What to do after you quit smoking

Congratulations! You’ve Officially Quit Smoking

Did you know that within 20 minutes of smoking that last cigarette, your body began a series of positive changes that will continue for a decade or more? You have significantly reduced your risk of death from stroke, heart disease, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and several kinds of cancer­, not just lung cancer. Cigarette smoking is responsible every year for approximately 130,000 deaths from cancer, 170,000 deaths from heart disease, and 50,000 deaths from lung disease.

After you quit smoking, our goal is to support you nutritionally as your body begins to heal and to support your blood sugar to modify any food cravings you may develop. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, researchers are actually documenting neurochemical effects that support the concept that cigarettes may actually be a drug that smokers are using to treat their underlying chronic anxiety and depression. In conjunction with diet and exercise changes, he recommends a stress-relieving technique called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).

What Happens When You Quit Smoking

After you quit smoking, within 12 hours the potentially toxic carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to normal. Ten years after quitting smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer is half that of a smoker’s. Although quitting smoking definitely creates healthier lungs, there are several steps you can take to maximize your lungs’ health.

Talk with your doctor about your current lung and overall fitness levels and for any recommendations or restrictions that may be specific to your condition. Stock your refrigerator and cabinets with plenty of healthy foods, particularly those filled with antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables, and be sure to include carrots and other beta-carotene-rich foods.

Research published in 1991 in “Nutrition and Cancer” suggests that eating as little as one carrot per day could cut the rate of lung cancer in half. Plan an exercise program that includes endurance exercises such as walking and bicycling, which are some of the best things you can do to keep your lungs healthy. Take yoga or Pilates classes, especially those that concentrate on deep breathing techniques. Check out this article on the best exercises to do based on your genetics.

Remove as many indoor and outdoor pollutants in your home and work environment as possible, particularly those that give off fumes such as paint, gasoline, formaldehyde-containing particleboard furniture, aerosols, and other chemicals. Fill your house with plants that work as natural air filters. Switch to baking soda or vinegar and water as household cleaners.1

Below is a timeline that shows how your body is regenerating over time.

20 MINUTES AFTER YOU QUIT SMOKING (after your last cigarette)

  • Blood pressure drops to normal
  • Pulse rate drops to normal
  • Body temperature of hands and feet increases to normal


  • Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
  • Oxygen level in blood increases to normal


  • Chance of heart attack decreases


  • Nerve endings start regrowing
  • Ability to smell and taste is enhanced


  • Circulation improves
  • Walking becomes easier
  • Lung function increases up to 30%


  • Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease
  • Cilia regrow in lungs, increasing ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce infection
  • Body’s overall energy increases



  • Lung cancer death rate for average smoker (one pack a day) decreases by almost half
  • Stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5-15 years after quitting
  • Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus is half that of a smoker’s


  • Lung cancer death rate similar to that of nonsmokers
  • Precancerous cells are replaced
  • Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases


Lung Detox

Over time, the lungs of a regular smoker get coated with tar. This can lead to serious health problems like bronchitis, emphysema and, ultimately, lung failure. Lung detoxification is an essential part of your healing. It’s definitely worth the effort, and the effects just may help you extend your life! Now that you have a good idea as to why lung cleansing is important for your health, let us take a look at the detoxification process. A lung detox program has three important aspects: breathing exercises, diet, and cardiovascular activities.

Breathing Exercises

Taking deep breaths is the first step toward making your lungs healthy. Meditation, Pilates, and yoga can help you deepen your breathing and make your lungs stronger.

Avoid Mucus-Causing Foods

Regular intake of food items like cow dairy products, feedlot beef, margarine products and trans fats, white flour and refined sugar produces a lot of mucus in your body. This leads to a build-up over time, which significantly affects the capacity of your lungs.

Healing Foods

Smokers gain an average of 10 to 12 pounds after quitting smoking, partly due to cravings resulting from quitting, and partly due to their metabolism slowing down after they have dropped the habit. Depression is also a common side effect when quitting smoking, making it very difficult for a smoker to make any major changes to his/her diet. In fact, Dr. Mercola recommends you begin changing your diet before you quit smoking so that bad habits like sugar and carbohydrate cravings after quitting are lessened or eliminated.

Small frequent meals are advised to keep blood sugar steady. You may find yourself craving grains and sugars while coming off of nicotine, and you may find your metabolism is sluggish. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce cravings: pastured meats, bone broths, raw dairy, good fats in the form of ghee, coconut oil and coconut butter, wild-caught fish, avocado and flaxseed, and lots of organic vegetables and apples, pears, oranges, and berries.

Some studies indicate that a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables may make a person more vulnerable to the cancer-causing agents in tobacco smoke. Conversely, growing evidence is suggesting that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables lowers cancer risk. Daily juicing (example: five celery stalks, one carrot, ½ lemon, one piece of ginger, one bunch of parsley, one apple) is a quick and easy way to receive the healing, oxygen and antioxidant-rich benefits of organic vegetables and fruits- also provides a great energy boost. Regenerative, oxygen-rich foods will help rebuild cells and cilia damaged by tobacco smoke.

Repair skin elasticity with Vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, strawberries, papayas, sauerkraut, red and green hot chili peppers, and bell peppers. Lycopene is an antioxidant that some researchers believe helps prevent or slow the growth of lung, prostate and stomach cancers. A great source of lycopene is tomatoes (tomatoes that are cooked with a little olive oil, as in tomato sauce, are a better source than raw tomatoes or juice), pink grapefruit, guava, apricots, watermelon, and papaya. The lycopene may be working in consort with other antioxidants and compounds in these fruits, so you can’t take a shortcut with lycopene supplements. 3

Grapes, almonds, olives, water chestnuts, and apricots are all considered ‘lung friendly’ foods. Most importantly, drink at least six to eight glasses of water every day.

Increase your intake of chlorophyll-rich food substances like spinach, spirulina, and chlorella, which play an important role in cleansing your lungs.

Cardiovascular Health

If you want to strengthen your lungs, you should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Walking, running, cycling, and any other exercise that increases your heart rate to 120-130 beats per minute is good for your respiratory system.

Herbal Lung Cleanses

Herbs like rosemary, ginkgo biloba, honeysuckle, nettles, chrysanthemum and ginger root are known for their ability to increase oxygen flow, open capillaries, increase oxygen flow, inhibit bacteria growth and nourish lung tissues.*

*These herbs, however, should be used in a lung detox program only after consulting a qualified herbologist.

Recommended Supplementation

1. Prothrivers Wellness Multivitamin (No Beta Carotene)

One of the only multivitamin formulas that does not contain beta-carotene, 500mg vitamin C, K2 instead of just K1, methylated b-vitamins and bioavailable forms of the minerals.

As we know smoking increases the risk for heart disease. But why does it? Oxidative stress from toxicity. Exposure to toxins contain free radicals, which promotes the growth of atherosclerotic plaques. Smoking severely depletes vitamin E, a potent antioxidant, and studies have demonstrated that vitamin C works with vitamin E. When smokers are given vitamin C supplementation, their antioxidant levels of E become close to that of a non-smoker.

Smoking dramatically depletes folate and other b-vitamins, and smokers with plenty of b-vitamins in the blood cut their risk of lung cancer in half. B-vitamins will calm your nerves, reduce cravings and lower inflammation.

2. Cordyceps by Mushroom Science

Cordyceps have traditionally been used to strengthen the kidneys and the lungs, has anti-cancer compounds against lung and skin cancers, helps reduce inflammation in the airways, reduce phlegm, while also restoring their function. It may increase the production of adrenal cortex hormones and help expand bronchial smooth muscles, increasing oxygen in the body.

3. Calcium Magnesium Citramate

Calcium and magnesium play many important roles in the body. Magnesium, in particular, is a vasodilator, one of the most important nutrients for the heart and blood sugar, is calming and already deficient in up to 80% of the population due to depleted soils and other practices.


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