Nutrition and healthy eating habits are important for everyone; however, it is crucial for people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction.
Even short-term addiction can negatively affect the body, and it works hard to eliminate toxic substances and repair itself from damage. We focus on restoring nutritional balance to support the body as it repairs any harm caused, as well as creating a sustainable healthy eating plan moving forwards.
For the brain and body to function correctly, they need sustenance. Food fuels the body by breaking down nutrients into glucose which is then released into the bloodstream to be used for energy or stored in the body for later use. The body requires various foods to thrive, and maintaining a balanced diet is an important part of creating a healthy lifestyle.
Understanding the relationship between nutrition and addiction recovery involves a deep understanding of the roles nutrients play in the body. Six core nutritional food groups should be part of a healthy, balanced diet for optimum health. These are:
- Vitamins – The human body requires thirteen essential vitamins for good health, and they serve numerous functions.
- Minerals – Minerals are essential for a healthy immune system, maintaining hydration levels and blood pressure.
- Protein – Proteins are key to muscle, tissue and organ repair.
- Fats and Fatty Acids – Healthy fats are essential for brain function, vitamin and mineral absorption, muscle function and blood sugar regulation.
- Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are essential for providing energy and for the optimum function of the central nervous system and brain.
- Water – Water plays a vital role in nearly every function and makes up around 60% of the human body.
The lack of nutrients from a poor diet combined with substance misuse puts significant stress on the body. Those who suffer from substance abuse and addiction are likely to experience the following issues:
- Loss of appetite – The lifestyle of substance addiction can prevent appetite and means we do not prioritize food.
- Poor dietary choices – People under the influence are more likely to consume ‘easy’ food options such as fast food or confectionery that are high in fat, salt and sugar with little nutritional benefit.
- Hypoglycemia – Low blood sugar is in part caused by a poor diet or lack of sustenance.
- Organ damage – Many substances directly damage the organs responsible for nutrient processing and breakdown.
- Gastrointestinal disorders – Most substances negatively affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This prevents it from effectively absorbing nutrients and can lead to chronic digestive issues.
- Type 2 diabetes – Alcohol and a poor diet cause low blood sugar, which can cause Type 2 diabetes.
- Pancreatitis – Chronic alcohol use can cause pancreatitis or symptoms similar to those of acute and chronic pancreatitis.
- Anemia – Alcohol abuse, in particular, can cause a deficiency in folic acid, Vitamin B6, Thiamine, or B1, which can result in anemia.
As our clients begin to heal from the inside out, they will start to notice the difference that a healthy diet can make, including:
- Increased energy
- Improved mood
- Stronger immune system
- Better memory
- Improved mental health
- Reduced risk of disease