If you need another reason to say no to that glass of wine, do it for your mental health. Giving up alcohol may improve mental wellbeing in women, according to a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
The study comes as more women (and men) are experimenting with giving up alcohol as part of the “sober-curious movement.” It’s a decision made easier with the rise in alcohol-free drinks that give you the buzz, minus the hangover.
The researchers analyzed the drinking habits and self-reported mental health levels of more than 10,000 people living in Hong Kong, and more than 31,000 in the U.S. In both groups, women who never drank alcohol reported the highest levels of mental well-being. Women who stopped drinking during the 4-year study period saw the most significant improvements in their mental health, bringing them closest to the happiness levels of lifelong abstainers.
Men who gave up alcohol also saw an improvement in their mental health, but the results were not significant.
The research adds to a growing body of evidence showing that alcohol harms your health. A study published earlier this year found that drinking one bottle of wine a week poses the same cancer risk as smoking 10 cigarettes. Another recent study found that alcohol produces a toxic chemical in the body that leads to permanent DNA damage and an increased risk of cancer.
How to minimize the damage
Alcohol isn’t good for you, but if you’re going to have a drink, follow these guidelines:
- Alcohol purity: Make sure you choose one of the purer types of alcohol on the market. Some alcohols have a lot more toxic byproducts in them than others, affecting how you feel the next morning. Use the What to Drink: Bulletproof Alcohol Infographic and Hangover Cures guide for the best and worst options.
- Hydrate: Water helps dilute toxins so they don’t harm you when your body eliminates them. Drink one glass of water for every serving of alcohol.
- Detox: Take four capsules of activated charcoal when you’re done drinking. Charcoal binds to toxins, helping remove them from your body.
Get more tips on how to limit the damage of alcohol here.
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