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How nutrition helps your body heal in addiction recovery?

A person who is designing a healthful lifestyle plan on their laptop.

What is the importance of nutrition is addiction recovery?

According to research, eating healthy helps you on the road to addiction recovery. The constant misuse of drugs and alcohol during the pre-treatment phase for those with addiction can cause havoc in their mind and body. Those who have been struggling with addiction for a long time will have relatively common serious health issues such as diabetes, liver diseases, hypertension, and heart problems. Brain fog is another main issue reported in people who have been addicted to drugs and alcohol, where these things can shape and alter pathways in the brain. 

There is a common belief that if you are in the battle to overcome drugs and alcohol, you should allow yourself to indulge in the sweet, fat, and junk food you want. After all, why restrain yourself from junk food if you are in a bigger battle with addiction? However, such eating habits will only hinder your progress towards a healthy life rather than help you on the path towards recovery. 

Although malnutrition is persistent among those recovering from addiction, with a proper healthcare regime and prolonged abstinence, both the brain and body can be healed. 

How do regular exercise and proper nutrition help in addiction recovery?

Regular exercise can be as exhausting as jogging several miles or as mild as walking around the block. The outcome of both activities is similar: helping the body recover from addiction. Physical activities will release endorphins, which act as the body's natural defence against oncoming depression. If you are struggling to recover from addiction, it is recommended that you pick up a game of your choosing or practise yoga and pilates. 

Furthermore, exercise helps with socialising and provides health benefits. If you are recovering from addiction, you should try to find some physical activities you enjoy to ensure your goals are met and continue. Even if you refrain from consuming alcohol and drugs, there is a possibility you will show signs of addictive behaviour such as exercising too much, which is known as dry drunk syndrome. Addiction is difficult to break and is readily transferable to a hobby or task-oriented activity. 

While undergoing addiction recovery, you should eat a balanced diet consisting of lean protein sources, such as oranges, avocados, berries, green vegetables, beans, and selected grains, to ensure appropriate nutrition. A diet low in glycemic carbohydrates and high in dopamine-releasing nutrients and amino acids is also advised for a speedy recovery. Sugar and caffeine should initially be avoided so as to prevent them from falling back into addictive behavioural patterns. 

How does addiction disrupt nutrition?

Each substance has its own unique effects on health, but the majority of them have comparable effects on a person's ability to obtain all the nutrients necessary for recovery. If you abuse a substance, you are likely to exhibit at least one of the following symptoms: 

1. Loss of appetite: Many substances suppress the appetite or cause you to forget to consume. 
2. Poor eating choices: If you are under the influence of substances, your likelihood of making poor dietary decisions, such as consuming a steady diet of fast food and sugary foods, increases. 
3. Organ damage: Most drugs cause direct harm to the organs responsible for nutrient processing and degradation. 
4. Hypoglycemia: A poor diet or a lack of food causes low blood sugar levels. 
5. Gastrointestinal disorder: Alcohol and other substances continue to cause chronic issues in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, preventing it from effectively absorbing nutrients from food. 

What are the benefits of regular exercise and proper nutrition? 

Below are some of the most important benefits of appropriate nutrition and exercise for your recovery: 

1. Health benefits:  

Both regular exercise and a balanced diet will ultimately improve your overall health and well-being, leading to an increased feeling of happiness. You will lose weight, leading to better health and well-being and lowering the risk of severe health complications from substance addiction. 

2. Goal-oriented:  

Creating and maintaining a healthy diet allows you to achieve tasks and create structure in your daily lives. These are skills that may have either been ignored or never learned. 

3. Provides structure or routine:  

Taking the time to exercise or prepare a meal in advance will create a structure or routine for each day, both of which help promote the maintenance of long-term sobriety. 

4. Reduce anxiety:  

Physical activity or exercise alleviates stress and reduces anxiety through the exertion of energy. Confusion within the body’s fight or flight reaction results in pent-up energy, leading to anxiety. Exercise eliminates a portion of this excess energy, or at the very least reduces it to more manageable levels. 

5. Regulate sleep hygiene:  

Those in addiction recovery often report having irregular sleeping patterns in early recovery. As with anxiety, physical activity guarantees a restful night's sleep. 

6. Improve mental health:  

Alcohol and drug misuse disrupt neurotransmitters within the brain, decreasing cognitive functioning and emotional stability. Healthy eating and regular exercise will release dopamine and endorphins that naturally reduce the onset of depression while also helping to control cravings in early recovery. Exercise has been proven to alleviate some withdrawal symptoms and aid in the elimination of contaminants from the body. Endorphins released during exercise can heal damaged brain cells, creating new pathways that will improve brain functions and boost mood. 

Sustaining addiction recovery through healthy nutritional decisions 

Nutritional support is vital during addiction recovery. Its importance continues even post-rehab, where good nutrition leads the way when considering sustainable recovery. 

The majority of evidence-based treatment programmes understand the importance of nutrition for recovering addicts and incorporate nutrition plans to help clients heal more fully. Designing a satisfying, balanced diet plan is one way to significantly enhance the treatment experience. Although nutrition integration procedures vary between treatment facilities, you can anticipate a process similar to the ones outlined below: 
1. Meet with a physician: To review your health history and discuss specific issues related to substance addiction. 
2. Work with a nutritionist: To identify the nutritional needs and design meals to replenish the missing nutrition. 
3. Develop a nutritional plan: Development of a nutritional plan to determine an appropriate meal that meshes with other activities in the treatment plan. 
4. Act on the plan: A good nutrition plan helps you determine other good habits on your own, such as avoiding caffeine, sugar, and junk food. 

On a post-rehab basis, recovery can be directed by following a healthy routine and reducing exposure to drugs and alcohol. Within that routine, developing a healthy nutritional diet provides many benefits, including mental clarity, overall well-being, and a positive source of energy. All these benefits can help ease and maintain the normalisation of sober living through the long-term journey of recovery. 

Apart from this, further lifestyle choices are also required to lead a healthy and positive life. Yet, utilising the education and steps within nutritional support services will be a strong starting point, as the food itself can change moods, behaviours, and feelings. 

Like the role of nutrition in addiction recovery, the role of a good nursing team is also important. As nurses are the ones closest to patients in a healthcare team, their role has a greater impact on patients. The agency nurses of the Nurses Group in the UK can have a significant impact on an individual's recovery from addiction. Nurses Group is the foremost nursing staffing agency in the UK, supplying skilled and qualified nurses to healthcare facilities across the nation. Contact us if you require skilled nursing workers

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