Need a closer look at nutrition and addiction

Sometimes when you deal with your health issues, do you ever wonder how the things that affect your health also affect people who are in recovery for addiction? For example, nutrition. Not eating right can affect your weight, your brain, and how the organs in your body work … or not work. For people in recovery nutrition is a vital player in recovery and staying in recovery. Because sometimes people trade one addiction for another as in recovery from alcohol can turn into an eating disorder. (Life can become so complicated!)

Welcome to National Nutrition Month.

“Scientists are finding that addressing nutritional deficiencies and gut bacteria health may be missing pieces of the sobriety puzzle,” writes Marsha McCulloch, MS, RD, in her article, “How Nutritional Therapy is Helping People Overcome Alcohol Addiction.”

She reports that expanding holistic addiction treatment centers are looking to identify and treat biochemical imbalances and genetic factors that contribute to anxiety, depression and alcohol cravings.

A poor diet prevents life building blocks (amino acids) that humans need to produce dopamine in the brain. Foods that do this include red meat, poultry, fish, cheese, eggs, beans and nuts, McCulloch said.

The U.S. Library of Medicine, Medline Plus, warns that substance use harms the body in two ways: it the substance itself affects the body and the us leads to negative body changes that come from not eating regularly or right.

“Proper nutrition can help the healing process.” Recovery affects metabolism, organ function and mental well-being, advises Medline Plus, with the recommendations of having regular mealtimes, eating foods low in fat, and eating more protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber; good, not empty, calories. Learn more at www.choosemyplate.gov/.

“A person with substance abuse is more likely to relapse when they have poor eating habits,” and alcohol addiction causes a person to forget what it’s like to be hungry. They may think the feeling they have is a drug craving, says Medline Plus.

At PsychologyToday.com, in his article, “Nutrition in Recovery from Addiction: Why what you eat in recovery is so important,” David Wiss, MS RDN, says, “…highly accessible and highly palatable food is a significant contributor to the changing human brain and addiction epidemic.”

Wiss, founder of Nutrition in Recovery, further states, “Shifting the patient toward a diet that is high in fiber and low in sugar can make a difference in recovery outcomes.” He also advises that, though nutrition is a major issue, it has received little attention.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.