Alcoholism can ravage all aspects of your life, altering your behavior, damaging your relationships, wrecking your health, and destroying your self-esteem. Over time, the toll of alcoholism can leave you feeling and looking different from the person you want to be. You will see many beneficial appearance changes after you quit drinking, including in the mirror.
Below are three ways quitting alcohol can help you look (and feel) your best.
1. You Will Lose Weight
While Drinking: Consuming alcohol in excess can significantly impact someone’s body shape. For starters, alcohol is very high in calories. There are seven calories in every gram of alcohol; for context, protein holds four calories per gram and fat has nine calories per gram. In addition, drinking alcohol activates the brain cells in the hypothalamus that make people feel hungry. This is the reason why after a night of drinking people tend to have the munchies. Lots of drinks plus extra eating equals a lot more calories than your body needs.
Alcohol also makes it more difficult for your body to burn any foods you eat. The body flags alcohol as a toxin, and the liver focuses on breaking down alcohol before any fat, carbohydrate, or protein. When the liver is constantly working to process alcohol rather than food, you start to gain weight. In the case of heavy drinkers, alcohol can cause so much damage to the liver that it stops functioning properly, which can lead to deadly conditions such as fatty liver disease or cirrhosis.
After Quitting: Weight loss happens during sobriety when someone replaces their old habits with new ones: sticking to healthier meals, no longer binge eating extra food while drinking, and, of course, no longer drinking all those empty calories. After quitting alcohol, your body can once again focus on metabolizing nutrients.
2. Your Skin Will Glow
While Drinking: When you are struggling with alcoholism, your skin is probably the least of your concerns. But the effects of drinking may be more serious than you think. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it causes more water to be processed through the kidneys. This leaves you dehydrated and causes dry patches, dull skin, fine lines, and dark under-eye circles. Your skin may become sensitive to the touch and feel uncomfortable, even itchy.
Chronic alcohol consumption also elevates the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, triggering alcohol-related premature aging. This stress can break down the skin’s collagen and cause inflammation, leading to wrinkles. Cortisol can also aggravate other skin conditions like rosacea or acne, causing flareups and breakouts.
After Quitting: By replacing alcoholic drinks with plenty of water, you are allowing your skin to rehydrate and flush out toxins through urine and sweat. Your skin will regain its natural, healthy glow as you replenish the necessary vitamins and minerals lost from active addiction.
Your Hair Will Grow
While Drinking: When alcohol dehydrates your body, it also dehydrates your hair. The lack of moisture causes thinning, hair loss, and dandruff on the scalp. Hair shedding is compounded by alcohol triggering increased production of cortisol and the hormone estrogen.
Alcohol also inhibits nutrient absorption by harming the lining of your digestive system over time, damaging your intestines until they can’t transfer nutrients to the blood. Without proper protein, the production of keratin slows; this protective agent bonds hair cells together and your hair becomes prone to split ends and breakage. Similarly, zinc and folic acid, which are essential for hair growth, aren’t soaked up by your follicles.
After Quitting: Your hair will regain its former strength as your body begins to repair itself from the effects of alcohol. The rate your hair grows will increase, and you’ll notice the change from hair loss to fuller, shinier locks.
Leaving alcohol behind and pursuing sobriety brings favorable changes to your appearance that you might not have anticipated. As you start to look good, you’ll feel good about yourself, and when you look in the mirror, you’ll see the old you again.