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Nutritional Program for Nicotine Detoxification

© Elson M. Haas MD

Women in general have a higher incidence of many problems since more of them have started smoking. In addition to the worst, lung cancer, these include bronchitis and emphysema, hypertension and heart attacks, strokes, and hemorrhages. The use of birth control pills increases the risk of circulatory problems even further; for example, women who smoke and use the pill are 25 times more likely to suffer heart attacks than women who do neither.


High-Risk Smokers

Pregnant womenAlcoholics or alcohol
Nursing mothersabusers
DiabeticsThose with existing
Birth control pill userssmoker’s diseases
Family history of heart diseaseThose who work with
Hypertensivestoxic chemicals
Patients with high cholesterolThose having surgery
Heavy smokersUlcer patients
Obese peopleType A personalities
Very thin people


Other problems of smokers include an increased incidence of a variety of diseases and problems. Peptic ulcers are more frequent, especially in women who smoke (they used to have a low incidence). Hiatal hernias and heartburn pain are more common in smokers. Because of poor calcium utilization, smoking creates an increased risk of osteoporosis. Nutritional deficiencies due to decreased availability of vitamin A, thiamine, folic acid, and vitamin C increase risks of other illnesses, ranging from colds to cancers.

Another hazard of smoking is burns, which may be caused directly by cigarettes as well as by fires generated by them, as smoking is a major cause of fires and fire deaths. Smoking also eats away at the teeth and gums, creating disease, and stains the teeth, tongue, and fingers. It reduces appetite and taste for food, which definitely tends to interfere with good nutrition. Smoking often decreases the taste for sweets but increases the taste for more stimulating fatty or spicy foods. More caffeine and alcohol tend to be consumed by smokers than by nonsmokers.

Smokers also have more frequent job changes, as well as home and spouse changes. Problems with alcohol are associated with smoking, and many people who try to withdraw from alcohol and other drugs tend to smoke more. Smoking can weaken the memory, and with its destructive nature, it tends to lessen the desire and positive attitude toward life, which may be the reason why smokers experience more of these life changes.

What About Secondary Smoke?
The smoke from cigarettes that nonsmokers breathe has become a big issue in the last decade, a clear human rights issue. I will limit my comments here to saying that I feel that being exposed to secondary or "sidestream" smoke is a violation of my right to breathe clean air. To broaden this, pollution of Earth is a violation of the rights of us all and our future generations. We need to all do our best to minimize pollution and exposure to pollutants and to improve our methods of handling of wastes and industrial by-products.

Secondhand smoking occurs at work, at home, and in restaurants and shops (minimally outdoors). Sidestream smoke may be even more dangerous than mainstream smoke, since it is not filtered. Of the 16 or so poisons that arise from burning cigarettes, most are known carcinogens. Much of the ammonia, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, formic acid, phenol, hydrogen sulfide, acetonitrile, and methyl chloride is filtered through the tobacco and cigarette filters and is more concentrated in the smoke that passive, involuntary smokers inhale. The blood level of carbon monoxide in secondhand smokers is more than 50 percent higher than that of those not exposed and often exceeds that of light firsthand smokers. And what about houseplants that surround smokers? It would be interesting to see research on the changes in growth and health and the chemical makeup of common plants; they may indeed do better than we humans.

The 22nd Annual Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health focused on "sidestream" or secondary smoking. Since tobacco is used by more than 30 percent of Americans, it is a major concern. This report suggested that in excess of 70 percent more tars, two to three times the amount of nicotine and carbon monoxide, and seventy-three times more ammonia than found in mainstream smoke are present in sidestream smoke, which also contains lead, arsenic, cadmium, vinyl chloride (a strong liver carcinogen), benzene, oxides of nitrogen, and various radioactive substances. This information was cited in Dr. Rollin Odell, Jr.’s, article "Deadly Effects of Side Smoke," printed in the San Francisco Chronicle (January 10, 1987).

The conclusions drawn from a review of more than 2,000 studies regarding sidestream smoke is that it increases the incidence of most of the smoking diseases. Children of smokers have increased incidence of respiratory infections, ear infections, and lower lung function than children of nonsmokers. Sidestream smoke increases the risk of COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis), heart disease, and lung cancer. An estimated 3,000 cases of lung cancer a year are caused by secondhand smoking. Nonsmoking wives of smokers have been shown to have a life expectancy four years shorter than that of nonsmoking wives of nonsmokers. This may even be more pronounced for nonsmoking husbands of smoking wives. A chronic nonsmoker’s "smoker’s cough" or hoarseness may develop as well. Sidestream smoke probably increases the cancer risk of everyone involved. More common secondary smoker symptoms include eye and nasal irritation, worsened allergies, headache, and cough.

Clearly, smokers endanger not only their own health but the health and lives of others as well. The surgeon general should change the warning on the cigarette package to say "Smoking is hazardous to the health of yourself and those around you." It is wonderful for nonsmokers now that smoking is not allowed on airplanes and in many public places. Many cities have passed ordinances restricting smoking in various ways publicly. Truly, people should be protected from cigarette smoke indoors. I believe it should be against the law for parents (and others) to smoke in cars when children are with them or in any closed area where children are present. I have seen many cases, and heard about more, where children have had low grade allergies or infections when exposed to regular household smoke. However, we also need to be compassionate, understanding, and supportive toward anyone with destructive health habits. I have noticed more and more smokers being courteous to those around them. Dr. Odell puts forth the goal of a smoke-free society by the year 2000. A radiation oncologist himself, he finishes his article with the assumption that "the brown plague will soon be only a footnote to the history of our time, just as the black (bubonic) plague is to the time of the Middle Ages." However, until we can rid our world of the "brown plague," we must protect ourselves from secondhand smoke. A good air filter can be very effective in removing from the air many of the toxins generated by burning cigarettes. A basic multiple vitamin-mineral and antioxidant formula will help protect us internally. The daily program should include at least:


Smoker's Simple Nutrient Plan

Vitamin C1,000–2,000 mg.
Beta-carotene15,000–25,000 IUs
Vitamin A5,000–10,000 IUs
Zinc15–30 mg.
Selenium200 mcg.
Vitamin E400 IUs


Dietary Recommendations
No support program for smokers will be as effective as stopping and then working to regain the health lost by smoking. A wholesome diet and nutritional supplements although even the best program cannot offer immunity to cigarettes.

While the diet is, of course, important, I believe that for smokers taking supportive, protective nutrients is even more essential. Many smokers do have an adequate diet; I have seen smoking macrobiotics, smoking vegetarians, and smoking health enthusiasts. However, there is a tendency for poor dietary habits to accompany the destructive smoking habit. Many smokers tend to eat more meats, fatty and fried foods, and refined foods than nonsmokers. It is important for smokers to avoid other addictions. Sugar, coffee, alcohol, and meats should be minimized or avoided if possible.

A basic, wholesome diet helps to at least reduce some of the risks of smoking addiction, which may be influenced by nutritional deficiencies. This plan, especially with adequate fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, will help to provide some of the necessary, protective antioxidant nutrients, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, and E, and selenium, all of which will help lower risks of cancer and other smoker’s maladies. In addition, some raw seeds and nuts, legumes, sprouts, and other proteins should be consumed. Water is an essential nutrient to balance out the drying effect of smoking. A daily intake of two to three quarts is suggested, depending on how many high-water-content fruits and vegetables, salads, and soups are consumed. Caffeine beverages increase the need for water, as they are also dehydrating. Smoking usually generates a mild acid condition in the body, and an alkaline diet is helpful to balance this. A high-fiber diet also helps in detoxification, maintaining bowel function, and reducing the risks of smoking. The overall plan for smokers is to increase the wholesome foods—fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—and to lower the intake of fats, cured or pickled products, food additives, and alcohol.

An alkaline diet is even more important during the cigarette withdrawal and detoxification periods. The increased blood alkalinity that results from a diet high in fruits and vegetables, even mainly raw food consumption, helps reduce the craving for and interest in smoking. Studies have shown this to be true, and I have heard this regularly from the hundreds of patients I have seen in smoking cessation programs.

The alkaline diet is not necessarily a lifelong program, although, as I discussed elsewhere in this book, it is wise for our diet generally to be more alkaline than acid. During cigarette withdrawal, a vegetarian or raw food diet may be sufficient for the average person to help reduce nicotine craving. This can be used for three to six weeks to aid in the detoxification process. Fasting has also been employed by some smokers to help eliminate their habit. It does allow for rapid transitions, but it can also be somewhat intense. It might be reserved for the more durable and strong willed or the overweight or hypertensive smoker.


Stop Smoking Diet
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About The Author
Elson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
 
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Disclaimer: The information provided on HealthWorld Online is for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.