How Important is Nutrition in Recovery?

Learning about proper nutrition and how it is important in recovery and everyday life can open the door to a healthier life. Proper nutrition means eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. According to the Centers for Disease and Control:

Good nutrition is essential for keeping Americans healthy across the lifespan. A healthy diet helps children grow and develop properly and reduces their risk of chronic diseases, including obesity. Adults who eat a healthy diet live longer and have a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Healthy eating can help people with chronic diseases manage these conditions and prevent complications. (

The body needs nutrients to function properly, and proper nutrition ensures this is achieved. A healthy, well-balanced diet gives the body these nutrients, giving the body the ability to heal, giving it energy, and boosting mental health. Proper nutrition is a well-rounded diet in fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and whole grains.

What the Body Needs for Proper Nutrition

The body needs 13 different essential vitamins and 15 minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fat, and water. Each of these nutrients plays a vital role in the body’s function. As a result, nutrient deficiencies can wreak havoc on different body systems, causing an array of health issues and symptoms.

Essential Vitamins:

  • The 13 essential vitamins the body needs are Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B-6, biotin, folate or folic acid, and cyanocobalamin.
  • These vitamins help support the immune system, facilitate calcium absorption, keep the skin and hair healthy, aid brain and nervous system function, and facilitate carbohydrate and protein metabolization.

Essential Minerals:

  • The essential minerals the body needs are Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Sulfur, Chromium, Copper, Fluoride, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, Zinc.
  • Essential minerals help the body regulate hydration levels, support healthy bones, promote healthy blood pressure, boost the immune system, ensure proper blood clotting, and promote healthy teeth.


  • Protein is essential for muscle development and the healthy formation of cells. In addition, it provides your body with energy, helps your body carry oxygen throughout, and helps your body make antibodies.


  • Carbohydrates are the fuel source for the body. They are converted into glucose and help the body regulate and store energy. Carbs also help the body preserve muscle, promote digestive health, and aid in heart health.


  • Fats and fatty acids are essential for hormone regulation, blood clotting, blood sugar regulation, muscle function, brain function, and even vitamin and mineral absorption.


  • The body is made up of approximately 60% water. This makes water probably the most vital aspect of nutrition. It promotes brain function overall health, aids in digestion and removing toxins from the body, and helps the body transfer nutrients throughout the body and between cells.

Nourish Your Body After Drug Abuse

As you can see, the body needs a very specific set of nutrients to function properly. Each vitamin, mineral, and nutrient plays a key essential role in the overall health of one’s body.  Without proper nutrition, the body cannot function correctly, and poor nutrition can lead to health issues and other consequences.

How Important is Nutrition in Recovery?

Consequences of Poor Nutrition in Active Addiction

Poor nutrition can lead to serious, debilitating health issues. Individuals at risk for chronic illnesses and a shorter lifespan are at greater risk of malfunctioning their body systems. Some of the consequences of poor nutrition include:

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Deficits in brain function

These issues, along with fatigue, eating disorders, a lowered immune system, digestive issues, and more, can all happen due to poor nutrition. Therefore, when an individual has a substance use disorder or misuses substances, it can lead to poor nutrition and acceleration of health issues. Different substances can cause different nutrition issues, but substance misuse affects an individual’s overall nutrition.

How Substance Abuse Changes Our Diet

Substance misuse plays a large role in an individual’s nutritional intake. Substances can alter how an individual eats and how their body utilizes the nutrition they intake. The ways that substance misuse can affect nutrition include (but are not limited to): substances can cause loss of appetite, poor eating habits, gastrointestinal upset, and can cause organ damage.

A loss of appetite and poor eating habits can go hand in hand; if an individual is not eating because of a side effect of substance use or only eating certain things, it disrupts proper nutrition. Second, some substances can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea- all of which affect nutrition themselves, but avoidance of these things can also prevent a proper diet. Third, many substances can cause long-term organ damage, preventing organs from properly metabolizing and processing nutrients. Finally, specific substances can cause negative impacts on nutrition.

Which Drugs Most Affect Daily Nutrition?

Alcohol can alter how the body processes nutrients- especially in the liver and pancreas. The liver is responsible for breaking down toxins- this means that alcohol stays in the body longer, causing more harm. The pancreas is responsible for glucose regulation, and when it is damaged, it cannot properly create the enzymes needed to break down fats and carbs. This can cause blood sugar issues.

Opioids can cause a severe loss of appetite and disordered eating. Skipping meals and not eating enough is a classic symptom of opioid misuse. This results in not enough nutrients the body needs to be consumed. They can also cause severe constipation issues.

Stimulants can cause severe dehydration. This is because stimulants trick the body into having energy and feeling good, so the user often doesn’t realize they need to eat or drink. Dehydration can cause severe issues itself, even death. Not eating for long periods can also cause malnourishment and severe weight loss, so severe organs can begin to fail and shut down.

Marijuana can cause a drastic increase in appetite. This can lead to unhealthy eating patterns, unhealthy food choices, and obesity. Obesity can cause high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and heart failure.

Coming into recovery, the body will need to heal and detox from misused substances. Nutrition plays a bigger part than many realize in this process.

Nutrition Plays a Vital Part in Addiction Recovery

Many people don’t think about proper nutrition when it comes to recovery. Yet, nutrition in recovery helps physically, mentally, and emotionally. Balancing all of these things provides a strong foundation for a successful recovery.

During recovery, proper nutrition helps to health the body from the inside out and helps replenish lost nutrients from substance misuse. It provides the proper nutrients the body needs to heal itself. It also provides fuel for the body, essential in remaining physically active during recovery. In addition, a diet rich in healthy foods will help support a strong immune system and aid in the reregulation of the gastrointestinal tract.

Proper nutrition is essential for forming new habits and detoxification from substances. It helps to negate the side effects of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. A well-balanced diet is also excellent for mental health. Many foods provide the brain with boosts of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. Eating healthy is a great way to boost confidence, and it will help your body recover and provide you with numerous health benefits.

How to Ensure You’re Getting Nutrients in Sobriety

You can take certain steps to ensure that you are getting the proper nutrition your body needs during recovery. First, it is important to talk with your recovery team to ensure that you are eating the right things in the right amounts. They can help you through this. Some ways you can take control of your nutrition yourself include:

  • Discuss your nutrition with a nutritionist and your recovery team.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time.
  • Make sure to keep healthy options available for snacking.
  • Give yourself nutrition goals and rewards for reaching those goals.
  • Maintain an active lifestyle.
  • Find an accountability partner or someone that has similar goals.

Taking control of your diet and exercise in recovery can give you a sense of freedom and confidence, even when everything else may feel a bit shaky. Anyone can easily achieve proper nutrition with the right mindset and education, including you!

Finding a Rehab Center Focused On Overall Health

At Aspen Behavioral Health, we understand that recovery is not one size fits all. That is why our recovery programs are tailor-made based on your substance use history and recovery needs. Our medical professionals focus on using a client-focused approach to ensure the path to recovery fits the needs of the individual.

We have a staff of highly trained specialists who understand how important overall health is during recovery. We believe addiction is difficult, but getting sober doesn’t have to be. We make the first steps in the journey of growth and healing as painless as possible. Let us be your help hand; call us today to start your path to recovery.


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