It’s never too late to offset a toxic lifestyle. Take a cold, hard look at the past 10 years, if you’ve spent much of that time boozing then your body is due some attention. A sustained barrage of ‘live for the moment’ hedonism can often lead to the equivalent volume of pain later in life.
If you’re not sure this applies to you, take your pick from the following symptoms:
- You have more drinking buddies than regular friends.
- You’re the last to leave a party and the first to suggest it continues to the next bar or club.
- Your weight has steadily increased over the years.
- You find yourself breathless during light exercise
- You have at least 2 back-up bars ready whenever you’re out.
- More than 20% of your evening meals are takeaways.
- You have developed bags under your eyes.
Hangovers are misleading. They make us think our punishment is finished 24 hours after we call time on our boozing. But the real damage is insidious. The more you drink, the more your blood pressure goes up, this dramatically raises your chances of a heart attack later in life. Then there’s the beer calories. Weight gain as a result of sustained drinking increases your risk of cardiomyopathy, where the heart gets so weak it struggles to pump blood around your body. Your liver is also eroded by drink. Excess alcohol leads to an accumulation of fat that raises your risk of liver disease. Your head takes a beating too. Heavy drinker prematurely age their brains by 5-10 years.
The upside to all this? It’s reversible if you catch it by middle age.
Breaking The Habit:
Rather than turning teetotal, aim to have two to three days alcohol free per week, in line with advice from The Royal College of Physicians. Think of the money you’ll save. At work, fuel your body with cups of coffee. Research has shown this to offset liver damage from alcohol by 80%. Then cycle your way to recovery, cycling just 20 miles a week cuts your heart disease risk in half, according to the British Medical Association.
Back this effect up in the kitchen, with vitamin B-rich veggies such as broccoli. People with a high fruit and veg intake have low homocysteine levels, this amino acid is a good indicator of cardiovascular risk.
- Reducing the amount you drink improves your breathing during sleep for better quality rest.
- Research shows that when you cut your alcohol intake after years of heavy drinking, your brain tissue begins to repair itself.
- By reducing your blood pressure and accumulation of fat on internal organs, you can lower the long-term risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. You’ll also more than halve your risk of liver cirrhosis.
- You can dramatically reduce your body-fat percentage.
- Binge drinking reduces testosterone in your testes. Cut it out and your sex drive will rocket.
Don’t say we didn’t tell you.