Alcohol abuse is gut abuse. When you seek treatment for alcohol use, you not only must think about the disease itself, but you also must think about the physical consequences your body endured for a long time. Increased and long-term alcohol use bombards your digestive system with sugars, carbs, and inflammatory toxins. This raises the acidity level of your body, throws the ratio of your gut bacteria out of balance, compromises your gut lining, and can lead to chronic, systemic inflammation. Your stomach and intestinal tract are more than just part of the digestive system. They’re your immune system’s first line of defense against the toxins you consume.
When your gut health is compromised, inflammatory agents can quickly cross into the bloodstream. From there, toxins can trigger inflammation anywhere that blood travels, including your brain. In the rest of this article, we’re going to discuss which foods and supplements to take, and which to avoid to heal your gut and brain while recovering from alcohol abuse.
Sugar is something that most everyone has too much of in their diet. Sugar (such as alcohol) feeds the harmful bacteria that colonizes your gut. Scientists and researchers have yet to discover the ideal ratio of the many different strains of bacteria that live in your digestive system. What they do know is that some are obviously beneficial, while excessive amounts of others can compromise gut health.
These harmful bacteria are associated with obesity, autoimmune disease, ADHD, anxiety, depression, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, skins conditions like eczema, and the list goes on.
Bad gut bacteria consumes sugar for energy, while healthy bacteria thrives off of dense, fibrous leafy greens and other low-sugar vegetables. Eating less sugar and more veggies can speed the gut healing process. Keep in mind that as you detox from alcohol, you’ll also be detoxing from sugar. Sugar is highly addictive on its own, so you’ll be fighting two battles at once.
Eat Dense, Fibrous Veggies
Eating dense, fibrous veggies will give the good bacteria in your gut a fighting chance to thrive. Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and chard are fuel for good bacteria. Artichokes are also an excellent source of fuel. When you eat broccoli, the good bacteria feeds on it in the small intestine. The denser the vegetable, the deeper into the digestive tract it survives without being completely broken down by enzymes. This means more food for good bacteria.
Supplement With Prebiotics and Probiotics
When vegetables serve as food for healthy bacteria, they play the role of prebiotics. Prebiotics are exactly this, fuel for healthy bacteria to consume. In the world of supplements, the bacteria themselves are referred to as probiotics. Supplementing with probiotics (good bacteria) and prebiotics (bacteria food) can help to recolonize your gut flora.
Before you take your probiotic supplement, make sure to eat plenty of broccoli, cauliflower, and other fibrous vegetables. You can also take a prebiotic supplement just before taking your probiotics. When you do this, the good bacteria (probiotics) will have something to munch on immediately. Artichoke is one of the most effective natural prebiotics, and several quality prebiotic supplements are derived from the plant.
Glutamine: One Of The Most Important Supplements For Repairing A Damaged Gut
Glutamine seals up that leaky gut. In scientific terms, glutamine “decreases intestinal permeability.” The cells of your small intestine use glutamine as a primary fuel source. When glutamine runs out, it becomes hard for the cells of the small intestine to repair themselves. By supplementing with glutamine, you give your cells the fuel they need to stay healthy and protect the body and brain from inflammation. Glutamine helps with nearly all gut issues: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcers, diarrhea, leaky gut, bowel movements, diverticulosis, and Crohn’s disease. If it’s a gut-related issue, glutamine can reduce symptoms.
Glutamine Improves Focus, Concentration, and Working Memory
Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body. Your gut can’t survive without it, and neither can your brain. In the brain, glutamine is used to make the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate. The balance between these two neurotransmitters is critical to overall brain health, cognitive performance, and the prevention of serious brain-related disorders. Epilepsy, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and addictive behaviors are all affected by a healthy balance of GABA and glutamate. If you or someone you know in the Phoenix, AZ area is struggling with addiction or believes they have a problem with alcohol, Stonewall Institute’s 10-week Intensive Outpatient Program allows patients to work towards recovery without disrupting daily life.
Glutamine Strengthens The Immune System
Leaky gut is the starting point for a lot of autoimmune diseases. A compromised gut lining allows too many inflammatory agents into the bloodstream. This can lead to thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s disease, and a greater chance of getting sick in general.
Glutamine Reduces Pain Associated With Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation in the gut leads to inflammation all over. Leaky gut can make arthritis worse, exacerbate skin problems (like psoriasis) and wreak havoc on overall health. Strengthening the gut with glutamine can reduce these symptoms.
Digestive enzymes help your gut process the difficult to digest foods like protein. In fact, enzymes are what allow you to digest all food, including complex sugars and starches. When not enough enzymes are present in the gut, intestinal inflammation can occur. As the food sits without being broken down, the lining of your intestine can become inflamed. Supplementing with digestive enzymes before and after eating can reduce intestinal inflammation by speeding up the digestive process.
It’s best to supplement with a broad spectrum of enzymes. A quality product will contain protease, lactase, lipase, and amylase. Protease is a pro at digesting protein, lactase breaks down dairy, lipase breaks down fat, and amylase goes to work on starches.
Herbs That Support The Adrenal Gland
Adrenal fatigue is more common in people with compromised gut health. Adaptogenic herbs like licorice root and ashwagandha are proven to aid in recovery from adrenal fatigue.
Licorice root increases hormone availability while alleviating adrenal fatigue by aiding the absorption of cortisol. Not only that, but it also promotes gut health by strengthening the mucosal lining of the stomach and small intestine. If you’d like to try supplementing with licorice root, go for the ‘DGL’ version. This type has had the glycyrrhizin removed, which can cause edema (swelling) and high blood pressure.
Ashwagandha is another adaptogenic herb that is especially effective at recovering from adrenal fatigue and balancing hormone levels post-addiction. It’s also proven to improve mood and cognitive health. Ashwagandha is a stress reliever, but also prevents against brain degeneration.
Ashwagandha’s effectiveness lies in its potent antioxidant content. The antioxidants in ashwagandha neutralize the free radicals in the blood that cause inflammation and cell damage. Ashwagandha is also proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Unlike prescription medications used to treat anxiety and depression, ashwagandha has no adverse side effects.
Bone Broth And Collagen
Collagen is the ingredient in bone broth that makes it so valuable for gut health. Collagen is also influential in reducing joint inflammation and strengthening soft tissue throughout the body. The amino acids proline and glycine in collagen can repair damaged intestinal lining. Supplementing with collagen also helps increase the gastric juices that strengthen the mucosal lining.
HCL (Hydrochloric acid)
Hydrochloric acid is the stomach acid that’s most important for breaking down protein before it enters the intestines. Individuals with poor gut health from drinking alcohol excessively or taking prescription meds tend to have too little HCL. This can be problematic because HCL plays a significant role in keeping bad bacteria from growing out of control in the small intestine. Check with your doctor before supplementing with HCL. Your doctor will want to test your stomach acid levels to make sure that you are, in fact, low on HCL. If she advises you to supplement with HCL, make sure it’s the ‘pepsin’ variety. Also be sure to take it with a meal that contains protein.
Oil Of Oregano
Oil of oregano extract is an anti-fungal. Supplementing with it can help balance the ratio of bacteria in your gut. Oil of oregano isn’t something to supplement with long-term, but initially, it can speed recovery. An overgrowth of yeast and candida can make gut flora imbalances worse. If you’ve been a beer drinker, you’re an ideal candidate for excessive yeast growth. The anti-fungal properties of oil of oregano can reduce yeast levels, giving your gut a better chance to heal itself and balance bacteria levels. Try building up your gut bacteria for a few weeks using the other techniques described in this article, then supplement with oil of oregano for one to two weeks.
Aside from taking supplements and eating healthy, exercise can ignite metabolism and stimulate the brain for a faster recovery from addiction. In the end, a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle is your best weapon against relapse. Having a healthy gut will make it easier to stay motivated and on track. It’s much harder to stay in a negative mindset when your digestion, immune system, and brain are all significantly improving together. Focus on accomplishing the small health goals, and the larger goal of sobriety will follow close behind. If you or someone you love is a habitual drinker, it’s important to keep an eye out for developing dependence. Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is a safe resource for any questions you may have. Call us today at 602-535 6468 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.