Wellness And Nutrition
The Dopamine Diet in Addiction Treatment
Most addicts have low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. This can be partly genetic but the repeated, unnatural, simulation of dopamine production through substance abuse leads to disruption in the brain’s ability to produce dopamine in the usual way. Over time, this leads to lower and lower levels of dopamine in circulation.
When a person enters addiction treatment and has stopped their active addiction the brain is in dopamine slump. This often leads to feelings of depression, low motivation, mood swings and strong drug cravings. Dopamine depletion is a very high-risk factor for relapse as addicts crave the substance that was unnaturally sustaining their dopamine levels.
Elevating dopamine levels through the Dopamine Diet will reduce cravings and the risk of relapse as natural dopamine levels are restored in the brain. A low glycemic/dopamine boosting diet is a healthy, scientifically proven way to increase this essential neurotransmitter while helping rid the body of the toxins which accumulated during drug or alcohol abuse.
The Dopamine Diet shuns unhealthy, nutritionally-poor foods such as white flour and sugars in favor of high protein, vitamin-packed ingredients. Typically, the diet will include:
- Lean, organic meat and poultry
- Plenty of vegetables
- Most fruits
- Dairy products including cheese and yoghurt
- Wild-caught fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole wheat foods such as breads and pastas
- Whole grain including spelt, quinoa, farro, buckwheat and barely
The diet keeps sugar levels consistent and avoids the sugar spikes and troughs that adversely affects energy levels and mood. As well as being beneficial to brain repair, the Dopamine Diet also improves overall health. In early recovery, it is common for addictive behavior to be transferred towards food with addicts overeating and craving unhealthful foods. Research suggests about 65% of addicts gain weight in early recovery, with 20% going on to be classed as ‘obese’.
The Dopamine Diet quickly regulates eating patterns and, with restored dopamine function, a recovering addict is a lot less likely to be drawn towards high sugar and high carbohydrate foods that cause weight gain.
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