Best Foods for Detox and Recovery

Best Foods for Detox and Recovery


Table of Contents

Drug and alcohol detox and rehabilitation is necessary to create a better life for oneself after addiction, and while focusing on the medicinal and mental health aspects of recovery is crucial. It is also important to remember that nutritional health is also a key piece in the overall wellness puzzle. The food we eat in detox and beyond can be pivotal to building a healthy life and lasting sobriety.


The Role Food Plays in Our Health

Food plays a significant role in our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Think of your body as a high-performance engine; using substandard fuel in a luxury vehicle would inevitably result in engine malfunctions and breakdowns. Likewise, when given substandard building blocks to work with, your body responds by creating mental and physical dysfunction that may make overcoming addictions and unhealthy habits more difficult.


Nutrition plays a vital role in recovery from drug and alcohol use. Essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in nutritious foods can reduce withdrawal symptoms and give your body what it needs to heal. So why is nutrition important to recovery, and what should you eat as you embark on your healing journey? Read on to discover why it all matters.


Malnutrition Caused by Substance Abuse

Any form of substance abuse can cause malnutrition. People in the throes of addiction care less about how they are fueling their bodies than about getting the next fix. A person may skip meals or forget to eat due to a preoccupation with their addiction. Over time, this failure to fuel results in a loss of critical nutritional building blocks that will eventually show as signs of malnutrition. Classic signs of malnutrition include:


  • Reduced Appetite
  • Weakness
  • Chills
  • Poor Cognitive Memory
  • Slow Wound Healing
  • Weakened Immunity


The recovery process does little to erase the effects of malnutrition. On the contrary, detoxing can make things temporarily worse for people experiencing exaggerated withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to continue.


The Struggle to Rewire the Brain

Substance abuse takes over the mind, with substances triggering the brain’s reward center. As someone uses their chosen substance, the reward center is flooded with “feel good” chemicals, repeatedly causing one to seek out that same feeling.


With every subsequent high, the need for more substance to feel the same effect grows greater, and this is where the roots of addiction take hold in the brain. Since the human body is so adaptable to stimuli, the brain requires more significant amounts of the substance to create the same amount of “feel good” substances that keep a person coming back for more.


Feeding the Brain During Recovery

Unhealthy foods also stimulate parts of the brain, releasing chemicals that temporarily help us feel good. Processed foods high in preservatives, sugar, and fat contribute to the same type of brain chemistry in people struggling with addiction. Feeding the brain the right food during recovery is essential to success and long-term health. Changing your diet by incorporating healthy foods that promote healing will significantly and positively impact recovery.


Foods to Eat During Detox

Recovery is a whole-body endeavor; making deliberate and positive diet and lifestyle changes makes it easier for the mind and body to heal. When the body is nourished with adequate vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, cravings for unhealthy foods and patterns are significantly reduced. The body embarks on its natural healing process, provided you continue properly nourishing it. Below we identify some of the best foods to incorporate into your diet for optimal health and healing.


Fresh or Frozen Berries

Fresh or frozen berries enhance any snack with a boost of healthy, natural sugar to help you fight unhealthy cravings. In addition, berries are rich in vitamins C, A, and B and antioxidants that promote cellular health and renewal—snack on delicious berries alone or in combination with yogurt or nuts for a satisfying snack.


Whole Grains

Whole grains are an essential part of any healthy diet. The body craves fiber-rich foods, and fiber helps to eliminate toxins and harmful free radicals that can damage organs and tissues as they circulate. Foods rich in whole grains also help to facilitate a slower release of sugars, keeping blood sugar levels stable and helping to prevent mood swings and irritability, which are common during detox.


Garden Greens

Garden fresh greens are among the most nutritious foods consumed on this planet. Greens are excellent for adding a boost of vitamin B and binding to heavy metals and toxins to flush them out of the body. Greens also provide you with antioxidant protection as your body continues to heal. In addition, they support optimal brain function during recovery. Look for leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, chard, and kale to incorporate into meals to reduce cravings for unhealthy food and drink.


Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper helps to regulate the metabolism and fight cravings for unhealthy foods. It can also help to reduce flu-like symptoms and nausea, which are common in the initial stages of detoxification. Adding a pinch into a cup of tea or favorite foods can boost immunity, easing detoxification symptoms.


Nuts and Seeds

Dopamine is one of those “feel-good chemicals” that is present and circulating in a healthy brain. Unfortunately, brains subjected to unhealthy patterns of addiction are severely depleted in dopamine, so finding foods that naturally raise and release this chemical back into the brain will improve the detoxification experience. For example, nuts and seeds naturally raise dopamine levels, which can help reduce cravings for alcohol and other substances that produce the same feeling. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, and flax seeds are also excellent sources of fiber and antioxidants that help naturally balance dopamine levels in the brain.


Fatty Fish

Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel are excellent sources of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, contributing to mood and brain health. In addition, these fish are incredibly high in protein, which helps you to recover from the adverse effects of alcohol and drugs on the body and brain. Consuming quality protein is also an excellent way to trigger that satiated feeling, making it easier to resist the temptation of unhealthy foods and other substances.


Foods High in Zinc

Zinc is a powerhouse mineral, providing excellent healing capabilities for the body and mind. Foods high in zinc include:


  • Fresh Seafood
  • Red Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Fruit
  • Whole Grains
  • Full-Fat Dairy


Choosing foods from this list will boost immunity, promote cellular health and renewal, and give you the building blocks needed for proper nutritional recovery.



Bananas help to raise dopamine levels in the brain and fight off cravings for processed sugar and sweets. High in potassium, bananas aid in protecting the heart and cardiovascular system from oxidative stress and damage. Even one banana a day is said to significantly reduce the effects of substance abuse on the heart and promote natural healing.


Whole Wheat Bread

Making the switch from white to whole wheat bread has many health benefits. Whole wheat contains a great deal of fiber and magnesium, which can improve gut health. Magnesium has also been shown to protect muscle and nervous system health, two systems that will be called upon to perform as you go through detox and withdrawal.


Iron-Rich Foods

Iron is a critical mineral that our bodies need but cannot produce. Essential to red blood cell production, this element carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. It also aids in improving neurological functioning, balancing hormones, and boosting energy. Foods that are rich in iron include:


  • Beef
  • Dark Poultry Meat
  • Shellfish
  • Liver
  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Beetroot
  • Tofu
  • Soy Products


Just a few servings of iron-rich foods weekly will boost energy, safeguard immunity, and increase oxygen levels in the body, contributing to better overall health.



Water is a life force of energy for your body. It facilitates thousands of cellular operations, keeps blood flowing smoothly, and helps to eliminate toxins efficiently from all organs and systems. Without it, you feel sluggish, tired, and sick. Staying hydrated during and after detox gives you an advantage over those who don’t prioritize proper water intake. Aim for at least half your body weight in ounces daily and more if you are in the throes of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Detoxing with adequate amounts of water in your system will reduce the time you have to go through these symptoms, and you’ll feel better sooner.


You Are a Top Priority

Focus on self-care and better health as you seek to break free from habits and patterns that no longer serve you. Making yourself a top priority will help you achieve a better quality of life. Liberty Bay Recovery Center has a team of addiction specialists and medical professionals ready to serve you and provide you with what you need to get and stay sober. We offer inpatient and outpatient programs, therapeutic services, and medically supervised detox to support your recovery journey. You deserve to create the life that you’ve always wanted, which you can do now with your health and wellness as a top priority. Contact us today to get started on a better path to health and healing.