You are indeed what you eat.
Continuous consumption of alcohol or drugs has an intoxicating effect which eventually breaks down the system. In recovery, the idea behind nutritive eating is to replace those developmental elements of the body lost to the destructive effects of addictive substances.
The food you eat has a significant impact on you. It not only affects physical well-being, but mental health too. Individuals who successfully make it to rehab will want to sustain their recovery with the right balanced diet.
Expert at Addictionhelper, Mr Daniel Gerrard says, “Detoxification takes a lot of energy from a recovering individual. It is, therefore, necessary to replenish quickly with the appropriate nutritive food substances.”
Before we delve into what is good to eat or not, it is only right to discuss what food substances are lost during an addictive spell.
Addiction: What the Body Loses
Many addicts are fairly malnourished by the time they seek help. This is partly because they haven’t been eating well, and partly because addiction has destructive effects on how the body absorbs nutrients.
The type of addiction in question will determine what nutritive elements the body is deprived of. Each substance abuse wreaks its own havoc on the system. For example, people who are addicted to opiates are deficient in calcium, iron, vitamin D, and B6, while cocaine addicts are seriously lacking in omega-3 fatty acids.
Alcohol on the other hand, is responsible for more deficiencies because it forces the body to expel greater quantities of nutrients.
The symptoms of malnutrition vary from one addiction type to the other. Low quantities of magnesium result in insomnia, weakness, and anxiety. In some cases, younger women are more prone to early-stage osteoporosis, as a result of calcium loss.
Alcoholics suffer from vitamin B deficiency in the form of factor-deficiency anaemia, while Vitamin K deficiencies are evident as clotting problems and wounds that are slow to heal. Other slow wound healing and immune deficiencies are caused by a lack of Vitamin C in the addicted person.
Nutrition and Supplements for the Recovering Addict
It is helpful to supplement the recovering body with vitamins and minerals. However, real food is the most effective for lasting recovery. Sometimes, the individual may display reward-seeking behaviour towards certain types of foods such as processed foods with sugar, salt, and fat. The preference may also extend towards refined carbohydrates.
During recovery, it is important to educate the patient about healthy eating patterns, especially for refined carbohydrates. There is evidence about its involvement in creating hampering disease conditions later in the future. Refined sugar may also have an unfavourable effect on reward pathways of brain function.
The Recovering Addict’s Diet
This is often noticed among alcoholics because of their propensity for dehydration. In order to resolve this, drink up to six glasses of water daily. Additionally, you can balance this by eating foods that contain electrolytes such as:
- Potassium: Bananas, strawberries, sweet potato, and tomato paste.
- Magnesium: Green leafy vegetables, grains, beans, and nuts.
- Calcium: Dairy foods, meats, beans, and specific produce.
- Sodium and chloride: Usually present as combined foods, available in table salt, cheese, and sauerkraut.
However, it is important to reduce the quantity of sodium in your diet.
- Reduced immune system
Foods naturally provide the body with essential vitamins and nutrients that help enhance the body’s immune system. Without them, the body’s main defence system will be susceptible to illness and disease. To makeup, you should eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
- Lettuce, carrots, apples, oranges, grapes and so on.
- Whole grains, wheat, and foods low in saturated fat.
- Diets rich in iron, zinc, folic acid, selenium, and Vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E.
- Chemical changes
Your daily diet provides nutrients and chemical compounds that are fundamental to your brain’s well-being. Without these compounds, the brain’s neurotransmitters may not function adequately. This can be told in the person’s moods and ability to handle stress – the two major factors responsible for the tendency to relapse.
The elements present in food and capable of preventing relapse are:
- Tryptophan: It increases serotonin levels, and is present in nuts, seeds, turkey, chicken, eggs, cheese, fish, and milk.
- Choline: It’s essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Foods that contain this are eggs, soybeans, organ meats like liver, and so on.
- Tyrosine: This amino acid is necessary for the production of dopamine and norepinephrine. It can be found in dairy products such as fish, bananas, almonds, and avocados.
- Folic acid: This is an essential B vitamin and is often lacking in alcoholics. It helps increase serotonin levels and decrease depression or anxiety.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Cocaine addicts usually in mood swings or depressive states have been known to improve with omega 3 PUFA supplements. They can be obtained from fish such as salmon, cod-liver oil, soybeans, and so on.
Ensure that you get adequate advice from a notable food expert if you are in recovery and want a diet regimen. Remember, what you eat can smoothen your road to recovery.