|Increase Alkaline Foods
||Reduce Acid Foods|
The vegetarian diet is high in chlorophyllic (green) vegetables and sprouts, grains, fruits, and liquids, such as water, juices, soups, and herbal teas. The raw foods diet is similar, with more seeds and nuts. Eating whole, unsalted sunflower seeds (or carrot or celery sticks) can help replace that hand-to-mouth addiction that is common in smokers; however, we must be careful not to replace nicotine addiction with food addiction.
The diet for detoxification is also low in fat and high in fiber. It is important to keep the energy and bowels moving. The raw foods (and vegetarian) diet helps with both. This includes several salads of leafy greens daily, and some snacks of fruits, vegetables, nuts, or seeds. Some of the high-protein algae, such as spirulina and chlorella, also help during withdrawal and detox. Since cigarettes are such a rapid ager and a key cancer risk, the dietary suggestions in Cancer Prevention and Anti-Aging programs are useful here as well (see Chapter 16).
Many supplements are useful for smokers or during withdrawal and detoxification. An acid urine increases the elimination of nicotine and thus increases the craving. So, while an alkaline diet may slow down the detoxification of nicotine, it also reduces the desire for smoking. To support the body alkalinization during smoking cessation, I recommend sodium or potassium bicarbonate tablets, one to be taken with cravings for a total of five or six daily, along with the fruit- and vegetable-based, high-fiber diet.
A general "multiple " with additional antioxidant nutrients are part of the smoker’s program. The antioxidants help reduce the toxicity of smoke in primary and secondary smokers and also help lessen the free-radical irritation during the detox period. Vitamin E, 400–800 IUs daily, specifically helps stabilize the cell membranes and protects them and the tissue membranes from the free-radical and chemical irritations generated by cigarette smoke. Selenium, as sodium selenite or selenomethionine, at a level of 200–300 mcg., supports vitamin E and also reduces cancer potential, which is so much higher with chronic smoking. Selenium also lessens sensitivity to cadmium. Vitamin A reduces cancer risk and supports tissue health, and beta-carotene specifically protects against lung cancer in smokers. Smoking clearly depletes body vitamin C levels, probably by increasing antioxidant demands and reducing absorption. Therefore, smokers need regular vitamin C intake to help neutralize the toxins. Supplementing 500–2,000 mg. four or five times daily is recommended. (Note: Both vitamin C and niacin are mild acids, which may increase ulcer risk, as well as nicotine elimination and craving in smokers. If these nutrients are used in higher amounts, extra alkaline salts such as the bicarbonates or calcium-magnesium ascorbates, may be used.) Extra zinc, 30–60 mg. a day, like vitamin A, helps protect the tissue and mucous membrane health.
There are many other helpful nutrients needed during smoking and detox. First, we need to support the B vitamins that are more easily depleted in smokers, mainly thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (B6), and cobalamin (B12). The B12 may also help to decrease the cellular damage caused by tars and nicotine. Niacin (B3) helps in opening up the circulation that is constricted with nicotine. It also lowers cholesterol, which may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Pantothenic acid may reduce the aging of the skin and support the generally stressful lifestyle. Folic acid should be taken in higher amounts, such as 1–2 mg. daily. Coenzyme Q10 is also helpful in dosages of 30–60 mg. daily. Extra choline may support the brain and memory.
Besides zinc and selenium, other minerals also are important. Magnesium and molybdenum are needed in higher amounts than usual. Copper is needed at levels of 3–4 mg. daily, when used along with a higher zinc intake (60–100 mg.). Zinc also helps reduce cadmium absorption and toxicity. Vitamins C and E, selenium, and L-cysteine also help to reduce cadmium toxicity.
L-cysteine is very helpful to smokers and during detoxification. Along with thiamine and vitamin C, it protects the lungs from smoking damage and from acetaldehyde generated by smoke. It helps reduce smoker’s cough. Glutathione, formed from L-cysteine, is part of the protective antioxidant enzyme system. Heavy smokers might use 250–500 mg. of glutathione, up to 1,500 mg. (500–750 mg. more usually) of L-cysteine, with 5–6 g. of vitamin C, 150 mg. thiamine, and the total B vitamins and amino acids to balance the specific ones used.
To prevent obesity, it is very important to be aware of eating properly when stopping smoking. Smoking reduces appetites and the taste for foods and probably increases metabolism as well as nervous energy. It is natural to want to eat more and enjoy food more when not smoking. Over half of ex-smokers will gain weight, and this is more common in the heavier (use) smokers. If weight gain is undesirable (many smokers are underweight), a weight-control diet should be instituted as smoking is stopped. Research has shown that smokers crave and eat less sweets than nonsmokers. This changes with smoking cessation (the taste buds come alive again), so new nonsmokers need to watch out for this. The alkaline, high-fiber, low-fat diet is helpful in maintaining weight. Another amino acid, L-phenylalanine, can help reduce the appetite if taken before meals in amounts of 250–500 mg. Because it has a mild tendency to raise blood pressure, this should monitored if the blood pressure is of concern. Often, however, the blood pressure drops somewhat with smoking cessation. More choline may improve fat utilization and maintain weight, as may the amino acid L-carnitine. Regular exercise, walking, and getting used to breathing deeply of the fresh air are also part of our new plan.
There are many reasons to stop smoking. Health benefits are clearly number one. Lower risks of cancer, heart disease, and lung problems and better resistance to disease, by-products of smoking cessation. Our life expectancy is improved when we do not smoke. Also, we can save a lot of money in three ways: 1) no cost of cigarettes, which are costing more and more, 2) reduced health and life insurance premiums, and 3) lower medical expenses with improved health.
Stopping smoking may require a major change in our whole relationship to ourselves and our health. We will need to decide to love, support, and nurture ourselves in the best way possible. Often, changing our attitude first makes it easier for us to give up our health-denying habits, such as smoking. If we want to be optimally healthy, we just cannot smoke.
Even though I do not smoke, I know that it is a very difficult habit to break. In general, it is difficult for nonsmokers to really appreciate and understand the connection smoking has to the smoker’s psyche and to his or her whole life. The level of addiction, which is based on the amount and number of years of smoking, will determine the ease of stopping smoking. If you light up first thing in the morning or if you smoke more than two packs a day, you probably have a serious addiction, and it may be harder to stop than for lighter smokers.
There are many different plans for stopping or decreasing smoking. The best way is just to decide and stop cold turkey, go through the withdrawal, and forget it. Then there is no back and forth, no doubt; the decision is made, and strength and willpower provide the success. The program here will help in this. The success rate for those who make the decision and just stop is much better than for those who use other methods. They do not need tapes, counselors, or group support; they only count on themselves. Those who depend on others to stop smoking have more relapses.
Smoking withdrawal, however, may not be easy. The first three days to a week can be very difficult; for some people, the struggle may last for as long as a couple of months. Usually, the first 12–24 hours are the peak of withdrawal, when symptoms may appear. Cigarette craving is almost always present. Headaches, anxiety, irritability, dizziness, and insomnia are fairly common. Other smoking withdrawal symptoms include muscle aches, sore mouth, inability to concentrate, drowsiness, heart palpitations, depression, and gastrointestinal upset, such as nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, or constipation. Over time, weight gain is not uncommon; this may result from an increased appetite and slower metabolism, probably both. Those fire sticks tend to push our metabolic pedals.
During withdrawal, I suggest taking vitamin C (as a mineral ascorbate to reduce acidity) in amounts of about 1 gram every one or two hours. This may help reduce nicotine cravings. Other nutrients and dietary plans discussed earlier may also be used. The maximum dosages listed in the table at the end of this section can be used for support during withdrawal.
If you just cannot give up nicotine, there are other ways to get rid of cigarettes. Nicorette, a nicotine gum, is a very useful tool. This supports the nicotine addiction without providing the harmful smoke chemicals. It reduces withdrawal symptoms, and research shows a better long-term quitting percentage with the nicotine gum than with other methods. It is, however, a temporary aid which can be obtained only with a doctor’s prescription. It is not ideal, but it is better than smoking tobacco. Nicorette still produces the cardiovascular effects of nicotine but a minimum of the lung and cancer problems. It may cause some symptoms, such as nausea, lightheadedness, hiccups, and muscle tension or jaw aches from chewing. It does, however, immediately help one to stop smoking, as most of the craving is for the nicotine. The psychological, conditioned, and social addiction patterns of smoking itself must also be handled, and the former smoker should be off the gum within two or three months. Nicorette should be avoided by people w