Last Updated on March 17, 2023 by Dr. Alberto Solà

The Best Dietary Practices to Follow During an Alcohol Detox

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the United States — nothing else even comes close. In fact, as of 2014, there were more than 130 million Americans who consumed alcohol on a regular basis. This number has only grown since then, as has the number of individuals suffering from alcohol addiction, estimated to be around 18 million people.

When someone is going through an addiction treatment program and alcohol detox, it is important that all their nutritional and dietary needs are met. Not only is a proper diet important to help you sustain a healthy lifestyle, but some effects of alcohol dependency are directly impacted by a nutrient deficiency. In order to live the best life you can, it is important to understand what happens to your body when drinking alcohol.

First off, how does alcohol impact your body’s nutrition?

Drinking alcohol causes your liver to use many B vitamins in order to break down the sugar alcohols and shed the toxic substance from your system. If someone drinks alcohol excessively, they can suffer from a chronic loss of the following vitamins and minerals:

• Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
• Vitamin B3 (niacin)
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
• Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
• Potassium
• Zinc
• Magnesium

Alcohol Detox: What You Need to Know

An alcohol detox is designed to treat alcoholism. At this point, alcohol is removed from the body.

Alcohol detox may result in withdrawal symptoms that range from mild to severe. Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

Additionally, people who have a long history of alcohol abuse sometimes experience delirium tremens (DTs) during alcohol withdrawal. DTs may cause sudden and severe mental and nervous system changes. They are common among people who have abused alcohol for 10 years or longer.

DTs generally occur within two to four days of a person’s final drink. However, DTs sometimes happen up to 10 days after a final drink.

DT symptoms may escalate quickly. Some of the most common DT symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Bursts of energy
  • Delirium/extreme confusion
  • Irritability
  • Sudden excitement and/or mood swings

If a person experiences one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, an alcohol detox program may help. With an alcohol detox program, a person can take the first step to recover from his or her alcohol addiction.

Best Alcohol Detox Methods

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to detox from alcohol. In most instances, a person who is dealing with an alcohol addiction may need to complete one or more of the following steps to safely overcome his or her addiction:

  • Evaluation by a Medical Professional: Alcohol detox programs are available at hospitals and inpatient and outpatient treatment centers around the world. To participate in one of these programs, a person first requires a full assessment by a medical professional. The assessment enables a medical professional to evaluate an individual’s physical and mental health. Then, this medical professional can develop a personalized alcohol detox treatment plan.
  • Stabilization and Support: Alcohol addiction is stressful and overwhelming, and people require support to ensure an alcohol detox program goes according to plan. If a person who is dealing with an alcohol addiction enrolls in a detox program, for example, he or she is surrounded by trained medical staff who can respond to any concerns or questions. Or, for people who try to self-detox at home, it is paramount to work with family members, friends, and other loved ones who can provide guidance and assistance as needed.
  • Long-Term Treatment: Research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism indicates roughly 90% of people who were dealing with alcohol abuse suffer a relapse within four years of their initial treatment. Meanwhile, various physical, emotional, and psychological triggers may lead a person to relapse after an alcohol detox. As part of an alcohol detox program, a person must develop relapse prevention skills. That way, a person can use these skills to identify relapse warning signs before they worsen and avoid potential places or situations that may lead to relapse.

Alcohol detox is an ongoing process. If a person is committed to an alcohol detox plan, this individual could successfully manage his or her addiction for years to come.

What Is an Alcohol Detox Diet?

An alcohol detox diet includes foods that have been shown to help individuals achieve the best-possible results during an alcohol detox. Certain foods aid during alcohol detoxification. By incorporating these foods into a person’s everyday diet, he or she is better equipped than ever before to minimize discomfort during an alcohol detox.

Foods to Eat to Detox from Alcohol

Some of the best foods to detox from alcohol include:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber and are easy to digest. Furthermore, fruit often helps a person curb his or her sweet tooth during an alcohol detox. People who are dealing with alcohol withdrawal may experience sugar cravings that lead these individuals to consumer cupcakes, candy, and other high-calorie sweets. Comparatively, fruits such as bananas and oranges offer healthy alternatives to the aforementioned sweet treats.
  • Whole Grains: Whole grains contain carbohydrates that provide the body with fiber and energy. They also can help a person feel full and are unlikely to cause immediate or long-term digestive issues.
  • Salmon: People who have an extended history of alcohol abuse may suffer from a vitamin B deficiency. Conversely, salmon contains vitamin B, which helps the body maintain cell health and helps a person feel energized.
  • Lean Beef: Lean beef may be ideal for people who are dealing with decreased appetite due to alcohol withdrawal or detox. It contains protein and fiber and low fat content. Therefore, consuming lean beef may have a positive impact on a person’s mood and energy levels, as well as lower an individual’s risk of an alcohol relapse.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Adding a dash of cayenne pepper can help spice up a meal. Plus, it may help a person limit his or her alcohol cravings and boost his or her appetite. Cayenne pepper has also been shown to help people reduce nausea and other symptoms frequently associated with alcohol withdrawal and detox.

Water plays a key role in a safe, effective alcohol detox, too. Drinking at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water daily allows the body to stay hydrated. It also ensures that a person can regularly flush toxins from his or her body.

Foods to Avoid During an Alcohol Detox

Although many foods can help accelerate and improve the results of an alcohol detox, some foods should be avoided during an alcohol detox. Common foods to avoid during an alcohol detox include:

  • Sugary Snacks: Consuming an excess amount of sugar may cause a person to feel lethargic. It may also lead to chemical imbalances and anxiety.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine may cause overstimulation of the nervous system that leads to anxiety and insomnia.
  • Fast Foods: Fast foods contain preservatives and chemicals that may be tough to digest. They may put additional pressure on the liver, too.

Determining the optimal diet for an alcohol detox is rarely simple. Fortunately, medical professionals are available who can help a person determine the best diet for alcohol detoxification. These professionals will learn about an individual and offer dietary tips and guidance. By doing so, an individual can get the help that he or she needs to create a successful alcohol detox diet.

Here are some steps to focus on when following an alcohol addiction treatment plan:

1. Always stay hydrated

In the beginning of your alcohol detox, it is common to feel extremely depressed and anxious, fatigued, have a loss of appetite, and suffer from nausea or vomiting. In extreme cases, rapid alcohol detox can cause hallucinations and deadly strokes. Staying hydrated with water and sports drinks with electrolytes will go far to combat these symptoms.

2. Stay away from heavy meals during the first few days

Heavy meals may be difficult to digest during the first 48 hours or so of an alcohol detox program. To get over this stage, stick to soups, stews, and other liquids.

3. Add vitamin-rich foods to your diet

As mentioned previously, many alcoholics suffer from extreme vitamin deficiencies. To make up for this, it is a good idea to add vitamin-rich foods such as eggs, nuts, leafy greens, milk, beans, fatty fish, and whole grains into each and every meal.

4. Visit a professional

It is okay to ask for help. If you need an extra boost of support, do not hesitate to contact a qualified detox and rehabilitation center, as they will be full of different techniques and methods to help you achieve success.

Detoxing from alcohol addiction is no small feat, and any physician will tell you it should never be done in isolation. If you would like help getting started with your alcohol detox, please contact our professionals today to learn what ibogaine treatment can do for you.