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10 Science Behind the Struggle to Quit Smoking

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Statistics show that 70% of male smokers in South Korea wish to quit smoking. The need to quit arises because smoking increases the risk of nearly all cancers and chronic diseases, including esophageal and laryngeal cancers. Globally, 16% of male deaths and 7% of female deaths are caused by smoking. However, it’s not easy to quit smoking through willpower alone, and feelings of depression, anxiety, and restlessness often arise after quitting. We looked into what methods are successful for quitting smoking and how to maintain a smoke-free life.

Why Is Quitting Smoking Difficult?

The difficulty of quitting smoking is due to nicotine addiction. Nicotine is rapidly absorbed through the lungs and reaches the brain in 7 seconds. When the concentration of nicotine in our body decreases, withdrawal symptoms occur. These symptoms, which include insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, and tension, vary from person to person. Typically, these symptoms peak during the first three days after quitting and gradually decrease after two weeks.

Does Quitting Smoking Lead to Weight Gain?

When our body lacks nicotine, it craves substitutes. This often leads to a preference for carbohydrates or high-fat foods. As a result, many people gain weight after quitting smoking due to compensatory behaviors. Smoking itself is a habit of keeping something in the mouth, which can automatically increase appetite.

Weight Gain-Free Quitting Is Possible

It’s somewhat true that quitting smoking can lead to weight gain. Those who constantly eat after quitting smoking are people with strong oral desires. It’s easy to determine what kind of smoker you are by recognizing when you crave a cigarette. Think about when you want to smoke and why. If it’s due to an oral craving, nicotine gum can help; if it’s due to nicotine addiction, nicotine patches might be the solution; and if it’s due to craving, smoking cessation medications can be used.

Preparation for Quitting Smoking Is Necessary

Most smokers have tried and failed to quit several times. To successfully quit smoking, you must go through a preparation process. First, set a quit date and identify your withdrawal symptoms. Learn how to cope with these symptoms and start exercising. Clean every corner of your house to create a smoke-free environment and let those around you know about your decision to quit, asking for their support.

Electronic Cigarettes Are Not Very Helpful

Electronic cigarettes do not significantly aid in quitting smoking. There are two types: heat-not-burn tobacco products and liquid-type e-cigarettes. Smokers using heat-not-burn products often use both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes, making them unsuitable for quitting purposes. Although some quitting effects have been observed with liquid-type e-cigarettes, users often fail to quit completely.

Water and Green Tea Can Help

Water and green tea are beneficial in quitting smoking. Water helps to expel nicotine and tar from our bodies, while the catechin in green tea binds with nicotine and helps it exit the body. Especially if you have a habit of smoking right after waking up or after meals, it’s a good idea to have a cup of water or green tea first thing in the morning.

Seek Medical Prescription

If you’re failing to quit smoking due to nicotine addiction and smoking habits, some degree of drug treatment can help. This could involve using antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. However, these quit-smoking drugs do have side effects as they also work psychologically. But, considering that smoking increases the risk of cancer, our health should use these drugs and quit smoking.

Plan a Diet for Quitting Smoking

After quitting smoking, try planning and adhering to a quit-smoking diet. Foods that help with quitting smoking include black beans, bluefish, and mackerel. Black beans are rich in vitamins and help expel toxins like nicotine from the body through diuretic action. Bluefish help relax blood vessels constricted by smoking. Conversely, foods that are not suitable for a quit-smoking diet include spicy, salty, and sweet foods.

Consume Low-Calorie Foods

Some people who hesitate to quit smoking cite potential weight gain as a reason. Even if you maintain the same eating and lifestyle habits after quitting, you may gradually gain weight. To prevent this, eat only necessary snacks, and if you crave sweet food, consider consuming sweet but low-calorie foods like pumpkin.

Use Smoking Cessation Aids Appropriately

Various smoking cessation clinics are set up in city and county health centers, offering personalized smoking cessation methods. Smoking cessation aids provided there can be a great help in quitting smoking. These aids include patches, gums, lozenges, and medications. However, if you have or suspect heart disease, using a nicotine patch is not recommended, as it can cause dizziness and headaches and potentially exacerbate heart issues due to the excessive intake of nicotine that constricts blood vessels.

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