You’ve Gotta Dig In: Brain Health and Drug Abuse

Years of addiction leaves the brain in need of some serious TLC.

While battling chemical dependency, your brain is robbed of a lot of its essential nutrients – and that causes damage. By eating the right “brain power” foods, you can repair this damage and prevent further deterioration.

Mood, memory, decision-making, impulse control and behaviors are all affected by how well the brain functions. A healthy diet is necessary to restore proper chemical balance.

What Your Brain Craves

  • Complex Carbohydrates: Carbs are energy powerhouses. Try to consume at least 120 grams of carbohydrates a day to give the brain the energy it needs to heal. Spread this throughout the day, making sure there’s still some in your system by bedtime, since the brain does the majority of its healing while you sleep.

    Sources: Green vegetables, whole-grain breads, pasta, potatoes, peas, beans

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids: These are the building blocks of healthy fats and essential for nerve cell repair. The chemicals in your brain rely on these nerve cells to transmit signals for all your thoughts and actions.

    Sources: Fish, fish oils, flaxseed, nuts

  • High Quality Proteins: The building blocks of proteins create the brain chemicals that stabilize mood and behavior. Eating high quality proteins provide your brain with the ingredients needed to create these “happy” or “reward” chemical neurotransmitters.

    Sources: Lean meat, fish, dairy, nuts, beans

  • Vitamins and Minerals: These are also essential for neurotransmitter creation and function. Vitamin B6 and B3 and iron are specifically used to create dopamine (which plays a role in your reward/happy behaviors.)

    Sources: Vitamin B6 – cereals, beef, poultry, non-citrus fruits. Vitamin B3 – liver, fish, chicken. Iron – Clams, liver, sunflower seeds, beef, lamb, spinach, dark chocolate

  • Fruits, Vegetables and Water: As your brain heals, it’s susceptible to damage from the burning of sugar for energy. It needs fruits and vegetables, which neutralize the damage from these brain processes. And of course, water is essential in the creation of hormones and neurotransmitters. You need to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to stay properly hydrated.

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