We all know that smoking isn’t good for you. There is a constant barrage of information on how nicotine, tar, and smoke ravage your body. You may wonder if it is too late to reverse the effects smoking has had on your body. Here is a list of ways your body will recover when you stop smoking. Some effects take place within 20 minutes, while others can take longer. No matter what, the very best time to stop smoking and give your body a chance to heal is today.
17. Your Lungs
When you first stop smoking, you may notice you are coughing even more than usual. As your body clears out toxins, your lungs will work to clear the mucus and phlegm left by smoking. Your lungs will also begin to regrow cilia. These are the tiny hair-like projections that line the respiratory tract to aid in moving irritants out of the lungs. Within a few days, as your lungs begin to clear, breathing should become easier. Within two months, you should find yourself able to exercise without the huffing and puffing that may have accompanied attempts while smoking.
16. Your Heart
As little as 20 minutes without smoking will allow your blood pressure to drop to its normal rate. It only takes 24 hours without smoking to reduce your risk of heart attack greatly. Removing the toxins associated with smoking such as benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, and nicotine allows your body to recover. Your risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) decreases. Smoking cessation also lowers your risk of high blood pressure, chest pain, and congestive heart failure.
15. Your Breath
Don’t underestimate the pleasure of exchanging cigarettes for clean, fresh breath. Gum disease caused by smoking can contribute to foul-smelling breath. By kicking the smoking habit, you can banish halitosis. Also, you will also decrease your chances of contracting oral cancer.
14. Your Teeth
Stained, yellowing teeth are one result of exposure to cigarette smoke. When you give up smoking, you relieve your teeth from the ravaging effects of smoke and nicotine. In addition to yellowing your teeth, smoking also causes gingivitis, in which the gums surrounding your teeth become red and inflamed. Untreated gingivitis can develop into periodontitis. In these cases, gum tissue can separate from the teeth, leaving them open to infection and bone loss. When you stop smoking, you can recover from the effects of gingivitis on your gums and teeth.
13. Your Skin
The nicotine in cigarettes constricts your blood vessels. The constriction of blood vessels in your skin means that your skin isn’t getting the proper amounts of oxygen and nutrients it needs. This prevents your skin from staying firm and supple. Additionally, nicotine and other toxins present in cigarette smoke damage the collagen and elastin your skin needs. This results in skin that sags, wrinkles, and ages prematurely. When you quit smoking, you allow your skin to get the proper blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients it needs to stay firm and youthful.
12. Your Immune System
The barrage of toxins released into your body by smoking triggers your immune system to set off an inflammatory response. When your immune system is busy fighting off the effects of smoking, it becomes weakened. This makes it less effective in fighting off infections and other diseases you may come in contact with. Kick the habit and your immune system will be able to recover. You will notice an increased ability to fight off colds and other illnesses.
11. Your Brain
When smoking, the initial hit of nicotine that travels through your bloodstream causes dopamine to be released in your brain. Unfortunately, it only takes minutes for this quick burst of pleasure to wear off and jitteriness and agitation to replace it. While the addictive effects of nicotine on your brain are hard to overcome, when you stop smoking your brain is able to perform without the fluctuations of nicotine exposure and withdrawal. This can leave you calmer, clear-headed, and better able to focus.
10. Your Central Nervous System
Cigarettes have a profound effect on the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in your central nervous system. The stimulant effects of nicotine and other components of cigarette smoke can leave you feeling agitated, jittery, and anxious. Others find that smoking is linked to depression. Memory and comprehension are also linked to dopamine and serotonin, so giving up cigarettes may improve your mental abilities and understanding.Related: 7 Ways to Prevent the Mother of All Heart Attacks
9. Your Appetite
Nicotine is an appetite suppressant. When you stop smoking, you may notice that food smells and tastes good again. While some fear that this may cause weight gain, take advantage of your renewed ability to taste nutritious foods. Relish the sweetness of strawberries, the crunchy crispness of leafy greens, and the savory goodness of roast chicken. Fuel your body with nutrient-packed veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains to enjoy food while not packing on extra weight.
8. Your Hair
Toss the cigarettes, and you may notice your hair becoming thicker, shinier, and healthier. Smoking has been linked to premature hair loss and shedding. Constriction of blood vessels in the scalp prevents your hair follicles from receiving the nutrients they need. Kicking the habit gives your scalp and hair follicles a chance to recover. Dull, brittle, dry hair can regain its healthy shine. Your hair will smell fresher too!
7. Your Blood
The stress of smoking results in elevated numbers of white blood cells in your blood. Your body maintains these high levels as it tries to fight off the toxins in your body. Stop smoking and your white blood cell count will revert to normal levels. In addition, smoking increases the thickness of your blood, making you more susceptible to heart disease. When you stop smoking, your blood can return to normal, and your heart will thank you!Related: 11 Foods That Help Unclog Arteries and Prevent Heart Attack
6. Your DNA
While it is easy to understand that smoking can physically damage your body and lungs, it may be surprising to know that your very DNA is affected. Constant exposure to smoke causes your cells to mutate at the cellular level. These cellular mutations can develop into cancer. It can take years to undo the effects smoking has on your DNA. There’s no better time than the present to give up smoking and be on your way to healthier DNA.
5. Your Hormones
Give up smoking and your hormones will get back into balance. In women, smoking can cause infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, and early menopause. In both men and women, smoking affects the pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands. Stopping smoking allows your hormone levels to return to normal.
4. Your Stomach
Stop smoking and your stomach will thank you. Heartburn will decrease as the sphincter in your esophagus becomes strengthened and keeps stomach acids from backing up. Smoking may be linked to an increased risk of Helicobacter pylori infection, the bacteria that causes peptic ulcers. Smoking cessation decreases this risk and allows your gastrointestinal tract to return to normal.Related: 6 Warning Signs of Stomach Cancer
3. Your Muscles and Bones
Increased blood supply to your bones and muscles means they will be healthier and stronger. When you kick the habit, you will be less prone to broken bones, decrease your risk of osteoporosis, and heal more quickly from injury. Increased blood flow to your muscles means they will be able to function better with exertion, meaning you will suffer less muscle soreness and pain.
2. Your Libido
Break up with cigarettes and your sex life can improve. It is known that smoking can cause infertility. It may not be as well known that smoking can decrease sexual desire and performance; erectile dysfunction is another of the many hazards of smoking. Kick the habit and enjoy increased libido and a more fulfilling sex life.
1. Your Wallet
While your wallet may not be a part of your body, you are bound to notice that it is pleasantly fatter after you give up smoking. Smoking one pack a day adds up to several thousand dollars each year. Check out this calculator at Smokefree.gov to see how much money you can save by cutting out cigarettes.Related: 7 Ways to Prevent the Mother of All Heart Attacks