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Why Your Digestive Health is Crucial in Recovery

Why Your Digestive Health is Crucial in Recovery

In the beginning, your main focus in recovery should be staying sober by any means possible. However, once you are more secure in your sobriety, the next step is to focus on your digestive health.  Why? Well, in case you did not already know, drug use severely impacts your digestive health. When you come off those drugs, it is crucial you focus in on improving your digestion.  To get completely well, you must take care of your entire well being.

Recovery goes beyond getting off drugs. After the initial stage of sobriety, it is important to focus on healing your entire body.  Substance abuse can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Long term substance abuse severely affects the body and reversing the damage is crucial. Therefore, it is important to address the damage your body has gone through.

Your digestion system is the gateway in which nutrients enter your body. Anything that harms the digestion system affects how your body gets its nutrition. Drugs like alcohol cause inflammation to the gut, making it more difficult for your body to absorb the nutrients it desperately needs. Many people began using drugs to alleviate symptoms of depression or anxiety. However, drugs do not help with these symptoms. They are a temporary escapes that make those problems worse.

The gastrointestinal tract has over 100 million neurons making it the second largest collection of nerve tissue in the body. Therefore, it is highly possible that the gut may be involved in both mental health issues and addiction. This means that your previous substance abuse could have aggravated symptoms of depression and anxiety, because of the imbalance it created in your gut.

Your digestion tract is home to a population of microorganisms that help in digesting food and absorbing nutrients. In a healthy digestion system, there is a balance of microorganisms. However, if the proportions become imbalanced, you end up with an excess of inflammatory molecules called cytokines. This excess of cytokines have a significant effect on brain function which ultimately leads to depression, anxiety and cognitive problems.

One of the jobs of your digestive tract is to identify substances that could be toxic to the body. The gut provides a barrier that keeps these toxic substances out of the bloodstream. However, a hormone called cortisol is released from our bodies when we are stressed. Cortisol makes the walls of the intestine more permeable, making it easier for toxins and pathogens to get into the blood stream. Eventually, these toxins lead to inflammation  and the inflammation affects your mood, and sensitivity to stress. Because of this, bad digestive health can increase the risk of a relapse.

The good news is you can take steps right now to improve your digestion health:

  • Take Probiotic Supplements:
    Probiotic supplements help your digestions system. They reduce symptoms such as gas and bloating. Probiotics help because they put the good bacteria back in the gut and improve damage to the liver caused by alcohol. Foods like yogurt, kimchi, or sauerkraut can improve brain function.
  • Increase Magnesium:
    If you struggle with constipation, try increasing your consumption of magnesium. Constipation is common among those who struggled with opiates. Try to take a magnesium pill or eat food high in magnesium like leafy greens, dark chocolate, and avocados.
  • Consider Anti-inflammatory Supplements:
    As we mentioned, the body becomes inflamed through poor eating which affects nutrient absorption. Try reducing inflammation in the gut by taking vitamins C and E. You may also find it helpful to drink green or black tea.

Overcoming addiction is no easy feat. You may feel overwhelmed with staying sober to worry about anything else. However, once you are further in your recovery, it is important to start taking care of your entire body, and that means your digestive health. Your mind and body will thank you. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.

Author: Shernide Delva

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