Why Your Nutrition is Key to Long-Term Recovery
“Food is thy medicine,” said Hippocrates, the ancient physician universally referred to as the father of medicine.
If this statement was true thousands of years ago when there were no such things as pesticides, high fructose corn syrup and genetically modified vegetables, imagine how true it rings today.
The majority of people living in the United States no longer grow their own fruits and vegetables, raise their own livestock, culture their own dairy or bake their own bread. The truth is, this simply isn’t practical for most people nowadays, but this deterioration of sustainable farming has come with a country-wide deterioration of health, both mental and physical.
For those in recovery from substance abuse, poor nutrition is even more dangerous.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at nutrition and addiction recovery; in addition to identifying the harmful impact of poor nutrition, we’re going to dive into the importance of nutrition in recovery.
Poor nutrition: what you need to know
Poor nutrition is more dangerous than what the average kid is taught in health class, and the lack of education on nutrition we receive in adolescence commonly leads to nutrition ignorance. For some, a daily diet that tends to be more unhealthy than most doesn’t have the profound effect that it might on others
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an unhealthy diet is proven to be a leading factor in the development of most illnesses, disorders and diseases—cardiovascular disease, mood or mental disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD), diabetes, cancer and stroke.
Poor nutrition can be especially harmful to those in addiction recovery. The negative effects can include: exacerbation of withdrawal symptoms, stimulating other addictive behaviors (such as food bingeing) and can result in the development of additional issues that prolong recovery.
The effects of poor nutrition on recovery
There’s a commonly held belief that because recovery is so difficult, individuals should be able to indulge in whatever “harmless” cravings they have.
The first issue with this belief lies in the fact these cravings aren’t necessarily harmless; they’re simply less harmful than the drugs or alcohol the individual previously indulged. The second issue is that frequent indulging of these cravings contributes to addictive tendencies.
Common effects of poor nutrition include:
- Gaining significant weight
- Tooth and nail decay
- Hair loss or breakage
- Decreased energy levels
- Memory problems
- Weak immune system
- Sleep issues or disorders
The importance of proper nutrition is something that isn’t just for those battling with addiction or going through recovery. But, those suffering from addiction, they’re already neglecting their health while stripping their body of proper nutrients.
Going through recovery, other habits can form, including poor eating habits as you’re trying to readjust to a sober lifestyle. These new form habits, and those around poor eating, can be damaging to one’s body, hampering the recovery process.
Building a daily diet around nutrient-rich foods is imperative for one going through the recovery process to help their body heal.
Good nutrition: what you need to know
There’s a reason why the person who eats a nutrient-rich diet and stays well-hydrated is going to be in better physical and mental health than the person who frequently consumes sweets, prepackaged meals and energy drinks.
It’s not luck or good genetics (genes do play a role in our overall health, but are rarely the leading cause behind a condition or illness), but the consistent decision to fuel their bodies with as many nutrients, minerals and vitamins as they can.
Incorporating well-rounded nutrition into your life brings an abundance of benefits for not only your physical health but your mental, emotional and spiritual health as well. For those actively recovering from a substance use disorder, good nutrition is not only beneficial but essential.
The benefits of good nutrition in recovery
We’re commonly told to eat healthy because “it’s good for you,” but the lack of information in that sentiment makes it difficult to take seriously.
Nutrition is far more than just good for us, it’s key to achieving our full potential in not only health but happiness and success too.
The top benefits of good nutrition include:
- Thicker hair, sturdier nails, stronger teeth
- Deeper and more restful sleep
- More positive mood and mentality
- Better brain health and cognitive performance
- Improved digestion and organ function
- Strengthened immune system (less susceptible to things like allergies, colds and the flu)
- Significantly reduced risk of chronic illnesses and diseases
- A more balanced and positive state of mental health
Nutrition can be an inspiring adventure, but it can also be overwhelming if you aren’t entirely sure where to begin. The good news is, we’re here to help.
Get started today
Pyramid Healthcare is a premier healthcare organization specializing in helping teens and adults foster strong mental and behavioral health and well-being. When you’re ready to begin healing, we’re ready to support you every step of the way.
Contact us today to speak with one of our qualified advisors and clearly identify the next best step for your recovery. Whether you’re ready to enroll in a program or not, we’re here for you.
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