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There is a reason that people say “Food is medicine.” With our modern awareness of nutrition, we know how important what we eat is to our overall health. However, many people don’t realize just how nutrient-depleted one can become from alcohol use disorder (AUD). This makes the need for nutrient replenishment during alcohol detox a critical component of healing.

What Can Alcohol Use Disorder Do to the Body?

AUD can cause some serious nutrient deficiencies to manifest. According to the clinical journal titled 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 vitamin deficiency, other possible mechanisms may also be involved. Alcoholism can affect the absorption, storage, metabolism, and activation of many of these vitamins.”

Many people may wonder why those in recovery from alcohol abuse and AUD need thiamine and folic acid for withdrawal folic acid and thiamine. The answer is that a lack of these two nutrients can cause Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), more commonly referred to as “wet brain.”

As explained by the journal titled Alcohol Health and Research World, “Chronic alcohol abuse is associated with several neurological disorders, including Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS). A deficiency of thiamine – a vitamin essential for the metabolism and function of brain cells – is thought to be one factor contributing to the cognitive deficits and brain pathology characteristic of WKS. Excessive alcohol consumption may contribute to thiamine deficiency in several ways.” In other words, people struggling with AUD don’t consume enough nutrients to keep optimal thiamine and folic acid levels, putting them at risk of WKS and other health concerns. 

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal

Nutrient deficiencies are also a big part of alcohol withdrawal. This is because alcohol withdrawal occurs when an individual stops ingesting alcohol. When this happens, the body no longer has the “perceived shield” against how sick the body really is.

This can also be very dangerous. Alcohol withdrawal and nutrient deficiencies can have several side effects. These range from mild to moderate to serious and, in some instances, even deadly. The following are just a few of those side effects:

  • Intense and prolonged headaches
  • Gastrointestinal problems including nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Trouble concentrating and feeling disoriented
  • Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
  • Not being able to eat, which also leads to further nutrient deficiency
  • Audible and visual hallucinations brought on by delirium tremens
  • A greater potential, for seizures, heart attack, and/or stroke

The Importance of Nutrient Replenishment During Alcohol Detox

Because nutrient deficiencies are often so severe and pronounced, it is important to get them replenished as soon and as safely as possible. The best way for this to happen is by participating in a professional detox program.

Detox professionals have all of the tools and pharmaceutical-grade supplements necessary to replenish vital nutrients that are lacking in an individual with AUD. They can also administer these nutrients directly into the bloodstream for quicker absorption. It should also be noted that a professional setting can provide the necessary hydration that one needs to fully recover and get through the detox process.

A professional detox program puts the individual in a place where they are going to get the proper nutrients that they need. These nutritious foods are essential both during the detox process, as well as during a successful long-term recovery.

Nutrient Replenishment During Alcohol Detox and Beyond

Nutrition is so important to healing and recovery that it has actually spawned its own branch of therapy: Nutritional therapy. According to the journal titled The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, “Nutritional Therapy uses food to prevent and reverse diseases that plague most Western societies: diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, and depression. For food to be therapeutic, it must be nutrient-dense, measured in part by the nutrients and anti-nutrients, contained in consumed foods.”

These “nutrient-dense” foods can aid in the process of recovery because they ensure that thiamine and folic acid levels stay at essential levels (among other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants). Simply put, healthy dieting aids one’s mental health. For someone with AUD, having stable mental health is important to avoid getting consumed by negative emotions and potentially relapsing.

Optimal Healing With The Phoenix Recovery Center

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we believe in long-term recovery. However, we know that long-term recovery must be attained “one day at a time.” For many people, that journey starts with nutrient replenishment and a healthy and safe detox.

Alcohol abuse and AUD can rob us of so much, including our health. The good news is that we can get it all back. All we have to do is take that first step and trust in others for help. When anyone anywhere is ready to do that, we will always be here, ready and waiting.

Many people do not realize how depleted of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they truly are when they enter a detox program. Those nutrients must be replenished during detox so that recovery can begin to happen at the cellular level. The best way to ensure that this happens is by reaching out to professionals rather than trying to detox alone. If you feel like you or someone close to you is struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD) or any other type of addiction or mental illness, we can help. For more information about the importance of nutrient replenishment during detox, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

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