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Nutrition and Hydration Tips For Effective Alcohol Detox

Navigating the journey of alcohol detox can be challenging, but the right diet and hydration can make a significant difference in your recovery. Not only can nutritious foods and supplements help your body get back to health but they can also ease withdrawal symptoms.

Let’s take a look at how alcohol affects your diet, the associated health risks, and practical advice for managing your diet and staying hydrated during detox.

What Effects Does Alcohol Dependency Have On Your Diet?

Substance abuse can negatively impact the body in two main ways. First, the substance itself can affect the body. It can also lead to a poor diet and lifestyle. This means you are likely missing out on key nutrients your body needs to fight infections, keep your organs healthy, and provide you with energy throughout the day.

Even more, alcohol can inhibit the absorption of key nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin B1 (thiamine), folic acid, and zinc. If you suffer from alcohol use disorder, a lack of proper nutrition can create long-term health conditions.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

One of these conditions associated with alcohol use disorder is known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome or “wet brain.” It’s caused by a lack of thiamine and results in impaired brain functioning. The condition is categorized into two different types:

  • Wernicke’s encephalopathy–Affects coordination and cognition.
  • Korsakoff’s amnesic syndrome–Affects how somebody retrieves and forms new memories.

For those suffering from wet brain syndrome, symptoms must be treated quickly before they advance to later stages of the condition. When the condition is treated early on, it increases the likelihood of reversing the symptoms.

Contact Brentwood Springs To Learn More About How To Detox From Alcohol Abuse

If you or somebody you love is suffering from the effects of alcohol dependency, we are here to help. Brentwood Springs Detox is a leading center for drug and alcohol rehab in Nashville, TN. Our compassionate team provides evidence-based care to help you break addiction and start your healing journey. Contact us at (615) 560-7545 to learn more about how to detox from alcohol and get the help you need.

Alcohol’s Impact On The Liver And Pancreas Over Time

Over time, alcohol can also cause damage to the liver and the pancreas–which both play a role in your metabolism and how your body absorbs nutrients. When these two organs are damaged, it means that you are not able to remove toxins from your body. It also can negatively affect how you regulate blood sugar and absorb fat. This can lead to complications, like diabetes, cirrhosis, high blood pressure, and seizures.

How A Healthy Diet Can Help Your Alcohol Detox Timeline

For those who choose to detox from alcohol, proper nutrition can play a vital role in recovery. Not only can it improve your physical health, but a nourishing diet can also improve your mood.

At Brentwood Springs Detox, our goal is to provide holistic support as you heal from alcohol addiction. This is why our inpatient detox center offers three chef-prepared meals each day to help you stay nourished and alleviate symptoms during the detox process.

How Long Does It Take to Detox From Alcohol?

Let’s first take a look at how long it typically takes to detox from alcohol. Remember, the detox timeline can be different for each person, depending on your overall health, frequency of alcohol consumption, and if there is a prior history of withdrawal.

How long does alcohol detox take? Typically, individuals experience the following after their last alcoholic drink:

6 to 12 hours: Mild symptoms will occur such as a headache, anxiety, tremors, and insomnia.

24-48 hours: Symptoms will intensify and may include nausea, sweating, vomiting, elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, and confusion.

2 to 4 days: Symptoms start to decrease. During this stage, some individuals can experience delirium tremens—which is a serious and life-threatening symptom that requires immediate medical care.

5 to 7 days: The physical symptoms lessen, but there may be other symptoms that linger, such as sleep disturbances, irritability, and fatigue.

1 to 2 weeks: Once the short-term withdrawal effects subside, some individuals may experience longer-term psychological effects. This may include depression and anxiety.

Best Foods For Alcohol Detox

Whether you choose to go through alcohol detox at home or a residential detox program, it’s important that you are giving your body the nutrients it needs to heal.

Take a look at the foods that can help you achieve a healthier lifestyle on your detox journey:

Fruits and vegetables: These are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which are important for your overall health and the detox process. Opt for leafy, green vegetables to get more vitamin B6 and folic acid. Berry and citrus fruits can provide vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.

Meat, fish, and poultry: Packed with protein, these can help your body repair any tissue damage, build muscle, and boost your metabolism. Choose lean meats like chicken or pork tenderloin. Additionally, salmon or cod are rich in vitamins while providing a great source of protein.

Dairy or dairy alternatives: Calcium-rich foods like milk, yogurt, and fortified plant-based milk alternatives can support bone health during detox.

Whole grains: These are better for your body than refined carbohydrates. Whole grains help you maintain energy levels and support digestion during detox. Look for whole grains like brown rice, oats, and quinoa.

Healthy fats: Foods like avocados, seeds, nuts, and olive oil help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. They also help with brain function and protect your organs.

Foods rich in vitamin B: It’s important to build back your body’s store of vitamin B during detox. Foods rich in vitamin B include eggs, leafy greens, dairy products, and some fortified cereals.

Alcohol Detox Tips To Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can be common for those who are recovering from alcohol addiction. This makes staying on top of your fluid intake essential. Be sure to drink plenty of water during detox to avoid dehydration, curb cravings, and flush out any toxins during the recovery process.

Here are suggestions to help you stay hydrated:

  1. Carry water with you. Keep a reusable water bottle on hand throughout the day so you can stay hydrated wherever you go.
  2. Set a reminder. If you find it hard to remember to hydrate, set reminders on your phone throughout the day to keep drinking water.
  3. Set a goal and track it. Based on your weight and/or doctor’s recommendations, determine how much water you should drink per day and keep track of your progress.

Give Your Hydration A Boost With Electrolytes

It’s also important to consume electrolytes to stay hydrated. You may find it easiest to consume drinks that already have electrolytes or add an electrolyte drink mix to your water. Eating a balanced diet can also help you get the electrolytes you need. Choose raw fruits and vegetables, which have high water content and can help hydrate you while giving you important vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins For Alcohol Withdrawal

In addition to diet and hydration, taking vitamins may also help in the detox and recovery process. This is because those who are dependent on alcohol are more likely to be deficient in certain vitamins.

For example, this study found that magnesium and zinc levels were significantly lower in individuals with alcohol dependence syndrome. While this study shows that vitamin C deficiency is common in those with alcohol use disorders.

According to Medical News Today, recommended supplements during alcohol detox may include:  

  • Vitamin B–can help improve deficiencies and prevent conditions like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. However, this condition may require additional treatment methods if it has already developed.
  • Multivitamins–may be given during the first 3 to 5 days of alcohol withdrawal if you are struggling with nutrient absorption.
  • Vitamin C–is an essential antioxidant that can help with many of your body’s processes, including hormone synthesis and enzyme reactions.

Stay Away from These Foods During Recovery

Just as you want to give your body all of the nutrients it needs during detox, it’s also important to stay away from certain foods and drinks that can worsen withdrawal symptoms and negatively impact your health.

Avoid the following during detox:

  • Processed foods–These don’t offer the same benefits as nutrient-dense foods and they can also cause gastrointestinal problems.
  • Caffeine–Drinks containing caffeine can contribute to dehydration as well as anxiety and sleep problems.
  • Salty foods—Foods that are high in salt and sodium can also cause dehydration.
  • Spicy foods–Stay away from spicy foods as they can upset the stomach lining, which may be sensitive as you’re recovering from alcohol dependence.
  • Sugar–Sweets and sugary drinks can cause your blood sugar to spike and crash. This can cause irritability and worsen cravings.

Find the Support You Need At Our Alcohol Rehab Center in Nashville

While following a healthy diet during detox might seem overwhelming, you don’t have to go through the journey alone. At Brentwood Springs Detox, we offer medication-assisted programming, holistic therapies, and chef-prepared meals to support all aspects of your recovery.

If you or a loved one needs professional care to address a substance abuse disorder, we’re here to help. Learn more about our detox services here and call (615) 560 7545 to speak with us.


Substance use recovery and diet

How alcohol affects nutrition and performance

Delirium tremens

Zinc and magnesium among alcohol dependence syndrome patients

Vitamin C deficiency is common in alcohol use disorders

Vitamin supplements and alcohol withdrawal syndrome

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