Nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive

Everyone knows that smoking is not good for us, but why would it be important to consider giving up?

Up to 90% of the nicotine in each cigarette is absorbed by the body, but this is quickly excreted so repeated doses are necessary to top up the nicotine reserves and prevent the uncomfortable effects of withdrawal.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms are the worst for at least three weeks, with the first week being the most difficult.

The physical and psychological effects of nicotine withdrawal include:

  • Heightened anxiety or stress
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Depression
  • Increased appetite

Once a person gives up smoking, it can take up to two weeks for the nicotine to leave the bloodstream and a few weeks more for it to be undetectable in the urine, but the associations and habits surrounding smoking can take a lot longer to break.

What can be done to support your body and why should you consider them?

Cigarettes block the absorption of many nutrients so by giving up, you allow for your body to repair itself and regain the ability to absorb and utilise nutrients that may have been deficient for some time.

Each cigarette depletes the body of about 25mg of Vitamin C so every smoker should ideally be supplementing with Vitamin C to maintain optimal levels. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants are needed to protect your cells against free radicals, which are produced when the body breaks down food and toxins. A build-up of free radicals increases the risk for heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

B vitamins are also very important. They are anti-stress vitamins and, along with magnesium, support the nervous system. Vitamin B 3 (niacin) can help to reduce cravings.

To support your body you can try the following:

  • Increase intake of fruits and vegetables 
  • Drink enough water to be able to flush the toxins from your body. Include herbal teas for added wellbeing
  • Shift your focus. Avoid replacing one bad habit with another. Find healthy ways to keep your hands and mouth busy – look for a hobby that gives you pleasure and distracts your attention.
  • Exercise to get your blood moving, to boost circulation and release waste products through sweat. Exercise also increases endorphins which are helpful for a positive mood.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 9 July 2020 to learn more.

Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am