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What Is Nutrition Therapy?

a doctor answers the question "what is nutrition therapy ?" with an example of a healthy lunch for a patient

What is nutrition therapy? It’s so much more than a luxury feature of addiction recovery. Rather, it reflects the basic truth that the body and mind are closely connected. Unfortunately, substance abuse often results in poor nutrition and physiological damage. This may be due to eating too little, too much, or items with little nutritional value.

Clients who benefit from nutrition therapy as part of substance abuse treatment have much greater resources for long-term sobriety than those who don’t. If you’d like to learn more about this vital component of recovery, contact The Arbor Behavioral Healthcare. Our caring team in Georgetown, Texas is standing by at 844.413.2690 or via online message to answer your questions.

What Is the Impact of Substance Abuse on the Body?

To begin to understand how nutrition therapy can play such an important role in addiction recovery, it’s helpful first to consider a few commonly abused substance’s effects on the body and brain:

  • Stimulants – Meth, cocaine, nicotine, and caffeine overexcite the cardiovascular system and suppress appetite. This can lead to malnutrition, unhealthy weight loss, and even eating disorders like anorexia. Meth, in particular, is also linked to extreme sugar cravings, partially accounting for the prevalence of tooth decay among those who use this deadly drug.
  • Alcohol – Drinking causes a host of adverse effects on the body. It is directly toxic, meaning it causes cell damage in the brain and elsewhere. Moreover, because it takes a great deal of time and energy for the liver to filter alcohol out of the bloodstream, the body has less ability to absorb nutrients from food. Thus, while heavy drinkers often gain weight due to alcohol’s high-caloric nature, they are likewise often malnourished.
  • Marijuana – Marijuana is a well-known appetite enhancer. This can easily lead heavy users to excessive eating and unhealthy weight gain. It can also cause symptoms like elevated heart rate, which may be paired with anxiety or paranoia.
  • Opioids – Medications like codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, and fentanyl cause sedation, leading to slower digestion and constipation. Likewise, withdrawal from these drugs is especially difficult. Those in recovery often experience heightened heart rate, anxiety, insomnia, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance. Sugar cravings are also common in recovery since this product activates similar reward centers in the brain as opioids themselves.

How Can Nutrition Therapy Help?

One of the most impactful ways nutrition therapy benefits people in recovery is its ability to reduce the chance of relapse. Especially combined with adequate exercise, a healthy diet helps stave off anxiety and depression. Given that these mood disruptions are some of the prime triggers for substance abuse, combating them through healthy eating is a game-changer. Learning about consistency is likewise key to the recovery journey. Clients informed not only about what to eat but when to eat can reduce the spikes and dips in blood sugar that cause self-regulation issues in even the healthiest individuals.

Another major benefit of nutrition therapy is hydration. Getting enough water or other hydrating fluids is essential for all basic metabolic and neurochemical processes. This is especially true when medication is a part of clients’ recovery. With adequate hydration, they can fully absorb and process the nutrients in the food they eat and the substances in their prescribed medications.

Finally, nutrition therapy promotes healing. As noted above, many commonly abused substances wreak havoc on the body’s internal systems. Eating a nutrient-dense diet takes vital reparative measures against damage. For example, a registered dietician may prescribe foods that help restore amino acid levels disrupted by drug use. Amino acids, in turn, are the foundation of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, both essential in mood regulation. Vitamin monitoring through supplementation or a prescribed diet can also benefit clients’ recoveries. Ensuring adequate levels of vitamins like folate, iron, B12, and B6, for example, can substantially reduce sleep disturbance and depression.

Find Nutrition Therapy Near Me at The Arbor in Georgetown, TX

At The Arbor’s luxury facilities in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, you’ll find nutrition therapy tailored to your unique needs. Have an allergy, sensitivity, or ethical preference? Our dietary staff is standing by to customize a plan that meets your recovery goals and your other needs. Call us at 844.413.2690 or complete our confidential online form to start the conversation today.