Have you been thinking about reducing the amount of alcohol you drink? Maybe your doctor or loved one has given you some advice or perhaps you just don’t like losing half of Sunday because you’re feeling queasy and hungover? Even if you don’t completely eliminate alcohol from your life, just reducing your alcohol intake can greatly impact your health.
Let’s look at five reasons why:
1. Help manage your weight
Alcohol contains what we tend to call ‘empty kilojoules’ in that it is very high in energy with little nutrition. So every time you have a drink you substantially increase your energy intake with no nutritional or health benefits for you. Did you know that 1g of alcohol has 29kJ which is nearly double that found in a gram of sugar?!
In addition to the actual energy content of alcohol, remember that alcohol is an appetite stimulant, so you’ll be more likely to serve up a larger portion of pasta after a glass or two of wine.
2. Minimise gout flare ups
Gout is a condition where there is a build up of uric acid crystals in your joints. If you have gout, you will know that a flare up can be quite painful. It is important to talk to your Dietitian to reduce your intake of uric acid, however reducing your consumption of alcohol is a good place to start.
3. Enhance liver function
Were you aware that alcohol is actually a toxin to the body? It is up to your liver to detoxify the alcohol and so it puts this as its ‘number one’ responsibility before all of its other duties including production of bile and proteins, regulating blood clotting factors and maintaining your blood sugar levels. Your liver is an amazing organ and can handle an occasional serve of alcohol without any problem, however large amounts of alcohol places a significant amount of strain on your liver to function efficiently. It doesn’t matter if your intake is excessive or chronic, reducing your intake and having a few alcohol free days each week will enhance your liver function and reduce the risk of liver-associated health complications.
4. Boost your fertility
Numerous studies have shown that drinking alcohol can impact your fertility. For females, it is not yet 100% clear how alcohol can impact your fertility, however it is believed that alcohol induces oxidative stress on proteins and can cause DNA damage. The effect of alcohol on male fertility is a bit more definitive; excessive alcohol lowers testosterone levels, sperm quality and quantity, reduces libido and can cause impotence. The good news is that by reducing the amount that you drink, these effects can be quickly reversed.
5. Improve your mental health
We all know that groggy hungover feeling after a few drinks is not so desirable. But what is the reason that you were drinking in the first place? Was it boredom, guilt, sadness or grief? Drinking alcohol to mask these strong emotions is only a Band-Aid solution and in time can lead to anxiety and or depression. If you’re using drinking as an escape, talk to your GP or counsellor. Imagine how much easier it would be to work through your concerns with a clear head and greater perspective.
Alcohol has its place in society especially in our Aussie culture, but in moderation of course! Having a more reasonable approach to drinking means your can still focus on improving your health while enjoying a celebratory drink when the occasion calls for it.
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