When people hear about addiction recovery, they often associate it with the detox process and counseling. While these two steps are essential in achieving and maintaining sobriety, diet is also a key player and deserves just as much time and attention.
Addicts, whether they are long-term or short-term, need proper nutrition to repair the damage brought on by substance abuse. Making the right food choices also boost the body’s ability to defend itself while getting rid of toxic substances.
Poor Nutrition and Addiction
Substance abuse affects an individual’s ability to remain healthy during the recovery process.
Most drugs damage some organs responsible for processing nutrients. For instance, alcohol causes problems to the gastrointestinal tract, inhibiting nutrient uptake and leading to malnourishment. Opiates also do a number on digestive health.
Many substances, such as stimulants, cause loss of appetite. When users can’t eat, they’ll have trouble getting all the nutrients their bodies need. Some who happen to have an appetite often start to crave junk food. For this reason, they make poor eating choices when they’re under the influence. Binge eating fast food or sweets is very common. More often than not, these harmful eating habits can cause an array of health problems. Hypoglycemia occurs when users don’t eat properly, and don’t forget the resulting vitamin deficiencies from malnutrition.
Importance of Nutrition in Addiction Recovery
It’s no surprise that proper nutrition can speed up addiction recovery. Abusing drugs or alcohol has a negative effect on basic nutrition, but it’s still reversible so long as proper nutrition is observed alongside therapy and detox. These seven foods should be part of an addiction recovery diet because they can help regain the body’s normal functions and replenish nutrient loss.
Tofu is highly digestible and rich in protein, making it ideal for liver damage caused by substance abuse. It should be included in a recovering alcoholic diet because excessive alcohol overworks the liver, and tofu can heal it slowly. Unlike other foods that are rich in protein, the liver doesn’t excrete bile while processing tofu—bile results in fat, which can also damage the liver.
2. Chicken and Fish
Poultry products and fish are rich in tyrosine. Most drugs and alcohol inhibit the body’s ability to process this amino acid properly. As a result, there is less production of norepinephrine and dopamine. Tyrosine is a precursor of both neurotransmitters, which are responsible for improving mental clarity and creating a feel-good mood.
3. Whole-Grain Food
Any fiber-rich food, such as whole-grain pasta, can rehabilitate the GI tract. By incorporating more fiber into your diet, it’s easy to rebuild your body’s original digestive health, making it an ideal part of a recovering alcoholic diet.
Bananas are abundant in tryptophan, which helps in the creation of serotonin. This neurotransmitter ensures restful sleep and relaxation. Unfortunately, as with chemicals like tyrosine, drugs and alcohol prevent the body from processing tryptophan correctly.
Alcohol and opiates can lead to diarrhea and constipation. The probiotics found in yogurt can neutralize the activity in the GI tract. Apart from repairing the system, it also helps the gut create a healthy microbiome during recovery.
Harmful substances release free radicals and toxic waste into the body. Therefore, it’s hugely beneficial to include antioxidant-rich food, such as blueberries, in an addiction recovery diet. Antioxidants can rid your body of these toxins while also boosting your immune system in the process.
Most vegetables, especially the leafy greens, are chock-full of essential vitamins. As mentioned before, users suffer from malnutrition because substance addiction and poor dietary choices prevent the absorption of nutrients. By increasing vegetable intake, so too do you increase your body’s vitamin intake. Moreover, it restores the skin’s natural glow, which becomes dull during the addiction phase.
The importance of nutrition in addiction recovery shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s critical to make proper food choices while in rehabilitation to ensure continuous recovery. At Haven House, a Clarksville recovery center, we prioritize food and nutrition as part of our treatment programs to ensure full recovery and promote overall well-being.