Smoking is something that a lot of people do worldwide. While all are well aware of the ill-effects of smoking, many seem to struggle throughout their lives to get rid of this habit. Firstly it's very important to understand what a cigarette contains and how our body takes it. When one understands the mechanism, they become more aware of what it's doing to their health and how can they manage the collateral damage. Cigarettes contain nicotine and it’s the most dangerous part of the cigarette, which reaches the lungs and causes addiction. Cigarettes also contain tar which is very toxic and has the function of carrying nicotine to our lungs. Another toxic substance it contains is cadmium, which is a heavy metal. So the more we can help the human body remove heavy metal toxicity like cadmium from the body, the easier it gets to manage the collateral side effects.
When one smokes, there is a lot of carbon-monoxide that is inhaled. Carbon monoxide is an odourless and colourless gas that has 20x stronger affinity towards haemoglobin than oxygen, hence it latches onto it much faster and gets carried to all the cells in your body. Now even a tiny amount of carbon monoxide makes blood very toxic and can cause shortness of breath and higher heart rates.
Amidst all of this toxicity, there is a lot happening in the background triggered by smoking, like:
1. Regular smoking depletes our body of Vitamin C and that can interfere with the absorption of dietary iron, it’s seen that smokers have almost 40% lower levels than most people. One cigarette depletes almost 25 mg of vitamin c. Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant ,boosts immunity, prevents & heals diseases, maintains skin and hair health and metabolic functions in the body. Lack of Vitamin C leads to a build-up of free radicals in the body and that is what gives rise to diseases, low immunity and several other problems. If you smoke, it’s essential to replenish Vitamin C through citrus fruits and in most cases a good quality vitamin C supplement. Tomatoes not only contain high Vitamin C, but also chlorogenic and coumaric acid that helps fight some of the carcinogens brought about by cigarette smoke.
2. Smoking cigarettes depletes other essential vitamins and minerals from your body and its very important to replenish them because each have a function ranging from immunity to heart health to prevention of diseases like cancer, diabetes, thyroid and several other things including weight gain and loss .Vitamin E is one such depleted nutrient . Smoking damages and cause scars in the arterial walls, which can culminate into heart issues. Vitamin E being a powerful anti-oxidant helps repair scars and keeps the arterial health in order. It also neutralizes free radicals in the body. Hence one must take a good quality emulsified vitamin E or get it from natural foods like pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts. Dosage depends on how heavily one smokes.
3. Smoking depletes a range of B vitamins. Vitamin B5 along with collagen is what prevents aging of skin, wrinkles, constriction of blood vessels. Low levels of B5 is associated with shortness in breath, lack of stamina and endurance. A supplement high in B5 is a must, so is eating foods plentiful in B5 if you smoke cigarettes. The presence of Tobacco blocks the formation of vitamin B6 which is what helps in the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates. So when we have less b6 which is depleted by smoking we have these issues, so replenishing B6 in your body is very important. Smoking also depletes B12 and its insufficiency leads to diseases like arthritis, Parkinson's, dementia and many other brain diseases. A supplement in such cases is necessary and remember to leave at least two hours of a gap between Vitamin C and B 12 because Vitamin C can destroy B12 if taken together.
4. Smoking doesn’t even spare trace minerals like Selenium which is so important for thyroid and blood sugar management. Selenium has a function of forming the architecture of cells. It has the ability to latch onto heavy metals like cadmium and remove it from the body. One can get natural selenium in seeds like pumpkin, Brazil nuts (highest content) sunflower, watermelon, almonds and walnuts. Quantity depends on how much one smokes. In most cases one is required to take a high quality plant based selenium supplement.
5. Magnesium gets depleted when you smoke cigarettes. Magnesium deficiency can cause issues like heart problems, calf pains, muscle spasms and neck pains. For the proper functioning of heart a balance between calcium-magnesium is required and an imbalance in that can cause arrhythmia. Magnesium is also required to breakdown fatty acids to develop cell membranes and inability to do so because of Magnesium deficiency leads to deposits of fatty acids between joints and arteries causing pain and muscle spasms.
In a perfect world, one would want to quit smoking completely, but if that’s a tough task, the best way to enhance health is by making sure one replenishes what smoking takes away from body.
Inputs provided by Mr. Luke Coutinho, M.D Alternative Medicine and Founder-PureNutrition.me