Tobacco smoking has formed part of human society for over 600 years. Whilst there are varying methods for tobacco use such as pipes, cigars and snuff, since the invention of the cigarette-rolling machine in the 1880s, the most popular conduit today is in the form of cigarettes.
Today, smoking is one of the main preventable causes of illness and death, killing over five million people worldwide. Over the past decade, rates of smoking in England have shown a decrease with around 20% of adults in England now smoking – the highest prevalence reported amongst women and those aged 16-24.
To those who have never lit up, kicking the habit may seem like no great feat. But as many smokers and ex-smokers will vouch, giving up indefinitely is a daily uphill struggle with most smokers taking 5-7 attempts before they succeed.
For those who do manage to exorcise the nicodemon, though, there are many benefits to be had. A tobacco-free lifestyle can increase your health prospects and the health of those around you, prevent premature births, increase your enjoyment of food, improve your memory, leave you with more money in your pocket and can even improve your luck in love. With No Smoking Day taking place today, Wednesday 13 March 2013, people all over the UK will be looking to kick the butt for good – be it for themselves or for their families.
When it comes to quitting smoking, there are certain foods that can either help or hinder your chances of success. In order to strengthen your resolve and support your body through this period of change, it is important to pay close attention to your diet.
Choose foods wisely
According to a study from the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and non-caffeinated beverages, such as water and fruit juice make cigarettes taste terrible, reducing your desire to smoke. On the other hand, meat, coffee and alcoholic beverages make them taste better – so it’s best to avoid these when quitting.
In the 1970s, researchers in Glasgow, Scotland, found that smokers who consumed an extract of fresh oats were more likely to experience diminished cravings for cigarettes. More recently, research form Japan suggests that a standardised oat extract may act as an alternative to the patches or chewing gums in reducing cravings.
In a 2012 study that looked at fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to quitting smoking, it was found that as well as helping with the initial quitting, eating healthy produce also helped with remaining tobacco-free. Oranges in particular have been shown to play a vital role in smoking cessation, as have tomatoes with their anti-oxidant properties.
As well as being great for your skin and hair, omega-3 fatty acids have also been associated with reducing the negative effects of smoking. In April 2012, researchers reported that short-term treatment with omega-3 fatty acids helped to reduce arterial stiffness and minimise the vascular damage caused my smoking. Sources of omega-3s include halibut, wild salmon, sardines, flax seeds, walnuts, canola oil and soybeans.
The texture of certain foods can also help smokers fight their cravings. Crunchy foods tend to be more pleasing for the quitter, so focus on foods that put your jaw muscles to work, such as celery, apples, carrots, radishes, nuts and plain popcorn.
Ultimately, whatever you decide to eat, keep it healthy. The temptation to nibble on snack foods, such as biscuits, sweets and crisps, can not only cause you to pile on the pounds, but ruin your staying power too!
Previous in Nutrition Matters: Less Salt Please [Infographic]