5 reasons to cut back on alcohol this party season (other than avoiding a hangover)

While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a glass or two of wine with a meal or a few drinks with friends when celebrating, the reality for many of us is that we tend to overdo the drinks too often — especially at the pointy end of the year.

As the silly season takes hold, very quickly we can find ourselves drinking alcohol more nights than not, and before you know it December and January has past and you’re feeling tired, heavy and far from your best —not the most ideal way to kick off a bright and shiny new year.

So if the inevitable hangover isn’t deterrant enough to cut back and you need a little more convincing, here are some pretty strong reasons to consider how much you are actually drinking, and whether it’s time to reign it in.

Dietitian and nutritionist Susie Burrell
Feeling lethargic over the silly season? It may be a side-effect of alcohol consumption, according to dietitian and nutritionist Susie Burrell. (Susie Burrell)

READ: What happens to your body when you give up alcohol for one month

Alcohol impacts your sleep

While it may feel as if you crash easily after a few (or a few too many), the evidence is that the quality of sleep you will get is severely disrupted after alcohol consumption. Specifically, it appears that REM or restorative sleep is disrupted after alcohol consumption, which may explain why you feel especially tired and lethargic after a night on the drink.

In addition, for those who snore or have diagnosed sleep apnoea, as alcohol further suppresses breathing, it is likely to make your sleep apnoea even worse. While one-to-two drinks is not an issue, it is more than two standard drinks there’s evidence that it may impact the quality of your shut-eye.

Alcohol causes inflammation

Inflammatory pathways in the body play a crucial role in fighting infection and disease. But when the body is exposed to the inflammatory molecules for extended periods of time, the body’s response can be compromised, leading to damage to the body’s cells.

Chronic inflammation is linked to a number of long-term health issues, including heart disease, joint pain and gut issues including leaky gut. While an occasional drink poses no issue, constant regular drinking can exacerbate inflammation, especially in those who are predisposed to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, rosacea, high cholesterol, irritable bowel and insulin resistance. So if you struggle with a range of health issues, going light on the grog is the way to go, even in party season.

Two beers on outdoor table
Regular alcohol consumption can result in chronic inflammation, which has been linked to a number of long-term health issues. (iStock)

Alcohol dehydrates you

Alcohol is a powerful diuretic, meaning it increases urine output, which is why your head commonly hurts the morning after a few drinks. As the body is up to 60 per cent water, even just 1-2 per cent reductions in overall fluid levels in the body can have profound effects on how we look, feel and perform on a daily basis.

Rapidly replaced cells, including our skin, will respond almost instantly to dehydration, leaving us looking listless and dull. The gut will not function as efficiently, contributing to constipation and abdominal discomfort and our minds will not be as sharp, impacting our ability to focus and concentrate.

Once you are dehydrated it will also take some time to recover and get back to your best with us needing at least 1 ½ times the amount of fluid we have lost to optimally rehydrate once we are dehydrated.

Alcohol indirectly packs on the kilos

While it is often thought that alcohol causes weight gain, and even though alcohol itself does contain a significant number of calories per serve, generally it is the impact alcohol has on our behaviours rather than the alcohol itself that results in weight gain over time.

As the body identifies alcohol as a toxin, when we are drinking the liver works overtime to process the alcohol as quickly as possible. This means that while the alcohol is being burnt, any calories we consume from food is less likely to be burnt. Since we generally indulge in high fat, high calorie foods when drinking, the food calories we are consuming are more likely to be stored.

In addition, heavy drinking tends to leave us feeling tired and lethargic, and as such, less likely to be as active as normal, thus again impacting the number of calories we are burning. Overall, heavy alcohol intake is associated with weight gain over time.

Alcohol makes you tired and lethargic

One of the less frequently mentioned side effects of constant alcohol consumption and overconsumption is the impact it has on our day-to-day functioning. We sleep badly so we are less productive. We get dehydrated so we don’t feel good. We often eat badly to help recover from the effects of alcohol, and we become more difficult to get on with as our recovery symptoms build. Entire evenings and even days are lost to the effects of alcohol.

In life, when time is so precious, a question to ask is: how much of that precious time do you want to keep wasting because of drinking too much, even at Christmas?

Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.

Original »

Comments
Loading...