When you enter addiction recovery, you’re going to find many of those around you advocating the importance of nutrition. A good diet has been proven to go a long way in not only helping people recovery but maintaining sobriety.
But how does nutrition work in a drug dependent body? Why is it so important? And how does it aid in preventing relapse?
Throughout this article, we’re going to answer these questions and offer you all the information you need on nutrition during addiction recovery.
Drugs have the ability to change the way we think, feel, and behave by distorting our neurotransmissions. Over time, this distortion can lead to various mood disorder including anxiety and depression as our brain chemistry can become imbalanced¹.
When you enter addiction recovery, it’s vital you replenish neurotransmitter levels as and one of the ways to do so is through nutrition.
There are many foods that can help to restore brain chemistry naturally by providing the raw ingredients needed for the production of neurotransmitters. Food that are high in the amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine and those that provide vitamin and mineral co-factors are of particular importance. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Free Range Chicken
- Wild Caught Fish
- Grass Fed Beef
- Pasture Raised Eggs
- Nuts and Seeds
- Dark leafy greens
- Bell Peppers
So, what makes these foods so unique in balancing out the brain and body after addiction?
These foods contain key nutrients which can stabilize the chemicals lost through a drug or alcohol dependence.
For example, most drugs fill our brains with serotonin – sometimes referred to as the happy chemical. Some of the foods listed above contain 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), a precursor to serotonin.
You’ll also want to keep an eye out for foods high in fatty acids (GABA) as these can produce dopamine. Since most drugs surge the brain with dopamine, many people experience a great loss of the chemical when they quit.
Part of the reason nutrition is so important is due to your gut’s influence over your brain. In fact, recent studies have found that the gut produces as much as 90% of the serotonin we experience. By making sure our guts receive the right nutrition, we’re allowing for our brain and the rest of our body to recover.
Detox Through Diet
Due to nutrition’s effects on neurotransmitters, it can be extremely beneficial to focus on diet during one of the most crucial stages of addiction recovery.
A good diet not only supplies you with the right nutrition but also rids your body of harmful toxins.
When it comes to drug detox, there are a number of things you’ll want to consider when planning out your meals⁴. These include:
- Fruits and Veggies – Due to the variety of fruits and vegetables, they provide an equal variety of healthy, organic chemicals necessary for thwarting withdrawal symptoms.
- Multivitamins – It’s very likely you won’t get every necessary chemical through foods. Therefore, you should consider taking specific vitamins which can help in the recovery process. These include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Bone Broth – Bone broths contains detoxifying amino acids such as glycine and cysteine. Bone broth can help aid the body during detoxification while helping to heal the gut and restore vitality to the body.
- Water – Hydration is going to play a key role in preventing damage caused by potentially fatal symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting. Water can help to flush the kidneys and liver to help eliminates toxins accumulated from drug or alcohol use.
Furthermore, many people struggling with addiction tend to have poor diets. Examples include:
- Eating late at night
- Making poor food choices
- Skipping out on meals
Over time, this can have highly negative effects on your body. However, if you develop a good diet in addiction recovery and keep with it through sobriety, you have a stronger chance of recovering.
A good diet not only helps you maintain a chemical balance, but it also provides you with a healthy habit that will give you less of an urge to turn back to drugs or alcohol.
Balancing Blood Sugar
While in addiction recovery, it’s important to stay away from foods and drinks containing high amounts of sugar. Studies have found that people recovery from addiction are much more likely to develop a dependence on sugar which can lead to further health problems.
However, sugar can still play a role in helping you maintain recovery. Due to addiction, your brain may have a shortage of glucose (glucopenia) which is often a factor of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
It’s common for people recovering from addiction with hypoglycemia to suffer from a number of symptoms following detox, including:
- Mood swings
By leveling out your glucose levels, you’ll have the ability to stabilize your body and suppress these symptoms. A few ways to do so are as follows:
- Wait till after breakfast to drink coffee.
- Always eat your breakfast within an hour of waking up.
- Make sure your breakfast is balanced in sugar and other necessary nutrition.
- Don’t go 3 hours without snacking.
If you’re looking for more information on the importance of nutrition during addiction, feel free to reach out to us through our contact page.