Smoking is not the wisest choice, but many people make that decision when they're too young to really understand the consequences, or during times of great emotional stress. Whatever your reasons for starting, quitting can be miserably difficult. While not smoking at all is the healthiest option, if you're not ready to quit, you can do your best to minimize the damage to your body by planning your meals around food good for smokers' lungs.
The best foods for smokers are those high in antioxidants, flavonoids and vitamin C, such as apples and tomatoes.
Health Effects of Smoking
Smoking takes a huge toll on a person's health because the toxins you inhale reach every part of your body through your bloodstream. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. A person smoking is far more likely to develop heart disease, lung cancer and the risk of stroke than a person who doesn't smoke. In addition to causing lung cancer, smoking can cause cancer anywhere in your body. Cigarettes have killed 10 times more American citizens before their time than all of the wars Americans have fought put together.
Fruits and Vegetables for Smokers
Common sense and most reliable sources of nutrition information advise eating a plant-based diet featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly those high in antioxidants.
This advice may be even more crucial for smokers and ex-smokers to follow diligently. A study <ahref="http: erj.ersjournals.com="" content="" 50="" 6="" 1602286"=""> </ahref="http:>published in the December 2017 issue of the European Respiratory Journal found that ex-smokers who ate at least two servings of fresh tomatoes per day, along with apples and other fruits high in vitamin C and antioxidants, experienced a much slower decline in the functioning of their lungs. This result was not attained with the use of cooked or processed tomatoes or apples.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower contain high levels of chlorophyll, which, according to Manipal Hospitals, can also help your body process toxins more efficiently because the vitamin C they contain supports your immune system.
So, a diet high in food good for smokers' lungs, such as tomatoes, apples, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and other fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C and antioxidants, may help undo some of the damage caused by smoking.
Most Effective Herbs and Aromatics
One of the three foods that proved very effective in alleviating lung damage due to smoking was green tea. Prized for its high concentration of catechins, green tea was about as effective as tomatoes and apples at slowing the decreased lung capacity that comes with age and which is exacerbated by smoking.
According to the experts at Manipal Hospitals , the catechins in green tea can break up and loosen deposits of mucus in the lungs. Green tea also has antimicrobial properties. Turmeric, a powerful anti-inflammatory, and garlic, which contains allicin, an antimicrobial, are also effective in alleviating the damage done to your body by smoking.
Tips for Smokers to Stay Healthy
One of the most loathed side effects of giving up smoking is weight gain, which occurs for a variety of reasons. For one, smokers tend to crave more fatty and processed foods than nonsmokers, and old habits die hard. A study published in the January 2017 edition of Eating Behaviors suggests that people who smoke tend to eat a less healthy diet than those who don't. Trying to change those eating habits while enduring the agony of nicotine withdrawal is a hefty challenge. The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension advises that you exercise, eat a plant-based diet, avoid alcohol and consider the use of nicotine gum to help ease your cravings.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking
- Johns Hopkins University: Diet Rich in Apples, Tomatoes May Help Repair Lungs of Ex-Smokers, Study Suggests
- Manipal Hospital: Six Healthy Foods to Detoxify Smokers' Lungs
- Charles Glassman, MD: Smoker? Former Smoker? Try These Foods to Clean Up Your Lungs
- University of Nevada Cooperative Extension: Smoke Free and Fit - Weight Management After Quitting Smoking
- Eating Behaviors: Examining the Effects of Cigarette Smoking on Food Cravings and Intake, Depressive Symptoms, and Stress
- European Respiratory Journal: Dietary Antioxidants and 10-year Lung Function Decline in Adults From the ECRHS Survey