By The Recovery VillageThe Recovery VillageAbout our Editorial TeamEditor Theresa ValenzkyTheresa ValenzkyTheresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in... read moreMedically Reviewed By Dr. Sarah Dash, PHDDr. Sarah Dash, PHDDr. Sarah Dash is a postdoctoral research fellow based in Toronto. Sarah completed her PhD in Nutritional... read more×This medical web page has been reviewed and validated by a health professional. The information has been screened and edited by health professionals to contain objective information on diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Contains bibliographic reference sources. If you are a healthcare professional and you find any issue, please reach out to [email protected]Updated on 10/04/22 Alcohol addiction can have many negative health impacts, from poor nutrition status to disrupted sleep and diminished mental health. Drinking excess alcohol impairs the digestive system, so it cannot absorb nutrients properly. This lowers a person’s levels of key vitamins and minerals. Nutrient deficiencies make it hard for the body to function normally and can delay recovery. The liver and other detox organs are responsible for clearing alcohol from the body, and good nutrition can help them function optimally and support the detox process. Eating more nutrient-dense foods can improve the physical symptoms during alcohol detox and increase the chances of a successful recovery. Related Topic: Alcohol Detox The Role of Nutrition During Detox Malnutrition is common in people receiving treatment for alcohol addiction because chronic heavy drinking can cause many vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The nutritional deficiencies that result from alcohol abuse can worsen anxiety and cravings, which makes the detox process and recovery more difficult. Nutrition plays a critical role in recovery. Ensuring proper nutrition, hydration, electrolyte balance and vitamin or mineral supplementation can help support the body as it eliminates alcohol. Replenishing vitamins and minerals by eating the right foods can help ease withdrawal symptoms, boost mental health and reduce the likelihood of relapse. Other Addiction TherapiesArt TherapyHolistic and Alternative TherapiesMotivational InterviewingNutritional CounselingSMART RecoverySee More Alcoholic Malnutrition Alcoholic malnutrition happens because someone who drinks heavily may be eating less food, making poor food choices and not digesting nutrients properly. Alcohol affects how the gut absorbs nutrients, so someone who drinks heavily may be deficient in vitamins A, B, C, D and E, and calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Detox symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea also lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Addressing the nutritional deficiencies of a person in recovery by encouraging a balanced diet and avoiding certain harmful foods can restore balance and function in the body systems affected by alcohol use. Best Alcohol Detox Foods Eating a balanced diet that replenishes nutrient deficiencies can help a person manage withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes referred to as an “alcohol cleanse diet,” the foods a person eats while detoxing from alcohol are important to support the natural detox process, reduce symptoms and restore physical and mental health. During recovery, a person should focus on the following foods: Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and veggies have high water content and can help with hydration during a detox. They’re also a good source of the nutrients that those recovering from alcohol abuse need, such as vitamins A, B and C, calcium, potassium and fiber. The fiber in fresh fruits and veggies helps steady blood sugar levels, reducing irritability, anxiety and cravings. Berries, citrus, melon and peaches are good fruits to eat during a detox, and leafy green veggies like spinach, mixed greens and kale are also beneficial. Complex Carbs: Complex carbs like whole grains are high in fiber and B vitamins that help reduce withdrawal symptoms. Complex carbs stabilize blood sugar, which balances hormones and reduces cravings. Carbs and B vitamins are also used to produce serotonin, which boosts mood. Quinoa, brown rice, oats and whole wheat products are good complex carbs to eat during a detox. Lean Proteins: Protein repairs tissue and rebuilds muscle that may have been lost during prolonged alcohol use. Protein also stabilizes blood sugar, which can reduce cravings. Poultry, eggs, lean red meat, seafood, soy, beans, nuts and seeds are all healthy sources of protein to eat during a detox. Bone broth is a good option if a person struggles with nausea or vomiting. Healthy Fats: Unsaturated fats help the body absorb nutrients better and help reduce inflammation. Foods like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds are good sources of healthy fats. The omega-3 fats found in salmon, walnuts, chia and flax seeds also help restore brain health and stabilize mood. Supplements: In the early stages of recovery, when a person is very depleted of nutrients and may not be able to tolerate many foods, a daily multivitamin supplement can help make up for deficiencies. Supplementing with a multivitamin can improve energy levels and nutritional status to support recovery. Related Topic: Alcohol detox vitamins Seeking Help For Alcoholism? Whether you're calling for yourself or a loved one, our Intake Coordinators are here to help. Your call is confidential, and there's no pressure to commit to treatment until you're ready. We are ready and waiting to answer your questions or concerns 24/7. 561-582-2030 Foods To Avoid During Detox Certain foods can make it harder for the body to recover or may exacerbate certain alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Excess sugar, caffeine and processed foods can increase anxiety, cravings and the likelihood of a relapse. Sugar Sugar cravings are common when quitting alcohol, as the body begins to crave quick energy. However, eating excess sugar can cause wide swings in blood sugar and energy levels and lead to cravings, fatigue, anxiety and mood imbalances. Sugar can also become a replacement addiction. Fresh and dried fruits containing vitamins and fiber are the best way to satisfy a sweet tooth during recovery. Caffeine Caffeine is a stimulant, and too much can cause insomnia, headaches and anxiety. Caffeine also disrupts digestion and sleep, which are important for a healthy recovery. Moderate amounts of coffee have been shown to help protect against liver disease, but it’s best to limit coffee to no more than two cups a day or drink decaf coffee and herbal tea to control caffeine intake during recovery. Processed Foods Heavily processed foods provide little nutrition and are filled with inflammatory ingredients that the liver must process. The liver works hard during alcohol detox, and eating processed foods can add even more work. Avoiding processed foods supports the liver during alcohol detox and makes more space for fresh foods that replenish nutrient stores and promote faster healing. Related Topic: Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Importance of Hydration During Detox Electrolyte imbalances and dehydration are common during a detox due to alcohol-induced dehydration and the vomiting and diarrhea that may occur during withdrawal. Electrolytes are minerals, like salt and potassium, that help clear waste from the body and maintain proper hydration levels. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids with electrolytes and eating plenty of fruits and veggies with high water content is key to a successful detox. Proper hydration can help alleviate detox symptoms and help the body flush out toxins. How to Detox Your Body From Alcohol Alcohol detox can happen by tapering consumption gradually or stopping all at once. The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on how long a person has been drinking, how much they drink and other factors like body size and age. Withdrawal symptoms can start within a few hours of reducing or stopping alcohol intake. The most common symptoms are tremors, irritability, nausea and vomiting, headache, sweating, insomnia and alcohol cravings. Depending on the severity of abuse, these symptoms can resolve within a few hours to a few days without treatment. Professional alcohol withdrawal treatment programs are the safest for detox since a person can be closely monitored during the withdrawal process. People likely to experience only mild symptoms may get approval from their doctor to detox from alcohol at home. Always consult a doctor before starting an alcohol detox. Dangers of Detoxing From Alcohol at Home The risks of alcohol withdrawal at home are due to life-threatening symptoms like seizures, hallucinations and delirium tremens. Delirium tremens is a condition that causes disorientation, rapid heartbeat, severe agitation, high blood pressure and fever. It can be fatal because it puts huge stress on the body and nervous system. Someone who could be experiencing delirium tremens should seek medical help right away. Another risk of detoxing at home is that if more severe symptoms develop, a person may be too disoriented to call for help. Detoxing under medical supervision is the safest way to prevent and treat the more severe and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Detox From Alcohol at The Recovery Village at Baptist Health Eating a balanced diet is especially important as the body works hard to repair and recover during detox. However, nutrition alone cannot ensure a safe or comfortable detox process. For those with heavy alcohol use or addiction, professional help is the safest and most comfortable way to complete the alcohol detox process. The Recovery Village at Baptist Health can provide around-the-clock medical supervision to ensure that medical alcohol detox is safe and comfortable. Many of our alcohol rehab programs include medical detox followed by a more structured inpatient or outpatient treatment program. We also offer holistic services, including nutrition advice or counseling. If you or someone you care about is living with alcohol addiction, The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health can help. Contact us today to discuss treatment options with a representative. SourcesGautron, Marie-Astrid. “Nutritional Status During Inpatient Alcohol Detoxification.” Alcohol and Alcoholism, January 2018. Accessed September 11, 2019. Mahboub, et al. “Nutritional status and eating habits of people who use drugs and/or are undergoing treatment for recovery: a narrative review.” Nutrition Reviews, June 2021. Accessed May 22, 2022. Savoie-Roskos, Mateja R., et al. “Diet, Nutrition, and Substance Use Disorder.” Utah State University. Accessed May 22, 2022. National Institutes of Health. “Alcohol and Nutrition.” Alcohol Alert, October 1993. Updated October 2000. Accessed May 22, 2022. Cleveland Clinic. “Does What You Eat Affect Your Mood?” January 12, 2021. Accessed May 22, 2022. MedlinePlus. “Substance use recovery and diet.” Updated January 12, 2022. Accessed May 22, 2022. Salz, Alyssa. “Substance Abuse and Nutrition.” Today’s Dietitian, December 2014. Accessed May 22, 2022. Harrar, Sari. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mood Disorders.” Today’s Dietitian, January 2012. Accessed May 22, 2022. Johns Hopkins Medicine. “9 Reasons Why (the Right Amount of) Coffee Is Good for You.” Accessed May 22, 2022. Saitz, Richard. “Introduction to Alcohol Withdrawal.” Alcohol Health and Research World, 1998. Accessed July 28, 2022. Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.