You know how bad smoking is for you. You know you need to quit. I’m not about to preach at you because the dangers of smoking to your health are well documented and scientifically proven beyond all shadow of a doubt.
Your risk of death due to “12 types of cancer, 6 categories of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], and pneumonia including influenza” is drastically higher if you smoke.
Every year, more than 480,000 deaths in the United States are attributed to tobacco use. According to a study published by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, cigarettes and other tobacco products increase your risk of substance abuse.
Unlike many non-smokers, I understand why it might be much harder for some than others to manage. One of my best friends is a smoker and I’ve watched her struggle to quit for years.
It’s not easy to empathize unless you’ve personally fought an addiction. Smokers are considered “willfully ignorant” by well-meaning (but ultimately harshly judgmental) friends, co-workers, family, and total strangers.
Too many today seem to feel they have the inherent right to critique the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of others but…how can you know what another person is dealing with if you’re not that person?
Plenty of intelligent people have this destructive habit. My smoker friend is smart and otherwise healthy. It’s this one thing that trips her up because scientists have stated (time and time again) that tobacco use is rooted in chemical dependency. Tobacco products were designed to get you hooked and manufacturers have done their homework around the globe to get new consumers.
This addiction should be treated as such.
While nothing will protect you from the dangers smoking poses to your health as well as never smoking or quitting, I believe in the importance of protecting your body as much as you can until you can kick the habit.
The Vitamin D Connection
Let’s talk about safeguarding your overall health – and particularly your lungs – while you fight the chemical dependency that is tobacco addiction.
Vitamin D is crucial to your body to maintain bone strength, protect your heart, fight infection, improve mood or behavioral disorders, lower inflammation, and drastically decrease your risk of serious diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Scientists with Channing Laboratory – Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that participants in their 20-year study who tested for poor lung function were also vitamin D deficient while those who had sufficient quantities of the vitamin exhibited better lung function over time.
They theorized that the anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidant properties of vitamin D played a role in lung protection for smokers.The powerful antioxidant properties of vitamin D play a role in lung protection for smokers.Click To Tweet
Since the 2012 publishing of their findings in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, other researchers have confirmed their results.
The biggest danger of smoking is that it’s known to be incredibly pro-inflammatory. This increases the oxidative stress your body copes with day to day. Not getting enough daily vitamin D can lead to difficulty sleeping, problems with digestion, and negative impact to sexual libido.
That’s before you consider the damaging long-term effects smoking has on your internal organs.
Still Damaging…A Little Slower
If you’re struggling to quit, I urge you to do everything you can to slow down the dangers smoking poses to your cells.
The American Cancer Society states, “Approximately half of all smokers will die from the habit. Smoking cigarettes kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns, and illegal drugs combined.”
“Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.” ~ Mark Twain
Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.” ~ Mark TwainClick To Tweet
Until you quit, here are a few tips that researchers feel can help slow down the cellular danger caused by smoking.
- Increase your daily intake of vitamin D. The best method is getting sunlight for 10 minutes a day on your bare hands or face (early morning or late afternoon). This is the form of vitamin D your body loves best.
- Drink more tea and eat more produce. Researchers with UCLA found that foods high in quercetin, kaempferol, and catechin found in whole foods such as tea, berries, leafy greens, legumes, onions, and others have great promise in blocking blood supply to cancerous tumors and inducing cell death in mutated cells.
- Get more exercise. Living a sedentary lifestyle is linked to most serious diseases and conditions. Even mild exercise a few days a week in the form of a walk, swimming, or low-impact yoga can significantly lower your disease risk.
- Drink water! If you need to add fruit to your water, do whatever it takes to get enough every day. A good rule of thumb is half an ounce for every pound of bodyweight.
- Work to achieve quality sleep. Countless studies in the last five years have linked sleep quality (and quantity) to a lower risk of disease and better brain function. If you don’t sleep, your body has little opportunity to repair damaged tissue. This is particularly critical for smokers who damage tissue with every inhalation.
No one should ever assume that quitting smoking is easy. Despite the dangers of smoking, it’s an addiction that isn’t easy to shake.
When you ultimately quit, your body is going to work hard to repair the toll smoking has taken on every cell inside you. After that last cigarette, you’re going to feel, see, and even taste major improvements within minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years.
Take it one day at a time and do what you can in the meantime to keep the rest of you healthy.