How Nutrition and Health Plays a Role in Addiction Recovery

October 5, 2021

A well-known fact is that our bodies need food to function, but did you know that eating nutritious whole foods can help with addiction recovery?

Your body needs nutrients and food to survive. Getting in your healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates for the day will keep your body energized, giving you more power to do the things you want to do. Unfortunately, though, people who struggle with drug addiction and substance abuse often let their diet and health fall by the wayside. As an addict, obtaining and using your drug of choice is much more of a priority than eating right and getting in your exercise, which will lead to bad health habits and a decline in your body’s overall well-being. 

According to The Huntsman Mental Health Institute of the University of Utah, “Drugs and alcohol can affect metabolism, organ function, and mental well-being, and can prevent the body from properly absorbing, digesting, and using nutrients.” However, when nutrition becomes a priority, you can get those “important vitamins and minerals you need to start the physical repair and boost your immune function.” Let’s take a closer look at how striving for better health and nutrition can help as you’re working towards or have become a recovered addict.

How Substance Abuse Affects Your Need for Nutrients

Before getting into how nutrients can heal your body during addiction recovery, let’s first talk about the impact of drugs and alcohol on the nutrition that your body needs when you are struggling with addiction. Depending on the addictive substance, an addict may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite/failing to eat 
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Organ damage (stomach, liver, kidneys, pancreas, etc.) 
  • Poor eating habits 
  • Binge eating 
  • Gastrointestinal problems 
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain 
  • Mental health issues 
  • Difficentcey of essential vitamins and nutrients (Folic acid, vitamins B1 and B6, thiamine, and more) 
  • Increased cholesterol 
  • Inconsistent heart rate

Nutrition in Addiction Recovery 

Many studies have shown that when someone is seeking treatment for a drug addiction, pairing the addict with a nutritionist or health expert can help to heal the addict’s body from the inside out. Once a person’s body is detoxed from the substance and starts to receive its proper nutrients, the body and mind can feel and perform better. By eating a balanced diet, the body can start doing the following: 

  • Heal damaged organs 
  • Improve the immune system
  • Improve your mood
  • Increase your energy 

Here are some of the things you can do to improve your diet: 

  • Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry 
  • Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet 
  • Seek out foods with higher protein and fiber 
  • Monitor your sugar intake 
  • Drink your recommended daily amount of water 
  • Take vitamins and supplements to restore any deficiencies (speak to a physician to learn what to take) 

Exercise in Addiction Recovery 

Combined with other effective treatments, exercise shows promise in helping overcome addiction, according to Claire Twark, MD. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise can help to reduce the urge to partake in drugs and harmful substances. By participating in physical activity, your brain releases endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body. Exercise is also proven to give you more energy and will help you concentrate on other tasks. While exercise alone will not completely eradicate drug addiction, it can help an addict live a healthier and happier life throughout their addiction recovery journey and help them to stay sober longer. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults 18-64 years of age require at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity. At least two days a week should include a strength-training.

Steps Recovery Centers for Addiction Recovery 

Steps Recovery Centers is here to help you live a healthier life as you overcome drug addiction. During your addiction recovery journey with us, you’ll learn strategies that will help you to gain sobriety and stay sober. We have many types of recovery programs treating all sorts of substance abuse problems. We have locations in St. George, Draper, and Payson, Utah, where you can find inpatient, outpatient, and family support services.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and require help, please don’t hesitate to contact us to make an appointment for a free consultation or learn more about our services today.

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