Quitting smoking or overcoming reliance on other behaviors—such as eating, drinking alcohol, drinking caffeine, sex, excessive exercise, and others—can be difficult. From addiction counseling and group therapy to nicotine-reduction aids and cold-turkey self motivation, there are any number of approaches for how to quit or reduce a habit. — John Smith Ph.D.
People are aware of the harmful effects of smoking most especially in the cardiovascular system as well as the respiratory system. Despite these detrimental effects of smoking, getting rid of the habit is extremely difficult for smokers, and the rate of relapse is quite high also. To address this dilemma of curbing the addiction, it is best to be as healthy as possible in other aspects that are easily manipulated like sleep hygiene, exercise, and nutrition. Believe or not, studies show that smoking depletes the body of essential vitamins and minerals; thus, smokers are more susceptible to various illnesses.
Tobacco smoke contains many compounds that are emitted as gases and condensed tar particles. Many of them can produce free radicals. Selenium, B-carotene, Vitamin C, and E have mostly affected nutrients in the body of the smoker. Nutrition counseling for smokers focused on awareness on how to replenish these vitamins and minerals to somewhat hinder and returns merely the lost nutrients due to smoking. This doesn’t, however, replace the fact that the best solution to the effects of smoking is merely smoking cessation.
Enkephalin and orexin are quite powerful signals in the brain that can induce animals to self-administer nicotine and other chemicals that are rewarding, such as cocaine, alcohol, heroin and fatty foods. — Gary L. Wenk Ph.D.
According to University of Maryland Medical Center, smokers need a daily requirement of Vitamin C many times more than persons who don’t smoke because regular intake of nicotine lessens the value or efficiency of the vitamin. It is proven the Vitamin C deficiency increases the risk of certain diseases like heart attack, stroke, and conditions of the arteries.
Recommended food selections: Lemon, guava, lime, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, green peppers, winter squash, and potatoes. Since the vitamin is sensitive air, light, and heat, it is recommended to eat them raw or lightly cooked.
A study done by Linus Pauling Institute revealed that there is evidence of decreasing Vitamin E in blood samples of smokers compared to non-smokers. As per literature, Vitamin E is an essential vitamin in fighting free radicals, possibly seen by experts on why cancer is common among smokers.
Recommended food selections: Oils of safflower, cottonseed, and sunflower, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, sweet potatoes, and avocados.
Vitamin D and Calcium
A person who smokes is also most like to have decreased levels of Vitamin D and calcium in their blood. They need to increase their dietary intake to replace the required vitamin and nutrient in the body for essential functioning.
Recommended food selections: Foods rich in calcium like dairy products, soy drinks, calcium-fortified orange juice and even rice beverages. Aside from the rays of the sun, Vitamin D is also obtained from milk, margarine, and fish.
Carotenoids and Fibers
To put it simply, free radicals are like protest demonstrators exhibiting erratic behavior and can affect a normal cell functioning. Once a cell’s functions are disturbed to an excessive level, this can lead to the development of diseases like cancer. Smoking creates a massive distribution of free radicals in the body. When this happens, the body will need specific antioxidants to combat the free radicals. These substances are phytochemicals, carotenoid, and bioflavonoid.
Recommended food selections: Colorful fruits and vegetables. Take note, the more vibrant the color of the fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants it contains.
Other than depleting the nutrients of the body, smoking can also affect the taste buds. This occurs because of the nicotine. It can alter and suppress the smoker’s ability to taste different flavors. Also, the reduced oxygen supply adds to the dulling of flavor. Nutrition counseling for smokers is essential and gives them knowledge on how to protect themselves from the harmful effects of smoking while they are still working on their smoking cessation plan.
As most smokers can attest, quitting is a process, not a one-time challenge. Reward your successes (not with cigarettes, however) and try to be easy on yourself if you slip up. — Marni Amsellem, PhD