5 Nutrition Tips to Strengthen Your Mental Health and Sobriety
Written by Chris
|Chris Bevacqua||Feb 24|| 1|
When it comes to addiction and recovery, your healing options are, in my opinion, incredibly underwhelming.
One can chose from either overpriced treatment to meetings with low success rates to ineffective and expensive medication.
Those seem to be the top 3, and it's unfortunate, because the wonders of holistic healing blow them all away.
Good health, and that includes mental health, starts in the gut.
The gut brain connection is undeniable at this point and we understand how much your physical health, especially good gut health, contributes to positive mood.
As I like to say, Good Food = Good Mood!
So here are 5 nutrition tips to reduce depression and anxiety and solidify your sobriety.
1.Eat Quality Protein and Fats
I've mentioned this several times in the past but it always bears repeating, protein is brain food at it's finest. One of the best ways to ensure your brain is happy, as well as your gut, is to consume quality animal protein like red meat. Red meat is one of the most nutritious and nutrient dense foods available to humans. The most important aspect of red meat is the amino acids. Amino acids convert into neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and GABA.
This helps your brain regulate these neurotransmitters after years of alcohol abuse has disrupted the process leading to lots of emotional distress.
This is the core issue of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS. Your dopamine, serotonin and GABA have been unable to properly regulate themselves which causes anger, stress, irritability, depression and more. Start the healing process with animal protein and fats.
Fats like seafood, avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds are incredible for the brain and exactly what your body is craving. It's important to understand that fat doesn't cause fat, sugar causes fat. Fat is a helpful source of fuel for our bodies and brain.
2. Avoid Sugar
This is a no-brainer. Sugar is one of the most destructive "foods" on the planet and should be avoided at all costs, especially in sobriety when the body is healing.
Alcohol is metabolized the same way as fructose and this leads to all kinds of health issues like fatty liver disease, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and more. These are all very common issues with long-term drinkers for this exact reason.
If you stop drinking but fail to remove sugar and refined carbohydrates, your body is still going to be dealing with the same issues and no healing can occur. Eliminating sugar will go along way to helping your body heal while increasing positive mood.
3. No Seed Oils and Processed Food
We are slowly learning more and more about the dangers of seed oils and how incredibly destructive they are to our systems. Oils like soybean, canola, safflower, vegetable, sunflower and more are highly inflammatory and cause all kinds of negative distress in the system.
Instead, you should be cooking in olive or coconut oil, grass-fed or organic butter, ghee and even different types of suet. Beef, duck and lamb suet are incredible in my opinion.
Home cooking can solve this issue easily as most restaurants cook in these oils regardless of how fancy and high priced they are.
Processed food is a serious issue as well. Any food that comes pre-packaged in a box is going to contain high amounts of these damaging oils but also chemicals and toxins in the form of additives, fillers, dyes and artificial flavouring.
What both these oils and foods have in common are massive amounts of inflammation, not just in the body and organs but also in the brain. These leads to an increase in all types of mental health symptoms.
4. Fermented Foods and Bone Broth
Healing the gut after long-term alcohol abuse is priority number one. As I mentioned, the gut brain connection is responsible for keeping your whole system happy and healthy. Upwards of 90% of our serotonin is created in our gut, along with other helpful feel good neurotransmitters, so maintaining a happy micro biome is essential to healing.
This is achieved through fermented foods; foods that have high probiotic count due to their fermentation. These are foods like Miso, Kimchi, Apple Cider Vinegar, Yogurt, Kefir and Sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is one of my favourites and it's also incredibly easy to make.
Bone Broth is a healing elixir from the Gods! Jam-packed with protein, amino acids, collagen, gelatine and more, it heals the gut and gives life to your whole system. It's incredibly easy to make and store for weeks. Starting the morning with warm bowl of bone broth boosts your health and mood and makes for an incredible day. It's one of my favourite treats!
5. Understand Anti-Nutrients
Understanding anti-nutrients like Oxalates and Phytates are really important for your health. Not all foods are created equal and just because a food is considered "good" or "healthy" doesn't mean that it's right for you. Foods like Kale, Spinach, Grains and Legumes are filled with these acids making them incredibly difficult to digest and take advantage of their nutrients.
When either the oxalic or phytic acid is released, it makes the food harder to digest. This means that you're unable to extract and absorb any of the nutrients, proteins, fats and carbs and put them to good use. This leads to mal-absorption and ultimately nutrient deficiencies, which is why Vegans in particular have a hard time absorbing food and often have to supplement most vitamins and minerals.
The main takeaway is that these acids are prevalent in most plant foods and when eaten often can start to damage the gut lining leading to digestive issues and creating a negative gut interior that promotes mental health symptoms to flourish.
Refer to this list of High and Low Oxalate Foods for more information and start an elimination diet if you think it would helpful. In the last year and a half, I've eliminated all dark leafy greens, grains and legumes from my diet and I've never felt better.
By following these 5 tips, you'll decrease inflammation significantly, while increasing feel good neurotransmitters and happy probiotics, creating a healthy environment for your body and brain.
When you follow these steps, sobriety becomes significantly easier as we decrease stress and promote healing in all problem areas such as the brain, liver, heart and digestive system. That’s what holistic healing is all about.
If you’ve found these tips helpful, you can find more at the following links below.