It may sound obvious that nutrition matters for a person’s overall health and well-being. Most people get yearly reminders from their doctors to eat a nutrient-rich diet and exercise regularly. Certainly, those things matter for mental, physical, and emotional wellness. But unfortunately, nutrition’s importance during addiction recovery often gets overlooked. The truth is that nutrition plays a primary role for anyone hoping to get sober. Many addiction treatment providers recognize the connection between nutrition and addiction recovery. A nutrition therapy program can help instill healthy habits that promote healthy organ functioning and clearer thinking.
Nutrition and Addiction Recovery
Substance abuse disorders impact people in ways that manifest both mentally and physically. Most addictions directly impact a person’s relation to food and their diet because of these factors:
- Addiction can suppress appetite or disrupt normal dietary routines
- Addiction may cause people to rely on fast food and sugar
- Addictive drugs cause organ damage that impacts the body’s ability to process and break down nutrients
- Substances like alcohol and opioids cause gastrointestinal distress that prevents proper absorption of nutrients
As it pertains to addiction recovery, nutrition therapy focuses on acknowledging and addressing the importance of nutrients to proper bodily functioning. The six main nutrient groups are vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and water. Each category is affected by drug abuse. An example of how substance abuse impacts the body’s balance of these nutrients is the case of alcoholism. People addicted to alcohol often experience dangerous deficiencies in the following nutrients:
- Folic acid
- Vitamin B6
Lacking those nutrients often brings about anemia, a condition that causes lethargy, dizziness, headaches, and shortness of breath. Moreover, thiamin deficiency can contribute to the development of neurological conditions. In summary, proper nutrition during recovery can combat the impact a substance like alcohol can have. Doing so will reduce negative symptomatology, support proper bodily function, and ultimately contribute to a smoother path toward sobriety.
How Neuroplasticity Improves Addiction Recovery
Neuroplasticity is the term for how the brain is able to form and establish new connections and alter existing connections. This concept is especially relevant in how the brain responds to trauma, injury, disease, or major shifts in the environment. Neuroplasticity also applies in the case of addiction due to changes in the brain’s reward circuitry.
Pursuing sobriety is essentially asking the brain to shift itself back and form different connections once freed from addiction. This process relies on neuroplasticity, which addiction disrupts. Part of a successful recovery is taking the time to encourage neuroplasticity. Thankfully, adequate nutrition boosts the brain’s ability to forge new connections and overcome the negative impact of addiction.
Nutrition Therapy Program at The Arbor
Nutrition therapy is an integral component of The Arbor’s addiction treatment programs. Every client at our addiction treatment center is given access to exercise and nutrition therapy. Proper nutrition supports everything else done in recovery and can in many ways set the foundation for achieving sobriety.
The core of nutrition therapy is developing a meal plan that delivers the nutrients needed to support physical recovery. In the earlier case of alcohol addiction, that means a meal plan in that circumstance would be designed to deliver proper amounts of folic acid, Vitamin B6, and thiamin while remaining balanced.
Implementing a nutrition plan helps clients develop dietary knowledge and habits that will stay with them long after they complete their treatment. Most nutrition plans include the following:
- Scheduled meal times
- A diverse selection of foods that are low in fat and sodium
- Whole grains and high-fiber foods
- An avoidance of caffeine and processed sugars
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
Get your questions about addiction recovery and nutrition answered by calling The Arbor at 844.413.2690.