The Role of Nutritional Therapy in Addiction Treatment
The role of nutritional therapy in addiction treatment is often overlooked, and that is a shame because the truth is good nutrition can not only help the body to repair and heal itself, it also is a solution to the problems, and not just masking the symptoms like many medications do.
There are some addiction treatment centers such as Palm Partners that recognize the role nutritional therapy plays in addiction treatment and use this knowledge to help their clients not only to sustain a healthy recovery but also a healthy mind and body. And that is why chefs prepare a diet specifically designed for repairing the body that consists of low carb and high protein meals, healthy snacks, complex carbs, a no energy drink (Red Bull, Monster etc.) policy and nutrition groups and classes.
But what is the role of nutritional therapy in addiction treatment? Why that kind of diet? Why does it matter what we eat? Why no energy drinks? We are glad you asked.
Food provides the body with the nutritional building blocks it needs to run at maximum capacity, and also to heal itself. Addicts and alcoholics when they first come into addiction treatment, more often than not, are nutritionally deficient and their bodies have been wracked with the continued use of alcohol, opiates, cocaine, meth, and whatever other substances there are out there. To put it simply, most addicts, if not all of them, weren’t eating a healthy diet to begin with, and then they also were putting their body through added stress with their drug use and drinking.
But nutritional therapy can begin to reverse if not totally fix all of that. And here is how:
First let’s talk about sugar and alcohol:
The link between sugar and alcoholism has been proven time and time again.
The active alcoholic usually drinks about half of their calories, or more, in the form of alcohol. And the remaining 50 percent of calories are not usually nutritionally dense foods, they are usually junk foods. And junk foods are empty calories that actually deplete the body even more of nutrients.
How alcohol affects the body’s nutrition: It causes the cells in the brain that control appetite by suppressing the desire for food while encouraging more alcohol intake; it provides a lot of calories without essential nutrients so any energy that is to be had from alcohol is short lived and leaves the body without any nutrition to use; and last after the initial rush of energy provided by alcohol there is severe drop in blood sugar levels which leads to fatigue, depression and a loss of energy as well as the want to consume more sugar and carbohydrates as well as a caffeine.
How nutritional therapy in addiction treatment can help: Encouraging a diet free of sugar and all its forms is essential to becoming healthy and beating the fatigue, depression, and loss of energy many alcoholics and addicts experience. Nutritional therapy in addiction treatment pushes addicts and alcoholics to eat more complex carbs that take longer to digest and therefore provide more stable sources of energy and don’t cause the cravings for more sugar. Nutritional therapy in addiction treatment also offers three meals a day with snacks in between to keep blood sugar stable so there isn’t any crash associated with fatigue, and depression; which if they are severe enough can cause relapse. This is why Palm Partners always has healthy snacks including fruits, vegetables, and all natural granola bars available to its clients as well as provides three meals a day.
Now let’s talk about oils, fats, and proteins with a special focus on proteins.
How drug use and drinking affects the body: Drug use and drinking causes the body to have to work overtime. It damages skin tissue, organ tissue, muscle tissue, and every part of the body. It causes the liver especially to have to work extra hard leaving it weak and damaged. Another important thing that drug use and drinking affects is the brain. Different substances have different effects on the brain, but in general they all can cause depression, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and many other problems.
How nutritional therapy in addiction treatment can help: By offering a diet high in protein and low in carbs like the one offered at Palm Partners.
Proteins help the body repair tissue and the addict or alcoholic entering into addiction treatment needs this more than ever. Proteins can help restore organs affected by continued drug and alcohol use including the liver, pancreas, kidneys, heart and brain. Protein can literally repair damaged organ tissue, muscle tissue and so much more. Protein is also needed for stabilizing blood sugar as we mentioned above. Great sources of protein that nutritional therapy offers and also that Palm Partners offers are eggs, lean red meats, chicken, fish, and turkey. Nuts are a great protein snack. As for oils and fats, getting enough fats is essential for the body to even be capable of absorbing vitamins and nutrients for cellular repair. Deficiencies of oils rich in essential fatty acids can cause a lot of problems including depression.
Nutritional therapy in addiction treatment: What not to eat
Nutritional therapy in addiction treatment recognizes the importance of what we put into our bodies, but it also recognizes that some things should be kept out of our bodies too, especially for those recovering addicts and alcoholics. Some things that are recommended to avoid according to nutritional therapy in addiction treatment are for example, caffeine. (This is why Palm Partners has a no energy drink policy.)
- Caffeine overstimulates the nervous system and can cause increased anxiety and insomnia. Herbal coffee substitutes could be used or decaf coffee.
- Another “cut out” is artificial foods. Anything artificial adds to the load on the liver and for recovering addicts and alcoholics it is best to lighten or ease the load on the liver. This is because the liver is already struggling and adding chemicals and preservatives makes it struggle even harder. Foods should be as close to their source as possible. Doing this can cut back on alcohol cravings!
Everything else nutrition related can be taught and is also provided at Palm Partners and the nutrition groups offered. For instance the nutrition groups would teach the important role B vitamins play during detox from alcohol and drugs as well as provide sources for those vitamins. A great example would be Vitamin B1 which is essential for ensuring proper brain function and decreasing fatigue, fog and poor memory. And so on and so forth. The list of vitamins that work wonders for a healing and recovering addict and alcoholic could go on and on and are available at Palm Partners as part of a holistic treatment that includes nutritional therapy and also vitamin therapy. To learn more about our nutritional therapy programs, call us at 800-951-6135.