HOW TO QUIT SMOKING AND WHAT ARE THE SHORT AND LONG TERM BENEFITS

The Topic Of this POST

  • Smoking: how widespread is it in 
  • Why quit smoking: what is the harm of smoking?
  • How to quit smoking: some tricks
  • Keep a daily journal
  • Get distracted when the desire for a cigarette is felt
  • Let friends and family know, share your progress
  • Using social media: sharing difficulties with those who have the same experience
  • Avoid temptation and change your (smoking) routine
  • Drink at least one liter of water a day to help the body cleanse
  • Avoid spices and alcohol
  • Exercise and be outdoors as much as possible
  • Appreciate all the benefits along the way
  • If necessary, resort to specific psychological support or help drugs
  • Quit smoking without gaining weight
  • The help of specialists
  • Quitting Smoking: The Immediate Benefits
  • Quitting smoking: the day-to-day benefits
  • Quitting smoking: the long-term benefits
  • Quitting smoking: advantages and aesthetic benefits
  • Quitting smoking: advantages and benefits in sport

There are many reasons why a person decides to quit smoking. Sometimes it is the will to save, in other cases it is a challenge with oneself, to get out of addiction and thus increase one’s self-esteem. However, the biggest motivation concerns the gain in terms of medicare because, as everyone knows by now, smoking damages the lungs and represents one of the main risks for the development of numerous diseases, including emphysema, cancer, and asthma. Certainly, the goal is not easy to achieve and often determination alone is not enough. Many people also fear other unpleasant effects, and wonder, for example, how to quit smoking without gaining weight.

So let’s see what are the tips to keep in mind and the immediate benefits that can be obtained.

SMOKING: HOW WIDESPREAD IS IT?

Before examining the harms of smoking and the benefits of quitting smoking, it is useful to briefly analyze the updated data on phenomena.

According to the 2017 Report on the Prevention and Control of Smoking, produced by the Directorate-General for Prevention of the Ministry of Health, in Italy in 2016 tobacco smokers constituted about 20% of the population over 14 years old. Furthermore, worrying data on juvenile smoking is revealed to us by a survey carried out in 2018 by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, under the coordination of the Ministry of Health. The research, which examined children from over 60 middle and high schools, aged between 13 and 15, shows that 20% of students habitually use tobacco products.

WHY QUIT SMOKING: WHAT ARE THE HARM OF SMOKING?

Before discovering some tricks for quitting smoking, it may be helpful to remember what the effects of tobacco are on health.

According to 2018 data from the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco smoking causes about 7 million deaths every year and represents the second cause of death in the world (more than AIDS, accidents, and homicides) and the main avoidable.

Smoking is not only responsible for lung cancer, but also represents the main risk factor for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, known as COPD: the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, based on WHO data, has estimated that this specific lung disease, connected to smoking and/or a condition of severe overweight, affects 210 million people in the world.

The American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also identified 27 smoking-related diseases, in particular, smoking increases the risk of cancer of the bladder, liver, larynx, esophagus, and pancreas, as well as causing problems to the kidneys.

These numbers would be enough to explain why quitting smoking is an excellent purpose. But let’s see in detail what are the main damages of smoking :

  • about 4,000 chemicals are released with each puff, including tar that contains lung carcinogens;
  • reduces the fertility of men and women;
  • nicotine acts on the cardiovascular and nervous system creating addiction;
  • facilitates ‘ atherosclerosis, the ‘ heart attack, and heart disease;
  • damages numerous organs and systems;
  • causes skin aging;
  • is a major risk factor for erectile dysfunction of the penis;
  • is a risk factor for throat cancer ;
  • yellows teeth and promotes cancer in the mouth;
  • if you smoke during pregnancy, it hurts the fetus, with a possible delay in mental and pulmonary development; it can also cause miscarriages;
  • irritates the mucous membranes of the respiratory system, favoring the development of a fat cough ;
  • secondhand smoke puts people around us at risk, increasing the risk of respiratory diseases.

This is why it is essential to quit smoking, but to find the right determination and not fail in the difficult undertaking, some tips may be useful.

HOW TO QUIT SMOKING: SOME TRICKS

Given that to quit smoking takes a great deal of willpower and that one must not be discouraged by any false steps or initial failures, certainly having a plan helps, and for this we recommend that you evaluate a medical consultation that will show you the best path, evaluating also psychological support. The cigarette break is, in fact, a habit that becomes part of the smoker’s routine, so good initial advice is to change some habits. For example, the cigarette is often linked to the end of a meal or to the “ritual” of coffee: a good trick to quitting smoking could be to change your habit (and taste), always brushing your teeth immediately after meals.

KEEP A DAILY JOURNAL

First of all, it is good to remember that ” the first 24 hours after the last cigarette are the most difficult and in the first 4 days the withdrawal symptoms are more intense, which tend to lessen from the first week to the first month, while feelings of malaise (such as fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, etc.) may persist even for a few months “, as specified on the Ministry website. The first piece of advice to motivate yourself is to keep a diary, in which to write down your purpose, goals, fears, and difficulties encountered, but also your successes. For example, by marking the improvements that are noticed day by day, such as the rediscovery of taste, the absence of the smell of smoke, or brighter skin.

GET DISTRACTED WHEN THE DESIRE FOR A CIGARETTE IS FELT

The craving for a cigarette is strong, however, it lasts a few minutes. This is why it is essential to be ready to distract yourself when addiction makes itself felt: drinking a glass of water, having a chat with a friend, eating a fruit, munching on walnuts or peanuts, or taking a walk, the important thing is to keep mind and hands full. Addiction is also simply related to gestures.

LET FRIENDS AND FAMILY KNOW, SHARE YOUR PROGRESS

The more support you receive, the better your chances of success. If you want to quit smoking, let your friends and relatives know, sharing your goal with them: if they love you, they will certainly support you in this healthy choice for you and for them too.

USING SOCIAL MEDIA: SHARING DIFFICULTIES WITH THOSE WHO HAVE THE SAME EXPERIENCE

Use social media for good: share your experience with those who live the same fight against smoking, you will find useful tips and tricks to overcome even the most difficult moments.

AVOID TEMPTATION AND CHANGE YOUR (SMOKING) ROUTINE

This means eliminating any object connected with the vice, such as lighters or ashtrays, perhaps replacing them with flowers, essences, or other new objects that are a cause for good humor for you. Also, change the classic smoking routines: after coffee, take a walk in the fresh air.

DRINK AT LEAST ONE LITER OF WATER A DAY TO HELP THE BODY CLEANSE

This is useful both for distraction (replace the cigarette with a glass of water, as we have already mentioned), and to accelerate the process of eliminating nicotine through the urine: this water-soluble substance is thus diluted and quickly removed from the body.

AVOID SPICES AND ALCOHOL

Spices and alcohol are enemies in this initial fight against smoking: it is better to stay away from them to avoid unnecessary temptations, it seems to stimulate the desire for cigarettes in smokers.

EXERCISE AND BE OUTDOORS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

We know the risks of a sedentary life. Furthermore, in this situation, moving is one of the aspects that has the greatest impact on both the body and the mind. It helps to remove the desire to smoke, to feel better, to increase the respiratory exchange, to purify, as well as to lower the cortisol levels linked to the stress that accompanies the cessation of the habit, and to keep fit, especially if you are afraid. to gain weight during the farewell to smoking phase.

APPRECIATE ALL THE BENEFITS ALONG THE WAY

It is perhaps trivial, but the best way to maintain willpower when choosing to quit smoking is to pay attention to all the improvements that the body undergoes during nicotine detox: use a blackboard to hang in a visible area of ​​the house were making a note of progress every morning can help in the fight against smoking.

IF NECESSARY, RESORT TO SPECIFIC PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT OR HELP DRUGS

Sometimes willpower is not enough, in these cases resorting to help is not only useful but also advisable: from psychological help centers for those who are quitting smoking to specific drugs, providing support in the fight against smoking is a valid alternative if the risk is not to make it.

Quitting smoking without gaining weight is, in fact, a priority for many people who often tend, precisely, for this reason, to get discouraged and give up on the commitment made.

Let’s explore this aspect with the advice of Dr. Francesca Evangelisti, nutritionist biologist.

QUIT SMOKING WITHOUT GAINING WEIGHT

The link between smoking and weight is mainly due to the anorectic action of the nicotine contained in tobacco. It is an alkaloid able to reduce the sense of hunger, decreasing the appetite, which returns to normal as soon as you stop smoking. However, the nutritionist advises ex-smokers against drastic diets, which would worsen the physical condition of a body already weakened by the damage of smoking, with only transient effects and negative consequences also for the psychological state, already under pressure to stop. to smoke. To manage weight gain due to the absence of nicotine (usually, people tend to gain weight from 2 to 5 kilos) it is much more useful to increase physical activity and eat properly.

The advice is to “follow a detoxifying and norm caloric diet, based on three main meals (breakfast norm caloricner) and at least three snacks, so as not to fast for too many hours”.

It is contraindicated, as many do, to avoid carbohydrates, as “slow-release ones, such as pasta, bread, and rice, stimulate the production of serotonin, capable of counteracting nervous hunger and depression”. Of course, meals and snacks need to be balanced and balanced. In particular, snacks, which are also useful for distraction when the urge for a cigarette arises, should be made with fruit and vegetables, “Perhaps to be cut into small pieces and kept in your bag or office”. This is also useful for gratifying the mouth, as the anatomical mechanism of chewing, together with a small amount of sugar, helps to compensate for the lack of nicotine and all the effects that derive from it. To quit smoking without gaining weight, therefore, it is necessary to have a rich and balanced breakfast, drink plenty of water, consume complete meals, based above all on seasonal fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and low glycemic index carbohydrates.

THE HELP OF SPECIALISTS

Quitting smoking is possible, but believing in yourself is sometimes not enough. If you struggle or are discouraged, rely on specialists who will be able to support you from a psychological, nutritional, and practical point of view, with drug therapies combined with personalized advice. There are centers for the treatment of smoking, anti-smoking centers of hospitals and ASLs, and the toll-free telephone against smoking (800-554088).

QUITTING SMOKING: THE IMMEDIATE BENEFITS

To encourage future former smokers, the American Cancer Society has compiled a list of the benefits to our bodies that come from quitting smoking. Here they are listed, step by step, starting from the first 20 minutes without smoking.

In fact, within 20 minutes of the last cigarette :

  • blood pressure normalizes;
  • the heartbeat normalizes;
  • the temperature of mania and feet returns to normal.

Instead, within 8 hours:

  • the level of carbon dioxide in the blood drops;
  • the oxygen level in the blood is normalized.

QUITTING SMOKING: THE DAY-TO-DAY BENEFITS

Some benefits are found after a day or more and involve the respiratory and cardiac systems.

Within 24 hours:

  • Decreases the risk of heart attack;
  • The lungs begin to clear the mucus present.

Within 48 hours

  • Nerve endings begin to grow back;
  • they improve the senses of smell and taste.

Within 72 hours

  • The bronchi relax, the breathing improves;
  • lung capacity increases.

QUITTING SMOKING: THE LONG-TERM BENEFITS

The most important rewards of quitting smoking, however, are reaped after weeks, months, or years. Giving up the habit of smoking certainly helps us to remove the risk of chronic diseases, a partly tangible benefit.

2 weeks to 3 months:

  • Improve circulation;
  • walking becomes less and less tiring.

Da 3 to 9 times:

  • Fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms such as cough decrease;
  • increases the general level of energy.

Within 10 years:

  • precancerous cells are replaced;
  • decreases the risk of other cancers: in the mouth, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidneys, and pancreas.

QUITTING SMOKING: ADVANTAGES AND AESTHETIC BENEFITS

Smoking also damages the body on an aesthetic level, because it makes the skin dry and often causes stains on the teeth. Blemishes which, fortunately, disappear when the habit is abandoned. In particular, after quitting smoking:

  • the teeth gradually turn white again;
  • the skin becomes less asphyxiated;
  • the fingers, often yellowish due to the cigarette, slowly return to their natural color.

QUITTING SMOKING: ADVANTAGES AND BENEFITS IN SPORT

Sport improves the cardio-circulatory and respiratory systems, lowers cortisol levels, and increases the immune defenses, giving a good mood: all excellent reasons to combine physical activity, of any type and frequency, with the fight against smoking. Furthermore, doing sport will allow you to find a general improvement in health conditions, allowing you to focus on the objectives to be achieved.

Quitting smoking is an indispensable investment in health, also because it lowers the chances, especially with advancing age, of developing many conditions that characterize the metabolic syndrome, linked to cardiovascular risk. In particular, if you already suffer from this pathology, for example in case of obesity, high cholesterol, or hypertension, quitting smoking must be a priority in order not to aggravate the situation. However, it is necessary to proceed under medical supervision, considering the possibility of a health policy that includes a prevention program for the heart, with personalized advice regarding diagnostic tests, physical activity, and nutrition, with competitive costs compared to those of the market.

By following the advice of specialists and with the right determination it is possible to quit smoking. You will gain health, you will have more energy and you will avoid putting your health and that of your loved ones at risk, especially children, too often victims of secondhand smoke. What is your experience?