Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that stimulates the brain’s reward areas and gives the smoker a high. Thankfully, there are healthy foods to help quit smoking.
Seven seconds after the smoke enters the lungs, nicotine reaches the brain cells, which respond with a feeling of well-being. These intermittent highs following each puff add up to hundreds of thousands of reinforcements throughout the smoker’s lifetime.
The addiction responsible for nicotine cravings is overwhelming. Note the words of a select panel of experts who prepared a book for the United States Public Health Service entitled The Health Consequences of Using Smokeless Tobacco:
“The role of nicotine in the compulsive use of tobacco is the same as the role of morphine in the compulsive use of opium, or cocaine in the compulsive use of coca derivatives.”
The intense withdrawal that a smoker experiences trying to give up tobacco is a result of addiction. These symptoms include nervousness and anxiety, fatigue and headache, palpitation and tremors, diarrhea and constipation, and an “all gone” feeling.
Their severity is generally related to the degree of smoking, heavy smokers suffering more intensely. As expressed by many ex-smokers, the symptoms gradually subside, and the betterment of health is beyond belief.
Eating the right foods to help quit smoking plays an essential role in kicking the habit. When quitting smoking, one must carefully choose foods that help with cigarette cravings. These foods must achieve these three goals:
- Remove nicotine and other poisons from the body: Water and fruits and vegetables with depurant qualities contribute to this.
- Repair the damage: Plant-based foods rich in antioxidants protect the cells from tobacco’s chemical aggression and contribute to the restoration of the damage already done.
- Reduce the desire to smoke: Avoid foods that do not kill nicotine cravings.
Foods to Help Quit Smoking
WATER: Abundant water consumption facilitates the elimination of nicotine and other toxins in the smoker’s body through the urine.
FRUIT: Fruit provides antioxidant vitamins and phytochemicals that neutralize part of the poisons in tobacco. They also facilitate the body’s general detoxification, increasing urine production, and eliminating waste products and toxins.
VEGETABLES: Vegetables are rich in detoxifying and depurant minerals and vitamins. Those with vivid colors are rich in carotene, which protects the bronchial mucosa cells, making them amongst the best foods to help quit smoking. Garlic, onions, radishes, and others rich in sulfurated essences reduce the desire to smoke and are among the best foods to help quit smoking.
VITAMIN C: This vitamin is among the best foods for smokers because it is the leading natural antidote to tobacco’s nicotine and tars. Its function is to neutralize the free radicals and other poisons in tobacco; thus, smokers require 50% more vitamin C than nonsmokers. Smoking cessation treatment requires large amounts of vitamin C in the form of fruits and vegetables or supplements.
WHEAT GERM: Wheat germ is very rich in the B vitamins and minerals necessary for the nervous system’s proper function and to overcome the stress involved in giving up tobacco. Wheat germ is one of the best foods to help quit smoking.
ANTIOXIDANTS: Antioxidants neutralize the cellular damage produced by the toxins in tobacco, making them an excellent food for smokers’ lungs. Provitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin C and E, and flavonoids are among the most effective and are found primarily in fruits and vegetables.
Foods to Avoid
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: Drinking alcoholic beverages increases the desire to smoke and reduces the will power needed to stop smoking.
STIMULANT BEVERAGES: The caffeine in coffee, tea, and mate is an alkaloid with complementary effects to those of nicotine. Because of this, coffee increases the desire for tobacco and vice versa.
SATURATED FAT: Saturated fat increases cholesterol level and deteriorates the arteries. Thus, it is harmful to smokers since their arteries are usually already suffering from nicotine use, which is also a cause of arteriosclerosis.
MEAT: Meat also contains a stimulant to the central nervous system, similar to caffeine that increases the craving to smoke.
SPICES: Strong flavors intensify the need to smoke and should be avoided when attempting to quit smoking.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 141. Print.
Hardinge, Mervyn G and Harold Shryock. “Family Medical Guide.” Hardinge, Mervyn G and Harold Shryock. Family Medical Guide. Ed. Marvin Moore and Bonnie Tyson-Flynn. Vol. one. Oshawa; Washington, D.C.; Hagerstown: Pacific Press Publishing Association; Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1999. Three vols. 376, 377. Print.