Alcohol and drug abuse have a malicious way of tricking your body and brain into thinking they don’t need anything else to function. This means a healthy, balanced diet takes a back seat to your substance use. While you may feel good from the drinking or the high, your organs, muscles and immune system crave amino acids and nutrients you can only get from healthy foods to help them function properly.
In this post, we’ll cover what amino acids are, which ones you need from a balanced diet and the benefits they provide to your overall health.
What Are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are organic compounds made up of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen that are necessary for the health of your body and mind. From the building of proteins to the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, amino acids are vital and irreplaceable components.
While your body relies on 20 total amino acids, there are 9 “essential” amino acids that you can only get from a healthy, nourishing diet.
How Do Essential Amino Acids Support the Body and Mind?
The 9 amino acids you get from food are necessary for important bodily functions and processes. These essential amino acids and their specific roles include:
• Histidine – An amino acid responsible for creating the histamine neurotransmitter that aids immune health, digestion and sleep cycles.
• Isoleucine – This amino acid’s main role is muscle metabolism, but it also helps with immune health.
• Leucine – Your body and mind need this amino acid to maintain constant blood sugar levels, create growth hormones and aid with muscle repair. Leucine also plays a role in allowing your body to heal properly from wounds.
• Lysine – Lysine is needed for protein synthesis and hormone production. This amino acid is also involved with immune health and energy production.
• Methionine – This amino acid helps your body absorb zinc and selenium, two key nutrients you need to stay healthy. It also helps to regulate metabolism and tissue growth.
• Phenylalanine – This amino acid is involved in the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and epinephrine, and aids in the creation of other amino acids.
• Threonine – Threonine is the amino acid that plays a significant role in the health and production of skin and connective tissue cells. It also works with other amino acids to maintain your metabolism and immune health.
• Tryptophan – Commonly known for making people sleepy on Thanksgiving, this amino acid is involved with serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, mood and appetite.
• Valine – This amino acid is involved with muscle growth and energy production.
If you’re struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction, you’re unfortunately not getting the amino acids needed to boost your immune system, keep your muscles strong, help you sleep properly and so much more.
Fortunately, addiction treatment like what is offered at The Raleigh House incorporates a pro-recovery diet to help you return to eating healthy foods that will deliver the amino acids your body and mind need.
The Benefits of Amino Acids in Addiction Treatment and Recovery
One of the main goals in addiction treatment is to improve your diet, since healthy foods offer the nutrients needed to heal your body from the damage caused by substance abuse. This practice also gets you into the habit of eating a balanced diet that you can then continue in recovery after leaving rehab.
Eating healthy foods like lean proteins, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits can help you get the 9 essential amino acids and enjoy the following benefits:
• Increased Energy – Amino acids like Isoleucine, Leucine and Valine work to alleviate fatigue and improve your energy levels throughout the day.
• Improved Exercise Performance – When you have more energy, you’re able to improve your exercise performance. When you’re able to exercise more often, endorphins and other neurotransmitters in your brain responsible for pleasure are released, helping you feel good without relying on alcohol or drugs.
• Improved Mood – Speaking of feeling good, amino acids play a significant role in regulating your mood and helping you feel better throughout the day. Beyond triggering behaviors that can release endorphins in the brain, amino acids like tryptophan produce serotonin, another neurotransmitter that aids in mood regulation.
• Healthy Weight Maintenance – Being overweight can lead to health issues like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while being underweight can lead to malnutrition, osteoporosis and decreased immune health. A proper diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and amino acids can even stimulate fat loss.
• Improved Sleep – You need proper amounts of sleep every night in order for your body and brain to reset and prepare for the day ahead. Proper nutrition and amino acid consumption promote the production of serotonin and histamine, neurotransmitters needed for healthy sleep cycles.
Improve Your Nutrition and Recover from Addiction at The Raleigh House
Your nutrition is just as important to your recovery from addiction as detox and other evidence-based treatments are. That’s why The Raleigh House follows a pro-recovery diet designed specifically for addiction treatment and recovery.
During your time at The Ranch, our wellness lodge outside of Denver, you’ll receive a five-star dining experience where you’ll eat three meals a day made with the freshest ingredients and cooked from scratch by our Executive Chef. When you transition to our outpatient treatment center in Denver, our experienced Nutritionist will help you learn how to maintain a pro-recovery diet on your own after you complete rehab.
If you’re ready to find lasting recovery from addiction, don’t wait another minute. Contact our admissions team today to learn how to get started.