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.
Nutrition and Cravings
The Power of Nutrition at Detox
While research is still discovering new and intricate ways the body and brain chemistry work, we know the brain and body require the presence of all nutrients (vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids) to perform efficiently. Research shows that the lack of a single vitamin or mineral can cause metabolic imbalances that will create addictive cravings.
Research on Nutrition and Alcohol Consumption
The late biochemist Roger Williams, for example, found that rats that were deficient in specific vitamins (e.g., Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6) consumed more alcohol than those that were not vitamin deficient. But once those vitamins were returned to the diet, alcohol consumption decreased.
Nutrition and Withdrawal
In addition to setting up more cravings, nutritional deficiencies can also be a significant cause of withdrawal-like symptoms such as fatigue, depression, irritability, mental derangement, and other conditions that block recovery and lead to a relapse. The specific nutrients the body needs are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, those lacking for many recovering addicts.
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.
Protein Power for Rehabilitation
What Protein is and Why Its Key For Rehab
Protein is needed for growth, tissue repair, healthy immune systems, essential hormone production, digestive enzymes, and energy when carbohydrates are not available. Protein also preserves lean muscle mass. Protein does not usually get absorbed directly into the bloodstream, but rather it is first
broken down by the body into amino acids. Some aminos the body can manufacture, but the others-essential amino acids-the body requires from nutrition.
Essential Amino Acids
Lysine, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine cannot and must be consumed daily for the proper functioning of the body. For example, neurotransmitters in the brain is made up of amino acids that you get solely from the protein you eat. The neurotransmitter serotonin is derived from tryptophan-rich foods like turkey and milk. The Dietary Reference Intakes published by the USDA mention that ten to thirty-five % of our calories should come from protein. However, research suggests that chemical substances like alcohol can impair the digestion of proteins into amino acids, the processing of amino acids by the small intestine and liver, and the amount of protein secreted by the liver. That means you need to eat even more protein and amino acids when recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
Protein/Amino Acid Nutritional Deficiencies
Every second, the bone marrow makes 2.5 million red cells. Most of the gastrointestinal tract and blood platelets are replaced every four days. Most of the white cells are replaced in ten days. All this continuous repair work requires amino acids (Braverman, 1987). People often underestimate how many proteins/amino acids are needed for the body to function correctly.
Eating “Complete” Proteins
Eating any protein will raise the number of amino acids in your bloodstream. However, for amino acids to function, you must either eat complete proteins that contain all the essential amino acids or supplement your diet with other complementary ones. Animal food proteins (meat, fish, eggs, dairy products) are usually complete, while plant proteins (vegetables, beans, and grains) are incomplete. If eating a vegetarian diet, you must combine different types of proteins to make sure the body is getting essential amino acids. For example, beans and rice are blended to make a complete protein, while separate, they are incomplete.
While historically, it was thought that each separate meal needed to consist of a complete protein, research now suggests that getting a complete amount of protein over an entire day is sufficient. When a body is under stress or chemically imbalanced, as is the case for most recovering addicts, even more, protein/amino acids are required than normal. For one thing, non-essential amino acids may become essential amino acids as the body works to provide the heightened demand for amino acids resulting from the augmented decomposition caused by drugs and alcohol. Dr. Joan Mathews Larson, Ph.D., director of Health Recovery Center (a holistic center that combines psychological, spiritual, and nutritional components in treatment) notes in her book, Seven Weeks to Sobriety: The Proven Program to Fight Alcoholism Through Nutrition, alcoholics, and drug addicts are often so depleted of amino acids that their conversion from protein to amino acids often slows or stops altogether. This deficiency can lead to common recovery problems of depression, poor recall, hostile and aggressive behavior, mental confusion, anxiety, and paranoia. Hundreds of research studies at Harvard, MIT, and elsewhere have confirmed the effectiveness of using just a few targeted amino acids “precursors” to increase the key neurotransmitters, thereby eliminating depression, anxiety, and cravings for food, alcohol, and drugs like heroin.
Recovery Foods for Proteins/Amino Acids
The brain and the body count on proteins and amino acids to function. They are significant in recovery and are found in meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, milk, nuts, legumes, and smaller amounts in complex carbohydrates and vegetables. While many people consume a large quantity of their protein from beef (e.g., hamburgers), that protein source can be high in fat and not as easily digested as other sources. The body doesn’t store amino acids as fats or carbohydrates, so it needs a daily supply of amino acids to make new proteins. Below is a list of alternative high-quality protein choices.
High-Quality Protein Choices
Quinoa, Brown Rice,
Tuna, Cod, Salmon,
Lentils and rice,
Beans and Rice
Because amino acids are critical in promoting good health and proper brain function, most programs reviewed for this document stressed the importance of eating three to six high-protein meals per day. In addition, most programs supplemented an excellent diet with amino acid supplements (see Nutritional Supplements discussed below), especially at the start of the program until the body can readjust from all the imbalances and absorb nutrients effectively. Tyrosine is one of the common nutrients supplemented at the start of an addiction recovery program. It is a non-essential amino acid that is a natural stimulant and is thought to help turn off cravings to stimulants. It can be found in natural sources such as algae, kelp, other seaweeds, milk, sunflower or sesame or pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pulp, banana, and turkey.
No matter where you come from for rehab whether it’s New York or Texas, San Diego will be home where you will be provided nutrition on top of the best rehab services in the country.