As you know, addiction is a disease that affects millions of Americans. Many people who struggle with addiction also suffer from poor nutrition and other health issues. Here are some ways you can support your health and sobriety by eating better:
The Role of Nutrition in Addiction Recovery
Nutrition and addiction
Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to a variety of health problems, including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Say’s Dr. Julian Mitton, in addition to these well-known associations between poor diet and chronic illness, research has shown that individuals who struggle with addiction may have an increased risk for certain medical conditions as well. For instance:
- Alcoholics are more likely than non-alcoholics to suffer from malnutrition due to poor dietary habits or malabsorption issues related to alcohol metabolism (1). Malnutrition can also be caused by alcoholism itself–the toxic effects of alcohol on the body make it difficult for some people who drink heavily over long periods of time (such as binge drinkers) to absorb nutrients properly (2). This can lead directly into another issue: vitamin deficiencies caused by malnutrition or malabsorption issues related to alcoholism are known contributors toward relapse (3).
Vitamin D and Addiction
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb calcium. It’s also an important component of bone health, and studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk for osteoporosis, rickets (a condition caused by a deficiency in vitamin D), muscle weakness and pain.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Addiction
The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are essential for brain health. They’re found in fish, nuts, seeds, and other foods high in fat. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, which means they can help reduce the risk of developing inflammation-based diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Magnesium, B Vitamins and Addiction
Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important role in the metabolism of both dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that affect your mood. Magnesium can be found in whole grains, nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens and legumes; however getting enough magnesium through diet alone can be difficult because many people don’t consume enough of these foods on a daily basis.
Taking a supplement may help reduce cravings for sugar or alcohol by improving sleep quality or reducing stress levels (both have been linked to addictive behaviours).
Coffee and Caffeine
Caffeine is a drug. It’s a stimulant, meaning it increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The effects of caffeine can last anywhere from three to six hours, depending on how much you consume and how you take it (e.g., coffee vs. tea).
Caffeine can be addictive–and withdrawal can be challenging if you’re not used to having a lot of coffee or tea in your diet!
The role of nutrition in addiction recovery is an important one. By making sure that you are getting the right nutrients in your diet and drinking plenty of water, you can help support a healthy brain and body which will make it easier to stay sober.