Four reasons to take a break from booze

If all that holiday cheer got the best of you, why not boost your well-being by going alcohol-free (at least this month)? Natasha Turner, our resident naturopath, shares some key benefits for motivation!

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Woman drinking water from glass
Find out all the reasons you should (and will want to) take a break from booze (Photo Getty Images).

1. Burn fat faster
Your liver is the primary organ in charge of detoxification, fat burning, fat excretion (via the digestive tract) and removal of hormonal waste. It’s also a major player in achieving optimal hormonal balance because it controls production of the T3 thyroid hormone as well as the breakdown of cortisol. Increased toxins from alcohol can cause abnormalities in the liver, and this can translate into inefficient fat burning and increased fat storage in liver cells. Over time, this excess fat can be harmful to the structure of the liver and can impair its function.

Bottom line: Just as obesity is connected to fatty-liver disease, liver toxicity can increase weight gain. To optimize hormonal balance and speed up weight loss, put a halt on its nemesis, alcohol. For more on how to cleanse your liver click here.

2. Maintain healthy vitamin levels
Drinking can lead to vitamin deficiencies. This is particularly true for B vitamins, which can become depleted since they’re used in the breakdown of alcohol. Without adequate Bs, you’re more susceptible to stress and hangovers. That’s why I recommend women take a B-complex supplement that is high in folic acid after consuming alcohol. It also helps diminish the increased breast cancer risk associated with drinking. Some research suggests that alcoholic cravings are due to deficiencies in B vitamins and zinc, so by improving your nutritional status, you’re less likely to want a glass of vino. I also suggest adding a serving of L-glutamine powder to your water or smoothie as this essential amino acid helps reduce anxiety levels.

Bottom line: B vitamins are important stress fighters, and drinking depletes them. The deficiency can lead to increased anxiety and more intense hangovers.

3. Sleep more soundly
You may be surprised to learn that drinking never results in a deep, restful sleep. Sure, it might help make you drowsy faster, but the effect is short-lived. The body metabolizes alcohol as you sleep, resulting in symptoms that cause sleep interruption. Alcohol may also cause sleep disorders because it affects sleep-regulating brain chemicals. Studies show it can influence the time it takes to fall asleep, total sleep time and even your ability to get into a deep-stage REM sleep (the state in which dreams and healing occur) in the latter half of the night.

Bottom line: A glass of wine with dinner shouldn’t affect your sleep, but since it takes about an hour to metabolize one ounce of alcohol, an ounce (or more) within two hours of bedtime may be disruptive.

4. Get younger-looking skin
Over time, consuming alcohol can cause the blood vessels in your face (particularly those around your nose) to dilate. The result? Red and spider-like veins that aren’t very pretty. Alcohol can also cause an imbalance between estrogen and testosterone levels in your body, which can stimulate excess oil secretion and cause pimples. The dehydrating effect of too many glasses of wine will also make you more prone to wrinkles.

Bottom Line: Too much drinking isn’t good for your skin. To achieve a more youthful, even complexion, make water your drink of choice. When you do have a drink, consider wine spritzers or alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic choices.

Natasha Turner, N.D., is a naturopathic doctor, Chatelaine magazine columnist, and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet, The Supercharged Hormone Diet and The Carb Sensitivity Program. She’s also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique and a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show and The Marilyn Denis Show. For more wellness advice from Natasha Turner, click here