Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes (or what have you) is dangerous to your health, and for good reason has become a lot less popular over the years. However, it is still an issue for many people, and is especially dangerous for someone with diabetes. In fact, if you smoke you are more likely to have higher blood sugar levels, which makes managing your diabetes that much more difficult. And if you smoke you are more likely to develop diabetes - obviously one of the more serious risks of smoking. And because both diabetes and smoking can damage your blood vessels, by combining the two you run the risk of developing nerve damage, blindness, kidney failure, and heart disease.
If you are female and are a smoker, this carries potential risks for your endocrine system. For example, smoking can cause your estrogen levels to be depleted, which can have serious effects that include changes to your body fat distribution, reaching menopause earlier, and also the development breast cancer.
More and more smokers today want to quit, and if you are one of this growing number of people, then you should be aware of some of the better ways of quitting. Unfortunately, it is believed now that it is the nicotine in cigarettes that causes blood sugar levels to remain elevated. Thus, nicotine replacement products such as nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes, are not a viable method of quitting any longer. Also, smokeless tobacco products such as snuff and chewing tobacco will not only continue to predispose you to diabetes, but will also open the door for other types of cancers.
If you are looking for a healthy alternative, try some of the following methods, concurrently if possible:
Your doctor may also recommend a prescribed antidepressant to help reduce your urge to smoke. While there may be some side effects to this method of quitting, taking the drugs temporarily will limit the negative results.
The good news is that once you quit smoking, your lungs, heart and the rest of your body start to repair themselves immediately. After 10 years, the health of a former smoker closely resembles that of someone who has never smoked. But be patient while you quit, especially if you have diabetes. Your health will take years to improve, so be sure to continue monitoring your blood sugar levels, getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and proteins, and whole grains.
By Richard Lobbenberg, Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner
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