It might be time to cut back on the cocktails, ladies.
We get it: Watching Scandal with a glass (or two) of wine somehow makes it a little bit better. And really, what’s a beach vacation without a few frozen margaritas? But while there are always tons of opportunities to enjoy a cocktail, there are also ample ways that too much alcohol can negatively impact your mind and body. Check out these scary side effects, and consider cutting back on your happy hour habit.
Your Workouts Suffer
Sunday morning 5-K to cancel out the drinks you tossed back the night before? Think again: Alcohol consumption is detrimental to any fitness activity, and can affect your body and brain for several days. Having alcohol in your system can slow your recovery and lead to endurance-destroying dehydration. Excessive alcohol consumption can break down the muscles in certain areas—especially your glutes and thighs. Plus, inflammation brought on by exercise will just pile on to the inflammation already caused by alcohol. The bottom line: Skip the mimosas before your Sunday afternoon cycling class.
It Can Damage Your DNA
A study published this year in the journal Alcohol found that even moderate drinking over the weekend can lead to oxidative stress or damage to your DNA. Researchers looked at two groups of college-aged students, one of which drank about three pints of beer per week (less than the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s definition of binge drinking) and the other didn’t drink at all. The drinking group showed twice as much cell damage as the non-drinking group, proving that even just a few cocktails can affect your body.
Studies show alcohol can make you hungry by suppressing leptin, a hunger-regulating hormone, which becomes a recipe for diet-destroying late-night noshing when combined with alcohol’s inhibition-lowering effect. And despite how refreshingly light that glass of wine or margarita may taste, they’re often packed with sugar and empty calories. Plus, one recent survey found that a weekend filled with binge drinking can cause most people to consume an average of 6,300 extra calories. If you’ve ever housed a plate of nachos (by yourself) after a few too many drinks, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
It Can Leave You Tired
Too much booze can deplete you of the nutrient B12, which can lead to fatigue and, in extreme cases, light-headedness and confusion. Check out more signs your liver is crying, uncle.
It Will Zap Brain Power
According to a 2012 study from Rutgers University, consumption of alcohol can decrease the creation of adult brain cells by as much as 40 percent. Alcohol also affects the body’s ability to regenerate, meaning it kills useful cells and inhibits your body from repairing damaged ones. While drinking one or two days a week might not be super detrimental, if this habit continues you’ll be losing lots of neurons, AKA botching brain power big time.
Your Blood Pressure Spikes
You may already know that maxing out on margaritas can raise your blood pressure, but did you know women are more at risk than men? A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that blood pressure levels in women who tossed back more than ten drinks per week were 12 points higher than normal. This spike was twice as high as that seen in men who drank the same amount. While more research is needed on the effect of alcohol on blood pressure, women should know about this risky gender divide.
Your Mood Tanks
Alcohol is a depressant, so wine-fueled sobs aren’t uncommon. Plus, alcohol acts as a magnifier, drowning out the gray areas and leaving only the black and white. So if you’re feeling something negative, it can become highly intensified when you’re drinking, increasing the risk of a full-blown fight. Skip the booze when you’re in a bad mood, and make sure to tell a friend and cut yourself off if you start feeling down after a few drinks.
It Ruins Your Sleep
We know it sounds counterintuitive since a glass of wine tends to chill you out enough to fall right to sleep, but you won’t actually get quality rest with alcohol. Booze reduces REM sleep, and without it, you’ll feel like you never got any shuteye at all. Read about more food and drinks that keep you up here.
It Ups Your Risk of Mortality
If the previous alcoholic effects haven’t made you reassess how much you drink at your next party, consider this: Excessive alcohol use counts for 10 percent of deaths for adults between the ages of 20 and 64, according to a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year. We don’t need to tell you again: Drink responsibly and consider laying off the booze.