Nicotine is a powerful stimulant that produces a euphoric feeling with early use, compelling many people to keep reaching for a smoke or two.
The main folly of nicotine is that it’s addictive. Over time, the euphoric feeling becomes a thing of the past and the body’s craving for the addictive chemical takes over.
It’s well-known that smoking makes you susceptible to countless health issues and quitting the habit is a very difficult challenge.
Nicotine is found in e-cigarettes as well as traditional cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco. Getting the substance out of your body is key to successfully breaking the addiction.
Nicotine & Health
Tobacco consumption accounts for about 6 million deaths per year, and current trends indicate that it may escalate to an annual death rate of 8 million by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.
Nicotine is linked to many life-threatening health issues, including various types of cancer.
The substance not only causes lung cancer but is also a leading cause of treatment failure and low survival rates in patients, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Carcinogenesis.
It increases the risk of gastrointestinal cancers in long-term smokers, according to a 2012 study published in Translational Gastrointestinal Cancers.
Nicotine also interacts with certain receptor proteins in the body to promote breast cancer cell-development in smokers, according to a 2011 study published in Breast Cancer Research.
Furthermore, nicotine reduces blood flow to the coronary vessels responsible for delivering oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This is a major cause of heart disease in smokers.
Nicotine abuse may also cause certain eye diseases, autoimmune diseases (like rheumatoid arthritis), tuberculosis and chronic kidney disease.
It can cause erectile dysfunction in men and irregular menstruation and infertility in women. In pregnant women, it can have adverse effects on the fetus.
Nicotine Retention in the Body
A saliva test is the most accurate test to determine how long nicotine stays in the body. On average, nicotine stays in the blood for at least 10 hours and up to 2 to 4 days.
The length of time varies depending on the amount of tobacco smoked, the number of years smoking tobacco, and the person’s age and overall health.
Nicotine Detoxification – The Natural Way
Detoxifying your body of nicotine will help you break your addiction and reduce your risk of contracting fatal diseases, improve your lung capacity and boost your overall respiratory health.
Here are some natural ways you can flush nicotine out of your body.
1. Ease Into Quitting
One of the biggest mistakes smokers make when trying to quit is going “cold turkey”.
Giving up a long-term addiction all at once might prove counterproductive, as it will induce cravings that only intensify with time. When this happens, you run a risk of reaching a breaking point and resuming your old habit.
Therefore, you are better advised to taper the quantity of cigarettes that you smoke. If you cut back by half every few hours, you should be on your way to finally eliminating nicotine from your system.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
The first step in any detoxification effort is getting your daily water fix.
Although the amount of water you must consume depends on your health, climatic conditions, and how active you are, most people should drink 8 glasses (64 ounces) of water daily.
One of the major ways your body flushes out nicotine is through urine, and what is a better diuretic than water itself? Drinking more water increases urination, thereby speeding up the elimination of nicotine.
Keep in mind, this only works when you resolve to actively limit, and ultimately quit, smoking.
3. Eat Full Meals
Nicotine is known to increase the body’s resting metabolism. This simply means that a smoker’s body expends more energy when resting than it normally would. This reduces your appetite.
A survey of 496 adolescent girls assessing smoking behavior and associated variables over a period of three years showed reduced weight and body mass index (BMI), according to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Eating less because you don’t have an appetite can deprive your body of important nutrients and cause your blood sugar to drop.
This drop in blood sugar leads to intense cravings. Many smokers will pick up a cigarette to satiate that craving instead of eating, putting more nicotine in the body.
Eating full meals and staying away from cigarettes is key to eliminating nicotine from your body within 2 or 3 days, as it will keep you satisfied and keep cravings at bay.
4. Consume Electrolytes
Electrolytes are essential minerals that transport water and nutrients throughout the body and maintain fluid-balance in the cells. They play a crucial role in eliminating all harmful toxins from the body, including nicotine.
Nicotine from cigarette smoke played an indirect role in decreasing the number of electrolytes in a group of male students, according to a 2012 study published in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmacology.
Eating electrolyte-rich fruits and vegetables like watermelon, celery, cucumbers, kale, tomatoes, collard greens, beets, apples, green beans, corn, sweet potatoes and chard will aid nicotine detoxification.
Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, peanuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and pistachios are also rich in electrolytes.
If you are trying to detoxify your body of nicotine but the cigarette cravings just won’t stop tormenting you, go out for a quick jog and sweat a little.
According to a 2007 article published in Addiction, 12 studies were compared to show the effect of exercise on nicotine cravings. All 12 studies showed a positive association between exercise and reduced cravings for nicotine.
Seven studies reported a significantly reduced desire to smoke after exercise, and four studies reported an increased time between the last cigarette and the next following exercise.
Furthermore, when you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals de-intensify the perception of pain and induce a happy feeling.
If you tend to reach for a cigarette when you are unhappy or stressed, exercising can help enhance your mood and aid your body’s nicotine detoxification.
6. Avoid Coffee, Sugar & Alcohol
Coffee, sugar and alcohol also have addictive properties. You must avoid them while your nicotine detoxification effort is in full swing, so you aren’t swapping one addiction for another.
Furthermore, these substances are often “triggers” for smokers to light up and can exacerbate nicotine cravings. This will perpetuate the cycle of addiction and hamper your progress.
If quitting multiple addictions at once has a deteriorating effect on your mood and routine activities, try practicing moderation and slowly cutting back.
7. Eat Cruciferous Vegetables
Smoking gradually and slowly destroys your digestive system.
When you cut back on smoking, your digestive system takes some time to adjust to the change. This may wreak temporary havoc on your digestive process and lead to constipation.
It is common knowledge that healthy bowel movements are essential to eliminating all kinds of toxins from the body. This includes nicotine as well.
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in fiber, promote digestion and relieve constipation. These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, garden cress, bok choy and other leafy greens.
The fiber attaches itself to stubborn toxins like nicotine and carries it along for elimination. Broccoli, for instance, contains a substance called sulforaphane that activates toxin-neutralizing enzymes during digestion.
8. Sleep Well
Getting good sleep aids the nicotine detoxification process.
According to a 2014 study published in Addiction Biology, a comparison of the sleep quality of 1,071 smokers to that of 1,243 non-smokers showed that smokers reported significantly more sleep disturbances than non-smokers.
Furthermore, shorter sleep durations were positively associated with increased dependency on nicotine, according to the same study.
Poor sleeping habits when trying to cut back and detoxify from nicotine has a negative effect on abstinence efforts, according to a 2009 study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews.
This indicates that improving sleep patterns will reduce nicotine dependency and cravings. This will aid the nicotine detoxification process, end the perpetuation of nicotine in your blood and flush your system of nicotine residue.