Healthy Body Helps Cure a Sick Mind
At Prescott House, we take a complete view of recovery where nutrition is an important but oft-forgotten piece of the puzzle for recovering addicts. The importance of a healthy diet for everyone can’t be overstated. The role of diet in recovery has additional benefits such as ridding the body of toxins all while rebuilding damage to organs, tissue and skin caused by substance abuse.
Let’s look at some of the ways nutrition impacts addiction and how it benefits the recovery process.
Most people are unaware that alcohol contains more calories per gram than any substance on the planet, besides animal fat. The result of this is addicts experiencing a sense of satisfaction – or fullness – while drinking despite the fact that they’ve often had very little, or no actual food.
Drug users experience a similar effect. Both alcohol and drugs prevent the body from properly breaking down and metabolizing nutrients or expelling toxins. Because of this decrease in metabolic function, drug addicts can often go a day (or even several) or more without food all while feeling satisfied – or full even.
The impact of a proper diet on mood is one of the most studied aspects of nutrition. The results all point to the fact that the food you take in has considerable impact on how you perceive the world around you and your mood when dealing with it. For example, sugar and caffeine – two of the most often consumed “food” items by addicts while under the influence – have both been shown to contribute to mood swings and poor attitude overall.
Because of this, we know that the detox process is not typically the best time to gorge on sweets or heavily-caffeinated drinks.
Due to dietary neglect, most addicts experience moderate-to-severe problems with overall health early in the recovery process (although some experience chronic issues even well after obtaining sobriety). The most common of these is gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation, diarrhea, and the inability to digest foods – or – at least the inability to digest foods without discomfort, bloating, gas, or the aforementioned constipation or diarrhea.
Using Nutrition as a Tool in the Fight for Sobriety
Newly recovering addicts typically have similar problems from continued drug use. We ensure that dietary choices are healthy ones and that foods are full of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants in addition to being rich in carbohydrates.
The reason for placing this level of importance on nutrition is due to scientific findings that simple changes, such as switching to a high carbohydrate diet can speed recovery of damaged tissues, organs, and increase the overall function of the nervous and gastrointestinal systems. Proper use of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins go a long way in aiding in recovery and rebuilding after bouts with substance abuse.
In addition, foods rich in amino acids – specifically tyrosine and tryptophan – aid in additional areas. For example, tyrosine is a precursor to the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine – which are chemicals that are responsible for positive moods, and higher levels of mental acuity. Tryptophan, on the other hand, is proven to have a calming effect which leads to better moods and improved sleep quality – two things that most newly recovering addicts tend to struggle with.
As you can see, the foods you put into your body have a huge impact on the entire recovery process. At Prescott House, we’re well aware of the positive benefits of diet on recovery, and as such we ensure that all men in our facility eat a diet that is full of healthy proteins and carbs, as well as nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables.