How Diet Can Aid Recovery: Foods and Minerals That Reduce Symptoms During DetoxAnna Ciulla
Drug and alcohol detox is easier and more manageable when you’re eating a well-balanced diet with the right, nutritious foods. Learn how based on what the experts say:
If you’re considering a drug or alcohol detox before going into treatment for drug and alcohol use, consider that the foods and minerals you consume during detox can help make recovery more comfortable and less stressful. Furthermore, certain foods and minerals help reduce detox symptoms.
Drug & Alcohol Detox Diet: WHAT YOU EAT MATTERS
While diet isn’t the first thing on your mind when you decide to embark on a detox plan, it is an important aspect of your wellbeing that requires attention, since alcohol’s effects can take a serious toll on the body. For one thing, as your body purges the toxins in drugs and alcohol, you’re going to go through withdrawal symptoms. During the detoxification process, some of these symptoms are merely annoying and a minor inconvenience, while others can cause more discomfort.
For example, during alcohol withdrawal, anxiety or nervousness can be a problem. In addition, nausea and vomiting are common withdrawal symptoms during detox from certain drugs, especially opioids. Combatting some of the more unpleasant withdrawal symptoms by eating the right foods and taking the right combination of minerals can ease the detox period and help prepare you for formal treatment.
Junk food is out. No more greasy fries and fat-laden meals. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, those undergoing alcohol detox benefit from a low-fat diet and:
- Avoid excessive intake of sugar and salt
- Reduce intake of carbohydrates, although a certain amount of carbohydrates, including fiber, is recommended for detox from alcohol.
- Drink more water, so you don’t become dehydrated.
- Eat more fruit and vegetables, lean meat, lots of protein.
Of course, when you receive detox care from medical professionals, your diet plan will be carefully managed so you can be assured that you’ll eat nutritious, delicious meals that are designed to help you heal.
DETOX IS A PROCESS – YOU CAN HANDLE IT
Lack of knowledge about what detox is and how to get through it frightens off many well-intentioned individuals. What’s imagined and not real can derail a decision to go into detox and treatment. On the other hand, when you arm yourself with as much information as possible about detox and choose a licensed and certified detox facility and addiction treatment center, you’ll be less apprehensive and more motivated to follow through on your decision to get clean and sober.
Experts point out people with chronic substance abuse issues generally suffer from malnutrition, as well as nutrient deficiencies because they lack having a well-balanced diet due to their addiction controlling their appetite. Poor appetite, low vitamin A and C, low-range potassium, and low iron levels are common with heavy drinkers and drug addiction.
Keep in mind that detox from most drugs and alcohol is of limited duration. It’s not going to continue for weeks and months, although certain drugs do have residual and ongoing symptoms to contend with. These include addiction to methamphetamine and some opioids, with withdrawal symptoms that can include psychotic symptoms that can persist for months and years, along with stress that can “precipitate spontaneous recurrence.”
What is the official definition of detox?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that detoxification or detox is “the process of allowing the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal.”
Detox, however, isn’t the end of the road in getting clean and sober. Indeed, as the NIDA and other recovery organizations stress, it is just the beginning. Treatment with behavioral therapy, along with any necessary and available medications, should follow detox.
With the constant monitoring of professionals during medical detox, you have nothing to fear and everything to gain. You’re doing something proactive to regain your sobriety. Furthermore, you can handle the process of detox – and make it easier on yourself by taking advantage of eating a well-managed diet that helps reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms and long-term health effects from drug or alcohol abuse.
Minerals & Foods to eat while detoxing from drugs & Alcohol
Research has found that those who drink the largest quantities of alcohol have diets of the poorest quality. Reversing the trend of unhealthy eating takes time and diligence. What better time to begin eating healthier than during the time you’re purging your body from alcohol and drugs? So, what should you eat while you’re in detox to minimize withdrawal symptoms? Surprisingly, the list eat on an alcohol detox diet is extensive and the choices are not only healthy, they’re also delicious. Besides, becoming more aware of and educating yourself about foods and minerals that can help you heal is scientifically proven to assist in positive outcomes from substance abuse treatment.
Here are some minerals and foods to focus on which cleanse and detox along with the withdrawal symptoms they help to reduce:
- Calcium – Excessive alcohol consumption often results in deficiencies in calcium levels in the body. Combat this lack of calcium by eating dark, leafy greens. Opt for a delicious salad with not too much dressing.
- Iron – Necessary to transmit oxygen throughout the body, iron can be seriously depleted from excessive drinking. Make headway on restoring iron levels by consuming raisins, lean meat and beans.
- Magnesium – Alcohol depletes the amount of magnesium in the body. Magnesium helps to heal the damage caused by alcohol and boosts energy. This essential mineral also helps relax muscles and nerves. It’s easy to get sufficient magnesium in a diet during the detoxification process. Add whole grain bread and cereals, nuts, fruits and vegetables to daily fare.
- Potassium – Becoming aware of foods that help boost potassium levels is important for effective detox from alcohol. Fortunately, there are many foods rich in potassium that can help. These include bananas, spinach, baked sweet potatoes, baked white potato, dried peas and beans, milk, artichoke, fish, lentils, prunes and more.
- Zinc – Important in healing wounds, zinc also helps to restore healthy immunity in the body and helps you recover from detox faster. Lean beef, almonds and beans help to restore zinc levels.
Certain foods rich in vitamins and minerals help to calm and reduce specific withdrawal symptoms during detox, including anxiety, agitation, depression, diarrhea, irritability, jitteriness, muscle cramps, nausea and nervousness.
- Bananas and sunflower seeds – Chronic drinking reduces dopamine, a neurotransmitter. While it’s true that alcohol initially raises dopamine levels, this falls off with excessive drinking, leading to anxiousness and cravings to drink. Eating bananas and sunflower seeds helps to raise dopamine levels in the body, helping to reduce alcohol cravings that surface during detox.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables – Packed with fiber, these plant-based foods assist the body in maintaining a stable blood sugar level, very important in curbing alcohol cravings. Another benefit of eating fresh fruits and vegetables during detox is that they work to strengthen the immune system and protect the liver, both of which are negatively affected because of excessive drinking.
- Fresh, raw spinach and parsley – Rich in L-glutamine, these foods decrease cravings for sugar, as well as the desire to drink, especially important for recovering alcoholics. Since cooking destroys L-glutamine, it’s best to consume raw foods that contain it.
- Whole grain breads and cereals, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables – Fiber-rich complex carbohydrates digest slower in the body, helping to curb alcohol cravings. That’s because the body’s blood sugar levels remain steady.
Remember that the choice to get clean and sober is a life-affirming action you take. So, too, is incorporating appropriate foods in your diet that can help reduce withdrawal symptoms during detox.
As part of our holistic approach to substance abuse treatment, Beach House has other articles about how certain foods and diet can help aid the body during recovery:
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Nutrition education is positively associated with substance abuse treatment program outcomes.” Retrieved May 19, 2017
SFGate, “List of Healthy Foods that Raise Serotonin Levels.” Retrieved May 21, 2017
SFGate, “What Foods Decrease an Alcohol Craving?” Retrieved May 21, 2017