One of my best friends is a smoker. By her own admission, she understands how dangerous smoking is for her health, knows she needs to clear her lungs, and she’s tried (and ultimately failed) three times to quit in the past four years.
It’s called an addiction for a reason.
The New York Times wrote the following, “Interdisciplinary research in pharmacology, psychology, physiology, and neurobiology is just beginning to shed light on the incredible hold that tobacco has on people. Scientists have found that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or amphetamines, and for most people more addictive than alcohol.”
Smoking is the single biggest contributor to human mortality and disease…but smokers already know that. I refuse to be judgmental about the struggle.Smoking is the single biggest contributor to human mortality and disease.Click To Tweet
First, being self-righteous only makes it harder for someone to quit according to experts (I’ve personally seen how mean former smokers can be to those still fighting to quit). Second, I’ve never smoked so I have no idea how the habit affects a person mentally and physically.
I decided to do some research and what I’ve found is fascinating. There are three distinct methods of quitting smoking that the majority of smokers use to try and kick the habit for good.
- Complete Cessation (otherwise known as going cold turkey) is when you put out your last cigarette and replace it with nothing. No drugs, gum, or vapes. You stop and that’s it forever. According to the American Cancer Society and several smoking cessation sites, this method is only effective in about 4% of cases.
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is the use of drugs, patches, vape, or gum to supplement your body with the addictive nicotine without the inhalation or carcinogens. There is a small element of “stepping down” cigarette consumption in some of these methods with a firm date of complete cessation. The success rates of these products are difficult to determine since each company uses different measuring tools.
- Gradual Reduction Method (GRM) is using “stepping down” ideals along with actual smoking. Some people use a combination of the products above such as a vape product that lets you slowly lower your nicotine levels (while still getting the oral fixation), an additional filtering agent, or simply using a rationing strategy to slowly decrease the number of cigarettes allowable in a day.
No matter the method you use, research to date estimates it could take you five years and seven attempts (on average) to get rid of smoking for good. You need those attempts. It’s a phenomena known as the “Quit Machine” from smoking to reduction to quitting. Sometimes this machine repeats itself several times but each quit attempt is more successful than the next.Research estimates it could take five years and seven attempts to get rid of smoking for good. Click To Tweet
In the meantime, gunk is building up in the lungs of smokers. There are many foods you can eat to help clear your lungs and preserve their health. There is significant evidence that increasing your intake of specific nutrients can help slow the progression of damage.
Researchers with UCLA found that of the 50 million Americans smoke, far too many have poor nutrition or other lifestyle problems that raise their risk of cancer and other dangerous diseases of the lung even more. A junk food diet makes a bad situation so much worse.
If you’re going to smoke, it’s critical that the other areas of your life hold back as much damage as possible. Quitting is the only long-term strategy but while you work to do that, get more of these foods in your diet to help protect these vital organs!
Important foods for smokers…
- Vitamin C – papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, pineapple, citrus
- Vitamin E – sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, avocado, greens, asparagus
- Vitamin B6 – tuna, organic poultry, grass-fed beef, sweet potato, bananas
- Healthy fats – olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, lard
- Methionine – eggs, grass-fed beef, organic cheese, organic poultry, seafood
- Omega-3 – flaxseeds, walnuts, sardines, salmon, grass-fed beef, Brussels sprouts
- Resveratrol – grape juice (purple or red, no sugar), red wine, red grapes
- N-acetyl cysteine – Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, turnips, garlic,
- Green tea
Whether you already quit smoking or are still battling with the habit, you need to get your lungs clear and as healthy as you can.
Incorporating the foods I listed above, taking well-absorbed vitamins that contain them, and doing everything possible to lower your other risk factors for serious disease are steps you can take right now to lower your overall mortality rate. I found an awesome smoker’s elixir that might help today and into the future (when you quit one day).
Clear Lung Elixir
- ½ cup ginger root (roughly chopped)
- 1 cup onion (roughly chopped)
- 3 teaspoons turmeric powder or ½ cup turmeric root (roughly chopped)
- ¼ cup honey
- 32 ounces of filtered water
- Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan.
- Add onions and ginger root to water and return to boil.
- Once boiling, add turmeric powder and honey.
- Lower heat.
- Simmer until liquid reduces by half.
- Remove from heat and strain into glass jar.
- Allow to cool completely.
- Refrigerate mixture and take two tablespoons twice each day (morning and night).
The effects when you quit smoking start happening immediately. Your lungs clear over time, your oxygen levels improve, and you lower your risk of cancer more every day you don’t pick up a cigarette.
Researchers state that 10-15 years after quitting, your risks go down as if you never smoked. One day, your attempt to quit is going to be successful. Until then, keep trying!
Then try again and again and again.