How Does Substance Abuse Affect Your Body?
Good nutrition and maintaining healthy eating habits are important to help you continue with recovery. Drugs and alcohol are toxins. When they enter your body, they begin upsetting critical chemical and physiological processes within your brain and body. Due to this, your body is not able to maintain the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that are essential for you. Below are the different ways substance abuse can damage your body.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can make you physically sick. Oftentimes, in a way that manifests as gastrointestinal difficulties, such as vomiting or diarrhea. These two things can affect your ability to take in chemical components such as electrolytes. Alcohol consumption can cause nutritional deficiency, specifically vitamin B.
- Opioids: Opioids can cause gastrointestinal difficulties as well, including constipation. The side effects of these are similar to alcohol.
- Stimulants: Stimulants can suppress one’s appetite, which may cause a significant amount of weight loss and malnutrition. They may also refrain from drinking fluids, leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
How to Use Nutrition to Help Your Body
Good nutrition is essential to good health. It can help ward off illness and disease and keep your body and brain in good shape. It can help you from giving into stress. Here, we will discuss nutritional steps you can take to help counteract the affect substance abuse has had on your body.
- Malnutrition: To counteract malnutrition, it is important to begin eating a balanced diet. It is a good idea to eat grains, vegetables, fruits, meats, and dairy. Generally, following the food pyramid is a good way to maintain a healthy diet. However, certain medical or dietary concerns may suggest that you follow certain guidelines.
- Electrolyte Imbalance: Drinking water is the easiest way to counteract an electrolyte imbalance. However, here are some foods that contain electrolytes as well:
- Potassium: Strawberries, bananas, and sweet potatoes
- Magnesium: Vegetables, beans, nuts, and most cereals
- Calcium: Dairy, meats, and beans
- Sodium: Table salt, cheese, and sauerkraut. Please note, it is important to limit your sodium intake.
- Decreased Immune System: Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help increase your immune system. Depending on what you need, there are also dietary supplements that can help increase your immune system.
- Weight Issues: Substance abuse can change your weight. This can be significant gains or significant losses – both of which present health issues. In general, it is best to eat a well-balanced diet of grains, vegetables, fruits, meats and dairy. However, consulting with a doctor or nutritionist may be best to help you decide what dietary changes you need to make.
- Chemical Changes: Your diet is not only essential for your body, but it is essential for your brain’s health. It can play into your mood and ability to handle stress. Certain foods that can help are:
- Tryptophan: Turkey, cheese, chicken, eggs, fish, milk, and various nuts
- Choline: Fish, bananas, avocados, and almonds
- Folic Acid: Brown rice, red meats, fish, eggs, and dairy
- Omega 3’s: Fish (especially salmon), walnuts, soybeans, eggs, and kiwi
Depending on the circumstances, you may need to take nutritional supplements. Before taking nutritional supplements, it is important to talk to your doctor first. They will be able to help you find the right supplement, if they recommend taking one.