The Crucial Link Between Nutrition and Addiction Recovery

Substances take a large toll on the function and health of both the body and mind. Substance abuse inhibits the body from absorbing and processing nutrients, which in turn leads to malnutrition.

Additionally, substance use disorders have been researched and found to be linked to all the following: liver disease, cardiovascular disease, lowered immune function, spread of HIV and hepatitis, and depression. Therefore, proper nutrition and exercise are essential for healing a body and mind that has been exposed to poor nutrition and is now being exposed to detoxification which also has its own health effects.

How Different Substances Can Affect Diet and Nutrition

Different substances have different effects so understanding the nutritional effects of each is important for individuals in recovery experiencing different addictions.

  • Marijuana: typically causes people to consume salty and high-carb foods, resulting in weight gain and eating many empty calories without the health benefits.
  • Opioids: cause the organs that oversee digestion and metabolism to operate abnormally leading to the inability to properly absorb nutrients. Constipation is common and withdrawal often includes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Alcohol: may lead to skipping meals, intestinal damage, and a damaged liver that is unable to properly break down toxins and absorb nutrients. Alcohol abuse may also cause deficiencies in folic acid, thiamine, and vitamin B6. Long-term alcohol abuse is even linked to anemia.
  • Amphetamine: can cause weight loss, decreased appetite, irregular heart rate, memory loss, mood and emotional problems, sleep problems, and increased chances of contracting HIV and hepatitis B and C.

While using all substances, the body and mind are significantly damaged. Therefore, everyone in recovery must take the proper steps to heal their mind and body accordingly.

The Benefits of a Healthy Diet During Detox and in Recovery

A healthy diet can…

  • Give an individual the essential nutrients and amino acids that play a role in cognitive function, mood regulation, and stress management.
  • Improve brain function which allows an individual to learn coping strategies to maintain sobriety.
  • Combat constipation or diarrhea that is often associated with substance use.
  • Increase motivation by allowing for sustained energy levels throughout the entire day
  • Help to rebuild a strong immune system to prevent infections and illnesses.

Because the body and mind are altered significantly while using, an individual during and after detox may experience significant differences in their food intake and weight. Knowing these possible differences can allow an individual to be more prepared for detox and recovery.

Nutritional Tips for a Comfortable Detox

Some important nutritional tips while detoxing include:

  1. Stay away from excess sugar. It can cause cravings, anxiety, and lethargy. Sugar can take the place of an addiction. Sugar doesn’t help to replenish the lost nutrients from using drugs and alcohol.
  2. Stay hydrated. Hydration can alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating. Water helps to flush toxins from the body. Soda can dehydrate you even more, so limit your intake.
  3. Consume plenty of leafy green vegetables. They are nutrient-packed foods that can reduce irritability, anxiety, and cravings.
  4. Constipation from detox can be combated with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  5. If you are struggling to eat, consider supplements.
  6. Stay in tune with your body and only eat when hungry and stop when full.
  7. Exercise daily.
  8. Don’t wait until you are starving to eat, instead, eat regular meals and snacks in moderation.
  9. Remember everyone is different and unique in their detox as well as their addiction recovery so everyone must do what is most suitable for their own body and recovery.

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