It’s undeniable — a substance abuse disorder is damaging to your health. With so many chemicals floating around in your system, it’s no surprise that addiction poses so many health risks and complications.

But what you might not know is that one of the best methods of achieving and maintaining sobriety is actually through good nutrition. By replacing the synthetic chemicals found in drugs with naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and proteins found in food, you can begin healing your body from the inside out. 

Addiction’s impact on the body 

Addiction has a significant impact on one’s mental health, but also on your physical health as well. Different substances harm the body in different ways, as seen below: 

  • Cocaine decreases bone density and muscle mass, which can lead to osteoporosis; it also decreases appetite, leading to significant weight loss and possibly the development of eating disorders  
  • Marijuana can have negative impacts on lung and respiratory health, leading to bronchitis or pneumonia; dangers to a growing baby while pregnant; and additional unknown consequences from higher potency concentrations of THC
  • Opioids present risk of breathing difficulties while sleeping, immunosuppression, constipation and even tooth decay 
  • Alcohol addiction causes damage to the liver, brain, heart and pancreas, and can lead to various forms of cancer long term 

Depending on the substances abused, and if more than one substance is abused at a time, the health implications can be significant. Recovery can be challenging because you need to not only overcome the addiction, but rebuild your body’s strength and immunity as well. 

Nutrition is just one way in which you can begin this process. 

Nutrition’s impact on the body 

A well balanced diet does so much for one’s body – and one’s brain! When recovering from addiction, your body needs all the help it can get in order to begin healing its systems from the impact of addiction. 

Not only that, but the benefits of a healthy diet will benefit you your entire life. Some of these include: 

  • Increased immunity 
  • Healthy skin, teeth and hair 
  • Stronger muscles and bones
  • Lowered risk of some cancer, diabetes and other illness
  • Improved digestive health
  • Increased stamina and energy levels
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Help in maintaining a healthy weight 

It’s really quite amazing how much you help your body when you focus on nutritious eating patterns. 

Keys to formulating a healthy diet

It’s exciting to read about the benefits a healthy diet can have on the body, but a hurdle for so many people is getting started. What should you start with? What food groups should you prioritize? Should you meet with a nutritionist to help identify the areas of focus for your optimal health? 

These questions are actually great ones to ask and their answers will get you on the track to healthy eating quickly. 

Where to begin 

Firstly, take stock of your pantry — do you find a lot of processed foods, inflammatory ingredients and highly sugared snacks? Even ingredients like peanuts, deli meats and low-fat snack items are likely to cause a lot of inflammation, even though they’re a common staple in many American diets. 

Begin to weed out these ingredients from your shopping list. As you buy new ingredients and prep healthy meals, identify how you feel afterward — do you feel refreshed, energized and satisfied? Or bloated, overstuffed and sluggish? 

Consider keeping a food journal to help you identify what meals you find beneficial to your health and which ones need some adjustment to better suit your body’s needs. 

What items should I stock my pantry with? 

We’ve mentioned a little bit about anti-inflammatory foods, but there are plenty of other foods you should have on hand to help in your recovery journey. 

Proteins are the building blocks of so many of your body’s systems, and the keys to processes in the body that keep you healthy and feeling good. Good sources of protein include chicken and eggs; fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel; legumes like beans and peas; and even whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. 

Probiotics are also a staple of any nutritious eating plan as they promote the production of healthy bacteria in the gut and help with proper digestive functioning. Good sources of probiotics include Greek yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha. 

Antioxidants protect the body from cancer-causing free radicals, and can lead to significantly better health in the long run. There are numerous ones to choose from, including: 

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Granny Smith and red delicious apples
  • Russet potatoes
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Artichokes 
  • Blueberries 

Antioxidants are easy to come by when you formulate your diet to include meals with lots of fruits and vegetables.

What about a nutritionist?

While in treatment, you’re likely to have meetings with doctors/nutritionists who will educate you about the value of nutrition and help you formulate a healthy diet to fit your lifestyle. 

And if you need additional help even when you’re out of recovery, there are plenty of dieticians who can help guide you towards healthy living through food. 

Seeking recovery? 

If you’ve battled addiction and are seeking sobriety and freedom from the unhealthy habits of substance use, help is available. To learn more about the addiction treatment programs offered at October Road, contact us to get in touch today.

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