The Importance of Nutrition in Recovery
clock_iconFebruary 02, 2021 clock_icon4 min read

People with substance abuse problems usually neglect their physical health. Their thinking becomes all about the next fix. When the addicted finally choose sobriety, they must learn how one's diet affects his or her recovery. 

Let’s discuss nutrition and addiction recovery. 

Malnutrition Exacerbates Chronic Illness

Every addiction has its own crosses to bear when it comes to poor nutrition. Alcoholics can develop a condition called pancreatitis, or an inflamed pancreas. A person can’t live without their pancreas because this particular organ assists in breaking down food for digestion and regulates sugar levels. For this reason, alcoholics can (and frequently do) die from pancreatitis. 

Alcoholism also leaves people vulnerable to a disease called Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Due to poor nutrition, the brain begins to malfunction. Some suffer hallucinations, memory loss, and psychosis. Wernicke-Korsakoff comes from a thiamine deficiency, which is common in alcoholics. Their bodies can’t absorb thiamine or magnesium properly due to intestinal damage. Unfortunately, this condition cannot be reversed.

Why Nutrition is Challenging in Recovery

Even when you decide to give up your substance and seek help, maintaining proper nutrition is difficult. But in early recovery, nutrition is critical. 

Most people in early recovery crave caffeine and sugar because these are substances that affect the brain in a similar manner as hard drugs. In short, these substances are the "next best thing." As much as they're better than drug use, caffeine and sugar can be quite dangerous in excess.

What Are the Best Foods to Eat in Early Recovery?

Good nutrition can be instrumental to success in recovery because certain foods help stabilize mood while reducing drug cravings. They include:

  • Complex carbohydrates including barley, oats, quinoa, and brown rice.

    • These foods help regulate serotonin in the brain.

    • They also give you energy and help stabilize your blood sugar. 

  • “Good fats” such as fish, nuts, and avocados.

    • Nuts are high in amino acids, the body’s building blocks.

    • Brazil nuts help restore liver function in alcoholics.

  • High-fiber foods like fruits, leafy greens, and whole grains.

    • These foods help with constipation, which is a common side effect when in early recovery from opioid use.

  • Kale, tofu, yogurt, and other foods high in calcium.

    • A 2017 study by the National Library of Medicine showed these foods reduce alcohol cravings.

    • Probiotics found in Greek yogurt are good for digestive health.

Embrace Health & Wellness at West Valley Detox

With counseling and group sessions often being a focal point in substance abuse treatment programs, it's easy to forget that recovery is like a puzzle with many interconnected pieces. One of those pieces is nutrition.

At West Valley Detox, we've made it our priority to help you (or your loved one) to achieve stable, lasting sobriety through a combination of cutting-edge treatment, education, and world-class rehabilitative support. For more information about the programs and support services we offer, contact us today for a free consultation.

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