JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson said drinking less can improve physical and mental health.

They said COVID-19 quarantines may have led to drinking an extra glass of wine or having one more cocktail after 5 p.m. Changing that habit has plenty of health benefits, UMMC experts say.

“There has been consistent evidence that provides a causal link between alcohol consumption and depression,” said Dr. Saurabh B. Bhardwaj, assistant professor of psychiatry and addiction program medical director at UMMC. “Also, studies show a remission of symptoms in almost 50 percent of subjects who had depression and abstained from alcohol for 30 days.”

Cutting back on alcoholic drinks could also have physiological benefits.

“There are significant health benefits from cutting down on alcohol, especially in cognition and alertness, improvements in mood and appetite, reduction of gastrointestinal symptoms, decrease risk of falls and balance issues, improvement of heart and liver function, and better sleep patterns,” said Bhardwaj.

Current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that women keep their alcoholic beverages to no more than one per day, and for men, two. Anything over that is excessive, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines heavy drinking as having more than 14 alcoholic beverages a week for men, and seven for women.

Drinking nonalcoholic beverages for even a short time can make a difference. A 2020 study on the effects of a one-month abstinence from alcohol published in the medical journal BMJ Open shows that, for moderate to heavy drinkers, having a dry month results in improved insulin resistance, healthier weight and blood pressure, and suggest a relationship between alcohol use and increased risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.

Among the health benefits of sticking to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ recommendations are the following:

  • Reduced cancer risk
  • Less risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Less anxiety
  • Gives your liver a break
  • You could lose weight