Later today I am scheduled to give a talk to a class of 3rd graders about the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. Thankfully, to my knowledge, none of these kids smoke cigarettes (yet). However, if they did, I would further promote the virtues of eating fresh fruits and vegetables as, not just a way to remain healthy, but also as an aid to help those struggling to quit smoking.
I recently wrote about the research that indicated when children drink more water they naturally choose healthier snacks, like fruits and vegetables. Now comes news from researchers at the University of Buffalo that if you are trying to break the habit of smoking, consuming more fruits and vegetables may help you quit, and stay quit for longer. The University of Buffalo study found that smokers surveyed (1,000 participants ages 25 and older) who consumed the most fruit and vegetables were three times more likely to be tobacco-free for at least 30 days at follow-up 14 months later than those consuming the lowest amount of fruits and vegetables. These findings persisted even when adjustments were made to take into account age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, household income and health orientation. Interestingly enough, the research also indicated that the smokers with the greatest fruit and vegetable consumption smoked fewer cigarettes per day, waited longer to smoke their first cigarette of the day and generally scored lower on a common test of nicotine dependence. Why? Well that is up for debate. Some think that the more fiber in your diet lessens the urge for nicotine (the key addictive component in tobacco) and makes you feel more full and less in need of a cigarette. Others think that fruits and vegetables just make cigarettes taste less appealing, whereas things like beer and junk food make cigarettes actually taste kind of good, to some at least.
Whatever the reason, and whether or not the research holds up, there is little need to not heed this advice. If you are a smoker, wanting to quit, there are a lot of worse things you could do to yourself than eat a bunch of fruits and veggies.
What have you done to quit smoking? What has worked for you? Have you noticed that certain foods and/or drink make you more likely to crave a cigarette? Do you think fresh fruits and vegetables could actually sway someone away from smoking?