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What Happens When You Quit Drinking? The Health Benefits of Dropping ‘the Bottle’

An experiment by a science magazine’s staff revealed some startling findings when the staff teamed up with a medical school to see what — if anything — happens when you stop drinking alcohol for 30 days. As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, some of the benefits included better sleep and dramatic drops in liver fat, blood glucose and cholesterol levels, as well as weight loss.

Admittedly, it can prove difficult not to drink if you’re used to having a cocktail — or two or three — whenever you socialize with friends. But there are things you can do to still have a great time and cut back or eliminate your alcohol consumption — and this is something I advise thinking about doing, as even moderate consumption of alcohol can have harmful effects, particularly on your liver and glucose, as evidenced by the referenced news article.

While there is evidence that modest alcohol consumption may have certain health benefits, if you’re a chronic drinker, quitting can make all the difference in the world. Acutely, alcohol increases liver stiffness, disturbs your gut microbiome, promotes inflammation and depresses your central nervous system, which slows down the communication between your brain cells. Your limbic system, which controls emotions, is also affected. This is why alcohol consumption lowers your inhibitions.

Whether you’re an occasional drinker or imbibe to excess, the good news is exercise can mitigate the ill effects of alcohol. In fact, studies show that chronic drinkers who exercise five hours a week have the same rate of mortality as those who never drink alcohol, in large part by counteracting the inflammation caused by alcohol.

Long-time drinkers who exercise regularly also have less damaged white matter in their brains compared to those who rarely or never exercise. Exercise may also curb tendency toward alcohol abuse. In the studies, the only ones who could not cancel out the harms of their alcohol consumption were those who drank dangerous levels of alcohol each week (20 or more standard drinks for women and 28 or more for men).
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