What is a Drug Detox Diet?
Table of Contents
- What is a Drug Detox Diet?
- How Does Substance Use Harm the Body?
- Are there Side Effects of Detox Diets?
- What is the Drug and Alcohol Detox Diet Process?
- Do I Need a Medical Assessment Before Detox Diets?
- How Long is the Detox Process?
- Issues Associated with the Drug Detox Process
- Common Nutritional Deficiencies While Drinking
- Common Nutritional Deficiencies Using Drugs
- The Foundations of a Good Detox Diet
- Top Diet Tips for Drug Detox
- The Benefits of Seaweed in Drug Detox
- The Benefits of Ginger for Drug Detox
- Why Should I Exercise During a Diet for Drug Detox?
- Finding Support for Substance Use Disorders
- Tips and Advice for Avoiding Relapse
- A Diet for Drug Detox: Brain Food
- The Importance of Hydration for Health
- Staying Thirsty For Recovery
- Finding the Right Detox Diet and Treatment Programs Now!
- Medically Reviewed By
Drug and alcohol addiction can have drastic negative side effects on an individual’s mental and physical health. Thus, one of the first steps to recovering from drug and alcohol addiction is detoxification.
This is a crucial part of the recovery process, as it allows the individual’s body to heal from the physical health tolls substance abuse can have on the body, and creates the foundation to begin the mental health healing process.
During the detox process, all drug and alcohol traces will be removed from the body. However, because the brain has become accustomed to high levels of substance use, this must be a process of gradual reduction and eventual removal, allowing time for the body to adjust to the drop in chemicals.
How Does Substance Use Harm the Body?
Drug and alcohol abuse can harm the body by causing direct physical harm by altering chemical levels in the body, or producing a secondary mental health disorder (or disorders).
Further damage can occur through the altering of lifestyle habits, such as disrupting sleep cycles, producing irregular eating habits or nutritional deficiencies, etc. Damage to the skin and nails can happen with a lack of nutrition, as well as the link between alcohol and hair loss due to stress and poor dietary habits.
Are there Side Effects of Detox Diets?
Because their bodies are no longer receiving the chemicals they have become dependent on, individuals recovering from addiction commonly experience withdrawal symptoms, such as unpleasant physical or emotional sensations.
Detoxifying without the supervision of a medical professional can be both ineffective and dangerous, as it can be a difficult process for an individual to endure without guidance. Thus, it is highly recommended that those in recovery seek out professional medical advice and supervision.
What is the Drug and Alcohol Detox Diet Process?
There are several steps in the process of detoxification, including:
- Medical Assessment
Do I Need a Medical Assessment Before Detox Diets?
Every individual’s situation is different, thus, the care and treatment they require will differ on a case-by-case basis.
The first step in a healthy detox diet requires those struggling with addiction to receive a medical assessment, during which a medical expert will get information on their patient’s medical history and specific substance abuse issues. This will allow them to create a personalized detoxification plan for that individual.
What Does Withdrawal from Drugs Do to the Body?
As a person goes through the recovery process, they will likely begin to experience withdrawal symptoms as their body adjusts to gradually decreased levels of the abused substance.
These symptoms can vary in nature, and the severity and duration of them typically depend on how long the individual has been struggling with substance abuse.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
Some of the physical symptoms associated with withdrawal are:
- Shaking, shivering, and/or chills
- Fever/high body temperature
- Runny nose
- Muscular and/or body pain
- Abdominal cramps
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Physical exhaustion
- Increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
Some of the psychological symptoms associated with withdrawal are:
- Insomnia and vivid dreams/nightmares
- Trouble concentrating
- Mood Swings
- Intense substance cravings
More Severe Symptoms
While not as common, some of the more severe symptoms associated with withdrawal are:
Because the side effects of stopping substance abuse can be intense, patients will typically be administered controlled medications to help combat and cope with them.
These medications can also help to ease any depression or anxiety that may arise during the recovery process, as well as help improve sleep.
Finding Support for Addiction Recovery
Recovering from a substance addiction is a difficult process, making constant support a crucial part of the detox process.
Receiving compassionate and expert care 24/7, throughout the entirety of the recovery process, has been proven to help promote the best possible recovery outcome for many of those receiving addiction treatment.
How Long is the Detox Process?
Detoxification from substance abuse lasts an average of 7 to 10 days but can vary depending on the situation and care needs of the individual receiving treatment. Factors that may play a role in the length of this process can include:
- Frequency and level of drug and/or alcohol consumption
- The severity of withdrawal symptoms
- Physical and mental health conditions
The detox process is just the first step to recovery and typically serves as part of a longer addiction rehab process. Following the diet, those receiving addiction treatment will likely proceed to a rehab program geared toward providing psychological therapy.
Issues Associated with the Drug Detox Process
Recovering from substance addiction can also cause changes to the body, including its metabolic (ability to process energy) and organ functions, as well as the mental well-being of the individual in recovery.
Another concern to take into account is the nutritional deficiencies commonly associated with alcohol and drug abuse.
Common Nutritional Deficiencies While Drinking
One of the major causes of nutritional deficiencies in the United States, those struggling with an alcohol addiction most commonly lack healthy levels of B vitamins (B1, B6, and folic acids).
This can lead to the development of anemia, neurologic problems, or even a disease associated with heavy alcohol use known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (“wet brain”).
Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause damage to liver function and the pancreas, which can lead to a further imbalance in an individual’s fluids, calories, proteins, and electrolytes.
Common Nutritional Deficiencies Using Drugs
Different drugs can have different impacts on an individual’s nutrition, but some of the most commonly studied substances include opiates (codeine, oxycodone, heroin, and morphine), stimulants (crack cocaine, and methamphetamine), and marijuana.
What are the Effects of Opiates on Nutrition?
Opiates have a direct impact on the gastrointestinal system and often cause constipation for those struggling with opiate addiction.
Symptoms commonly experienced during opiate withdrawal include issues with digestive health, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These can lead to:
- A lack of proper nutrients.
- Imbalance in electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and chloride).
Eating balanced meals can help ease some of these symptoms; high-protein diets with plenty of complex carbohydrates (whole grains such as brown rice and vegetables) are usually recommended.
The Effects of Stimulants on Nutrition
Stimulants can lead to a decrease in appetite and rapid weight loss, which in turn result in nutritional deficiencies.
For those struggling with an addiction to stimulants, they may find themselves staying up for multiple days in a row, potentially leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
The Effects of Marijuana on Nutrition
Excessive use of marijuana can lead to increases in appetite and binge eating. This can lead to rapid weight gain and may require cutting back on foods high in saturated fats, sugar, and total caloric content.
The Foundations of a Good Detox Diet
Because drug detoxification can be difficult and dangerous, it is best to proceed with a solid foundation and plan before starting this part of the recovery process.
Checking Into a Detox Center
Quitting drugs cold turkey is not the safest of addiction treatment options. For those recovering from substance abuse, severe withdrawal symptoms are a strong possibility and can be hard to manage (and in extreme cases, fatal) by themselves.
Furthermore, if strong enough, experiencing substance cravings during unsupervised detoxes can lead to relapse, and even overdosing.
Thus, it is highly recommended that those who wish to undergo a detox diet seek out a detox program offered at a local rehab center or other treatment facilities, where they can receive guided care from licensed medical professionals. For more information or help-seeking addiction treatment, call our team at Find Addiction Rehabs today!
Top Diet Tips for Drug Detox
During the detox process, the diet itself will likely vary on a person-by-person case. However, there are certain foods that are recommended for consumption to help assist in the detoxification and recovery periods, such as:
- Fruits and vegetables. Avocados, blueberries, and salad greens are all essential providers of vitamin B6, folic acid and beta-carotene; collard greens are also strongly suggested for their high calcium content.
- Whole grains. Quinoa, farro, sweet potatoes, whole grain bread, and other complex carbohydrates are all excellent sources of fiber, which assist with digestion, and boost energy levels.
- Whether animal or plant-based, protein is broken down into amino acids that stimulate cellular reparation in the body. Animal proteins such as turkey and chicken also provide vitamin B6, while red meat is a heavy iron supplier; furthermore, fatty fish like salmon are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and calcium.
- Almonds, macadamia nuts, and pine nuts are excellent sources of dietary fibers and fatty acids, and can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
It is also important to stay hydrated while detoxing. Ensuring proper intake of fluids can help those undergoing this process to avoid side effects such as muscle pains and cramps, headache, fatigue, nausea, etc.
Avoiding caffeine during a drug detox is also recommended, as it can trigger neurotransmitters in the brain, increasing stimulation and thus making it more difficult to focus on recovery.
The Benefits of Seaweed in Drug Detox
Consuming seaweed during the detox process can also be extremely beneficial. Because of the sodium alginate stored within seaweed, it binds to any traces of drugs that may still be residing within the body and keeps them from being absorbed.
Furthermore, as a dark green vegetable, seaweed is packed full of essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and iron.
The Benefits of Ginger for Drug Detox
Ginger is an excellent addition to any detox diet, as it helps improve liver function, which is the organ mainly responsible for removing toxins from the body.
Furthermore, it can increase an individual’s metabolism, speed up the digestive system, and reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Why Should I Exercise During a Diet for Drug Detox?
Participating and light and moderate amounts of exercise may be recommended for some individuals during their detox journey. Walking, swimming, yoga, and any other form of non-intensive exercise can have multiple benefits, including:
- Improved moods and emotional regulation.
- Increased immunity due to the promotion of white blood cell circulation.
- Improved sleep patterns and quality of rest.
- Decreased fatigue due to boosted energy levels.
- Better ability to manage addiction cravings.
Finding Support for Substance Use Disorders
For many struggling with substance abuse and addiction, this can be an incredibly lonely and difficult experience. Having a strong support system to assist in seeking addiction treatment can be extremely beneficial, if not a vital component to an individual’s recovery.
For individuals who are disconnected from family or loved ones, finding rehab centers that provide detox programs with 24/7 support is highly recommended.
Tips and Advice for Avoiding Relapse
Knowing how to maintain sobriety after undergoing a medical detox can be tricky. However, there are general guidelines that help identify behaviors and habits that help individuals stay in recovery and take proper care of their overall health.
- Sticking to Regular Mealtimes. When recovering from drug addiction, hunger can present itself as cravings for the abused substance, so eating on a regular basis can help keep this from happening.
- Consuming low-fat foods. During the recovery process, an individual’s appetite may return, which can lead to overeating; eating foods low in sugars and fats can help prevent excessive weight gain.
- Eating more protein, complex carbs, and dietary fibers. Eating nutritious meals that help fuel the body and promote healthy energy levels is essential while recovering from addiction.
- Taking supplements for vitamins and minerals. Replacing nutrients lost from drug abuse through supplements can be highly beneficial to recovering individuals.
- Staying hydrated. Aside from eating healthy foods, drinking water and plenty of other fluids is essential to recovering electrolytes and avoiding dehydration.
A Diet for Drug Detox: Brain Food
There are several foods associated with promoting healthier brain functions, but most experts recommend individuals eat foods that help protect heart and blood vessels, such as bright fruits, leafy vegetables, legumes, and healthy fats (olive oil or canola, for example).
Other food options that can help promote brain power include:
- Fatty Fish. A solid source of omega-3 fatty acids, fish such as salmon, cod, canned light tuna, and pollack are all useful in lowering beta-amyloid (a protein that can cause clumping in the brain) levels in the blood, and are low in mercury.
- Tea and Coffee. Caffeine provided by these two beverage options can help boost attention and productivity levels and has also been linked to improved memory-retaining abilities.
- The natural plant pigments that give certain berries (such as strawberries and blueberries) their bright color, known as flavonoids, have also been associated with stronger memorization and memory recall abilities.
- Nuts, in general, have great health properties, but walnuts in particular (due to their high levels of a type of omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)) have been proven to improve cognitive function, lower blood pressure, and lead to cleaner arteries.
The Importance of Hydration for Health
Artificially sweetened beverages can deteriorate one’s health as well. This is why we need to consume pure water. Even if you are trying to flush alcohol from your urine, drinking pure and clean water is helpful and healthy.
Even drinks that contain a high portion of water are not as healthy as water itself. However, how much water do we need on a daily basis? The common school of thought is for us to consume eight glasses of water per day. Naturally, every one of our bodies is different; eight water glasses may be too much for you and not sufficient water for me. Especially for those of us in recovery, the need to hydrate often and thoroughly can, along with diet, help to maintain mood and even boost appearance.
The requirement for water can also vary severely on a day-to-day basis; of course, this depends on several factors, which include the level of your activity and the weather.
It is fortunate that our bodies are structured to tell us when we need to replenish our water supplies, which we know as thirst. Even when we feel we are not thirsty, there is a simple way to gauge whether or not we need to consume more water. Read on to find out more about this easy indicator of thirst.
Staying Thirsty For Recovery
Once the body has lost as little as two percent of water content, this will signify its desires by making us thirsty. Thus, thirst as a gauge of how much water we need to consume is an essential way to make sure our individual needs are met daily.
However, many times we are already dehydrated by the time the thirst mechanism takes effect. Many studies reveal that approximately 2/3 of men and women are dehydrated and need to consume more water.
Especially for the elderly, this is particularly true. Thus, it is prudent to learn of many of our body signals, no matter how subtle, which calls for us to drink more water. Remember, the recommended amount of water an adult should drink daily (regardless of his/her age) should be at least 6-8 glasses of water.
Finding the Right Detox Diet and Treatment Programs Now!
Finding the right detox program and addiction treatment can be a tricky process. Luckily, our team at Find Addiction Rehab offers tools and professional services to ensure quality assistance in receiving the help you or a loved one needs.
Simply by contacting us using the form on our website, or by calling our helpline at any time, you can find out which facilities and programs are best suited to your needs.
Receiving the care you need can be hard, but it doesn’t have to feel impossible; let us help you take the first steps on your path to recovery. Call today to get started on a path to a healthier and happier you!
Nicole Rogers is an experienced and accomplished writer with special interests in the fields of Anthropology, English, and behavioral health, and has written countless articles for newspaper publications, institutional research journals, and Find Addiction Rehabs.
Her alma mater is Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Nicole hopes to spread awareness of and combat the stigmatization surrounding addiction and substance abuse treatment through her writing and work in the field.