It’s important to recognize the role that the body plays when recovering from substance abuse. The effects of any substance are filtered through and sometimes felt long after it has left our system. Thus, it’s not just our mental and emotional health that needs treatment — it’s our body as well.

How Nutrition Can Help the Body Heal

Substance abuse takes a physical toll on the human body. Withdrawal can be a harrowing experience for many people. Additionally, other side effects, like malnutrition and liver damage, can have long-term health impacts.

Proper nutrition helps repair muscles and tissues. According to RDN David A Wiss, founder of Nutrition in Recovery, improving eating habits and overall health are crucial to positive recovery. He stresses the increasing need to incorporate registered dietitian nutritionists into treatment teams.

However, rolling out nutrition programs in behavioral health facilities is an uphill battle. University of Southern California graduate student Maria Schellenberger highlighted the lack of nutritional health programs in recovery facilities. Many of these programs lack the funding or fail to see the priority of having registered dietician nutritionists on staff. 

Foods for Recovery 

Figuring out what to eat while in recovery can be tough without some guidance. It’s essential that individuals first check in with a registered dietician and the licensed professionals in charge of their recovery programs. There are a number of healthy foods and supplements that can be added to any diet to aid the process.

Psychology Today outlines a sample nutritional guideline with a meal plan, highlighting foods that should be avoided or added. U.S. News recommends a well-balanced and diversified diet that includes whole foods. These should have the amino acid tyrosine or be rich in antioxidants and tryptophan. 

If there’s a lack of access to certain whole foods, supplementation — with guidance from registered professionals — is also possible. A vitamin D3 supplement promotes healthy functioning of the lungs, reduces cardiovascular issues, and boosts moods. Another option is a glutamine supplement, which not only reduces muscle soreness, but also reduces sugar cravings common in the early stages of recovery.

Recovering from addiction can be a long and arduous journey. Proper diet and nutrition can strengthen bodies, uplift moods, and support healthy behaviors. If investing into nutrition facilitates a person’s recovery from substance abuse and addiction, then it’s certainly well worth it.

Context matters when it comes to healing from addiction, and the journey can change according to an individual’s needs and capabilities. We previously wrote about finding help for substance abuse disorder during the pandemic.