If you’re struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, you may feel like recovery is beyond your reach. Trying to quit cold turkey on your own can be ineffective and dangerous, especially if you’ve been using for several years or are addicted to multiple substances. However, a carefully managed detox can help put you on the path to sobriety.
What Is Drug Detox?
Detox, also known as detoxification, is the first major step in the recovery process after a person enters a treatment facility. During detox, the body is allowed to rid itself of a drug while withdrawal symptoms are minimized.
Every drug affects the body a little differently, but common withdrawal symptoms for people suffering from addiction include:
- Cold flashes
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle or bone pain
At JourneyPure Emerald Coast, clients are monitored 24 hours a day during the drug detox process to ensure their safety as well as their comfort. The detoxification team includes the Medical Director, Clinical Supervisor, Nursing Staff and Mental Health Technicians — all of whom are committed to making patient care a top priority.
Some clients benefit from using medications to manage detoxification symptoms. Medication usage during drug detox is safe when done under the supervision of an experienced professional, but some people prefer a more natural approach. In this case, they may be recommended a diet of foods that helps with drug detox.
Top 16 Natural Drug Detox Foods
Nutrition has long been considered a critical part of addiction recovery. Alcoholics often enter rehab malnourished because the empty calories in wine, beer and liquor zap their motivation to consume a diet sufficient in the vitamins and minerals their body needs to function properly. Drug addicts often skip meals in search of their next fix, leading them to become underweight as well as deficient in many key nutrients.
Natural drug detox foods help the body in three ways:
- They provide the vitamins and nutrients that can help alleviate symptoms of withdrawal such as headaches and constipation.
- They reduce cravings that might tempt you to begin using again.
- They help repair the damage that substance abuse does to your body, improving your health and boosting your energy level.
Some ideal foods to include in your drug detox diet are:
Asparagus acts as a general anti-inflammatory food and is also known to help with liver drainage. Since your liver is responsible for removing toxic materials in the food you consume, promoting proper drainage will drastically improve your health.
Asparagus can be served raw or steamed, depending on your personal preference. It’s also excellent when added to a frittata for breakfast.
You might not give a lot of thought to the spices you cook with, but basil is naturally full of antioxidants and acts as a diuretic to help eliminate toxins from your body.
Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto. It’s also commonly found in stir-fries and pasta dishes, as well as Italian-inspired salads. For maximum detox benefits, use fresh basil grown from your own at-home herb garden.
Cinnamon has natural antimicrobial properties and is packed with antioxidants. It’s often used in herbal medicine to treat nausea, menstrual pain and diabetic blood sugar control issues.
Get more cinnamon into your diet by enjoying apples drizzled with cinnamon honey as an afternoon snack. Add a cinnamon stick and orange slices to a pitcher of cold water and let it sit overnight. You’ll enjoy a delicious detox water throughout the next day. You can also try making fried brown rice with cinnamon and turmeric as a side dish for one of your meals.
- Citrus Fruit
Fruit in general is an important part of the drug detox process because it’s rich in antioxidants. However, citrus fruits are especially beneficial because they can boost your immune system and protect the body from free radical damage. Increasing your intake of fruit will also help restore the appearance of your skin and hair, which can provide a much-needed boost to your self-confidence.
Although all citrus fruits are beneficial, grapefruit is especially useful during the detox process. It can help regulate the digestive system, prevent kidney stones and lower cholesterol.
When you make a salad, always add cucumbers! Since they’re around 95% water, these delicious veggies help flush out toxins from the body. They also deliver many important nutrients, including beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C.
In addition to adding cucumbers to your favorite salad, try infusing a pitcher of cold water with cucumber slices for a refreshing drink. Cucumber water has long been a favorite detox drink in spas around the world.
- Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are a useful part of a drug detox diet because they provide a source of fiber that can be used to bind and flush toxins from the body’s digestive tract. However, men should consume flax seeds in moderation. The lignans in flax seeds are chemically similar to estrogen, which can sometimes cause health problems in high amounts.
An easy way to consume flax seeds is to simply add a tablespoon or two to your favorite smoothie recipe. Flax seed can also be sprinkled over granola or added to your favorite soup or stew recipe.
It might give you bad breath, but garlic is one of the best detoxing foods around. Consuming raw or cooked garlic helps stimulate the liver to produce the detoxification enzymes that remove harmful residue from your digestive system. A stir fry made with fresh veggies and a garlic sauce would be a tasty and nutritious way to assist in your drug detox.
However, don’t feel as though you must eat garlic to detox successfully. Some people discover they experience bloating and stomach upset when consuming large quantities of fresh garlic. Garlic can also cause interactions with some prescription medications, such as blood thinners.
- Leafy Greens
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, romaine, Swiss chard, collards, dandelion and bok choy provide chlorophyll, which helps rid the body of harmful environmental toxins while promoting detoxification in the liver.
If you don’t have much of an appetite or simply aren’t accustomed to eating large quantities of leafy greens, a green smoothie can be a good choice. Smoothies are a quick and easy way to get a variety of fruit and veggies into your diet, giving you an energy boost and lots of antioxidants to help your immune system. The basic formula for a green smoothie is:
- 1 cup liquid
- 1 cup leafy greens
- 1 ½ cups fruit
For example, you could combine 1 cup spinach with 1 cup coconut milk and 1 ½ cups of a peach and banana mixture. The sweet taste of the fruit overpowers the flavor of the spinach, even though the finished drink has a distinctive green color.
Long known as a staple of budget-friendly diets, lentils are an excellent drug detox food. In addition to helping with toxin elimination, they balance blood sugar to help you avoid mood swings and provide fiber to ease digestive troubles.
Lentils can be added to soups, salads, dips and spreads. They can also be used as a substitute for meat, especially in dishes made with ground beef. Burgers, meatballs and tacos made with lentils are a healthier and more nutritious version of your favorite comfort foods.
- Olive Oil
Stock your pantry with olive oil to provide a boost of healthy fat while you’re cooking. Olive oil can also be used as a more nutritious alternative to commercial salad dressings. Ice-pressed olive oil is recommended for maximum nutritional benefit, but quality cold-pressed olive oil is suitable for detox purposes as well.
- Seeds and Nuts
Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts and Siberian cedar nuts are excellent choices during the detox process. Choose organic seeds and nuts whenever possible since their high fat content makes them more likely to soak up the potentially harmful chemicals used in the production process.
Seeds and nuts are a great choice for snacks. They contain protein to help regulate your blood sugar, which will keep your mood stable throughout the day and help with the irritability that’s common in drug detox. A handful of seeds and nuts paired with a small amount of fruit makes a delicious and nutritious mid-day snack.
- Red Peppers
Surprisingly, one red pepper contains three times as much vitamin C as an orange. Since vitamin C transforms toxins into something your body can digest, this makes red peppers a staple in the detox diet.
Hummus and raw red pepper slices make for a nutritious snack since the vitamin C in the peppers helps your body make better use of the iron in the chickpeas used to make the hummus. However, stuffed red peppers made make a delicious main dish as well.
The bright orange spice known as turmeric is commonly used in South Asian cuisine. Curcumin, a compound derived from turmeric, is a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory that can help alleviate some of the aches and pains associated with drug detox.
Dehydration is a common concern during drug detox and the early stages of recovery. Drinking lots of water helps keep the body properly hydrated, which also helps alleviate constipation.
Current nutrition guidelines recommend that you try to drink half an ounce to one ounce of water for each pound of body weight. For example, a 200-pound man should try to drink 100 to 200 ounces of water per day.
This might seem hard to manage at first, but it’s easier if you add sliced fruit or vegetables to your water to give it a flavor boost. Lemons, for instance, can flavor your water and help stimulate the liver enzymes that rid toxins from your body.
- Wild Salmon
Wild salmon is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is also an excellent source of high-quality lean protein.
Lean protein is essential for recovering addicts, as it helps the body repair damaged cells and restore vital organics. According to the American Heart Association, salmon and other forms of fish should be eaten at least two times per week.
Salmon can be grilled, baked or broiled, depending on your personal preference. It can be served with a side of mixed veggies as a delicious dinner or used to make salmon burgers or salads for a light and nutritionally balanced lunch.
- Whole Grains
Whole grains should be a staple of any diet since they are packed with essential nutrients and are high in antioxidants. However, whole grains are particularly important during the drug detox process. Since they’re packed insoluble fiber, they’ll keep you regular and help control your appetite.
Brown rice, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, quinoa and buckwheat are examples of whole grains that are good to include as part of a natural drug detox effort. Substituting whole grain products for refined products is the easiest way to get more whole grains into your diet.
3 Foods to Avoid During Drug Detox
You may have certain foods that your body does not respond to as well as others during the detox process. Keeping a food journal is a great idea because it will give you insight into how your food choices affect your mood and energy level throughout the day. This information can make it easier to stay on the path to recovery.
The following foods are ones you should avoid as much as possible while completing your drug detox:
Caffeine gives you a temporary energy boost, but it can trigger mood fluctuations. In the early stages of recovery, these fluctuations can make it hard to resist cravings for drug and alcohol.
- Fast food
Seeking comfort from your favorite fast food place is a bad habit to get into. Fast food is high in salt, sugar and fats — none of which your body needs in large quantities. A diet high in fast food can make you feel sluggish and bloated.
- Sugary foods and refined carbohydrates
When choosing your meals, your goal should be to get the most bang for your nutritional buck. Sugary foods and refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries, are full of empty calories that fill you up but provide little nutritional benefit. They can also trigger mood fluctuations much like caffeine can.
Can Supplemental Detox Treatments Help?
In addition to enjoying a diet of foods that helps with drug detox, many recovering addicts find supplemental treatments helpful. These may include:
- Acupuncture: The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine reports that acupuncture can help reduce cravings and produce a calm feeling when combined with group therapy and substance abuse counseling.
- Dietary supplements: It’s preferable to get all of your required vitamins and minerals from the food you eat. However, dietary supplements can be helpful in some cases. Ask your healthcare provider if a supplement might be beneficial as part of your detox process.
- Epsom salt baths: A hot water bath enhanced with Epsom salt draws toxins in the body to the skin’s surface. Hot baths can also help reduce stress and ease muscle aches.
- Massage: Massage can be helpful in reducing stress as well as muscle or bone pain.
- Yoga: A relaxing yoga routine can assist in coping with insomnia and/or anxiety.
What’s the Next Step?
If you’re ready to take control of your life, JourneyPure Emerald Coast can help. As one of Florida’s most respected addiction treatment centers, we make it a priority to provide compassionate, personalized rehabilitation resources to help you start a life free from the burden of addictive behavior. To learn more, contact us today.