Last week we talked about stress; this week we will talk about detox! QuitNet Q'sters often ask if there is anything they can do to help their body detox after so many years of smoking cigarettes. Quitting smoking is the best detox plan of all. However, the answer to the question is yes! Here are some options that may help support your body as you keep the quit:
Free radicals cause damage to your cells and can be formed by smoking, pesticides, pollution and daily metabolic processes. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and as a result, can help protect your cells from damage. You will find antioxidants in many fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, vitamins, minerals and herbs.
By eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, you can help your system heal, detox and flourish. Eating fresh foods high in cysteine, beta-carotene, vitamin B2, vitamin C and vitamin E will increase your antioxidant intake. Zinc and selenium will help stregthen your immune system.
Fruits and vegtables are very nutrient dense, high fiber, low calorie and as an added benefit - reduce both food and nicotine cravings. The majority of fruits and vegtables are alkaline which helps restore your system from it's highly acidic state brought on by smoking. Here are some food chioces that are very high in antioxidants:
- red, black, kidney and pinto beans
- blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries,
- cherries, plums, prunes, apples
- russet potato
There are endless benefits to loading up your grocery basket with a wide variety of these colorful, wholesome, fresh foods!
Herbal remedies are not FDA approved and may interact with certain medications or medical conditions. Always ask your doctor before taking herbal remedies. Keep in mind that supplements 'add to' a healthy diet and do not work alone. Your healthy diet is the foundation, and herbal supplementation builds upon that foundation.
Many herbal teas, seasonings and medicinal herbs contain antioxidants. Aloe vera, bilburry, green tea, garlic, turmeric, ginkgo, ginger root, grape seed and milk thistle may help your body fight free radicals. Herbal teas are an easy way to support the detox process. Tea is also relaxing to prepare, steep and sip as you celebrate your quit! Here are just a few of the many herbs that may help support different areas of the body:
- Liver: Burdock, Milk Thistle, Artichoke, Dandelion, Licorice Root
- Lungs: Ginger Root, Garlic, Thyme Leaf
- Skin: Fennel, Aloe Vera, Ginger Root, Licorice Root
- Circulation: Ginger, Black Pepper, and Long Pepper
- Digestion: Anise Seed, Licorice, Fennel, Peppermint Leaf
Adding an herbal detox remedy in powder, pill or tea form may help your system detox. If herbal supplementation appeals to you (and your doctor has no objections), give it a try!
The human body is about 60% water! Drinking plenty of water will help you detox by increasing the amount of nutrients you absorb in food and eliminating waste from your body. Water also helps you feel full, reduces cravings and can have an alkalizing effect on your system. Smoking can be dehydrating and acidifying, so your entire system will thank you if you get in the habit of drinking plenty of fresh water.
By adding some nutritional support to your system, you can help your body detox and repair after many years of smoking. Today is a great day to move forward as a healthy nonsmoker!
Be healthy, and KTQ!
Many people find once they quit smoking, they are inspired to make other healthy lifestyle changes. Almost everyone would like to either lose weight or be in better physical condition, but have no idea how to get started. Read on for some basic suggestions to help you get headed in the right direction!
~*~ Start From Where You Are ~*~
Everyone can lose weight, gain muscle tone, increase lung capacity and feel better. It is normal to want to see results right away. They will come, but only if you take the time to set yourself up to succeed from the beginning. So, make sure your first week is all about Starting From Where You Are.
Why does that matter? If you go on ‘the diet’ and suddenly cut your calories in half, or go from doing nothing to a 5 times per week workout (or even double your current workout while dieting too hard) then your system will shut down. Any perceived overexertion with diminished fuel is like a car running out of gas - you end up going nowhere. Just like that car, your body needs fuel to run and better fuel brings better performance.
Despite common diet myths, you simply can't go from 3,500 calories a day to 1,200 and get good long term results. Your metabolism will slow down at the beginning, leaving you nowhere to go from there. The same goes for starting at zero activity then working out like a contender. You will feel tired, sore, weak, hungry and demotivated. As a result, it is unlikely you will follow through long enough to kick up your metabolic rate and reach your goals.
There is no safe, fast way to lose what has taken many years to find! It takes time. Time to shift your body from fat storage mode to fat burning mode. Time to get your muscles back in shape and your endurance levels up. Time to learn to new eating habits.
Healthy eating is the best way to lose weight and support your exercise efforts. No magic pills or secret methods or food combinations will make it happen any faster. To get started, just clean up your current eating habits by making healthier choices. Drink more water, eat less sugar and limit portion size. Every week, add a new goal to the previous week, such as eating fresh vegetables 2 times day, or reducing soda to 1 times per day, or replacing a serving of red meat with a serving of chicken or fish instead. Be specific! That way, every week you will continue to add new habits while reinforcing the ones from the week before. As time goes by, you will be eating healthier and healthier while losing weight and making permanent lifestyles changes.
These changes will ensure your weight loss is maintained, as this is your new personal best lifestyle and you are no longer in ON the diet/ Off the diet mode. Sound boring? It is Not! You can allow yourself those times when something is splurge worthy. Think of it like a savings account. You save up every day by eating healthy. When something super special comes along, you dip into your savings for it. You only have so much in the bank, so spend it wisely if you want to reach/maintain your goals! For example, you can eat cake anytime you want so just because someone brought it to work does not mean you 'have to have it.' The vending machine will always be there. A bag of chips will always be there. Dessert will always be there. And such things usually make you feel worse for having eaten them anyway. On the other hand, if your favorite food in the world is pizza and a friend is standing at your door holding a steaming hot one with a stack of new release movie rentals, of course you’ll go for it and Enjoy!. Or, if someone takes you out to your favorite steak restaurant ~ Enjoy! Saving ‘treat’ foods for special moments and eating healthy and low calorie the rest of the time is how thin people stay that way. And, that is how you can reach your weight loss goals! Just be sure to get immediately back on track with the healthy lifestyle diet habits you’ve acquired. In other words, 'special meal' does not mean special week!
As far as exercise goes, adding it to your routine can double your weight loss efforts when combined with proper diet. The best tips I can give you for exercise are:
1) Be Consistent
Think Move. Walk faster, take the stairs, park further away – take every opportunity to move more than you do now. Exercise 3 times every week. Week by week, it adds up and it becomes a habit. Choose something you Like To Do. Bike, walk the dog, meet a friend for a walk at the park or get a group together on your lunch hour at work.
2) Be There
Intermittent napping on the recumbent bike is Not exercising. Your body may be semi present but the mind is gone! Take the time to really Focus on your exercise, not just complete movements on autopilot. Weight lifters and athletes call it being in the Zone. It is like meditation to some, an adrenaline surge to others. No matter what you call it, when you really focus on your muscles, your breathing, your tempo, each contraction or stretch or stride or sensation you experience as you move, you will get a lot more out of your exercise both physically and mentally. Commit to moving with Intensity.
Whether you are walking the dog, running a mile, vacuuming or training at the gym, watch your posture. Correct posture helps prevent fatigue and injury as well as strengthen your midsection (abdominals) and low back. To increase focus, try to feel your muscles contract. How is your breathing? When should you inhale and exhale? How can you do the movement longer, shorter, faster or slower? Do you feel stronger than last time? Can you keep your abs tight while doing it and maintaining your breathing? Try it right now as you read this! Pull your belly button in to your spine hold. Breathe normally. That is a focused moment feels like.
Doing things with purpose and focus makes them more enjoyable, prevents boredom, increases your skill set and makes you more likely to continue! Are you ready to start from where you are? Was that a YES? Select a few goals that appeal to you from the lettered items in the list below and then pick some of the bulleted action items to help reach them:
A) Pay Closer Attention To My Diet
- Cut out all junk food: cookies, chips, candy, fast food fries, shakes, desserts, etc.
- Drink more water, limit or stop soda, limit alcohol, drink coffee black or sitch to tea.
- Eat at least 4 times per day to keep your metabolism going.
- Eat lean protein: nonfat dairy, fish, egg beaters, skinless chicken or vegan options.
- Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit.
B) Commit to Doing More Activity
- Pick 3 days per week that you commit to set aside time to exercise No Matter What.
- Perform movements correctly (DVD, book, class, trainer, pal - whatever works for you).
- Start slow so you can keep going all 3 days consistently
- Try starting with a walking routine 3 x per week; take a good brisk walk 15 minutes up the road, then turn around and come back. Easy, free and fun - bring the dog :)
C) Increase Effectiveness of My Exercise
- Breathe deeply and exhale fully during each movement.
- Add more contraction to each movement (ex: squeeze each calf as you walk).
- Add more focus to each movement.
D) Change Up My Exercise Routine
- Add cardio to your weight workout.
- Add weights to your cardio workout.
- Add a new kind of class or activity.
- Add ab crunches and and stretching.
- Add walking, yoga, spinning, biking, joggin or swimming.
E) Increase Intensity Of My Exercise Routine
- Increase resistance on cardio for 10 minute blocks.
- Increase incline on cardio for 10 minute blocks.
- Increase speed on cardio for 5 minute blocks.
- Add another exercise to your routine.
- Increase reps or sets per exercise or both (ex: do 4 sets of 12 instead of 3 sets of 10).
Be responsible for your health by monitoring your condition and experience. The old battle cry 'No Pain, No Gain' applies to conditioned athletes enduring beyond their pain threshold, not a former couch surfer who's up and moving again. If you feel pain walking briskly or lifting a 15# dumbbell, you are doing too much, too soon or using less than ideal posture while doing it. Always stay within your level of fitness, follow your personal medical guidelines for any medical conditions and individual diet restrictions, pay close attention to physical limitations and old injuries, and of course, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program, increasing your current one or changing your diet.
If you start where you are at today, you can – and will be - a Fitter Quitter! Good luck, keep moving and be well :)
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
There are some misconceptions about quit support products, specifically surrounding the ‘support’ part! Take Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) for example. As tobacco treatment specialists, we sometimes hear "My NRT is not working". Let's look at the role NRT plays for a basic overview of what to expect. NRT does not make you quit smoking. It does not remove the habitual want to smoke, or the emotional need to smoke. NRT does not eliminate withdrawal symptoms, nor does it prevent the detox process from occurring.
So what does NRT do? It takes the edge off cravings so you can focus on breaking your lifelong habitual, behavioral and emotional attachment to the daily ritual of smoking. NRT supports your efforts by reducing the physical cravings and withdrawal symptoms so you are more likely to stick with the quit process long enough to succeed.
NRT is not designed to match your smoking habit nicotine consumption milligram for milligram, but rather to reduce cravings by delivering a slow, steady dose of nicotine in your system based on the average amount of cigarettes you smoked prior to your quit date. This slow, steady dosing avoids the rapid and addictive 'rush/crash/crave' cycle that smoking provides (and makes quitting so difficult). NRT helps by lessening the intensity of physical withdrawal symptoms. Physical withdrawals will still occur as your body detoxes, heals and adjusts after years of inhaling toxic, chemical filled smoke, tar and gasses into your lungs and throughout your entire system. Nicotine is just one of the many thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke.
NRT is advised to be used for at least the first 8 weeks of your quit while stepping down gradually. Stepping down as directed ensures minimal cravings and maximum quit support. Why 8 weeks? Research shows it takes a good 8 weeks of practicing new behaviors, habits and coping tools to learn a new habit, such as being a nonsmoker! Doing so with overwhelming physical cravings often leads to relapse before any of the learning new behaviors or habit breaking part takes place. Nicotine and temporary cravings are a small part of the Big Picture. Long term quit success comes from having 8 weeks of practice and actively working to learn new behaviors and coping tools, not from 'using NRT'. The Quitter must actively work their quit process in order for NRT support to be most effective.
So, how do you work your quit process? Start by identifying your top 3 tobacco triggers. Then, come up with effective new coping tools that will work for You. This is where you want to put your time, energy and focus during the next 8 weeks you have NRT support. Practice getting through stress, boredom, relationships, disappointments and day to day life situations without using tobacco. Practicing new coping tools ensures your quit process gets easier as time goes by. No amount of NRT can do this particular part of the quit, which is a good thing! It forces the newly quit to start really thinking about living their day to day lives without a cigarette. In each of those moments where you choose to do something else instead of smoke, you will be laying the foundation for becoming a nonsmoker.
The key to success is to let NRT do it's job by using it correctly as directed, while you do your job - actively work your quit process! Along the way, you'll discover lots of new things to do as you enjoy your healthy, smoke free lifestyle.
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Don't quit alone! We can help:
First, some points to clarify:
1) QuitNet is not anti-cold turkey quitting. In 18 years as the world's first and largest quit-smoking website, we've had a lot of experience with what works best for the most, and what the research indicates -- and that's what we speak to here. If you can quit cold turkey, you should -- the sooner the better.
2) QuitNet does not receive revenue from the sale or advertisement of NRT or other quit-aids (in fact, you won't find any ads at the Q).
3) This blog isn't a debate on whether or not you should quit cold turkey, nor a response to anti-NRT theorists. The author doesn't work for tobacco companies, or any tobacco product manufacturers or distributors.
4) The author himself quit a three pack a day addiction cold turkey, 21 years ago. He knows from experience that cold turkey quitting can work. Further notes at the end of the blog.
Twenty two years ago, before the patch and other quit-aids were available without prescription, I quit smoking cold turkey (CT). Three times, in fact, the third time being, as they say, a charm. And after many years of easy access to over-the-counter quit medicines like NRT, i.e., the patch, gum, lozenge, etc, most smokers still try to quit cold turkey. CT is defined as any treatment method which does not include medicinal control of withdrawal symptoms, i.e., the smoker stops smoking, either abruptly or with a plan, and doesn't employ any chemical interventions to minimize detoxification. Hypnosis, acupuncture, and other alternative treatments are also considered CT because they do not directly address physical withdrawal, or detoxification.
So you won't ever catch me saying cold turkey is a bad way to quit, or that it won't work work for you. I'm living proof that it can and does work. But it's also important to address the most common misconceptions about CT quitting, so you can make the best choices for your next quit.
Myth #1. Cold Turkey is the most effective way to quit.
Decades of research repeatedly demonstrate that only 3-6 CT quitters, out of every 100, will succeed during any given quit attempt. This makes cold turkey the least effective of all treatments, even less so than medication placebos. The primary reason for these low numbers is that the physical, mental and behavioral parts of withdrawal sometimes prove too much to handle, and can negatively impact everyday life even for the most determined quitter.
However, this doesn't necessarily mean that any single quitter won't be able to quit using CT, only that, statistically, other methods provide better odds overall.
Myth #2. Cold Turkey is the safest way to quit.
Quitting smoking is rarely dangerous, and almost never more dangerous than continuing to smoke, but a slower, measured withdrawal from nicotine usually provides an more comfortable path to tobacco freedom. The sudden onset of cold turkey detox among the heaviest smokers can trigger risky fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure. Changes in metabolism can adversely affect prescription medication doses. CT quits can trigger acute depression and suicidal ideation among those with certain mental health issues, and/or massive chemical/hormonal rearrangements in the body.
Additionally, CT quitters are more likely to transfer smoking addiction to sugar, caffeine, or other addictive substances, causing acute or chronic difficulties with weight gain, depression and anxiety, and other mental and physical health issues -- all of which can generate higher rates of slips and relapses.
Myth #3. Cold Turkey is the fastest way through withdrawal.
The longest, most intense detoxifications are usually suffered by CT quitters (depending on the level of addiction). Three days is commonly referred to as the make-or-break timeline for CT withdrawal, but CT quitters can experience moderate-to-severe detox symptoms for weeks after quitting. Again, this is not to say you will suffer such withdrawal if you quit cold-turkey -- that's largely determined by your current addiction/smoking level and metabolism -- only that you're more likely to.
Myth #4. The intensity of a Cold Turkey quit inhibits relapse.
Though many CT quitters claim that their quit is/was so horrific that they never want to go through it again, there's no solid research demonstrating that past withdrawal experiences influence current quit-success, or that a bad past experience keeps one quit. What we often find instead is increased resistance to the idea of quitting because of past difficulties, and higher rates of slips and relapses during intense detoxes.
Myth #5. Most smokers quit Cold Turkey.
This one is not a myth. CT is still the most widely-used method, largely because it’s the easiest, and free. But most CT smokers will also relapse during any individual quit. This is why smokers are increasingly turning to quit-aids first, or after trying and failing with CT.
All that being said, cold turkey quitting may still best the way for you to quit. If you're a middle-aged man or post-menopausal woman, have successfully quit smoking before without medicinal intervention, and/or aren't being treated for depression or a bi-polar condition, your odds of quitting CT are better than average. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, weigh less than 120 lbs., or smoke less than half a pack a day, you probably should quit smoking CT. In any event, a CT quitter is wise to beef up their support network--which increases the chances of any quit succeeding.
But if you know, or fear, that severe withdrawal will negatively impact your life, or haven't been able to get through the withdrawal process unaided in the past, don't worry. There are more effective treatment methods available to you!
Good luck, visit QuitNet for help, and KTQ.
Alan Peters, CTTS-M
Regarding public health perspectives on cold turkey quitting: This blog is about CT quitting for individual smokers. Public health officials often, and should, promote CT treatment to large populations, because that's more cost-effective than offering, distributing and supporting compliance with quit-medicines on a large scale.
No QuitNet authors or experts receive research funding or other renumeration from pharmaceutical companies. Some tobacco researchers do, however, sign onto funded studies at various points in their careers. This is an indication that the U.S. doesn't adequately fund such research in general, not necessarily that the resulting research is biased or fraudulent.