How do I Reverse Damage From Smoking?
If you're a new convert to the life-saving benefits of quitting smoking, you may not just want to stop future health problems, but also reverse some of the damage already done to you by smoking. Smoking takes its toll on your lungs, your heart and blood vessels, and even your skin. While some of this damage is permanent, there are things you can do to reverse some of the damage and improve your overall health, appearance and fitness at the same time.
Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes per day, three to five days per week. This is perhaps the single most important way to reverse smoking damage, aside from quitting, reports the American Cancer Society. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to areas previously restricted due to smoking's narrowing effect on blood vessels. It helps improve skin tone, lung function and heart health.
Pros & Cons About Smoking
Eat a well-balanced diet high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Consume meats and dairy in moderation, and consume fast food, saturated fats and trans fat rarely. A healthy diet floods your body with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals it needs to repair cellular damage caused by smoking. Antioxidants may be especially useful in fighting smoking damage, cites MedlinePlus, a website operated by the National Institutes of Health.
Drink around eight glasses of water per day, recommends MayoClinic.com. Water helps flush smoking-related toxins from your body and may even help cut through cravings. Hydration also improves your skin.
Ban smoking by your friends and family in your home or car. Secondhand smoke causes the same deadly damage to your body as first-hand smoke, according to the American Heart Association, and is responsible for between 22,700 to 69,600 deaths per year to those who regularly inhale it.
Create a strategy to help you refrain from relapsing back to smoking. Attend support groups, work with a counselor or lean on your family and friends to avoid the urge to smoke in the future. The act of simply not smoking alone helps your lungs and cardiovascular system heal tremendously. According to the American Cancer Society, after just one year of not smoking, your risk of heart disease reduces by half. After 10 years, your lung cancer risk also drops by half.
Pros & Cons About Smoking
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How to Repair Skin Damage From Smoking
Ways to Fix Your Lungs After Smoking
Importance of Heart Health
- American Cancer Society: Guide to Quitting Smoking
- American Heart Association: Cigarette Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease
- Mayo Clinic: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?
- MedlinePlus: Antioxidants
- Morrow JD, Make B, Regan E, et al. DNA methylation is predictive of mortality in current and former smokers. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2020; January 29.doi:10.1164/rccm.201902-0439OC
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and COPD. Updated April 1, 2019.
- American Lung Association. Health Effects of Smoking.
- Li Y, Qian H, Yu K, Huang Y. Nonadherence in Home-Based Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program for COPD Patients. Can Respir J. 2020;2020:5146765.doi:10.1155/2020/5146765
- Andreu CI, Cosmelli D, Slagter HA, Franken IHA. Effects of a brief mindfulness-meditation intervention on neural measures of response inhibition in cigarette smokers. PLoS ONE. 2018;13(1):e0191661.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0191661
- Bakhshaie J, Zvolensky MJ, Langdon KJ, Leventhal AM, Schmidt NB. Reduction of anxiety sensitivity in relation to nicotine withdrawal symptoms during smoking cessation: an examination among successful quitters. Cogn Behav Ther. 2018;47(4):301-314.doi:10.1080/16506073.2017.1395907
A Jill-of-all-trades, Lillian Downey is a certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, certified clinical phlebotomist and a certified non-profit administrator. She's also written extensively on gardening and cooking. She also authors blogs on nail art blog and women's self esteem.