Nutrition For Addiction RecoveryApril 18th, 2012
Oftentimes we spend so much focus on the psychological aspects of addiction recovery that we completely forget that the body and mind are connected in ways we can’t even fathom. What we do know is that our hormones, neurotransmitters and chemical activity in our brain and nervous system can have powerful effects on our psychology and behavior, especially when it comes to addiction.
We all know about the archetypal story of alcoholism – someone loses their job, gets divorced, faces the death of a loved one or some other tragic life event. That person then gets depressed, moody, withdrawn and starts to drink. The addiction grows and soon they’re a raging alcoholic. Of course, this is not the only way someone becomes addicted, but it’s so common that it speaks volumes – and everyone’s heard the story before!
Scientists now believe that hormone imbalances can cause or trigger addiction, and especially stress hormones like Cortisol that are released from chronic stress and major stressors in life. We also know that nutrition can help bring our hormones back into balance, even when we’re stressed. The body knows how to recover and heal itself, if we will only feed and nourish it with what it needs to function properly.
Here are some top nutrition tips to help heal the nervous system, balance hormones and help speed up recovery from an addiction.
1. Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 Fatty acids are crucial to good brain health and nervous system function. They’re also crucial to hormonal balance as well. Research shows that the ideal ratio of Omega-3 fats to Omega-6 fats is a One to One ratio (1:1). The problem is that the average American has a ratio of between 1:15 and 1:45! This means we’re incredibly out of balance – and this imbalance of essential fatty acids means our brains our imbalanced.
You see, every cell in the body build its cell wall out of fat. It’s called a lipid bi-layer (double layer of fat) that surrounds the cells and participates in cellular communication. When we eat the wrong kinds of fat, not only do we get inflammation, but we also get imbalances in cellular communication, neurotransmitter receptor sites and hormones!
You can get more Omega-3 fats from fresh, raw walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and other nuts as well as wild fish like salmon (but they must be wild – farm raised fish are often fed corn and contain very little, if any, Omega-3 fats). Avoid heavily processed foods that contain trans fats or high levels of Omega-6 fats.
2. Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and veggies are crucial to good brain health, cellular communication and healthy neurotransmitter activity. Many of our neurotransmitter receptor sites can get damaged by environmental toxins and free radical damage. Fruits and vegetables contain tens of thousands of phytonutrients, antioxidants and plant chemicals that reduce free radical damage as well as enzymes that can neutralize and eliminate toxins and repair cell receptors. Many of these nutrients can also block cell receptor sites that can be harmful.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin at all – it’s a hormone! And we now know that Vitamin D actually helps modulate over 20% of the human genome. It’s crucial for good immune health, healthy bones, and a healthy brain and nervous system. Studies have found that low vitamin D levels can increase the risk of depression and other psychological conditions as well as severe chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
The newest research shows that consuming 4,000 to 6,000 IU of Vitamin D every day is bets for adults, and 2,000 IU a day for infants and young children. You can supplement through a Vitamin D capsule or liquid supplement. You cannot overdose on Vitamin D at these low levels – your body will produce 50,000 IU of Vitamin D on a sunny summer day if you’re out in a bathing suit at the beach without cloud cover.
This article written by Tom Corson-Knowles, founder of Authentic Health Coaching. Tom blogs regularly about the foundation of good nutrition including fruit and vegetable supplementation and much more. You can get Dr. Candace Corson’s Top 5 Nutrition Tips report for free as well.