Experts have discovered that moderate amounts of alcohol can be harmful to your mental and physical health.

The Australian Drug and Alcohol Foundation has released new guidelines that advise men and women not to consume more than 10 standard drinks per day and no more then four standard drinks per day.

Consuming more than the recommended amount has been linked with a variety of health issues, including cancer, heart, liver disease, Alzheimer’s, weight loss, premature ageing, brain fog, anxiety, depression, and heart disease.

Researchers warn that a normal drink might be lower than you think. Bottles of beer and glasses wine can often go well above the threshold.

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Drinking what most might consider to be a moderate a

Experts found that even moderate amounts of alcohol can cause serious health problems.

What is a standard Australian drink?

Spirits 40% alcohol, 30ml Nip

Wine 13% alcohol, 100ml Average Serving

Sparkling wine 13% alcohol, 100ml

Full strength beer, 4.9% alcohol, 285ml glasses

Light beer 2.7% alcohol, 425ml glass

Cider 4.9% alcohol, 285ml glass

Source: Australian Drug and Alcohol Foundation

Standard Australian drinks contain 10g alcohol. They include a 285ml beer, 100ml wine or 30ml spirits like vodka, whisky or gin. 

The recommendations, developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council, reiterate historic advice for under 18s and pregnant or breastfeeding women to abstain from alcohol to prevent damage to the brain and their babies.

It has been shown that alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on brain development, especially up to the age of 25. This can affect their attention span, memory and decision-making abilities.

But the damage does not stop there.

Alcohol accelerates ageing. It can affect your appearance, blood pressure, memory, and risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and liver disease.  

Earlier this year, a study led by imperial College London revealed a startling connection between small volumes of alcohol and brain damage.

Research that looked at MRI scans from 10,000 middle-aged drinkers showed that an increase in alcohol intake was associated with less grey matter in brain, more fat in liver, and a larger mass left ventricle.

Brain shrinkage has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease. Excessive liver fat can lead liver disease.

The study suggests those who ‘drink responsibly’, below 14 units a week – the equivalent of six medium glasses of wine  – still damage their bodies.

But the good news is that as little as four weeks of sobriety can dramatically improve your health and mental wellbeing –  provided the temporary abstinence leads to a more moderate and mindful approach to drinking in the long run.

Dietitians and fitness experts claim even short periods without alcohol improves memory, mental clarity and sleep, as well as promoting weight loss and reducing pressure on the liver which starts to cleanse itself just one hour after your last drink.

You will also be able to boost your bank balance by staying sober. According to an Australian study, the average household can save $1,778 each year by avoiding alcohol. 

The good news is that as little as four weeks of sobriety can dramatically improve health and mental wellbeing - provided the temporary abstinence leads to a more moderate and mindful approach to drinking in the long run

The good news? It takes only four weeks to dramatically improve mental health and wellbeing. This is provided that the temporary abstinence leads you to a more controlled and mindful approach towards drinking in the long-term.

Five reminders to help you stay sober

You can drink alcohol… 

1. You can reduce the functionality of your executive mind and start listening to your primal mind. You become an animal looking for your next peak.

2. You don’t really care about the chemicals you receive because you just want that peak. 

3. Your body is both hot and cold. Your eyes are cloudy. Your mouth is dry and your voice is slurred. You don’t need to be concerned about your body not functioning properly.

4. You make unprofessional calls at all hours of the day and engage in inappropriate conversations because you need connection to fuel that peak.

5. You become powerless and lose your control. You lose your true self, and you become someone who cares only about the peak.

Source: It’s not me, it’s the alcohol

You regain control of your life and increase your mental clarity  

Doctors suggest that abstaining for as little as a month from alcohol can improve concentration and decision making, as well as reducing the risk of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Melissa Lionnet, a former marketing manager and now a sober coach for life, quit alcohol in 2020 after ten years of daily drinking that left her struggling to get up from bed.

Daily Mail Australia was told by Ms Lionnet, “No question, 100 percent with myself and my clients, we have seen clarity improve within a matter of weeks,”

“People just trust themselves. They make faster, clearer decisions and trust instincts more than when they were drinking.

Sydney sobriety coach Melissa Lionnet (pictured with a glass of alcohol-free wine in 2021) quit drinking after more than a decade of abusive consumption

Ms Lionnet (pictured in Bali in 2019) started drinking at the age of 15 and quickly developed a toxic relationship with alcohol

Melissa Lionnet, Sydney’s sobriety coach (left, with a glass alcohol-free wine, 2021, and right, in 2019,) quit drinking after more that a decade.

Increases your energy and sleep quality 

Studies have shown that after binge drinking, the body is awakened by adrenaline or cortisol – the stresshormone – which disrupts the natural sleeping cycle.

Binge drinking refers to drinking five or more drinks per hour for men and four or more for women within a two-hour time period.

71% of 800 participants in Dry January, the UK equivalent to Dry July, reported feeling more rested and awake during their abstinence.

This is due to the depressive effects alcohol has on the nervous systems, which includes significantly decreased rapid eye movement (REM), the restorative stage in which the body repairs cells and dreams happen.

Ms. Lionnet is not denying that alcohol can improve your sleep, but she warns that it may take some time for your body’s adjustment to being sober.

Since quitting alcohol, Ms Lionnet (pictured in 2021) feels more motivated than she has in years and no longer struggles to get out of bed in the mornings

Ms. Lionnet (pictured 2021) is more motivated than ever since quitting alcohol. She no longer struggles getting out of bed in mornings.

She stated that it really all depends on how much you drink. 

“Alcohol decreases the quality and quantity of sleep. But if you think you need alcohol to sleep, it could cause you to be restless and anxious.

Ms. Lionnet suggests that heavy drinkers consult a therapist or sobriety coach prior to embarking on a challenge like Dry Jul.

She also recommends that you join a sober support network on social media to make like-minded friends and help you stay on the right track.

Reduces cravings and weight loss

Drinking can lead to weight gain by slowing down the body’s ability burn fat, increasing appetite, and limiting our ability to eat healthy foods.

Alcohol ‘physiologically makes you crave certain foods’, Australian personal trainer and nutrition coach Sarah Hopkins warns, which opens the flood gates to overeating even when you weren’t hungry to begin with.

Ms. Hopkins said that if there’s a bowl of chips in front you and you don’t feel like it, you won’t eat it.

“If you drink a glass of wine, you will eat the whole bowl because it increases you appetite.” It makes you want to eat more. 

James Swanwick, 45, founder of Alcohol Free Lifestyle, said he lost five kilos in the space of one month when he quit alcohol in 2010, while Melissa Lionnet reported losing four kilos in the same time frame.

She also said that her hair became thicker and that her skin was much brighter.

Australian personal trainer and nutrition coach Sarah Hopkins (left) says alcohol psychologically causes us to crave food, even when we're not hungry

Sarah Hopkins, a nutrition coach and personal trainer from Australia, says that alcohol can psychologically cause us to crave food even when we aren’t hungry.

Amanda Nog, a yoga and Ayurveda teacher in Australia, supports the concept for a month on the dried.

Ms. Nog explained that part of the reason we feel anxious or depressed after drinking is due to the effects of alcohol on the neurotransmitters (especially serotonin) produced in our gut. 

Serotonin is one of the most important hormones in the human body, responsible for stabilising mood and promoting happiness as well as supporting communication between brain cells and other cells in the nervous system.

It also plays an important role in digestion, sleep, blood sugar regulation and overall well-being.

Benefits to gut health is the primary reason Australian yoga and Ayurveda teacher Amanda Nog (pictured) supports the concept of a month on the dry

Amanda Nog, an Australian yoga and Ayurveda teacher, supports the idea of a dry month. This is because of the benefits to your gut health.

Detoxifies the blood, liver and kidneys

Red wine drinking may seem appealing as a way of increasing your antioxidant intake. However, Sydney dietitian Lee Holmes says that alcohol’s nutritional value is offset by its health effects.

Daily Mail Australia was informed by Ms Holmes that alcohol is a depressant at its core. This means that it slows down the body’s systems when it reaches the brain.

“Because alcohol can be difficult for the body and is absorbed quickly it puts extra pressure upon the liver. The liver can only process one drink an hour.  

Blood samples taken from drinkers who abstained from alcohol for 31 days showed a reduction in blood cancer proteins, lower blood pressure and a reduction in fatty tissue around the liver, a 2018 study from the British Medical Journal found.  

Mr Swanwick, the founder of Project 90, a program that helps people quit drinking for at most 90 days, said that his doctor saw a drop in his blood pressure and cholesterol 30 days after he stopped using.

Sydney dietitian Lee Holmes (pictured) says any nutritional value of alcohol is cancelled out by the damage is does to your mental and physical health

Lee Holmes, Sydney dietitian, says that any nutritional value of alcohol is negated by the harm it does to your mental or physical health

Australia’s growing sober scene

Many people are excited to go back to the pub after their long and difficult lockdowns in NSW, Victoria. But almost two million Australians live a completely alcohol-free existence.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently revealed that more than 25% of Australians (28.9%), are abstaining from alcohol while another 9.5% are drinking less than they were last year. 

In Australia, the number of ex-drinkers has risen from 1.5million up to 1.9million in the last four years.

This increasingly sober scene is largely fuelled hordes of Instagram influencers including fitness mogul Kayla Itsines, 30, who says she hasn’t touched a drop since the age of 19.

Kayla Itsines (pictured) has been famously teetotal since the age of 19 after having nothing but negative experiences with hangovers and sickness

Kayla Itsines (pictured), has been a famous teetotalist since she was 19 years old, after experiencing nothing but negative experiences with sickness and hangovers.

Also riding the sober train is Olympic beach volleyball star, Mariafe Artacho del Solar, who rarely drinks alcohol because she feels ‘comfortable’ in her own skin and has ‘just as much fun without it’.

The right-side defender, who was 27 when she won a silver medal in Tokyo with her partner, Taliqua Clancy, 29 in August, said she has never been a huge drinker and can count the number of drinks she has had in a single year.

“Personallly, I’ve never found the enjoyment. She said that while she is open to having a few, it’s not enough for me to feel confident.

It seems the The hospitality industry is paying attention.

Australian Olympic volleyball star Mariafe Artacho del Solar (pictured) rarely drinks alcohol because she feels 'comfortable' in her own skin and has 'just as much fun without it'

Mariafe Artacho del Solar, an Australian Olympic volleyball player (pictured), doesn’t drink alcohol because she feels comfortable in her skin and it’s just as fun without it.

Australia’s first-ever non-alcoholic bar Brunswick Aces opened its doors in Melbourne on May 1, pouring a menu of more than 100 alcohol-free beers, wines and cocktails to teetotal punters.

Although many managed lockdown by avoiding the bottle, over 18 months of restrictions led to an alarming number of Australians becoming heavy drinkers.

After coronavirus turned normality upside down, household alcohol spending soared across Australia. Last year, Aussies spent a staggering $2billion more on booze than usual.

Drinkers spent an average of $1,891 per household on alcohol in 2020 – an increase of $270 on the 2019 total, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

The alarming trend worsened in the winter of 2020 when Melbourne’s five million residents were forced into a type of protective custody during the world’s harshest lockdown which lasted more than four months.

Victoria’s alcohol services experienced a surge in demand as locked-down residents turned to the bottle, with a survey from the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association revealing alcohol featured either ‘a lot more’ or ‘a bit more’ as a drug of concern.

Three tips from a former drinker on quitting alcohol 

1. Connect with the sober group

Ms. Lionnet stated, “This can be done however you choose, but whether it be AA, a local support organization, or an online forum, there is no better way to reach out and talk to people.”

2. Learn more about alcohol

Ms. Lionnet believes that being educated about the effects of alcohol on the human body is one of the things that has kept her from succumbing to addiction.

Holly Whitaker’s “Quit Like A Woman” and Annie Grace’s “Annie’s Naked Mind” are two books she recommends.

3. Simultaneous self discovery

Ms. Lionnet believes it is important to understand the reasons you drink if your goal is to quit.

She said, “You must find out what has caused you to drink and then resolve them at their root.”

Ms Lionnet suggests that therapy, alcohol-free challenges, and any other means can help you transform your beliefs to align them with your true moral values. 

Source: It’s not me, it’s the booze

Already, the nation’s health is being affected by excessive eating.

A revolutionary health calculator developed by AIA Vitality recently claimed Australians are ageing a staggering nine years faster than they should be.

The free five-minute test gives an alarming insight into the true ‘health age’ of Australians by analysing the answers to a range of behavioural questions about diet, exercise and most importantly, alcohol consumption. 

A 2019 study funded by St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne found excess alcohol consumption causes more harm to Australians’ physical and mental wellbeing than any drug, surpassing both crystal methamphetamine (ice) and heroin.

Turning Point Services can help you with alcohol-related problems or addiction. There are many other services that you can availTalk to your doctor, your local health service, or call a helpline. 

In all Australian states, territories, there are trained telephone counsellors.