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Hippocrates, who many consider to be the father of medicine, famously said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” What he was saying is that food has the power to both heal us and make us sick depending on what we consume. This concept has not changed in the last 2,400 years since Hippocrates’ time, rather we have more evidence to further cement this truth. This concept also applies to detoxing and what the best foods for alcohol withdrawal are.

The Basics: Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal (also known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome) refers to the symptoms that one experiences when one stops ingesting alcohol. For most people, this will be relatively minor, perhaps resulting in what many might describe as a hangover. However, for individuals who have a heavy dependence on alcohol and struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD), alcohol withdrawal can be rather severe and, in some instances, can even be deadly.

There are a range of symptoms that come with alcohol withdrawal. According to the publication titled Alcohol Withdrawal by authors Newman, Gallagher, and Gomez, “Alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur when patients stop drinking or significantly decrease their alcohol intake after long-term dependence. Withdrawal has a broad range of symptoms from mild tremors to a condition called delirium tremens, which results in seizures and could progress to death if not recognized and treated promptly. The reported mortality rate for patients who experience delirium tremens is anywhere from 1 to 5%.” Some of these symptoms are the result of serious nutrient deficiencies caused by AUD.

Understanding Nutrient Depletion From Addiction

Many people don’t realize just how nutrient-deficient alcohol use disorder can make someone. As stated in Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, “Chronic alcoholic patients are frequently deficient in one or more vitamins. The deficiencies commonly involve folate, vitamin B6, thiamine, and vitamin A. Although inadequate dietary intake is a major cause of the vitamin deficiency, other possible mechanisms may also be involved. Alcoholism can affect the absorption, storage, metabolism, and activation of many of these vitamins.”

It is this level of nutrient deficiency that makes finding the best foods for alcohol detox and withdrawal essential. These foods must replenish specific nutrients, such as the ones previously listed (“folate, vitamin B6, thiamine, and vitamin A”). The good news is many foods fit this description.

The Best Foods for Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal

The best foods for alcohol detox and withdrawal primarily live in the realm of vegetation. This is because fruits and vegetables offer the most essential nutrients that are depleted by alcohol abuse. These foods include leafy greens and red peppers to replenish vitamin A, fresh fruits to replenish folate, green peas to replenish thiamine, and broccoli and Brussels sprouts to replenish folic acid.

It is also helpful to eat lean proteins and foods that are low in fat, as these help to keep energy levels high. Also, it should be noted that it is critical to stay hydrated while going through alcohol withdrawal. 

Replenishing Nutrients via Professional Detox

While it is important to consume the best foods for alcohol withdrawal, the fact of the matter is not everyone going through alcohol withdrawal is well enough to do so. This is because one of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal is gastrointestinal problems (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea). 

Also, this is why it is critical for people going through alcohol withdrawal to reach out to professionals for the detox process. These professionals have the types of tools and medicines necessary to get the nutrients that the best foods for alcohol detox offer.

This includes infusions that can bring essential pharmaceutical-grade nutrients directly into the bloodstream for better absorption. Professionals will also administer IVs that can ensure that an individual remains hydrated. This also makes any necessary sedation possible (if the withdrawals become too intense).

Maintaining a Focus on Nutrition for Long-Term Recovery

It is also important to maintain a focus on nutrition for long-term recovery. Studies have shown that better nutrition equals better long-term recovery outcomes.

According to a study reported in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, “Poor nutritional status in AUD and DUD severely impacts [one’s] physical and psychological health, which may impede [one’s] ability to resist substances of abuse and recover [one’s] health.” So, just as nutrition is essential during detox, it is just as essential as the recovery process progresses. 

Whole Mind-Body Healing at The Phoenix Recovery Center

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we understand that recovery goes much deeper than simply putting down the drink or the drug. This includes how we must replenish the nutrients we lost during active addiction.

Hippocrates also famously said, “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” When anyone is ready for help, we at The Phoenix Recovery Center are proud to make that opportunity possible.

There is a big relationship between food, eating, and alcohol withdrawal. Many people do not want to eat when they are going through alcohol withdrawal, but not eating can make things worse. It is crucial to understand the importance of nutrient-rich foods for replenishing the body during alcohol withdrawals. If you feel like you or a loved one are struggling with issues of alcohol use disorder and/or alcohol withdrawal, we can help get you on the road to recovery. For more information about the importance of nutrition during alcohol withdrawal, please contact The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT