You probably already know most of the effects smoking has on your health. It can damage your lungs, increase your risk of developing chronic conditions like heart disease, and negatively impact your oral health. However, you may not know that it can also weaken your immune system. Its impact on the lungs can decrease immune function, making you more susceptible to diseases like pneumonia and the flu. For this reason, dietitians advise smokers to increase their Vitamin C intake to acquire additional antioxidants that can combat smoking’s effects.
Despite this, quitting smoking is still the best way to boost your immunity. To find out how you can get started, keep reading below.
Avoid smoking zones
One thing that may encourage you to smoke is seeing other people lighting a cigarette. If so, it’s best to avoid smoking zones or events that involve smoking when starting your quitting journey. It also helps to inform friends or family who are smokers that you’re quitting. Doing so will help them remember to not invite you for a cigarette break—and to not smoke near you. Taking these steps can do more than reduce your temptation to smoke. It can also prevent exposure to secondhand smoke, which also damages your immunity.
Subscribe to an SMS-based cessation program
Text messaging programs are convenient for quitters, as they regularly send encouraging messages about quitting and provide tailored advice to curb smoking tendencies. The Surgeon General’s 2020 Smoking Cessation report reveals that short text message services that target smoking cessation effectively encourage people to quit the habit. This is especially true if the texts are interactive or have tailored responses. Smokefree.gov’s text programs target many audiences, including pregnant women, veterans, and young adults. They also run 24/7 for your convenience, so you should definitely consider joining one for the sake of your immunity and overall health.
Try nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) involves using smokeless nicotine alternatives in gradually decreasing doses. Over a few weeks, this can help you combat cravings and lower your dependence on cigarettes—making NRT a sustainable and effective way to preserve your immune system in the long term.
Nicotine pouches and patches are two common NRT products. Nicotine pouches are tobacco-free oral products that only contain nicotine, flavorings, and food-grade fillers. They can be used anywhere due to their small size, making them convenient and discreet. Popular pouch brands like ZYN offer various flavors like cinnamon and peppermint to suit your preferences. Meanwhile, nicotine patches are stickers placed on the skin. They usually come in three strengths—7, 14, and 21mg—so you can gradually lower your nicotine consumption over time. Patches can be hidden under clothing and used for up to 24 hours. Nicoderm CQ’s patches are transparent, making them even more discreet.
Practice deep breathing
If you want to completely avoid nicotine, you can practice breathing techniques. Deep breathing isn’t just for meditating. The study “The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Yogic Breathing on Craving, Affect, and Smoking Behavior” focused on the benefits of Ujjayi breathing, a technique that involves gently contracting your throat muscles to create resistance and reduce stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions. Study participants who practiced ujjayi breathing smoked fewer cigarettes than those who didn’t, resulting in the conclusion that deep breathing techniques can decrease cigarette cravings.
You can try reducing your own cigarette cravings by practicing 20 minutes of ujjayi breathing daily. Start by closing your mouth and controlling your breath using your diaphragm. From here, constrict your throat until your breathing makes a “rushing” or “snoring” sound. Finally, start inhaling and exhaling in equal durations.
Quitting smoking protects your immune system. Try these tips to kickstart your cessation journey and boost your immunity.