The effects of smoking on the development of cancer, emphysema, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic conditions are well-documented.
However, a Springer publication on tobacco smokers reports that adult smokers tend to have lower body mass index (BMI) and less healthy diets compared to nonsmokers. Some findings highlight post-cessation weight gain, prompting the discussion of the dietary and nutritional implications of smoking.
This article tackles how smokers can effectively quit and maintain a healthy diet during cessation to alleviate smoking’s devastating effects on their nutritional status and physical health.
Smoking’s effects on diet and nutrition
One of the functions that cigarette smoking affects is the body’s ability to maintain the proper level of vitamins and minerals.
The dangerous chemicals in cigarettes prevent the body from fully absorbing essential nutrients, such as Vitamin C, which prevents organ damage, and Vitamin D, that aids in calcium absorption and bone strength. This depletion is further exacerbated by a poor diet where food sources of vitamins and antioxidants are absent.
The sense of taste and smell can also be altered by smoking since the tar-coated mouth and nasal passage can have a dulled or impaired ability to recognize scents and flavors.
A recent article from Nature says smoking affects gut health also, disrupting the balance of gut bacteria and its ability to extract nutrients and energy from food. Lastly, the habit of replacing meals or snacks with cigarettes, and losing weight, as a result, can be explained by the appetite-suppressing effects of cigarettes on the brain and central nervous system.
Ways to Stop Smoking
Considering smoking’s effects on body weight, appetite, and nutrient absorption, quitting can evidently and positively impact one’s health.
However, it is easier said than done since smoking cessation is typically associated with withdrawal symptoms, especially during the first two or three weeks. Quitting smoking suddenly and abruptly usually makes individuals irritable, restless, and nauseous, on top of the intense cigarette cravings.
If the cold turkey approach seems unsuitable for you, you can increase the likelihood of quit success by exploring nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). NRT products are meant to curb the urge to smoke throughout the day by supplying low levels of nicotine into your body.
You can buy Zyn nicotine pouches online, and they are a perfect example of oral nicotine products which are smokeless and tobacco-free. They come in varying flavors and nicotine strengths, so you can adjust your dose accordingly as you progress through cessation.
Meanwhile, Nicoderm CQ patches can be applied on the skin daily to release steady doses of nicotine. Rather than simply using one alone, combining these NRT products can help you get through the day without disrupting your appetite and worsening the effects of smoking on your body.
Health Recovery for Smokers
As mentioned previously, the dietary and metabolic disruptions caused by smoking can make smokers gain weight after cessation.
But this should not dissuade smokers from making a lifestyle change, as a previous article about ‘How to Boost Your Immune System’ explains that quitting smoking is beneficial for restoring the functionality of the body’s immune cells and defense systems.
On top of regular exercise, you can also reverse the damage of smoking on your nutritional status by improving your diet.
Supplements have shown little to no effect on reinstating the body’s previous nutrient levels, so it’s best to consume foods rich in vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits and berries, while common food sources of Vitamin E are nuts, vegetable oils, leafy greens, and seeds. Focusing on these nutritious and hearty foods can make your smoking cessation journey less stressful and more beneficial for your gut and overall health.
Millie Douglas is passionate about making health and nutrition content credible and accessible to all. She hopes to use her public health knowledge to influence other people to adopt sustainable changes with regard to their diet, weight, exercise, and overall lifestyle.