Substances of abuse wreak havoc on every part of the body. In addition to them altering brain chemistry, it also can have a major impact on the body from a nutritional standpoint. Substances such as alcohol, opiates, caffeine, amphetamines, cocaine, nicotine, and marijuana strip key nutrients out of our bodies. 

This is particularly true when it comes to the essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need for our organs to create natural feel-good chemicals, GABA, and dopamine. These nutrients are also essential for the body creating energy, rebuilding and repairing organ tissue, and strengthening the immune system.

This is why nutrition is such a key component to the recovery process, starting at the beginning with detox. While everyone is different and their nutritional needs are different, certain foods are good for everyone when it comes to regaining a proper nutritional balance during recovery.  Here are some of the foods that provide the best nutrition for recovering alcoholics.

What Foods Provide the Best Nutrition For Recovering Alcoholics?

While it’s important to keep in mind any dietary restrictions and food allergies you may have, certain foods are jam-packed with nutritious content that is vital to the overall recovery process. Before eating any of these foods, make sure to consult with your doctor or treatment professional if you think there might be any allergy issues.

Nutrient-Rich Liquids

Nutrient-rich liquids such as soups, stews, and smoothies are an important part of the recovery process, especially in the beginning during detox and the early parts of rehab treatment. One of the first things that need to be “fixed” when undergoing treatment is the digestive system. Substance abuse puts a major strain on the digestive system and that needs to be functioning normally for the body to process foods. Since things like soups, stews, and smoothies are always in a liquid form, these types of foods are less strenuous on the digestive system in the beginning.

Not only are these types of foods rich in nutrients and easy on the body to digest, but they are also hydrating. This is important because hydration helps get drug metabolites out of the body during early recovery and can ease the severity of detox symptoms.

Healthy, Filling Snacks

As your body essentially re-teaches itself to live without drugs and alcohol, you might notice some mood swings as it relates to hunger or even drastic drops in your blood sugar levels. For these reasons, it’s important to have a variety of healthy and filling snacks on hand.

Nuts are a great filling and healthy snack and can directly help in the overall recovery process from addiction. While all nuts are good, certain nuts benefit certain parts of the body more than others.

  • Walnuts – Walnuts are great for anyone who needs to add more fatty acids into their diet. Walnuts are ideal for anyone who regularly used cocaine as cocaine is known to deplete essential fatty acids.
  • Almonds – Almonds are naturally high in calcium. This is particularly important for anyone who suffered from alcohol abuse as alcohol depletes the body of calcium
  • Brazil Nuts – Brazil nuts are rich in a powerful antioxidant called selenium. This antioxidant helps with immune cell production, restores live function, and supports detoxification pathways.

In addition to nuts, some other great snacks that you can try include rice crackers, fruit, chia puddings, fresh fruit, vegetables, and dips.

Calcium-Rich Foods

Replenishing your body with calcium is very important during your early stages of sobriety. As we mentioned above, calcium deficiency is most commonly found in those that suffered from alcohol addiction. The reason why calcium-rich foods are so important, especially in the beginning is that a high amount of calcium in the blood can help prevent some of the more extreme symptoms of withdrawal. Additionally, a calcium-rich diet can help prevent relapse in the future.

Carbs

While carbs might get a bad rap in the rest of the world, for someone newly sober they can be a crucial part of the overall diet. Carbs are vital to overall brain function which is crucial for someone who is having to re-teach their brain to function without the need or want for drugs and alcohol.

Also, carbs help to raise insulin levels, which in turn helps get more amino acids to the brain. This, in turn, helps alleviate some of the issues related to withdrawal symptoms and can even help prevent relapse.

Are There Foods That Are Good For Certain Parts of the Body?

Believe it or not, certain foods specifically benefit certain parts of the body. A balanced nutritional diet can go a long way when it comes to recovery and getting your body back to functioning how it should be. The following foods are ideal for the overall health of certain parts of the body.

Brain

Addiction can cause major damage to the brain. It can result in the loss of cognitive abilities such as the ability to remember things or perform certain skills. There are numerous ways to restore these cognitive abilities, one of which is by eating foods that are good for your brain. The following foods are great for improving overall brain function:

  • Foods rich with omega 3 acids including flax and salmon
  • Foods rich with flavonoids including cocoa, green tea, and citrus fruit
  • Avocados
  • Walnuts
  • Tomatoes
  • Ginger
  • Lentils

Liver

Alcohol, as well as drugs that are ingested via injection, can wreak havoc on the liver. Our liver is used for detoxifying harmful chemicals that are ingested. A damaged or non properly functioning liver can result in major health issues. While in some cases the damage caused to the liver as a result of addiction can be non-reversible, certain foods can help reverse some of the damage. Foods that are high in sulfur and antioxidants can help detoxify and repair the liver. Some foods that are good for the liver include:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Beetroot
  • Lemons
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Berries
  • Plums
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Apples
  • Pears

Lungs

Lung problems are common for those suffering from addiction, especially if their ingestion came via smoking. Since our lungs are vital for breathing, any sort of significant damage to the lungs can make something as simple as breathing a difficult task. Foods that are rich in antioxidants, magnesium, and omega 3 acids are great for overall lung health and repair. Some foods that are great for overall lung health include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Flax seeds
  • Flax oil
  • Salmon
  • Chia seeds
  • Berries
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Artichokes
  • Apples

Energy

For most people, when they stop taking drugs and drinking alcohol and start treatment, they will lack energy. They put their body through hell for an extended period-of-time when they were using and the body just doesn’t have anything left to give anymore. This is even more true after detox. A lack of energy can result in weight gain, trouble sleeping, and unwanted stress. Healthy carbs as well as foods rich in vitamins A, B, and E, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron are all great for boosting someone’s natural energy. Some foods that are good for doing this include:

  • Antioxidant-rich fruits
  • Leafy greens
  • Honey
  • Nuts such as peanuts, almonds, and pistachios
  • Bananas

Water, Water, and More Water

It should go without saying that water is crucial to the overall functioning of the body, but every once in a while it’s important to get a refresher. Water flushes the body and eliminates toxins from your kidneys and other vital organs. Since the majority of substances that individuals commonly abuse, absorb, and dry up the water contained in the body, dehydration is a common side-effect for those suffering from addiction.

While water is always important, it is even more important for those undergoing detox and the early stages of treatment. Especially in the beginning, you should be drinking so much water that you feel like you are going to float away. Water is a great and easy way to help speed up the detox process and help flush your body out of all the harmful substances that you were ingesting when you were using.

Want To Know More About Nutrition for Recovering Alcoholics?

At Unity Behavioral Health, we know that what you put in your body is just as crucial to your overall recovery as all other aspects of treatment are. Our chefs and nutritionists are trained to provide a well-balanced diet that is ideal for recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Additionally, we will provide you with the tools needed so that you can continue to eat the right types of food once you leave us and return home. For more information about our treatment services, or to get started on your road to recovery, contact us today.

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