Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How To Prevent Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking

If you’ve just made the commitment to quit smoking, chances are you are feeling pretty good about the positive things that you’re doing for your health – and you should, quitting smoking is by far the healthiest thing you can do at this point if you are a smoker. 

This said however, one thing that does cross many ex-smoker’s mind is the potential weight gain that may come along with this decision. We’ve all heard about or seen those who have quit who then went forward and piled on the pounds, replacing their smoking habit with an eating habit instead. 

Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be like this. 

If you keep a few key tips in mind, you can successfully quit smoking and prevent weight gain that could come along with it. 

Let’s have a quick look at what you need to know so that you can implement some of these tips and strategies yourself. 

Snack On Raw Vegetables 

Now, as soon as you quit, there’s no denying the fact that you are going to want to start eating to have something in your mouth. This is perfectly normal and natural and what causes many to gain weight in the first place. 

To help overcome this, decide right now on a healthier choice to snack on when the urge to nibble arises. 

The best option? 

Raw vegetables. Carrot or celery sticks work perfectly because they are shaped most like cigarettes so it’ll mimic the action you would take if you were having a smoke. 

Plus, raw vegetables contain so few calories that you’d literally get too full before taking in any appreciable amount of them, so the chances you gain weight from eating them are practically slim to none. 

Sip Tea 

Another quick tip to help you avoid the weight gain that often comes along with quitting smoking is to sip some tea. Tea can help to fill you up and take your mind off eating and smoking, therefore allowing you to avoid calorie consumption. 

Bonus points if you choose to sip on Green tea because this variety will actually boost your metabolic rate as well. 

Chew Gum 

Chewing gum is another smart option for controlling your daily calorie intake and making sure that you fight the urge to nibble when you want a cigarette. 

Simply pop a piece of gum and since your mouth is busy, you’ll think less about putting food in.
Peppermint gum also works well to calm the appetite so for those who are worried about hunger causing them to eat, try using this particular variety for even better results. 

Take Numerous Brisk Walks 

The next quick tip to use is to take numerous brisk walks throughout the day. When you feel the craving for a cigarette and are tempted to go in for a few cookies instead, head out and take a very brisk walk. 

There’s nothing like getting the blood flowing throughout the body and heart rate up to calm your urge to eat and as an added benefit, you’ll burn off 60-80 calories if you walk for 10 minutes.
If you do this a few times throughout the day, you may actually start losing weight while quitting smoking rather than gaining. 

The physical activity can also help to reduce the urge to smoke itself as well, so this can assist with making quitting that much easier. 

Don’t Starve 

Make sure that whatever you do, you don’t starve yourself. Some ex-smokers are so worried about gaining weight that they put themselves on a starvation diet plan. 

Do this and you’re headed for trouble. It’s practically impossible to resist bad food when cravings strike and your stomach has been rumbling for hours, so eat in moderation. 

If you’re choosing healthy foods and tracking calories, there’s no reason you have to starve to prevent weight gain. 

Be Realistic 

Finally, make sure to stay realistic. Even if you do gain 5 pounds while you quit smoking, you can always lose this again down the road. 

Most people will hardly even notice five pounds of weight gain but they will notice you not smoking and your health will be a million times better. 

Keep things in perspective here. 

So there you have the top ways to prevent weight gain after quitting smoking. Make sure you put these to good use.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe For Your Baby

It’s common knowledge that smoking is lethal not only for the one puffing away on a cigarette, but also those who inhabit the smoker’s immediate surroundings. Second-hand smoke is dangerous, and especially so for children. Have a look at these statistics:

  • The WHO second-hand smoke Fact File suggests that as many as 40% children are exposed to second-hand smoke at home on a regular basis.

  • It is also stated that 31% of deaths because of second-hand smoke occur in children.

  • A 1997 study published in Thorax found that in households where both parents smoke, children have a 72% increased risk of respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis, pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

Here are some of the harmful effects of smoking around your babies:
·      Babies’ bodies are still under development – they have weaker organs and an even more delicate immune system. Their lungs are small and they breathe faster than adults - they take in more secondhand smoke within the same duration when compared with full grown adults. Breathing in cigarette smoke puts your baby at higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
·      Some studies have suggested that secondhand smoke also causes learning and behavioral challenges in children.
·      You also end up putting your baby at risk for respiratory disorders like asthma, bronchitis and even pneumonia.
·      Babies exposed to secondhand smoke are also more prone to developing infections in their middle ear as the smoke causes irritation and swelling in this part of the body.
·      Even if you don’t smoke in your baby’s presence, your baby still manages to ingest toxic chemicals that remain on your skin, clothes, or even what lingers on your furniture.

This just reiterates that smoking around infants and children is a complete no-no. If you’re an E-cigarette smoker aiming for smoking cessation, you’re now wondering if Electronic Cigarettes are safe for your baby.

Read on and find out. 

The Good

In terms of chemical composition, Electronic Cigarettes are entirely different from regular tobacco cigarettes. While regular cigarette smoke is known to contain over 4,800 chemicals of which at least 69 are cancer causing (American Lung Association statistics), E-cigarettes are significantly different.

Interestingly, E-cigarettes do not produce smoke at all. They emit a vapor that contains small amounts of flavoring, nicotine (in some varieties), propylene glycol and water. Thus, E-cigarette emissions are significantly less harmful for second-hand exposure as compared to conventional cigarette smoke.

In fact, a recent study by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute which examined the vapors from 12 brands of E-cigarettes found their vapors to have a level of toxicants 9-450 times lower than in cigarette smoke.

The Bad

The flipside to this argument is that all said and done, Electronic cigarettes do contain certain carcinogens and toxicants whose potential for harm is yet undetermined.

In fact, the 2009 FDA analysis of E-cigarettes only reinforces that there is variance in the product composition offered by various brands and how despite these differences, all types of E-cigarettes were found to carry some substances toxic to human beings.

Also, a recent study by the German Cancer Research Center confirmed that E-cigarettes contain ultra-fine chemical substances that can penetrate deep into the lungs. These substances, though produced in significantly lesser amounts as compared to tobacco cigarettes can settle in an indoor environment and be inhaled by non-users.

The question that then arises is, are Electric Cigarettes safe for you to smoke around your baby?

The Verdict

While there is no clarity over the health implications of E-cigarette usage and second-hand exposure to the vapors thus emitted. There are two primary reasons for the existence of such ambiguities:

  • E-cigarettes are a recent invention. Their composition and production is being studied, analyzed and improved, even as we speak. In these initial stages, it is understandable that they are not optimally conducive to perfect health or even smoking cessation.

  • E-cigarettes are ultimately substitutes for smoking and thus have addictive potential as well. No wonder people and health agencies are suspicious of such a substance.

What you then need to acknowledge is that E-cigarettes are not completely harmless, either to the smoker or those in his surroundings. However, exposure to tobacco cigarettes is worse than that to E-cigarettes.

A 2011 study by the Boston University School of Public Health, published in the Journal Of Public Health Policy, concluded that “electronic cigarettes are a much safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes” based on a review of 16 laboratory studies of the product.
At the end of the day, no matter how dependent you may be on your cigarettes, you know that it’s doing no good to anyone. Even if you feel fine today, you know you have a better chance to remain healthy if you get over this addiction of yours.

As a responsible parent, it’s better for you to quit smoking altogether than to compromise the health of your children. It’s better not just for their physical and mental development, but kicking the butt will also leave you feeling far more energized to spend more time with your kids.

Links to Studies Used:


Monday, May 5, 2014

Raising Suspicions: The Link Between Nicotine and Cholesterol

One of the health risks associated with smoking is that of increased cholesterol levels in the blood. Our body needs some cholesterol in order to function. However, our bodies also produce all the cholesterol needed for function and survival, so any cholesterol obtained from food or other products is merely added cholesterol, and will result in raised cholesterol levels. E-cigarettes have become a popular alternative to regular cigarettes for those who are trying to quit smoking. However, since nicotine is the main ingredient in e-cigarettes, some are wondering if that ingredient causes higher cholesterol levels. Here is some information that should help you understand the link between nicotine and cholesterol. 

Nicotine and its Effects

Among the effects of nicotine is increased cholesterol. Why this occurs is not completely understood, but it has been known since the 1960s when a test was conducted, injecting dogs with nicotine on a regular basis over a period of time. The more nicotine the dogs received, the higher their cholesterol levels. When nicotine injections ceased, their cholesterol levels dramatically reduced. This kind of
effect was confirmed again in the 1990s when the link was again confirmed in laboratory tests. 

What About E-Cigarettes?

Some people are concerned about using e-cigarettes because their main ingredient is nicotine. Since nicotine raises cholesterol, it is thought that using e-cigarettes will also raise cholesterol. This is likely true. However, consider that when people using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as a patch, began to decrease the amount of nicotine in their bodies, their cholesterol levels often returned to normal once no nicotine was present. 

How Can E-Cigarettes Be Helpful?

E-cigarettes have cartridges that are filled with nicotine. Different levels of nicotine cartridges exist, so you could essentially use e-cigarettes as a form of NRT by steadily decreasing the amount of nicotine consumed, which will lower your cholesterol accordingly. Also, there are e-cigarettes with nicotine-free cartridges. Some people may wonder why anyone would choose to use e-cigarettes at all if they no longer have the need for nicotine. However, part of the addiction to smoking comes from the physical action of smoking, not just the ingredients alone. Considering this, then, it is easy to see how nicotine-free e-cigarettes would be helpful. They allow the smoker to continue the action of smoking, without inhaling any of the harmful chemicals. This is one of the main reasons that e-cigarettes have become so popular. 

Lowering the Bar

So how can you benefit from e-cigarettes if the nicotine that causes high cholesterol is present? For one thing, when you choose e-cigarettes, you are lowering the level of toxic chemicals in your body dramatically. Many of the over 5,000 known chemicals, and countless unknown chemicals, in cigarettes cause decreased blood flow, constricted vessels, and decreased cardiovascular functioning, which can also have detrimental effects on the heart and body in addition to the higher cholesterol. Just by getting rid of those chemicals alone, you are going a long way to improving your overall health. In order to continue that health improvement, just begin to slowly decrease the level of nicotine in your e-cigarette by choosing a cartridge with less nicotine. Bit by bit, you will be stepping down from nicotine addiction, and the less nicotine you use, the lower your cholesterol levels will be.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Scotland Takes Steps Towards a Tobacco Free Society

The use of tobacco products continues to be a worldwide issue. In the U.K. the phase shift has begun with Scotland. Major steps have been taken here to limit the use, and dampen any future use of tobacco products.

The Steps Taken Thus Far

Scotland is blazing the trail towards a tobacco free society. In fact Scotland was the first member of the U.K. to implement a public smoking ban in 2006. Since that time the country has further restricted the tobacco industry and the way tobacco is marketed to the public.
A recent restriction that has been seen is the standardization of cigarette packaging. As explained by Dr. Harpal Kumar, the U.K.’s Cancer Research chief executive, Scotland would replace, “…glitzy, brightly colored packs that appeal to children with standard packs displaying prominent health warnings…” These health warnings and simple packages discourage the purchase of cigarettes, however, it is unclear whether these rules will also apply to related products such as chewing tobacco and the electronic cigarette.

In addition to standardized packaging, more legislation has been passed to further inhibit tobacco distribution. The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Act of 2010 banned the sale of cigarettes in vending machines throughout Scotland. This act however, received much resistance from the Imperial Tobacco manufacturer, which caused its implementation to be delayed. Never the less the act was passed and made effective immediately for large retailers, yet allowing smaller retailers to comply by 2015 without penalty.

Although these past action have proven effective in reducing smoking, Scotland has taken this battle a step further. This year the country has put into effect a ban on any display of cigarettes in public retailing stores in hopes of further reducing the country’s smoking rate. The goal: a smoke free Scotland by 2034. Many retailers are up in arms stating that the display of cigarettes does not influence the purchasing decisions of individuals. Regardless of the outcries the Scottish government is determined to enact every policy possible to realize a smoke free society. In fact, the Scottish government has announced plans to ban smoking on hospital grounds by 2015.

The Reasoning Behind the Ban

In Scotland, over 13,000 deaths and 56,000 hospital admissions are seen each year due to smoking. Smoking is the most prevalent cause of preventable death in this country and in many other countries as well. These numbers have caught the eye of the Scottish government and have spurred them to action.

The governments main reasoning behind these bans is the hope of reducing the amount of youths that smoke. National educational marketing programs are being financed to enable youths to see the dangers of smoking.  By influencing the younger generations, the Scottish government hopes to see an increase in the health of the overall population in the coming years.

Scotland, however, is not the only country to set their sights on these proactive goals. New Zealand hopes to be tobacco free by 2025 and Finland plans to follow suit by 2040.

These are progressive times, and all across the world actions are being taken to decrease smoking rates in hopes of creating better habits and healthier populations. Scotland is on track to meet their lofty goal, however, we will have to wait and see if they can accomplish what they have set out to do.