Optimal Nutrition for Detoxification
Many recovering addicts have grown intense nutritional deficits in essential proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals and disrupted their capacity to digest carbohydrates effectively. While
some of these dietary insufficiencies are caused by the physical and biochemical changes from drug and alcohol use, others happen because of poor nutritional choices.
In drug and alcohol use activity, it is very common to see the following patterns and food habits:
1. Missed or no breakfast.
2. Excess intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates.
3. Heightened intake of fast and processed foods.
4. Low dietary intake of protein.
5. Very little intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
6. Large dairy intake.
Dietary habits, such as those above, provide too much sugar and too few vital nutrients-nutrients that are especially important for recovering addicts battling chemically-depleted brains and bodies, digestive problems, and other health issues that prevent them from absorbing and utilizing nutrients effectively.
Carbohydrates and Sobriety
Carbohydrates provide the sugar, or glucose, needed by all body parts for fuel (e.g., brain, central nervous system, kidneys, and muscles). The USDA suggests that 45 to 65 percent of daily calorie intake comes from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are also crucial for intestinal health and waste elimination.
Carbohydrates can be discovered in many types of food and come in two different forms: complex or simple (sugar). Unfortunately, like most Americans, many recovering drug and alcohol addicts consume too many simple carbohydrates and too few complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are found in highly-refined and processed foods, sugary colas, alcohol, pastries, and other types of food that contain white sugar and white flour. Simple carbohydrates have been
stripped of all their nutrients (e.g., enzymes, vitamins, minerals) and fiber. They consist primarily of sugar that does not need to be broken down by the body. Simple carbohydrates are broken down so quickly by the body that they are often absorbed into the blood nearly instantaneously, giving an energy jolt.
Going from Simple to Complex Carbohydrates and Understanding Insulin and the Pancreas (and its effect on the Brain)
In contrast, complex carbohydrates are found in food such as whole grains, nuts and seeds, potatoes, squash, and many other kinds of vegetables. Complex carbohydrates are occasionally referred to as starches and combine sugars with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Because complex carbohydrates remain combined with other nutrients, the body slowly breaks them down into sugar to be used by the brain and body. This slow breakdown process allows the body to absorb the sugar in the bloodstream over a more extended period, which provides the body with a steady stream of energy. Understanding the effects on the body and brain is our objective to teach to clients at La Jolla Recovery. Carbohydrates and sugar are highly addictive and often a problem for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. In particular, most consume too many simple carbohydrates and not enough complex carbohydrates, which can lead to severe malnourishment and problems related to digestion and nutrient absorption, like hypoglycemia and adrenal fatigue, as discussed previously.
Hypoglycemia, adrenal fatigue, and other carbohydrate-metabolism health problems are best managed with the diet by increasing proteins, reducing simple carbohydrates, and replacing them with more complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables and whole grains. Also, meals should be eaten at regular intervals to stabilize blood sugar throughout the day.
Simple carbohydrates that should be avoided or eliminated from the diet are things like cereals(except oatmeal), pieces of bread, pies, cakes, spaghetti, and other white pasta, all sweet soft drinks, alcohol, caffeine, and different types of “junk” food that lack nutrients. These simple carbohydrates should be replaced with complex carbohydrates like whole grains, nuts, seeds, and many vegetables that are more slowly absorbed in the body, placing less pressure on your adrenal glands. Also, add proteins and high-quality fats (i.e., olive, flax, fish oil) as carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly when consumed with fats. Also, note that check the labels to avoid food heavy in sugar when purchasing food at the store. Sugar can be found in numerous states, including sucrose, glucose, dextrose, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn starch, molasses, brown sugar, and honey.