There is some good news for smokers as smoking help is just around the corner. And this help is a lot closer than you think. You only need to go to your local fruit and vegetable market to find the answers. Because I'm always thinking out of the box and in this case, on the shelf, I soon realised everything was right in front of me all the time. All this abundant food can play an essential and beneficial role in helping you get your life back together. Or could it?
While it struck me as rather odd that there could be some benefits for smokers at the market, it soon occurred to me that if you were to eat more fruits and vegetables, you'd have a much better chance of escaping the ravages of the smoker's three biggest killers. And that you'd assume would be heart disease, stroke and cancer. Never mind that people who have never smoked a cigarette in their life, die of these dread diseases all the time.
Please note that I haven't use the prefix "health" before the word "benefits" because, by all accounts, there's nothing healthy about smoking. Or is there? There's nothing healthy about drinking alcohol either. You could also say the same about red meat and perhaps a few other things we haven't yet explored or even understood.
Is there such a thing that may suggest that there could be some good in tobacco smoking? I have always wondered why so much emphasis is placed on the dangers of smoking and yet nowhere is there any information that smoking plays any part in one's health.
Okay, that may seem puzzling or even mystifying. Why would smoking have any real benefits you may ask. Well, quite honestly, there isn't much in the way of health benefits other than smoking being like any other addiction. Are we not all addicted to something, or is it something we prefer not to admit? Though I've been a vegetarian for some time (45 years and counting), I like to have an occasional cigarette. It's, for this reason, I'd like to give you some of my smoking help findings.
People throughout the known world have been smoking tobacco for centuries. Fact is. It's been a high activity for many people. People celebrated with the pipe. People would dance and be happy.
Two other evils that are also a cause for concern are that of alcohol and red meat. It always puzzled me why cigarette smoking stood out more in the danger zone. You go into any corner cafe or supermarket, and you're bound to find the cigarette section in a confined area and well away from the food and beverage section. While that might be a good thing, I also notice that alcohol and meat products are on display for all to see and easily accessible for not only adults but children too.
But once at the store, you'll notice on every single packet (in bold type), words describing just how bad smoking is for your health. Smoking, we always hear, is one of the most dangerous killers out there. Or is it? One such packet says that smoking causes cancer, yet there is so much reference telling us that red meat also can cause cancer.
You could assume that cigarette smoking would suggest people dying of lung cancer, yet smoking has never scientifically proven to be the cause of disease. And at the same time, lots of people die of lung cancer who have never smoked in their life. My sister-in-law died of lung cancer in her early 60's, yet she never smoked or drank alcohol her whole life. She did, however, consume lots of barbecued red meat and overcooked vegetables.
There are other danger signs on packets of cigarettes such as "smoking can kill you". Lots of things can kill you besides smoking. While smoking has the potential to kill, drinking alcohol can kill you too. I have yet to see harsh warning labels on bottles of booze, informing the public of the inherent dangers of drinking. And driving after drinking alcohol is not only dangerous for the person concerned but also for many other road users too. While I've never heard of a cigarette-related vehicle accident, alcohol-related motor accident statistics are astounding.
There may be a solution should you be a smoker. Studies have shown that the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the better your odds of escaping the ravages of the smoker's "big three" and that is heart disease, stroke and cancer. And you don't need to eat boatloads of bananas or bushels of Brussels sprouts to get the benefits.
Eating just one fruit or a serving of vegetables a day is an excellent start to help cut your risk of lung cancer. However, having 2 to 3 servings of fruit and 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day can have a significant impact.
There are two good reasons why fruit and vegetables should get top billing on any smoker's plate. First of all, fruit and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, powerful nutrients that help protect against smoking-related diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
The other reason is that fruit and vegetables are packed with phytonutrients, chemical compounds found in plant-based foods, indicating a promise for preventing or even treating these diseases.
Of course, loading up on fruits and vegetables won't make up for a pack-a-day habit. The only way to cut the risk of smoking-related diseases is to quit smoking altogether. But whether you've recently stopped smoking or planning to do so, loading up on fresh produce will offer you substantial protection.
We all know that apples and bananas, when sliced and left for a short while, will eventually turn brown, a form of oxidation. Butter and cooking oils will eventually turn rancid, a type of decomposition. The sad truth of it all, our bodies will also sadly begin to decay. Not a pretty thought.
In all these cases, the damage is caused by the same thing - highly reactive and dangerous molecules known as free radicals. And while free radicals occur naturally, their numbers are significantly increased by such things as smoking and even the air we breathe. Believe it or not, a simple thing such as breathing can bring about free radicals and these things we take for granted may lead to many age-related maladies like heart disease and cancer. Don't We live in exciting times?
Despite the potential ravages that can be caused by free radicals, nature provides a powerful solution, and that is antioxidants. While some antioxidants, in the form of enzymes and other compounds, are found naturally in our bodies, others come from the foods we eat, particularly from fresh fruit and vegetables.
While there are rarely any benefits of smoking, antioxidants are of particular importance to smokers. Your body pulls antioxidants out of the blood and into the lungs in a valiant attempt to neutralise free radical damage. The cells in the lungs of a smoker are laden with a lot more antioxidants than a non-smoker. And in this way, the antioxidants are trying to protect the airways from the onslaught of noxious cigarette chemicals.
Antioxidants associated with lower cancer rates include beta-carotene, vitamin C and E as well as the mineral selenium. So if you are a smoker, you need to stock up on as many antioxidant-rich foods as you possibly can.
Beta-carotene seems to protect against "smoker's cancers" - those of the colon, kidneys, skin and lungs. It's abundant in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as apricots, cantaloupes, carrots, pumpkin and squash. Study after study has shown that low levels of beta-carotene are associated with a higher risk of cancer, including the risk of lung cancer.
Vitamin C has shown to protect smokers against a variety of cancers as well as heart disease and stroke. You'll find vitamin C in citrus fruits, papaya, strawberries and many other plant-based foods.
Vitamin E helps keep cell walls intact, so it's much harder for marauding free radicals to force their way into your cellular structure. You'll find vitamin E concentrated in wheat germ and wheat germ oil.
Selenium works with vitamin E to neutralise free radicals. You'll find selenium in most fruits and vegetables, especially garlic, onions and other bulbous plant food.
There is strong evidence that people who eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of developing lung and other cancers than people who eat less plant-based produce. Studies in Japan showed that men who eat lots of raw vegetables every day slashed their lung cancer risk by 36 per cent. Those who ate fruit every day reduced the risk of lung cancer by 55 per cent. Japan has one of the highest concentration of cigarette smokers in the world, and yet they still outlast westerners where it comes to who lives the longest.
Even the men who were smokers benefited. Smokers who ate their fresh fruit and raw vegetables, including leafy green vegetables every day reduced their lung cancer risk by up to 59 per cent in some cases. The health benefits of fresh produce aren't only concerning lung cancer either. A high intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with just about every type of cancer.
It's not only smokers who need extra protection. Secondhand smoke can also be dangerous for those who live and work with those who light up. Thailand has just brought out a new law that makes smoking at home illegal, and you could face jail time if caught. It's only a matter of time when the rest of the world plays catch-up. Maybe you'll still be allowed to smoke in your backyard as my mother made my grandfather puff on his pipe whenever he came to visit.
While things are changing (good or bad) around the world no matter where you are, you'll still be able to smoke in the future. Thankfully, eating one or two servings of raw fresh fruit or vegetables a day for those who do not puff on the evil weed, may slash your risk of lung cancer from secondhand smoke by as much as 60 per cent.
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is associated with a remarkable decrease in risk regardless of the amount of passive smoke that non-smokers get from the exposure. Particularly good choices are cantaloupe, broccoli and carrots which are laden with beta-carotene. Here's to good health whether you're getting the benefits of smoking or not.
While I might recommend non-smokers to eat at least five small servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day because tobacco smoke depletes nutrients from the body, smokers should eat at least twice that amount. And while it's best to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, some plant-based foods are especially protective.
Citrus Fruit. They say that one cigarette destroys between 25 and 100 milligrams of vitamin C. Therefore, it would be a good idea to eat a fruit or vegetable that is rich in vitamin C for every cigarette you smoke.
Cruciferous Vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower and other members of this vegetable family contain compounds called indoles and isothiocyanates which in laboratory studies have shown to slow the growth of cancer.
Strawberries, grapes and cherries. These fruits are all rich in ellagic acid, a phytochemical that is known to destroy hydrocarbons, potentially cancer-causing chemicals in cigarette smoke.
Tomatoes. Inside tomatoes is a substance called lycopene, which has powerful antioxidant abilities. These juicy fruits appear to provide more cancer protection than other fruits or green vegetables.
Soya Foods. Miso, Tofu, tempeh and other soy food products contain several cancer-fighting substances including genistein and protease inhibitors. In Japan where people eat large amounts of soy, more than 60 per cent of men over the age of 20, smoke, yet the incidence of lung cancer is much lower than it is in the United States and other countries around the world. For extra smoking help, you can put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Please take note that the information on this site is designed for educational purposes and is intended solely for a general readership. The contents herein are not intended to offer any personal medical advice or to diagnose any health issues you may have. This information is also by no means a substitute for medical care by a licensed healthcare provider. For that, you'd need to consult your medical doctor or a health care practitioner for any advice should you require prescription medication.