calories in alcohol. Or perhaps your mood can be a bit low in the mornings. Maybe your skin’s not as clear as it was.
Harmful health effects of alcohol
As well as the things you may notice on the outside, there can be some serious stuff happening on the inside as well.
Short-term effects of alcohol can include:
|Disturbed sleep||Increasing feelings of stress|
|Impaired judgement which can lead to accidents and injuries||Memory loss or black-outs|
|Shaking||Sickness or vomiting|
|Skin conditions||Stomach problems|
Physical effects on the body
Putting on weight
Alcohol is higher in calories than you might realise, containing seven calories per gram2, compared to protein and carbohydrate which have around four calories per gram and fat which has nine. The calorific nature of alcoholic drinks can be deceptive, as while you may know treating yourself to a pizza is a bit of an indulgence, a few drinks after work every so often might not seem anything out of the ordinary. What’s more, calories in alcohol are considered ‘empty’ calories, as they don’t provide any nutrients
Alcohol also reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. Because we can’t store alcohol in the body, our systems want to get rid of it as quickly as possible, and this process takes priority over absorbing nutrients and burning fat.
Alcohol dehydrates your body generally, including the skin – your body’s largest organ. This happens every time you drink. Drinking too much is also thought to deprive the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients
Beat the bloat
Drinking too much can also cause your face to look bloated and puffy. You might find it bloats your stomach too. And then there’s the cellulite; many believe the toxins in alcohol contribute to its build up.
Have you ever thought that having one or two drinks before bed will help you sleep? Well, this isn’t actually true.
While a few drinks might help you nod off, they can have a hugely detrimental effect on the quality of your sleep, making you feel tired and sluggish. But as the night goes on you spend less time in this deep sleep and more time than usual in the less restful, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep. This can leave you feeling tired the next day no matter how long you stay in bed. This is because drinking disrupts your sleep cycle.
But having alcohol-free days can help. You should be sleeping better and find it easier to wake up in the morning.
Unfortunately, reaching for a drink won’t always have the effect you’re after. While a glass of wine or a refreshing beer after a hard day might help you relax, indulging too often can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety and make stress harder to deal with. This is because regular, heavy drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health.
Cut down on alcohol and feel the benefits
The good news is that you can reduce the effects of alcohol on your health by cutting down the amount of alcohol you drink. Drinking less now can make a big difference to your health later and you might even notice some benefits more quickly. These include weight loss, feeling better in the mornings, an improvement in your skin, an improved state of mind and having more energy. Sounds good, doesn’t it? We’re not saying give up the sauce entirely – the occasional drink does you almost no harm at all – but just be careful what you do consume.