Addiction rehab and eating right

Does Poor Diet Cause Disease and Disorder? Can it negatively affect addiction rehab? 

Medical experts have traced the origin of many chronic disorders, including disease, sickness, and addiction, to unhealthy changes in eating and diet patterns. Every cell in the human body needs energy which comes from nutrients from food in order to function and grow, so it makes complete sense that the body and brain would suffer deleterious effects from malnutrition. For example, research has shown that for:

  1. Cardiovascular disease – Eating more heart healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and much less inflammatory foods like trans fats, sugar, and white breads can decrease the likelihood of heart disease.

  2. Diabetes – Eating a diet full of plant-based protein and high-fiber, slow-releasing carbohydrates will help sustain blood glucose levels so they don’t go on rollercoaster rides (hyper- and hypoglycemia) throughout the day. Besides stabilizing blood sugar levels, these foods will provide lasting energy and help the body feel satiated longer.

  3. Cancer – The 1931 Nobel Prize winner Dr. Otto Warburg said that cancer cells cannot survive in an environment where there are high levels of oxygen. Eating an alkalized diet helps to increase the body’s oxygen level so a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of water, avoiding processed foods, coffee, and alcohol is important in the fight against cancer.

  4. Addiction – Balancing fundamental brain biochemistry by ensuring that the brain’s nutrient and energetic needs are met is crucial to optimal cognitive functioning. If nutritional precursors to important neurotransmitters are not part of one’s daily diet, individuals may look for outside substances to create an elevated neurotransmitter response.

Nutrient deficiencies are prevalent in the United States because we follow a way of eating called the Standard American Diet (SAD). This convenient diet and preparation of food is filled with fat, sugar, processed and refined foods that do not support cell growth at any level. A “SAD” Diet doesn’t focus on fruits and vegetables that carry vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients or complex carbohydrates that contain fiber and cleanse our digestive tract. SAD dietary factors that increase the occurrence of disorders, like disease and addiction. include:

Processed Foods

The food industry has perfected the art of making foods look and taste good… and last forever! The easily accessible and convenient amount of processed foods we eat is alarming. Processed foods are loaded with over 2,800 additives, including food colorings (like yellow dye #5 and red dye #3 (link to foods to avoid blog) and added chemicals, that have been FDA approved.

As a nation that is jam-packed with busy schedules from dawn to dusk it makes it hard to sacrifice time to cook a homemade meal. Because of this, we’re consuming large amounts of additives that aren’t natural or meant to be ingested in the body.

Solution: Plan ahead.

Harmful toxins in animal foods

Millions upon millions of pounds of antibiotics and hormones are injected into animals to make them grow faster and product more milk. As Michael Pollan stated in his book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, “You are what what you eat eats.” This means we’re digesting and absorbing the enormous amounts of harmful toxins being given to these animals to make them produce and grow at astonishing rates.

Pesticides in plant foods

It’s not just our meat that’s exposed to toxins! The fruit and vegetable supply gets regular doses of pesticides to increase mass production as well. For example, an inorganic apple is sprayed, on average, close to 17 times. And because pesticides are not water soluble (meaning they can not be easily washed off foods) it takes time and good washing skills to remove these harmful toxins. Pesticides are fat-soluble and after being digested and assimilated into our bodies, often attach onto fat cells and are stored in adipose tissue.

Solution: Eat organic.


Sugar is everywhere and sometimes hard to avoid. Sugar is known as a psychoactive substance, meaning it changes the way the brain operates. In the case of sugar, it enters the brain and impacts normal biochemical function by filling a serotonin (one of the many neurotransmitters the brain produces) receptor and giving you an artificial high and sense that you “feel-good.” This “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” feeling is the same response that natural serotonin should give you. Your harming your ability to stay emotionally and physically balanced as well by eating high amounts of sugar that skyrocket blood sugar, resulting in an inevitable crash meaning fatigue and irritability are not far to follow.

Solution: Restrict sugar as much as possible. (link to blog post) If you need sugar for recipes, incorporate natural sugars like honey, grade B maple syrup, molasses, or fruit sweeteners. Stevia and raw sugars are other ‘better’ options.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

High fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener preservative and should quickly be eliminated from everyone’s kitchens. It’s artificially made by changing the glucose molecule in cornstarch to fructose. The result of a diet loaded with HFCS is that fructose is converted to fat by the liver, thus resulting in a high concentration of fats and lipoproteins in the body. It does not contain any vitamins, minerals, or phytonutrients and nothing more than empty calories.

Solution: Look to natural sugars