It is estimated there are nearly 100 million regular drinkers in the United States, with 10% considered alcoholic. Although we won’t define here what makes a drinker an alcoholic, but, for the purpose of this article, let us suffice to say it is anyone who has lost control of their drinking, affecting their relationships, jobs, finances and health. This article speaks to the person who has decided to take charge of their health and give up (or least cut down) alcohol intake. Here we will get you started on supporting recovery and detoxification with nutrition.

Straight alcohol consists of empty calories – there are seven calories per gram, double what you would see in protein and carbohydrates. For heavy drinkers, alcohol can consist up to 50% of their daily calorie intake. As alcohol has no real benefit to the body, the liver takes the brunt of processing the alcohol, consequently converting it to fat which can build up in the liver – causing cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver.

For those who are recovering from the effects of heavy alcohol use, diet and vitamins may help through the withdrawal, detoxification and recovery process. Prolonged depletion of important nutrients must be replenished to promote optimal healing – this may need more of specific vitamins and enzymes. This is important even more so during the detoxification stage. Here are some steps to promote healing and recovery through nutrition:

WARNING: If you feel you may go through acute withdrawals needing medical
attention, please call your doctor or head to the nearest hospital.

WATER – by far this is the most important aspect to help you body flush toxins. As you go through the initial detox process, your cells will release not only toxins, but the by-products and waste that go with an extended period of alcohol use. It is recommended 3-4 quarts be drunk daily in a consistent fashion during the withdrawal and detox phase. In other words, don’t gulp all of your water by noon – you will have peed out most of the benefits. It may help to add 1/8 tsp of salt (sea salt if you have it) per 1 liter of water. This will help simulate the water into your body more effectively. If you have any peripheral swelling in joints and limbs, do not add salt. It is best to start your day with at least 8 ounces of water, to help replenish water lost throughout the night as those in detox phase may sweat profusely through the night.

OTHER LIQUIDS – During the early phases of withdrawal, you may not have much of an appetite. This is normal, but it is still important for you to take in nutrients and liquids at this time. If solid foods are not appealing, you could try fruit and vegetables juices as well as clear broths and teas.

DIET – Diet should be very simple and limited to alkaline foods. Cutting sugar is essential as heavy drinkers tend to have blood sugar issues. This will help balance the body back to produce glucose at normal levels. Small, regular meals are recommended and should eat at least something every few hours. Primary focus should be on fruits and vegetables, but lean proteins, legumes, whole what pastas and sweet potatoes may be added.

REST – Allow the body to rest and heal. If you can take some time off, do it. As much as you can, control stress. I understand that is not an easy task given some possible psychological side cravings that may be present. Use meditation as a tool to be mindful that you are doing a wonderful thing for your body and soul, even though it may not feel like it at the time.

VITAMINS AND HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS - I have found an EXCELLENT article by Elson Haas entitled Nutritional Programs for Alcohol Detoxification. It’s a nice printable article with an in-depth chart of everything you need nutritional at every stage. They do have an online store, but don’t seem to have everything needed for the program. The best prices on supplements that I could find online were from Puritan Pride. Nonetheless, the cleansing products are worth checking out.

Cleansing from the effects of alcohol is sometimes not an easy task, especially for heavier drinkers. But, the rewards are incredible. Within weeks you will notice a fog lifting and a lightness that will remind you how wonderful it is to be sober. This, in my opinion, is the best high ever. Please check back for more articles on how you can get healthy, clean and clear from alcohol.


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