What alcohol REALLY does to your body – and how quickly you can repair the damage

12 weeksThis was in the Daily Mail in June and looked at what alcohol does to the body and the time frame needed to begin to repair the damage.

From the pounding headache to the feeling of regret, we all know that alcohol isn’t good for our bodies.

When nursing a hangover it’s not unusual to vow to never allow alcohol to pass your lips again. Yet weeks – perhaps even days – later, social drinkers find themselves in the same situation. 

But a new guide revealing what really happens to your body when you stop drinking may well discourage you from reaching for that chilled glass of white again.

From flawless skin to new levels of energy, Dr Niall Campbell, an alcohol addiction expert at the Priory hospital in south-west London, reveals the timeline – and benefits – of ditching the booze.

WITHIN 24 HOURS 

The most immediate effect of excess alcohol is a hangover. You might suffer sweats or tremors, and in severe cases, a seizure. If you are giving up moderate drinking, your body will begin to clear the alcohol from your system and you can start to ‘detox’, your blood sugar will normalise and you can look forward to the multiple advantages that not drinking will bring you. 

You will feel much more clear-headed, less depressed and you will have more money in your wallet. If you spend, say, around £20 a week on 2 bottles of wine, you will save £1,040 by the year’s end.

WITHIN A WEEK 

Alcohol is very bad for sleep, leading to a fitful night. You may think it gets you off to sleep but you are likely to wake up and want to go to the bathroom. 

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages the body to lose extra fluid though sweat, making you dehydrated which means you will wake up wanting water. The good news is that if you give up alcohol, your sleep patterns are likely to improve within a week.

WITHIN A FORTNIGHT 

Alcohol is an irritant to the stomach lining and causes symptoms like reflux (where stomach acid burns your throat). Give up alcohol and this feeling will be a thing of the past.

You will also start to notice weight loss within a fortnight. The ‘hidden’ calories in alcohol are significant. Drinking a large glass of wine (250ml) with 13 per cent ABV can add 228 calories to your dinner. So two large glasses will add roughly the equivalent of an extra ham and cheese sandwich with mayonnaise a day. And we are talking empty calories, which means they contain no nutrition. 

If you stop drinking, and start eating healthily and exercising, you will lose weight.

WITHIN 3-4 WEEKS 

If you drink too much alcohol, this raises your blood pressure over time. The calories in alcohol also make you gain weight, which also increases your blood pressure. By quitting alcohol, your blood pressure will reduce.

WITHIN A MONTH 

You will look visibly better. Alcohol is toxic to your largest organ – your skin. The toxins make your skin less elastic and it is very ageing. Ageing through alcohol is something your best friend won’t tell you about. If you stop drinking, you prevent premature ageing of your skin.

WITHIN 4-8 WEEKS 

Your liver will improve. It can handle small quantities, but excessive drinking causes it to get inflamed – which is what we call ‘alcoholic hepatitis’, a silent disease. In the early stages, you can’t feel that, but it can lead to cirrhosis, which is permanent. 

Drinking a couple of 175ml glasses of wine a day if you’re a woman, for two or three weeks, and you’re likely to develop ‘fatty liver’, when the liver turns glucose into fat. Alcohol affects the way the liver handles fat, so your liver cells just get full of it. 

The good news is your liver will start shedding the excess fat if you stop drinking. If your liver function has not been too badly affected by alcohol, it can recover in 4-8 weeks.

WITHIN 12 WEEKS 

Heavy drinking causes blood cells to become larger and that makes you more tired because they are unable to transport oxygen efficiently around the body. 

After giving up drinking, your blood cells will start to renew within three months and you will feel much more energetic and healthier all round.

And that’s after only 12 weeks!  Imagine what you’ll feel like after 6 months or a year or in my case almost 3 years 😉

10 thoughts on “What alcohol REALLY does to your body – and how quickly you can repair the damage

  1. I ate cheap chinese last night Lou and the pounding head and feeling of regret is what I am feeling today. I know it wasn’t good for my body 😉

    There are so many side effects of excessively drinking alcohol but reflux is something that I don’t miss one bit. I would always have indigestion. Getting through Gaviscon very hard and fast. Haven’t bought any since.

    xxx

    1. Dyknow claire you and I must be synchronised because last night I watched two films looking at a similar thing! ‘Fat, sick and nearly dead’ and ‘Fork vs Knife’ and I am now considering the implications of my diet choices. I feel a blog post coming on! 😉 xx

      1. I think that could be tonights viewing! I love a netflix documentary!

        I know that what I eat affects my mood massively – I don’t always eat well (sugar binges, crap chinese) and suffer the after effects in mood swell as the horrible feelings in my body – physiologically…

        I’m doing some sugar free food choices via Davina’s book (power balls or whatever they are called) and they hit the spot but don’t make me have the high and low of both mood and energy. It’s an interesting subject but i’m cautious of becoming too food fixated as have eating issues in the past. xx

  2. I loved both of those shows! I sure needed to read your post this morning. I’ve been having a bit of a struggle lately. Thank you.

    1. You’re welcome Lori 🙂 They were great weren’t they! Hope your struggle eases lovely xx

  3. Hi Lou!
    In my case, I felt somewhat better shortly after stopping, but I am still seeing and feeling improvements!
    Especially in energy and mental clarity!
    xo
    Wendy

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