People who smoke cigarettes or any form of tobacco have increased need for nutrients due to their intake of carcinogens and other cancer-causing chemicals. Smokers have a significantly increased risk of ill-health, involving serious diseases like: lung cancer, hypertension, atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, deterioration of lung capacity (emphysema) and more. A healthy diet will not compensate for these health risks, but may delay their development.
Increased Need For Antioxidants in Daily Smokers Diet
Tobacco smoke leads to increased levels of free radicals - carcinogenic or cancer-causing agents - and a corresponding need for protective antioxidants that can neutralise them. The main antioxidant vitamins are vitamin C and vitamin E (works best with selenium). Phytochemicals such as bioflavonoids and carotenoids (eg. beta-carotene) are especially rich in antioxidants.
How To Increase Your Antioxidant Reserves using a Smokers Diet
If you are a cigarette smoker and wish to reduce your risk of lung cancer, you must eat plenty of antioxidant rich foods.
- Eat 3-5 daily servings of deep green, dark red, orange of yellow vegetables.
- Eat 3-5 daily servings of red, yellow, orange or green fruits
- Switch from coffee to tea, ideally green tea.
- Each day, take 1 gram of vitamin C supplement (with bioflavonoids).
- Each day, take 2 tsp of wheatgerm oil (rich in vitamin E) and 6 Brazil nuts (selenium).
[A serving is approx 1 medium fruit, or 1/2 cup chopped]
Best Diet Foods For Vitamin C
A smoker needs 400+ percent more vitamin C than a non-smoker. Here is a list of the best dietary sources of vitamin C.
- Fruits - Blackcurrants, papaya, guava, cantaloupe, elderberries, kiwi fruit, mango, oranges, strawberries.
- Vegetables - Red peppers, green peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, tomatoes.
- Fruit Juices - Cranberry, grapefruit, lemon, orange.
Note: bioflavonoids are found in most vitamin C rich foods.
Importance of Carotenoids in Daily Smokers Diet
Carotenoids are pigments found in all plants. All carotenoids are antioxidants, with beta-carotene being the most common example. It is found in all green plants (eg. spinach), and orange and yellow plants, such as carrots and melons. Clinical trials indicate that - when consumed in foods, not supplements - betacarotene reduces certain precancerous symptoms.
How To Eat Enough Carotenoids
- Eat 4 daily servings of deep green, yellow or red vegetables, including: carrots, sweetcorn, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato.
- Eat 4oz tomatoes daily, either in sauce or chopped.
- Eat 3 daily servings of colored fruit, including: melon, oranges, strawberries, mango, cherries.
Importance of Brassicas in Daily Smokers Diet
According to research evidence, cigarette smokers who eat more brassicas have less incidence of cancers, like breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, prostate and stomach. As all these cancers are initiated by free radicals, it follows that brassicas may help to prevent other problems initiated by free radical damage and accelerated by smoking, such as: cataracts, emphysema, asthma and age spots.
Brassicas include: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (all types), cauliflower, cress, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, swede, turnip, watercress.
Garlic and Onions - Garlic is a good source of unique antioxidants and contains anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Its anti-tumor properties are well documented. Onions, a member of the same vegetable family, have similar properties to garlic.
Other Diet Tips For a Smokers Diet
Reduce total fat in your diet.
Minimize intake of saturated fat and trans-fatty acids.
Eat regular servings of omega-3-rich oily fish (eg. salmon, mackerel, sardines)
Eat Healthy Carbohydrates
Avoid refined white flour carbs, choose whole grains only.
Avoid refined cereals, choose whole grains only.
Choose foods rich in soluble fiber (eg. apples, oat bran)
Eat Healthy Lower Fat Protein
Obtain most of your protein from fish, lean chicken/turkey, or egg-whites.
Eat small amounts of lean red meat.
Include regular servings of soy foods (eg. soybeans).
Include regular servings of non-meat or vegetable protein in your weekly diet.
Reduce Sodium (Salt) in Your Diet
Do not add salt when cooking.
Do not add salt to the food on your plate.
Check food labels; choose low-sodium or sodium-free options.
Best Dietary Supplements For Smokers
We strongly recommend slow-release vitamin C supplements containing bioflavonoids. However, we do not recommend any other supplements. We prefer to emphasise the importance of obtaining your nutrients from food.
Combine Your Smokers Diet With Regular Cardio-aerobic Exercise
No cigarette smokers diet-plan is complete without regular physical exercise. Work within your fitness capacity, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Aim to exercise for 30-45 minutes a day, on most days. For best effects on lung capacity and cardiovascular function, choose aerobic exercise such as: brisk walking, jogging, jumping rope, swimming and most sports.
The Best Advice is: Quit Smoking
You can try dozens of healthy diets, a smokers diet, eating lots of antioxidants or try eating plans, but no diet can compensate for the health damage done by cigarette or cigar smoking. Tobacco abuse remains the No 1 cause of death and ill-health in most developed countries.