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Chronic substance and malnutrition often go hand in hand. Ongoing drug or alcohol misuse can deplete an individual’s nutrition through hormone imbalances and reduced nutrient intake and absorption.

Like drugs and alcohol, malnutrition impairs thought processes and decision-making abilities. A lack of vitamins and nutrients may also heighten the risk of contracting infectious diseases, impeding the person’s ability to fight off and recover from the infection. Recovering patients need doctors who can create personalized, holistic treatment plans that emphasize healthy dietary habits.

In this article, you’ll learn about the value of nutrition for addiction recovery and get some recommended dietary adjustments.

Why Is Nutrition Important in Rehabilitation?

Nutrition is key in addiction recovery due to the detrimental effects of substance use on human health. People battling addiction may experience a loss of appetite, forget to eat, or make poor food choices like excessive sweets and fast food.

A weak diet can cause feelings of depression and low energy levels. This can strengthen drug and alcohol cravings, potentially locking you into a harmful cycle. Chemical substances also make it harder for the body to absorb vital nutrients.

Here are some examples of how chronic substance use can damage nutrition:

  • Nicotine: Nicotine can cause deficiencies in vitamins B, C, D, E, zinc, and selenium. This can increase the risk of eye disease, nerve problems, anemia, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
  • Opioids: Opioids cause low levels of potassium, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. This increases the risk of liver disease, colon cancer, and low bone mass.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol is linked to low levels of vitamins A, B, C, E, zinc, and amino acids. This puts you at risk for liver, nerve, brain, and eye damage.

What Is the Role of Nutrition in Addiction Recovery?

Patients attend a range of therapies in recovery, often including nutritional counseling. They receive comprehensive education on incorporating a more nutritious diet, which heals and builds the body back up after the damaging effects of addiction.

Vitamins and nutrients are key for repairing electrolyte imbalances, organ damage, and other malnutrition-caused issues. Patients learn things like:

  • How healthy eating can help them combat substance cravings, prevent relapse, and strengthen their bodies.
  • The importance of eating consistent, balanced meals and staying hydrated.

Because recovery from chronic substance use isn’t a cookie-cutter approach, a nutritional plan is customized to the patient’s needs.

What Are the Benefits of Holistic Nutrition?

Holistic nutrition connects all aspects of human health — mental, emotional, and physical — by nourishing the body with the right foods. It explores the person’s unique nutritional needs to determine the most effective dietary approach. That includes macronutrients — fats, carbohydrates, and protein — and micronutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C.

Holistic nutrition considers the individual’s lifestyle, needs, and environment to develop a customized diet. It emphasizes organic, unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods, such as whole grains and fresh produce.

Some advantages of holistic dieting include:

  • Improved sleep quality. Holistic diets are rich in nutrients that help the brain produce serotonin, which helps improve the quality of your sleep.
  • Increased energy levels. Consuming whole, organic foods instead of processed, sugar-filled snacks provides a better balance of vitamins, protein, and other important nutrients. In turn, you’re more likely to feel energized throughout the day.
  • Improved memory and concentration. Holistic diets are well-rounded in nutrients that enhance thinking, focus, and memory. For instance, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can decrease inflammation, boost blood flow to the brain, and improve overall cognitive abilities.
  • Healthy weight. Drug and alcohol addiction can cause severe weight loss or gain. Because holistic dieting adopts nutritious eating habits, it can help restore and maintain a healthy body weight.

Recommended Diets for Recovering Alcoholics

Knowing how to repair your body after alcohol misuse is critical, and healthy food choices play a significant role in this healing journey. Curbing alcohol cravings is a challenge for many people. Fortunately, several foods can aid this process.

Here are some foods that can stop alcohol cravings, replenish the body’s vitamins and minerals, and contribute to a healthier lifestyle:

1. Whole Grains

In some cases, alcohol might have been your primary source of carbs, so your body will now look for them elsewhere.

Whole grains are packed with complex carbohydrates and fiber that take longer to digest. When the body breaks down these substances, it helps regulate energy levels and reduce alcohol cravings. Eating these foods can help counter your cravings without spiking your blood sugar levels. It can also support liver recovery.

Some healthy whole-grain foods include:

  • Oats
  • Whole-wheat bread, pasta, and crackers
  • Brown, black, red, and wild rice
  • Quinoa
  • Farro
  • Bulgur
  • Millet
  • Barley

2. Fruits and Vegetables

Produce is a fantastic source of minerals, vitamins, and fiber. It can help thwart alcohol cravings by stabilizing blood sugar levels. Many fruits and veggies are rich in antioxidants, which help rebuild the immune system following drug and alcohol consumption.

Some vegetables and fruits that heal the body include:

  • Leafy greens (e.g., lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, and Bok choy)
  • Blueberries
  • Purple grapes
  • Carrots
  • Artichokes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage

3. Lean Proteins

Protein-rich foods are essential for muscular health, digestion, mood, and sleep. They help you feel full and satisfied, making you less likely to crave alcohol. Protein-dense foods are also an excellent source of amino acids, which are important for cognitive health.

Here are some great sources of lean protein:

  • Fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel, and shrimp)
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Crab
  • Pork
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Lentils

4. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, making them a stable energy source to curb alcohol hankerings. Many seeds and nuts are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C. Some nutritious nuts and seeds include:

  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Brazil nuts

5. Water

Hydration is also crucial during addiction recovery. Dehydration can cause issues like tiredness and fatigue, confusion, and mood imbalances that can encourage alcohol cravings. Drink lots of water throughout the day. Besides alcohol, try to avoid other dehydrating beverages like coffee, tea, and soda.

Foods to Avoid

Holistic nutrition involves limiting or avoiding sugary, processed foods. A person struggling with substance use is more likely to relapse when they have unhealthy eating habits, so it’s important to stay away from the following foods as much as possible:

  • Sweets like candy, snack cakes, and sugary cereals
  • Fast food
  • Salty snacks like potato chips
  • Sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea, and juice
  • Processed meats
  • White bread and pasta
  • Frozen meals

Contact Sana at Stowe Today

Nutrition and addiction recovery often coincide with one another. Healthy eating plays a substantial role in overcoming substance cravings and supplying the body with key nutrients.

At Sana, we’re passionate about aiding individuals in their addiction recovery journeys through personalized rehabilitation. We offer nutritional guidance as part of our holistic addiction treatment services. We teach our clients the importance of nutrition and redirecting their diets to restore their health and strength.

From food and exercise to therapy and recreational activities, we tailor our wellness programs to meet each person’s needs and circumstances. Give us a call today to learn more about our holistic treatment services.

Sana is Here to Help

Sana is here for you and your loved ones. Sana at Stowe provides high-quality treatment for those struggling with substance abuse, alcohol addiction, trauma, and PTSD. Our compassionate and professional staff is dedicated to giving our patients the recovery experience they deserve in a safe and healing environment. To learn more or to get started on your journey to recovery today, give us a call or visit our contact form.

Click here to call us: 866-575-9958