Do you experience any of the following health concerns?
- Low blood sugar
- Digestive disorders such as leaky gut syndrome and overgrowth of candida (yeast)
- Food allergies and sensitivities
Wondering what they might have in common?
These symptoms are just a few of the commonalities that people struggling with recovery from an addiction – whether it be sugar, alcohol or another drug – can experience.
Do these health concerns/disorders cause the addictive behavior in the first place? Or are they side-effects of a life that involves excessive intake of refined sugar, alcohol, and/or other addictive substances (such as ‘street drugs’)?
It is hard to answer this question completely authoritatively, as it’s a bit of a “chicken-or- the-egg” type of scenario, but what does seem to be clear is that nutritional deficiencies are linked to addictive behavior…AND low blood sugar, digestive disorders, food sensitivities, and depression are common symptoms for addicts to experience on a daily basis.
So, if you see yourself in the descriptions above, or if you consider yourself either an addict or a recovering addict, you might want to look a little deeper into the role that nutritional deficiencies might play in your symptoms and behavior.
A very helpful survey of the research into nutritional deficiencies and their link to addiction was just published in the report, “Nutrition in Addiction Recovery,” available at: www.mhof.net.
A few key pointers that this article makes follow:
If you are a recovering addict, or are currently addicted to a harmful substance like sugar, alcohol or some other drug, you might want to consider implementing the following nutritional suggestions:
- Eat more protein, specifically free-range, organic and healthy animal protein, or vegetarian sources of protein like beans and whole grains.
- Take supplemental B vitamins. In trials with rats, those deficient in certain B vitamins consumed more alcohol than those with normal levels. Once the vitamin-deficient rats were given supplemental B vitamins, alcohol consumption decreased.
- Decrease your intake of “bad” fats, such as those found in fried foods and many packaged products.
- Increase your intake of the good Omega 3 fats by taking supplemental fish oil and eating more free-range/grass-fed animal products and/or choose vegetarian sources of Omega 3s such as flax seed and walnuts.
- Stay away from refined sugar. Alcoholics or those struggling with addiction to other drugs will often switch to a high-sugar/carb diet when coming off of their drug of choice, but this just replaces one harmful substance with another.
- Eat healthy protein and fat at every meal, and additionally (especially if you suffer from low blood sugar) make sure to eat healthy protein-rich snacks at regular intervals throughout the day as well.
- Incorporate as many fresh and whole foods into the diet as possible. Stay away from packaged food. Recovering addicts require more nutrients than the normal person, so switching to a diet rich in “real” food is essential to the recovery process. If it comes in a box, it most likely has lost some nutritional value and is not as healthy a choice as whole foods – think fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, eggs, animal protein and beans/legumes.
Addiction is a complicated disease that has roots in both the physical body and in brain chemistry. So while it is important to make sure to appropriately nourish the physical body by incorporating some of the specific nutrients and sound eating habits recommended above, it’s also a good idea to look a little deeper into brain chemistry, specifically by measuring levels of neurotransmitters. Addiction-prone people will often have deficiencies in certain key neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA.
A well-respected testing company that we work with at Village Green is called NeuroScience (www.neurorelief.com). They offer non-invasive, insurance reimbursable lab tests that can assess nervous system, immune system, and endocrine health.
If you see yourself in the words above, consider stopping by Village Green to talk with someone about which test is best for you and let us help you get a better look at what might be causing your addictive behavior. Or, if you have already made the commitment to ending use of the addictive substance you had been using, let us help you find the specific key nutrients which will help to make the recovery process that much easier.