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Could a Change in Diet Help with Alcohol Withdrawal?

Anyone who has gone through alcohol withdrawal knows the symptoms of withdrawal can be challenging.

According to WebMD, those symptoms can include:

Mild symptoms that usually show up as early as 6 hours after you put down your glass. They can include:

More serious problems range from hallucinations about 12 to 24 hours after that last drink to seizures within the first two days after you stop. You can see, feel, or hear things that aren't there. Learn more about the timeline of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

That isn't the same as delirium tremens or DTs as you're likely to hear them called. DTs usually start 48 to 72 hours after you put down the glass. These are severe symptoms that include vivid hallucinations and delusions. Only about 5% of people with alcohol withdrawal have them. Those that do may also have:

Obviously, any treatment that can reduce or eliminate these symptoms increases the likelihood of recovery from alcohol abuse disorder.

In addition to a variety of available drug treatments, researchers at both U.S. and European institutions have discovered that putting patients on a keto diet results in milder symptoms during withdrawal compared to those eating normal diets.

What is a keto diet?

A keto diet is one that relies on high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate foods.

Why does it help?

When people become dependent on alcohol, their body begins to use less glucose and more acetate for energy. The body makes acetate by metabolizing alcohol. The lack of acetate in the body during withdrawal is at least partly to blame for alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

The researchers discovered that when people go on a keto diet, their bodies can rely on ketone bodies (an energy molecule produced by the liver) as a replacement energy source for acetate, thus reducing cravings and other symptoms of withdrawal.

It's hoped that additional human research will confirm these findings and lead to new, less drug-dependent treatment strategies.

If you're struggling with an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs during this endless pandemic and need help in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, Southern Maine, and Indiana, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. Our unique model of care is giving clients a significantly better chance of recovery when compared to traditional inpatient rehab care. To learn more, please contact one of our Recovery Specialists.

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