Most of us know that it’s important to have a good diet for the maintenance of your physical and mental health. Most people know that good nutrition can also help to repair damage done by aging, drug abuse, or physical injury.
What many people aren’t aware of is that their diet can have a positive or negative impact on the development of both process and chemical addictions. Just like the drugs involved in chemical dependencies, and the behaviors involved in process addictions can influence your physical and mental health, the food that you eat can alter the way your body and mind work.
With a good understanding of nutrition and diet, you can prevent an addiction from developing in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for a lot of people to recognize a deficiency for what it is before they start using drugs. This is good knowledge for parents and caregivers to have – the proper knowledge can keep children from developing addictions.
How can nutrition help?
To understand how nutrition and diet can be useful for preventing addictions, you have to understand how and why addictions develop in the first place. An addiction, regardless of whether it’s a process addiction or a chemical addiction, is a behavior that is developed in order to fill a ‘void’ or a lack of something caused by a deficiency or imbalance.
These sorts of destructive behavior patterns can usually be linked to some sort of neurochemical problem. Neurochemicals are the messenger compounds in your brain that are responsible for regulating just about everything that you do and perceive. If these neurochemicals are not properly balanced, symptoms of mental and physical illness can emerge.
How do we replenish and restore our neurochemical levels? With nutrition, of course. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and every other kind of nutrient is related, in some way, to the maintenance of good mental health. A healthy diet is important because it maintains a balance of neurochemicals that ensures proper mental and physical function.
Here are a few examples of the most commonly cited conditions that cause addictions, as well as some nutritional tips on how you can treat these issues before they become serious enough to develop into an addiction.
Anxiety is a problem that affects a huge percentage of the population. Many people don’t recognize that anxiety can be caused by nutritional deficiencies. Most often people will head straight to the doctor to get a prescription to fight their anxiety – benzodiazepines and antidepressants are quite common pharmaceutical remedies for this problem.
There are also lots of natural supplements that can effectively be used to fight anxiety. Proper nutrition can also correct any deficiencies that might lead to anxiety.
- Magnesium deficiency can cause it anxiety, and magnesium can also have an acute anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effect .
- Ashwagandha is an ayurvedic herb that’s been used for thousands of years to help mediate anxiety. It also helps boost testosterone which can improve confidence.
- Damiana, skullcap, and catnip are all herbs that can be mixed together in a tea or a light incense or smoke, working together to eliminate anxiety.
Depression affects a lot of people and leads many people into serious drug addictions. Most people seek help from their doctors when they are depressed, and the most commonly prescribed remedies for depression are SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
There are many causes of depression, though, and not all of them are related to serotonin. Dopamine deficiency, serotonin problems and norepinephrine deficiencies can all lead to depression.
- L-tyrosine and L-phenylalanine are two amino acids that are metabolized into dopamine by the body. If your body has trouble producing dopamine, these supplements will help.
- 5-HTP is a readily available supplement that is metabolized into serotonin and correct serotonin-related depression.
- Ginseng is a great supplement for boosting norepinephrine. A lack of vitamin C can also cause norepinephrine deficiency, so be sure to supplement with vitamin C – it might prevent some depressive symptoms.
3) Trauma and PTSD
A lot of people who suffered traumatic experiences in their past develop symptoms of PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder. These symptoms can make it very hard to manage daily life and can be triggered by seemingly innocent stimuli, leading to panic attacks, anxiety, stress and irrational behavior.
Fortunately, there are some supplements that can help to correct the mental issues related to PTSD.
- The B vitamins are great for treating PTSD-related insomnia, which can cause stress and anxiety related to sleep deprivation.
- PTSD can cause anxiety and depression, so the supplements mentioned earlier can help with those symptoms.
Many people like the confidence or uninhibited mindstate that comes with doing drugs. Insecurities often arise as a result of depression and can be treated with similar supplements. There are also many cognitive enhancers that you can use to help to coordinate your mental abilities and this can prevent you from developing a distorted self-image, preventing drug addictions from developing.
- Nootropic drugs like piracetam and noopept can help you improve your cognitive abilities, allowing you to have a better understanding and analysis of yourself and the way others perceive you. This can prevent drug addictions from developing.
- Supplements that are useful for depression, like bacopa and L-tyrosine, can also help prevent insecurity.
Paying attention to the nutritional needs of your mind and body can help save you a long battle with addiction. Having the right knowledge can also help you keep your friends or children from developing addictions. Health and diet are two of the most important things for keeping your brain and body in check. Please call my office at (805) 644-0461 and let’s talk about how we can improve your nutrition to best balance brain chemistry.