Alcohol use is cited as one of the major causes of malnutrition in the United States. Alcohol interferes with the way your body digests, stores, uses, and excretes nutrients. Disruptions to these bodily processes are found to contribute to nutritional deficiency. Additionally, those who consume high amounts of alcohol or who struggle with alcohol addiction tend to prioritize alcohol use above all other important responsibilities—including their own nutrition and overall health.
Eating certain foods during alcohol detox can help restore nutrients that were lost on behalf of alcohol addiction and contribute to better overall health.
Which Nutritional Deficiencies are Common with Alcohol Use?
B vitamins such as B1, B6, and B9 are the most common deficiencies associated with alcohol use. Loss of these nutrients can increase the risk for anemia and problems with the central nervous system.
Vitamins A, E, D, and K are other common nutritional deficiencies of alcohol abuse due to the way alcohol interferes with the body’s absorption of dietary fats. Deficiency in vitamin A has been linked to night blindness, while deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to bone loss and osteoporosis. Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting, which can lead to excess bleeding in those who suffer deficiency in this vitamin. Deficiencies in vitamins involved in brain function can increase the risk for brain damage and brain disorders.
Alcohol can also inhibit mineral absorption on behalf of other bodily processes affected by alcohol abuse. For instance, your body’s inability to properly absorb fat can interfere with the way your body absorbs calcium. Gastrointestinal bleeding caused by increased stomach acid production with alcohol use can lead to iron deficiency. Increased urination, vomiting, and diarrhea are other symptoms common in those who use heavy amounts of alcohol that can lead to nutritional deficiency.
Complications Linked to Alcohol-Related Nutritional Deficiency
Absorption of vitamins and minerals is reduced by about 70% in those who are malnourished on behalf of alcohol abuse. Malnutrition in those who suffer from alcohol addiction increases the risk for alcoholic liver disease, pancreatitis, neurological problems, and pregnancy complications. Other complications linked to alcohol-induced nutritional deficiencies include hypertension, diabetes, seizures, and a shortened lifespan.
Getting help for alcohol abuse at an alcohol rehab center and eating healthy foods packed with nutrients can reduce your risk for these complications. Here are seven healthy foods that can boost your immunity and help with alcohol detox.
1. Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, Bok choy, collards, and chard are loaded with just about every vitamin and mineral your body needs to repair itself after heavy alcohol use. Leafy greens also contain high amounts of antioxidants that help reduce chronic inflammation and the risk for cancer.
There are plenty of creative ways to eat leafy greens in addition to putting them in salads. Include leafy greens in wraps and sandwiches, add them to soups and stews, and steam or stir-fry them with your other favorite vegetables.
Eggs are high in protein, multiple B vitamins, and vitamins A and D. They help increase your metabolism and energy levels to fight off fatigue as you recover from alcohol addiction. Poach or boil your eggs to benefit from the highest amount of nutrients since these cooking methods don’t involve oil or butter. Poaching and boiling your eggs also reduces the yolk’s exposure to air and maximizes their nutritional value.
Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and all other nuts are good sources of vitamins B1, B6, and E, as well as healthy fats that contribute to improved heart health. Nuts are also high in protein and can help keep your energy levels high when you’re feeling sluggish during alcohol detox. Sprinkle nuts on salads and eat as snacks throughout the day between meals. Cashews and almonds can enhance the flavor of stir-fry meals, while pecans and walnuts are great when paired with yogurt and fruit.
4. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is high in vitamins A, B9, C, E, and K. This spice helps relieve a range of alcohol withdrawal symptoms including headache, nausea, and abdominal pain. Cayenne pepper also widens your blood vessels to improve blood flow and circulation, which helps speed up your body’s healing and recovery during alcohol detox. Use this seasoning to flavor sauces, soups, and stews, and stick to using fresh whole cayenne peppers when possible to benefit from the highest amount of nutrients.
5. Yellow and Orange Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables that are yellow and orange in color are high in vitamin C and carotenoids—compounds that convert to vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid and antioxidant that helps you maintain good vision and eye health. Vitamin A plays a critical role in immunity and night vision, which is especially important for those in recovery from alcohol addiction who may be experiencing night blindness.
Pineapples, carrots, lemons, sweet potatoes, and mangos are just some yellow fruits and vegetables you can eat during alcohol detox to correct nutritional deficiencies. Snack on yellow-orange fruits at breakfast and between meals, and start incorporating yellow and orange vegetables into various meals like omelets, stir-frys, and soups.
6. Fatty Fish
Tuna, mackerel, salmon, trout, and sardines are all types of fatty fish that contain high amounts of vitamin B1, vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids, and fat-soluble vitamin D. Omega-3s can help boost your heart health, while vitamin D contributes to stronger bones to prevent bone loss and softening of the bones—common complications of heavy alcohol use.
The recommended daily intake of omega-3s for adults is 1.6 grams per day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women, while the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU per day for both men and women. If you’re unable to reach these amounts through diet alone, consider using nutritional supplements during your alcohol detox.
Though commonly mistaken as a vegetable, avocado is a highly nutritious fruit packed with vitamins C, E, K, and a range of B vitamins including B1, B6, and B9. Avocados are also high in healthy fatty acids and fiber, and contain more potassium than bananas.
Eating avocados can increase your body’s absorption of nutrients from plant foods like leafy greens and vegetables. This fruit is also shown to boost eye health and reduce the risk for eye problems like cataracts and macular degeneration. Eat avocados on their own with seasoning, use as a substitute for mayonnaise and sour cream, and add to salads, sandwiches, soups, and burritos.
Alcohol Detox with Summer House
Summer House Detox Center offers alcohol detox and daily full-course meals prepared by a 4-star chef. Those who join our inpatient and residential alcohol rehab program can eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day during alcohol detox to support their recovery from alcohol addiction. Other services we offer include individual/group counseling and therapy, 12-step support group meetings, daily housekeeping, and 24-hour medical supervision.
Alcohol detox can bring you one step closer to recovering from alcohol dependence and addiction. Florida offers plenty of sunshine to help increase your body’s vitamin D production, and easy access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish that promote healing from alcohol addiction.
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol use disorder and in need of detox treatment in West Palm Beach, contact Summer House today at 800-719-1090 to verify your insurance benefits and begin the treatment process. You can also visit us at 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.