By Sally Perkins
The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health estimates that approximately 10.3% of the United States adult population is in remission from a substance use disorder which translates to around 25 million American adults. An important contributor to sustained recovery is to look at nutrition and exercise to improve physical health, how can you create and maintain healthy habits to support recovery from addiction?
Impact of addiction
Before looking at healthy approaches to recovery, let’s look at the impact of addiction on the body. Drugs and alcohol are classed as toxins which affect chemical and physiological processes in your body. As a result your body becomes depleted of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients which in turn upsets your body’s natural balance. For example alcohol and opioids can cause gastrointestinal problems and nutritional deficiency, stimulants suppress appetite and fluid intake which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance and marijuana can encourage appetite leading to weight gain.
Diet and the road to recovery
Recovering addicts can use the right diet to feel better physically and mentally and to heal the body. Good nutrition provides the nutritional building blocks needed to help recovering addicts feel better. Nutrients give the body the energy needed to build and repair organ tissue and strengthen the immune system as well as counteracting the effect of aging on skin . Nutrition is also important for mood, changes in diet may positively affect your brain and behavior and some food is known to enhance mood and improve overall well being. A healthy diet will consist of regular meals including vegetables, fruit, protein and healthy carbohydrates and fats while minimizing processed or sugary food.
The role of physical activity
As is the case with everyone’s health, physical activity is a key component in recovery from addiction. On one hand, regular physical activity, whether this is a workout or a brisk walk, has well known health and recovery benefits. Additionally regular physical activity has emotional benefits with studies showing that exercise makes us feel good due to the release of endorphins during and after physical activity. Fun group exercise programs such as running groups or yoga classes also provide social stimulation and workout groups provides vital support for an exercise program.
It is easy to see the important of nutrition and exercise in an addiction recovery program. A healthy lifestyle repairs the body from substance abuse while providing the building blocks to continued recovery.
Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years’ experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and traveling as much as possible.