Working through your withdrawal symptoms can be intensely draining on the body; during this strenuous period, it's important to nourish your body with the fuel it needs to stabilize and get back to normal. A healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains will support your overall health, but there are some foods that may help you progress more easily through the timeline for drug withdrawal. Here are five types of food that can help you see recovery through to the end.
1. Foods Rich in Antioxidants
Prolonged use of drugs changes your body and damages its various systems, and detoxifying the remaining substances in your system is a lot of hard work for your cells. Antioxidants can help your body repair its immune system and support your cellular cleansing processes, which encourages your body to remove unwanted chemicals more quickly and effectively. Foods like leeks, artichokes, beets, kale, spinach, onions and most nuts are packed with antioxidants. If you're craving something sweet, go for blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and a bit of dark chocolate (at least 60% cacao).
2. Foods Containing Tyrosine
When your body is working through withdrawal, it may have a hard time processing your 'feel good' neurotransmitters like dopamine. A lack of dopamine has been linked to poor energy levels, depression, apathy and substance cravings; the amino acid tyrosine is one of the major components in your dopamine process, so adding tyrosine-rich foods to your diet is a great way to curb cravings and improve your mood and energy. Most whole grains are an excellent source of tyrosine, as well as bananas, cheese, meats like lamb, lean beef and pork, soybeans and sunflower seeds.
3. Foods with Plenty of L-Glutamine
Not unlike antioxidants, L-glutamine is another amino acid that supports a healthy immune system and helps remove free radicals from your body; it's also shown to curb cravings for sugar, which can often occur during early recovery and may contribute to problems like anxiety, depression and discomfort due to inflammation. Dark leafy greens are an ideal source for L-glutamine, so be sure to stock up on vegetables like spinach, parsley and some cabbage as well. Brussel sprouts, celery, beets, carrots and most beans are also high in L-glutamine, as are proteins like beef, fish, chicken and eggs. Try adding L-glutamine rich papaya to your diet to curb your sugary cravings, too!
4. Foods Containing Tryptophan
Much like tyrosine, tryptophan is another amino acid that serves as a precursor to your good mood — specifically, it plays a huge role in your body's production of serotonin, one of the major chemicals responsible for feelings of happiness. It can be difficult for your body to process serotonin during stressful times, so try boosting your diet with plenty of foods rich in tryptophan. Turkey, pork, lamb, tuna, most beans and lentils and even oat bran are all brimming with tryptophan. Dairy is another good source of tryptophan, so make sure you're eating eggs, various cheeses and milk, too.
5. Foods That Are Fermented
Fermented foods are preserved in a way that the bacteria in them can convert sugars into acids and alcohol, creating probiotics along the way. These probiotics are tiny living organisms that occur in your gut, and they keep you healthy by balancing the good and bad bacteria in your body, which is critical during the rebuilding process. Probiotics are also shown to boost serotonin levels by as much as 90%, so make sure you're stocking up on fermented foods to reap these benefits. Greek yogurt, kimchi, apple cider and sauerkraut are some of the most readily available fermented foods, but don't be afraid to try drinks like kefir, miso and kombucha.
The withdrawal process is hard enough on your body as it is, and supporting the health of your immune system, brain chemicals and cellular processes is crucial for making it through the symptoms. Alongside these beneficial foods, fill your meals with plenty of vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fatty acids, and be sure to drink between 11 and 15 cups of water every day. If you're concerned about making changes to your diet, speak with your doctor or rehabilitation specialist to build a meal plan that works for you.