We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat,” and it’s no mystery that proper nutrition is an essential building block for healthy living. When it comes to nutritious eating, not all foods are created equal. Some foods contain such an abundance of beneficial nutrients that scientists have dubbed them “superfoods.”
These powerhouse foods are not only helping make people healthier, but they are being used to help people overcome addictions and to repair the damage done to their bodies by the abused substances.
Addiction and Nutrition
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.”
In general, addiction or substance abuse harms the body in two ways:
- The substance itself adversely affects the body. The harmful effects of drugs and alcohol are well documented, potentially causing damage to all the major systems of the body, depending on the specific substance and duration of abuse. As it pertains to diet and nutrition, certain substances, such as stimulants, may suppress appetite and disrupt metabolic and neuroendocrine regulation, leading to improper calorie consumption and impaired nutrient processing. Other substances may lead to an increase in appetite, causing unhealthy weight gain.
- The addictive behaviors cause negative lifestyle changes. Such changes often include irregular eating and poor diet. Not eating enough throughout the day or eating foods that are low in necessary nutrients leads to a lack of proper nutrition and related health problems.
Proper nutrition and hydration are absolutely essential to the substance abuse healing process because they help restore physical and mental health, thus improving the chance of recovery. Nutrient deficiencies can also lead to complications by producing symptoms of depression, anxiety and low energy, all of which can lead someone to start using drugs or alcohol or trigger a full relapse.
What’s So Super About Superfoods?
Superfoods are so nutrient dense that they are placed in a category all their own. They contain large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. Eating superfoods regularly may reduce the risk of chronic disease and extend lifespan. Some examples of superfoods include goji berries, cacao, bee pollen, hemp seeds, blueberries, coconut, spirulina, chia seeds, and aloe vera.
Superfoods have been shown to mitigate the effects of allergies, arthritis, ADD, chronic fatigue, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia, hypoglycemia, nervous system disorders, poor immunity and even skin disorders.
As it pertains to those in recovery, the benefits of superfoods can play a critical role in the healing process. Superfoods aid in restoring brain health by promoting the body’s manufacture of essential neurotransmitters, which are often imbalanced during addiction.
Simply adding some of these nutrient-dense foods to a regular diet enables the system to naturally begin to balance itself and to reconnect with the body’s own innate healing ability.
Superfoods for Detoxification
One of the most critical periods for nutritional awareness and improvement occurs after the initial withdrawal following addiction. During this time, the body is often malnourished with a build-up of harmful toxins stored in the cells.
Following a healthy diet that makes ample use of superfoods will target specific deficiencies that can increase the efficiency of the detox process and also help alleviate some of the unpleasant effects. All of this helps a person make better progress during the early stages of their recovery.
Keeping Recovery on Track After Addiction
Poor eating habits and improper nutrition make it more likely for a person to relapse. The specific nutrients necessary to regain health and stay on track will vary depending on the type of substance abuse that was involved. Incorporating superfoods into the diet can simplify the concerns for proper eating, even eliminating the need for supplements in many cases. In this way, superfoods can do a great deal to ensure that people in recovery are getting the nutrients they need, which enables them to be more successful.