Is Good Nutrition Key to Addiction Recovery?
It Could Make All The Difference!
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.— Hippocrates, Father of Medicine, 431 B.C.
Your Brain – on Food
In a recent article in the Harvard Medical School, Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food, the connection between nutrition and depression, anxiety and other mental health issues was examined.
The conclusion from several studies: Food, and the quality of food consumed, has an effect on mental states.
Healthy foods help promote happy mental states. Junk food and sugary foods help promote depression and anxiety.
An individual too busy to take care of their health – is like a mechanic too busy to take care of their tools.– Spanish Proverb
Depression and Recovery Missing Link? The ‘Gut’ and Brain Connection
Nutritional psychiatry is a rapidly developing field. Recently published research has clinical evidence that dietary interventions for depression are feasible and can provide significant clinical benefit.
Research has suggested that the gut microbiota has an influence on mood. Poor diet is a risk factor for depression.
The effects of the gut microbiota on human health is an area of neuroscience interest. Several researchers suggest that microorganisms be considered as a new group of drugs named “psycho-microbiotics”. Psychobiotics may exert their beneficial effects on mood through modulation of neural networks associated with emotional attention.
For example, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. Approximately 95% of serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract.
The gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons. The inner workings of the digestive system not only digests food, it also guides emotions!
Mens sana in corpore sano – Latin phrase, usually translated as “a healthy mind in a healthy body”
Addiction Recovery, Healthy Foods and a Happy Life
There is an important connection between mood, nutrition, and substance abuse. Many people start using drugs or alcohol as a way to deal with feelings of anxiety or depression. Depression and anxiety, if left untreated – greatly increase the risk for relapse.
What if you could wake up every morning – and feel good?
Malnutrition is common in individuals in early recovery. When addicted to drugs or alcohol, maintaining a healthy diet containing critical nutrients is not part of daily life.
- In a cycle of use and abuse, there is no time for grocery shopping and preparing healthy meals.
- Mental health issues compound substance use and reduce healthy habits.
- Drugs or alcohol can cause increasing depletion of vitamins and minerals.
- Certain addictive substances often reduce appetite when they are abused.
- Substance abuse can cause digestive problems that lead users to ‘comfort foods’; processed and containing large amounts of sugar.
In evidence based addiction recovery treatment, learning proper nutrition is an important element of the recovery process.
Healthy Food Shift – Junk Food Withdrawal?
In any addiction, healing doesn’t happen overnight. A slow shift to healthy foods helps body and mind stabilize after months or even years of abuse.
Many think that suddenly dropping French fries and ice cream from the menu – and replacing them with healthy foods and lots of water – is easy. Surprisingly, there’s also a subtle detox that needs to happen from junk food before adapting to a healthy diet.
Individuals eating mostly junk foods experience a kind of withdrawal from carbs, sugar, caffeine, and processed fats. As with all addictive substances, a high intake of junk foods artificially enhances the pleasure center of the brain with dopamine – while increasing levels of the stress hormone corticosterone.
Studies show that junk food withdrawal symptoms can include:
Similar to substance abuse withdrawal, a strong intent and purpose is required to manage cravings for certain foods and beverages. As the vitamins and minerals from healthy whole foods repair the body – junk food cravings will stop. Switching from a diet consisting almost entirely of highly processed processed food to healthy dishes prepared at home isn’t easy. At first eating food that isn’t chock full of chemical flavorings and enhancers created by men in white lab coats will be challenging. You may feel like your new diet is completely flavorless but if you’re able to completely abstain from junk/fast food for a few weeks your taste buds will reset. Once that happens the flavor will return in a big way! You can do it! Your mind and body will thank you.
Healthy Food Rewards – Good Nutrition, Healthy Body, Happier Moods
What foods are good for lasting addiction recovery? A Mediterranean-style diet supplemented with fish oil has been found to improve mental health in individuals with depression. This nutritional model is also very good for recovering addicts and alcoholics.
The foods recommended in a Mediterranean-style diet are easy to prepare and readily available. And these foods contain the critical vitamins and nutrients needed for addition recovery – and ongoing good health.
It is recommended to begin an addiction recovery diet within 30 days of detox. Evidence-based, whole person addiction rehab centers include addiction nutrition as a basic element of recovery.
Recommended Addiction Recovery Diet – General Guidelines
- Protein rich breakfast
- Minimum 2 liters water/day
- Fruit or vegetable with every meal (raw vegetable at least once/day)
- Beans, nuts, or seeds with every meal/snack
- Dessert served only twice/week (fresh fruit served on other nights)
- No sodas, energy drinks, or other sweetened beverages
- No artificial sweeteners (or other “diet foods”)
- No refined grains (whole grains only)
- No fried foods (including frozen prepared foods)
- No processed or artificially created foods
Whole Person Addiction Recovery
Rediscovering sobriety with wellness is a joyful experience!
With New Start Recovery Solutions treatment options, each client receives a complete evaluation and individualized treatment plan. Our recovery professionals use nutrition as a critical component of addiction recovery.
Recovery treatment includes individual counseling, group counseling and individualized medication protocol (when needed); as well as holistic practices such as tai chi, yoga, mindfulness relapse prevention and meditation.
Northern California Evidence-Based Whole Person Addiction Recovery
Intervention, Medical Detox, Individualized Treatment Plans, Residential Program, Dual Diagnosis Integrated Treatment, Trauma Treatment, Functional Alcoholic and Addict Rehab, Day Treatment, Outpatient Treatment, Family Healing, Whole Person Addiction Recovery, Relapse Prevention, Transitional Housing and Work Programs, EAP Programs, Veterans Programs.
Importance of Treating Co-occurring Disorders (Dual Diagnosis) in Addiction Rehab
If PTSD or any form of mental illness is also involved (depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and more) – it is critical to make certain the recovery center you choose has Dual Diagnosis (co-occurring disorders) treatment.
Individuals with co-occurring disorders are best served through integrated addiction treatment. New Start Recovery Solutions will help you access the right alcohol or drug treatment program for you in Northern California and the U.S.
With integrated treatment, mental health disorders receive treatment at the same time as substance use disorders. This strategy provides the best long term addiction recovery outcomes.
If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction – as well as PTSD, depression, trauma or other mental health issue: Please know that help is available to provide comprehensive, holistic and integrated addiction rehab treatment.
New Start Recovery Solutions – Addiction Recovery in Northern California
• Each patient is evaluated by New Start Recovery Solutions staff and receives a biopsychosocial assessment; and an individualized treatment plan.
• We use Mindfulness Relapse Prevention and other whole person evidence-based therapies; including CBT, yoga, tai chi and more.
• If you or your loved one is located in the East Bay, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Bay Area, Sacramento, Chico, Paradise, Redding, Martinez or other northern California area – and are dealing with a drug abuse or an alcohol use disorder – welcome to evidence-based whole person addiction treatment at New Start Recovery Solutions.
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1. The field of Nutritional Psychiatry is relatively new, however there are observational data regarding the association between diet quality and mental health across countries, cultures and age groups – depression in particular.
2. There are also now two interventions suggesting that dietary improvement can prevent depression:
3. Diet during early life is also linked to mental health outcomes in children (very important from public health perspective):
4. Extensive animal data show that dietary manipulation affects brain plasticity and there are now data from humans to suggest the same: