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Best Foods for Alcohol Withdrawal and Detox

Written by Theresa Valenzky

& Medically Reviewed by Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN

Medically Reviewed

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This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.
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Article at a Glance

  • Alcohol use affects your nutritional health.
  • Eating the right foods can help make alcohol withdrawal more comfortable.
  • Certain foods and supplements can support your detox efforts.
  • Some foods should be avoided while detoxing, as they can worsen withdrawal.
  • Good nutrition helps during detox but is no substitute for professional detox help.

Good nutrition can ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms and support healing. Eating the best food for alcohol detox can replenish nutrients vital to a successful recovery.

Alcohol addiction can have many negative health impacts, from poor nutrition 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, can delay recovery and even lead to serious health conditions.

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 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.

Alcoholic Malnutrition

Alcoholic malnutrition happens because someone who drinks heavily may eat less, make poor food choices and not digest 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 Foods To Eat for Alcohol Withdrawal and Detox 

A balanced diet that replenishes nutrient deficiencies can help 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 detox. They’re also a good source of the nutrients that those recovering from alcohol abuse need, such as vitamins A, B and C, as well as calcium, potassium and fiber. The fiber in fresh fruits and veggies helps steady blood sugar levels, reducing irritability, anxiety and cravings. Berries, citrus, melon, bananas 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 also 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 someone struggles with nausea or vomiting.
  • Healthy fats: Unsaturated fats help the body absorb nutrients better and 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.
  • Foods high in iron: Iron is essential for producing red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body. During alcohol recovery, an increased iron intake can help combat potential anemia, a potential side effect of alcohol abuse. Good sources of iron include lean red meats, poultry, fish, lentils, beans, fortified cereals, dark leafy greens like spinach and dried fruits such as apricots and raisins.
  • Probiotic foods: Probiotic-rich foods play a crucial role in rebuilding a healthy gut flora that may have been compromised due to excessive alcohol consumption. These beneficial bacteria aid digestion, boost immunity and help reduce inflammation in the gut. Foods rich in probiotics include yogurt (with live active cultures), kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi and kombucha.
  • Foods high in zinc: Zinc is important for immune function, wound healing and metabolizing nutrients. Alcohol can interfere with the body’s absorption and storage of zinc. To replenish zinc levels during recovery, incorporate foods like beef, lamb, chickpeas, lentils, pumpkin seeds, cashews, dairy products and whole grains.
  • 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

Herbs To Help With Withdrawal

While seeking medical help and having withdrawal symptoms treated using medication can be essential for your health and safety during withdrawal, some herbs and natural remedies may help support your withdrawal efforts:

  • Garlic: This herb contains compounds that can aid in liver detoxification, which is essential during withdrawal from substances like alcohol.
  • Cayenne pepper: This pepper is known for its fiery heat and can stimulate circulation and reduce withdrawal-related cravings by improving digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  • Parsley leaf: This is a common herb in culinary dishes and may help eliminate toxins. 
  • Echinacea: This herb has properties that can aid in combating infections and illnesses that individuals might be more susceptible to during withdrawal.

Collectively, these herbs may offer supportive benefits to individuals undergoing withdrawal by assisting in detoxification, enhancing immune response and reducing cravings.

Foods To Avoid During Detox

Certain foods can make it harder for the body to recover or may exacerbate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Excess sugar, caffeine and processed foods can increase anxiety, cravings and the likelihood of a relapse.


Sugar cravings are common when quitting alcohol, as the body craves quick energy. However, eating excess sugar can cause wide swings in blood sugar and energy levels, leading 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 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 decaffeinated coffee and herbal tea to control caffeine intake during recovery.

Processed Foods

Heavily processed foods provide little nutrition and can be filled with inflammatory ingredients 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 alleviate detox symptoms and help the body flush out toxins.

Get Professional Nutritional Help

Alcohol withdrawal is the most dangerous withdrawal there is and can be deadly. While eating the right thing can help make detox more comfortable, it cannot ensure your safety. A good diet supports detox efforts; however, detox requires medical help to be as safe and effective as possible. You should always consult with a doctor before detoxing from alcohol. 

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 alcohol abuse, these symptoms can resolve within a few days to a week and a half.

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 should check with  their doctor if they plan 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 is often fatal if untreated 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 a person may be too disoriented to call for help if more severe symptoms develop. 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 has an alcohol addiction, The Recovery Village at Baptist Health can help. Contact us today to discuss treatment options with a Recovery Advocate.

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