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Drug & Alcohol Detox Diet: Best Foods To Eat While Detoxing

Last Updated: November 28, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Our bodies are naturally equipped with mechanisms to detoxify and eliminate harmful substances daily. However, when struggling with drug or alcohol withdrawal, the demands on our bodies intensify. In these situations, nutrition becomes more than just about maintaining health; it can play a key role in easing withdrawal symptoms and speeding up recovery.

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Why Diet Is Important When Detoxing From Drugs and Alcohol

The journey to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction isn't just about abstaining; it's about rebuilding your overall health. Substance misuse often leads to significant nutritional deficiencies, depriving the body of essential vitamins and minerals for optimum health.

Replenishing these deficient nutrients can alleviate some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, but more importantly, it helps build a solid foundation for long-term recovery. Proper nutrition can restore the body's balance, boost the immune system and promote better mental health, easing the detox journey and making long-term sobriety more sustainable and beneficial.

Effects of Alcohol Addiction on Nutrition

Chronic alcohol use can wreak havoc on the body's nutritional balance. Here are some potential impacts many people who misuse alcohol can experience:

  • Deficiencies in vitamins: Those who regularly misuse alcohol often experience shortages in vitamins A, B, C, D and E. Some of these vitamins, especially vitamin B1, play crucial roles in your health. Chronic deficiencies can lead to long-term brain damage and even death in some situations.
  • Mineral depletion: Essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc often become depleted. These minerals play important roles in your muscle, brain and heart health.
  • Liver impact: Chronic alcohol use can lead to liver damage, which affects your ability to process and store nutrients.
  • Blood sugar levels: Alcohol can cause unstable blood sugar levels, leading to fatigue, mood swings and cravings. In those with underlying diabetes, these blood sugar level changes can become dangerous. 

Effects of Opioid Addiction on Nutrition

Opioid addiction, while offering a different set of challenges than chronic alcohol use, also impacts nutritional health. Common issues include digestive disturbances, leading to malabsorption of nutrients. Many opioid users experience gastrointestinal slowing, leading to deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals. The effects of opioids on your intestines could also affect your gut health and the bacteria in your gut. This crucial digestive system component plays a key role in overall health, especially during detox.

Effects of Stimulant Addiction on Nutrition

Stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine pose unique nutritional challenges:

  • Appetite suppression: Stimulants often lead to a reduced appetite, reducing your overall nutrient intake.
  • Dehydration: Stimulants can cause the body to lose fluids rapidly and distract you from replacing them as you should.
  • Electrolyte imbalances: With fluid loss, essential electrolytes can become unbalanced. This can ultimately affect every part of your body but will most likely impact the heart.
  • Poor oral health: Stimulant use can lead to dental problems, further complicating nutritional intake.
  • Increased energy expenditure: Stimulants often increase your energy and activity, causing you to use more nutrients and calories than you naturally would.

All of these factors combine to suppress your overall intake of nutrients while simultaneously increasing how fast you deplete the nutrients you have. Ultimately, this quickly leads to nutritional deficiencies.

Foods To Avoid When Detoxing From Alcohol and Drugs

During detox, the foods you eat can greatly impact how you feel. Your overall health and well-being can be dramatically affected as your body adjusts to the absence of a substance. Certain foods can worsen withdrawal symptoms and hinder the detox process. The major culprits tend to include:

  • Sugar: Sugar can lead to energy crashes and mood swings. It can also become an emotional crutch that hinders your ability to learn new, healthy coping skills.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine is technically a stimulant. It can increase anxiety, disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to mood changes.
  • Processed Foods: Processed foods often lack essential nutrients and can increase cravings. They can also provide emotional support that is better found in developing new coping mechanisms.

By avoiding these foods, you can better focus on more supportive foods during detox. 

What To Eat While Detoxing

Embracing a balanced diet during drug and alcohol detox can significantly aid the recovery process and promote your well-being during the stress of withdrawal. A nutritious diet during detox also lays the foundations for good health once detox is complete. Some essential nutritional categories include:

  • Water: While not technically a nutritional category, proper water intake is paramount. Hydration is especially important for those detoxing from stimulants or alcohol.
  • Green, leafy vegetables: Vegetables are packed with essential nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. They will help your body recover faster and improve how you feel during detox.
  • Whole Grains: Grains can provide sustained energy and are rich in fiber. The fiber they provide can be especially helpful for those experiencing withdrawal effects that impact their gut health.
  • Fruit: Natural sugars in fruits can help curb sugar cravings while still allowing you to avoid the unhealthy effects of processed, sugary foods.
  • Healthy Fats: These come from sources like avocados and nuts. Healthy fats can help support brain health and provide a good energy source.
  • Protein: Proteins help repair tissues and support immune function. They can also improve muscle function, especially if coupled with exercise.

Supervised Drug and Alcohol Detox in Kansas City, MO

Detoxing is a critical step toward recovery, but it can be lonely and difficult without support. At The Recovery Village Kansas City, we offer comprehensive services tailored to individual needs. Our programs ensure safe and effective detox under medical supervision. This is crucial because, for many, the withdrawal phase can pose medical risks.

Let us guide you through this initial step, setting the stage for a healthier, substance-free future. If you or a loved one is considering detox, contact us. Your journey to a healthier life can begin today.

Sources

World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed October 20, 2023.

Berger, Fred K. “Substance use recovery and diet.” MedlinePlus, April 30, 2022. Accessed October 20, 2023.

Berman, Jacob. “Alcohol withdrawal.” MedlinePlus, February 28, 2023. Accessed October 20, 2023.

Berger, Fred K. “Opiate and opioid withdrawal.” MedlinePlus, April 30, 2022. Accessed October 20, 2023.

Berger, Fred K. “Substance use – amphetamines.” MedlinePlus, April 30, 2022. Accessed October 20, 2023.

Meredith, Steven E.; Juliano, Laura M.; & et al. “Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda.” Journal of Caffeine Research, September 2013. Accessed October 20, 2023.

Pem, Dhandevi & Jeewon, Rajesh. “Fruit and Vegetable Intake: Benefits and Progress of Nutrition Education Interventions- Narrative Review Article.” Iranian Journal of Public Health, October 2015. Accessed October 20, 2023.