Think of your brain as the Internet. Every brain cell is a different PC that needs a modem (or, in this case, a synapse) to connect to all the other cells on the neurologic network. But as any IT expert can tell you, plugging in the right wires is only half the battle. Power has to be turned on for the machine to be able to function.
Chemical messengers called neurotransmitters must be running at peak performance for information in the brain to be processed correctly. Four specific neurotransmitters handle all communications relating to our emotional well being and tranquility: serotonin, endorphins, GABA, and dopamine.
Genetic Mutations Set the Stage for Drug and Alcohol Addiction
When the synapses or neurotransmitters fail to function like they should, transmission gets garbled and we begin to feel intense loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression. Most often this malfunction happens because of genetics. In fact, an estimated 33 percent of people have some type of genetic predisposition to addiction.
Drugs and alcohol make us feel good because they stimulate neurotransmitter functioning, which is why we keep going back for more. It is a false sense of euphoria, however, because addictive substances eventually deplete the neurotransmitters necessary for healthy functioning.
What’s more, drug and alcohol addiction impedes on the uptake of vital nutrients our body needs to stay alive. When drugs take over, changes in appetite bring malnutrition which exacerbates the awful symptoms we try to avoid. We can’t get enough because we never actually feel good anymore.
Prime the Body and Mind for Successful Recovery From Addiction
If you could jump-start your body into feeling good again without the need for addictive substances, you could essentially erase all cravings and free the mind to focus on behavioral and cognitive improvements.
Amino acids have been found to be the stuff neurotransmitters are made of. Supplying the body with an abundance of specific amino acids can help restore their functioning, reduce cravings, increase sensations of wellbeing, and minimize relapse.
Brain Food for Recovery
Amino acids are found in foods high in protein. Below is a list of specific amino acids that have been shown to alleviate symptoms of addiction, and the most commonly available food sources from which they come:
• L-tryptophan – Egg whites, spirulina, atlantic cod, raw soybeans, parmesan cheese
• L-5 hydroxytryptophan chromium salts – Minute traces in turkey and cheese, supplements derived from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia
• L-Glutamine – Meat and dairy products, beans, beats, spinach, parsley, and cabbage
• L-phenylalanine – Cow milk, goat milk, aspartame sugar substitutes
• L-tyrosine – Cheeses, spirulina, soy protein, egg whites, salmon
• Phenylalanine – Meat, poultry, fish, soybeans, dairy products, nuts and seeds
The body is a sucker for sweets and carbohydrates when it’s lacking other vital nutrients. Replacing sugar and refined starches with just some of the foods listed here can help restore balance and emotional integrity to an otherwise stressful situation.
Along with psychological and spiritual therapies for overcoming addiction, nutritional support and dietary supplements are quite literally the food our brain needs for enhanced recovery.
Tell Us: What’s your favorite recipe using some of the foods mentioned above?