What you eat can determine the success of your addiction recovery. Eating healthy foods can provide health benefits for anyone, especially those recovering from substance use disorder (SUD). Alcohol or drug use can cause health issues, impairments, and create difficulties in completing routine tasks. Therefore, nutrition education during addiction treatment is vital to a holistic care approach.
Substance Use Disorder and Nutrition
Alcohol and drugs can influence how your body functions and absorbs the food you eat. For example, alcohol addiction can lead to stomach lining issues, liver disease, malnutrition, or cancer. Opioid use can lead to constipation or weight loss. Heroin can decrease your appetite and change how foods taste. Most people with SUD suffer from malnutrition which affects the body and brain.
Nutrient deficiencies can be a factor in alcoholic myopathy, osteopenia, osteoporosis, and mood disorders like depression or anxiety. In addition, the lack of proper nutrition can increase the risk of substance relapse. Why? According to research, the brain creates chemicals that allow us to feel good, sleep, or survive. Sugary foods or unhealthy carbohydrates change how our brain and body communicate with each other.
Gut Level Nutrition
Proper nutrition promotes the growth of brain cells and blood vessels. Research published by HHS Public Access notes that eating the right foods can regulate your metabolism, reduce inflammation, decrease cell death, and reduce damage from being exposed to stress hormones.
Many Americans eat a diet that is high in processed carbs and fat but low in fruit, vegetables, and lean protein. The increase in high sugar and fatty foods alters your gut microbial activity. According to Clinics and Practice, your gut microbiome protects you from becoming obese and reduces your risk of anxiety or depression when fed the right foods. More research from the Internation Journal of Molecular Sciences found that people with alcohol addiction and gut leakiness have a higher rate of depression, cravings, or anxiety.
You often think about feeding your muscles and organs, but how often do you think about feeding your brain? Alcohol and drugs can damage your brain cells, but with the right food and abstinence from substances, you can heal your brain one bite at a time.
Nutritious food is the number one way to begin building new brain cells. Think of eating right as a gift to your body. The brain is your body’s computer and uses approximately 20% of the energy your body produces every day. Changing how you eat and see food is vital to your productivity, feelings about yourself, and overall well-being.
A few examples of brain food include:
- Fish: In general, fish is a healthy choice when making a quick and healthy meal. Oily fish – salmon, mackerel, trout, or herring – are a few types of fish packed with healthy fats and fatty acids like omega-3. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, some plant sources include pumpkin seeds, soya beans, and walnuts. The fats found in these foods keep your joints and brain healthy.
- Eggs: Eggs are no longer off the menu. Recent research discovered eggs – the whole egg – help you feel better. Why? Because the yolk has a compound called choline. This chemical aids in breaking down dopamine, aka the brain’s happy chemical.
- Blueberries: Blueberries boost your short-term memory. A study published by HHS Public Access found blueberries contain anthocyanins which boost your memory skills. Feeling stressed? Eat some blueberries. The gallic acid contained in these berries decreases brain decline and protects it from the harmful effects of stress and anxiety.
Nutrition for the Busy Person
Whether you want to admit it or not, your life may include obligations, expectations, and little downtime for yourself. During the day, you may not have time to eat a nutritious meal – or at least you might not think you have the time. Luckily, you can eat a healthy meal without spending a lot of time in the kitchen. If you’re not a chef, don’t worry, easy-prep meals can also give you the nutrients you need to stay healthy and maintain your recovery.
Do you have a snacking pattern? Before you say no, think about when you typically snack during the day. Maybe you need a mid-morning boost or an afternoon pick-me-up. You can avoid the vending machine, boost your energy level, and heal your body with these snacks:
- Baby cucumbers
Eating right is more than eating to be thin or look better. Proper nutrition is about feeling better and boosting your body’s power to heal and protect.
Choosing what you eat impacts your overall health. Because your brain and body depend on the proper nutrients to function, grow, and produce vital cells and organisms, you should rethink how you see food. People struggling with substance use disorder may neglect their need for healthy foods because substances affect their physical or mental health. When ignored, your body can become unwell. Likewise, how you feel affects how you think. Renaissance Ranch Treatment Centers focus on healing the mind and the body. Our residential program includes nutritious meals. You have the opportunity to improve your mental and physical state by attending therapeutic sessions, participating in activities, and including your family in your path to recovery. All you need to do to begin a new life is open yourself up to the possibilities of a life without alcohol or drugs. At Renaissance Ranch Treatment Centers, we guide you to a life of faith and sobriety. Call (801) 308-8898 today.