What Are the Benefits of Clean Eating for Recovery and Healing at the Cellular Level?

Addiction Recovery Publishing Nutrition April 5, 2024

What Are the Benefits of Clean Eating for Recovery and Healing at the Cellular Level?

The influential Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” This is also true when deciding to take the first step toward recovery. Addiction lulls us into a sense of acceptability and “normalcy,” even though it is actually destroying us. We must break away from that “familiar suffering” to heal at the cellular level. Also, part of that “break away” also includes clean eating for recovery.

What Does It Mean to Heal at the Cellular Level?

Healing at the cellular level is all about healing all levels of “the self.” This is the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self. When all four of these components heal harmoniously, then healing at the cellular level becomes possible.

Healing at the cellular level must also happen on an individualized basis. We cannot expect to heal ourselves with other people’s recovery plans. They must be catered to our exact needs. This individualized care must also be comprehensive if cellular-level healing is going to occur.

Comprehensive mental health and addiction care has to do with utilizing the abundance of means, methods, and modalities that are now available in the recovery realm. This includes utilizing tools from the world of psychotherapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), methods from the world of experiential therapy, like nature immersion therapy and surf therapy, and utilizing holistic practices like meditation and yoga.

Healing at the cellular level is also about creating a sense of peace and serenity inside ourselves so we can utilize that peace and serenity as we navigate our lives. As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Peace in the world starts with peace in oneself. If everyone lives mindfully, everyone will be more healthy, feel more fulfilled in their daily lives, and there will be more peace.”

The Prevalence of Addiction, Mental Illness, and Co-Occurring Disorders in the U.S.

Many people don’t realize just how prevalent addiction, mental illness, and co-occurring disorders are in the U.S. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “7.7 million adults have co-occurring mental and substance use disorders… Of the 20.3 million adults with substance use disorders, 37.9% also had mental illnesses,” and “Among the 42.1 million adults with mental illness, 18.2% had substance use disorders.” These are not insignificant statistics.

Unfortunately, the treatment industry is not meeting the demand for recovery. NIDA also discovered that a little over half of these people will never receive proper mental health or addiction care (if any). 

The good news is many exceptional recovery centers are available to help when people are ready. Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, our primary purpose is to help those struggling with addiction and/or mental illness achieve long-term recovery. One of the ways we do this is by focusing on nutrition and “clean eating.”

What Exactly Does “Clean Eating” Entail?

“Clean eating” is becoming more popular as people have started to engage in public discourse online. So, what exactly is clean eating? According to the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, “Clean eating is understood in broad terms to be an approach to eating which promotes the exclusion of processed foods. Social media and websites that promote clean eating are becoming increasingly popular as sources of nutrition information.”

Clean eating is about getting the essential nutrients that one needs to function at optimal levels. Many people (in recovery and out) are not doing this. This is causing serious health issues. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “Many people in the United States don’t eat a healthy diet… People who eat too many unhealthy foods –  like foods high in saturated fat and added sugars – are at increased risk for obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems. Strategies and interventions to help people choose healthy foods can help reduce their risk of chronic diseases and improve their overall health.”

Now, this last aspect of creating “strategies and interventions” regarding nutrition is crucial. This is especially true when it comes to strategies for helping people recover from issues of addiction and/or mental illness.

Healing Issues of Addiction and Mental Illness With Nutrition and Clean Eating

There should be little doubt that what we put into our bodies is going to affect us in all of those four levels discussed earlier (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual). This is just factually true.

According to the medical journal Nutrients, “A large and growing body of evidence supports that intake of certain types of nutrients, specific food groups, or overarching dietary patterns positively influences health and promotes the prevention of common non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Greater consumption of health-promoting foods and limited intake of unhealthier options are intrinsic to the eating habits of certain regional diets such as the Mediterranean diet or have been constructed as part of dietary patterns designed to reduce disease risk, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) or Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diets.” This focus on diet is particularly essential for people in need of recovery because their nutrients are often dangerously depleted.

Clean Eating: The Importance of Nutrition for Recovery

Many people don’t realize just how depleted our vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can become due to active addiction. Let us take active alcohol addiction, for example. According to the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, “Chronic alcoholic patients are frequently deficient in one or more vitamins. The deficiencies commonly involve folate, vitamin B6, thiamine, and vitamin A. Although inadequate dietary intake is a major cause of vitamin deficiency, other possible mechanisms may also be involved. Alcoholism can affect the absorption, storage, metabolism, and activation of many of these vitamins.”

These absent nutrients must be replenished as soon as possible. One of the ways we do this at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab is via a safe and comfortable detox that ensures these nutrients are given. We also do this via pharmaceutical-grade supplements and the option of infusion therapy, which ensures that essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. From there, we also focus on nutrition and clean eating with nutritional therapy.

The Benefits of Nutritional Therapy

Nutritional therapy is an ideal way to help us recover at the cellular level. As we like to say here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, “Food is medicine,” and that is exactly what our nutritional therapy has to offer. So then, what exactly is nutritional therapy?

According to the Journal for Nurse Practitioners, “Nutritional Therapy uses food to prevent and reverse diseases that plague most western societies: diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, and depression. For food to be therapeutic, it must be nutrient-dense, measured in part by the nutrients and anti-nutrients, contained in consumed foods. Nutrients are plant and animal sources providing macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, probiotics), and fiber,” and “Anti-Nutrients are food products that have no biological necessity.” So, nutritional therapy and clean eating are essentially about eliminating the bad and accentuating the good. It just makes sense.

However, it is important to remember that clean eating cannot just be about nutrition. It must also be about pleasure and satiation. Otherwise, the chances of sticking to a “clean diet” can be slim to none. This is why we offer only fresh organic foods prepared by world-class chefs at our 30-acre luxury property. Also, all of our meals are catered to each client’s individual needs and preferences. Some of our organic foods are even grown directly on property and cultivated by our clients during horticulture therapy.

The Benefits of Horticulture Therapy

Horticulture has been used as a calming practice for thousands of years. However, it has recently been discovered that horticulture therapy can also offer many benefits to people who are recovering from issues of addiction and/or mental illness.

The benefits of horticulture therapy are vast and varied (and confirmed). According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Horticulture has been long used as a therapeutic activity for people with mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and depression. People’s interactions with plants, through goal-orientated horticultural activities in the form of active gardening, as well as the passive appreciation of nature, could be therapeutic to people with mental disorders in many ways… [H]orticulture could have emotional benefits, such as reducing stress, reducing psychiatric symptoms, stabilizing mood, and increasing the sense of tranquility, spirituality, and enjoyment.”

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, our property is bursting with an abundance of fruits and vegetables just waiting to be cultivated for clean eating. We have amazing citrus and coconut trees, plush pineapple patches, bursting guava bushes, and gorgeous vegetable boxes. All of these offer nutrition and a chance for physical engagement with nature. It is important to note that this physical aspect of recovery is also essential for healing at the cellular level.

Clean Eating and Exercise: The Importance of Adding Physical Activity to a Recovery Plan

One cannot just recover from clean eating and nutrition alone. It must be supplemented with physical exercise and activities. Studies have shown a relationship between successful recoveries and exercise.

According to the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, “The inverse relationship between aerobic exercise and substance use may be attributed to three possible factors. First, exercise could lead to a causal decrease in substance use, either by serving as an alternative, non-drug reinforcer, or by producing functional neuroadaptations that influence an individual’s susceptibility to developing a substance use disorder. Second, substance use could lead to a causal decrease in exercise, either by reducing discretionary time/income that would otherwise be spent on recreational activities or by decreasing aerobic capacity to limit an individual’s ability to engage in exercise.” 

The journal explains that the third factor could be due to any number of external issues, such as a mental illness or specific personality traits. Now, the good news is there are many unique, engaging, and exciting physical activities that one can participate in at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. The Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island offers many opportunities for hiking and exploring while engaging in nature immersion therapy. There are also unique opportunities to swim with local green sea turtles and tropical fish (even night swimming with that majestic manta ray). Then, there is also an opportunity to participate in the highly beneficial activity of surf therapy.

The Benefits of Surf Therapy

Being a mere 15-minute journey from one of the best surf breaks (Honoli’i) on Hawaii’s Big Island is just another one of the bonuses here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. Here, one can get all the benefits of surf therapy while also taking an opportunity to meditate between rides.

The benefits of surf therapy are becoming more and more apparent. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Carefully planned water activities tailored to the needs of the individual can contribute to correct psychosocial and cognitive development. The International Surf Therapy Organization summarizes the benefits of adequately indicated surf therapy as follows: improved physical health and mobility; improved mental health, including reduction of specific symptoms, such as posttraumatic stress and depression; improved well-being (strengthening of trust and confidence, encouragement of independence, resilience and protective coping strategies) and improved social skills.”

Clean eating and surfing make a perfect pair for healing at the cellular level. The same can be said for clean eating and holistic practices like yoga.

Clean Eating and Holistic Practices: The Importance of Adding Mindfulness to a Recovery Plan

Part of clean eating is also having a positive attitude about how we see ourselves. Thich Nhat Hanh also said, “People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?” This is also true of how positivity is found in holistic practices.

Creating a “clean” body with clean eating works well in tandem with creating a “clean” mind with holistic healing. This can be done with several different practices, such as acupuncture, massage, meditation, and yoga. These practices can create an essential foundation for a healthy lifestyle and can keep one motivated to continue clean eating. Yoga is particularly helpful for this.

The Benefits of Yoga

Like horticulture and surfing, yoga has long been practiced as a means of quieting the mind and connecting with oneself internally. Also, like horticulture and surfing, yoga incorporates crucial physical activity.

The benefits of yoga are similar to the benefits of clean eating; there are many benefits, and they help us heal at the cellular level. According to the International Journal of Yoga (IJOY), “Therapeutic yoga is defined as the application of yoga postures and practice to the treatment of health conditions. Yoga therapy involves instruction in yogic practices and teachings to prevent reduce or alleviate structural, physiological, emotional, and spiritual pain, suffering, or limitations. Yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.” 

Ultimately, clean eating and yoga can combine for long-term recovery success. This is what healing at the cellular level is all about.

Healing at the Cellular Level With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Thich Nhat Hanh famously said, “People sacrifice the present for the future. But life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.” For recovery, the most important step is the first one. With the help of Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, each step can get easier from there.

Healing at the cellular level is all about the journey, never the destination. There is no better place to start that healing journey than with us at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island.

Nutrition is a crucial aspect of recovery. This is true from the detox process to long-term sobriety/recovery. It is important to know the foods that can help us heal during the recovery process and maintain optimal health while in recovery. This is also why working with licensed nutritionists and dieticians can be so pivotal. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or co-occurring disorders, we can help get you onto the positive path toward recovery right away. For more information about nutritional therapy and the benefits of clean eating, please reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200.