Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home


Chapter 6: Common Hazards & Pitfalls

Topics:  Alcohol | Co-Dependency | Blood Sugar | Caffeine | Crutches | NRT | Placebo Fraud | Pharma Secrets | Chantix/Champix | E-cigs | Negative Support | Second-Hand Smoke | Bad Days & Disturbing Dreams | Weight Gain | Weight Control | Menstrual Concerns | Pregnancy

Avoiding Blood Sugar Swing Symptoms

Blood sugar meter indicating low blood sugar

Hypoglycemia is a big word for what occurs when our "blood sugar (or blood glucose) concentrations fall below a level necessary to properly support the body's need for energy and stability throughout its cells."[1]

Causes of low blood sugar in non-diabetics include skipping or delaying meals, eating too little, increased activity/exercise, and excessive alcohol.[2]

Warning signs include an inability to concentrate, anxiety, hunger, confusion, weakness, drowsiness, sweating, trembling, warmness, nausea, dizziness, difficulty speaking and blurred vision.[3]

Each hit of nicotine served as a spoon pumping stored glucose into our bloodstream via our body's fight or flight pathways. It allowed us to skip breakfast and possibly lunch without experiencing low blood sugar or hypoglycemic type symptoms.

One of recovery's greatest challenges is learning to again properly feed and fuel our body. It's not a matter of consuming more calories but learning to spread them out more evenly over our entire day, by eating smaller portions of healthy foods more frequently.

As an aid in blood sugar stabilization, unless diabetic or otherwise prohibited by your health or diet, we recommend devoting the money you would have spent in purchasing nicotine toward buying some form of natural fruit juice for the first few days.

Sipping juice will not only help stabilize blood sugar levels, it will aid in accelerating removal of nicotine from your blood. But don't over do it or go beyond three days as juice tends to be rather fattening. Make sure it's 100% natural juice, no sugar added and avoid fruit sodas and aides.

If tolerable, cranberry juice is excellent. A 2008 study examined the effects of drinking 480 milliliters or 16 ounces of unsweetened, normal-calorie cranberry juice (280 calories) upon blood sugar.

Analysis found that while low-calorie cranberry juice (38 calories) and water produced no significant changes in blood sugar levels, that normal-calorie cranberry juice resulted in significantly higher blood glucose concentrations within 30 minutes, which were no longer significant after 3 hours.[4]

As for fruit juices accelerating nicotine removal, the heart pumps about 20% of our blood through our kidneys. Our kidneys filter roughly 50 gallons or 189 liters of blood daily. This results in removal of about two quarts of waste products and extra water, which pass to the bladder as urine.[5]

The word "renal" means "of or relating to the kidneys." "Renal clearance" is defined as the volume of blood from which a chemical such as nicotine is completely removed by the kidney in a given amount of time (usually a minute).[6]

A controlling factor in determining renal clearance rate is the pH level of urine produced by our kidneys.[7] The more acidic our urine, the quicker nicotine is removed from the bloodstream.

A 2006 study found that drinking one liter of full-strength grapefruit juice (34 ounces or about 2 pints) will increase the rate by which the kidneys remove nicotine from blood plasma by 88%, as compared to when drinking 1 liter of water (231 milliliters of nicotine-free blood produced per minute using grapefruit juice vs. 123 milliliters of blood when drinking water).[8]

The study found that even if the grapefruit juice was half-strength that nicotine's renal clearance rate increased by 78% (219 milliliters per minute).

The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. The further below 7 a substance is, the greater its acidity. The higher a substance is above 7, the greater its alkalinity. According to the FDA,[9] the below fluids have the following pH ranges:

2.3 - 2.5   Cranberry juice
2.9 - 3.3   Grapefruit juice
3.3 - 3.6   Pineapple juice
3.3 - 4.2   Orange juice
3.4 - 4.0   Apple juice
3.9 - 4.0   Prune juice
3.9 - 4.3   Vegetable juice
4.1 - 4.6   Tomato juice
6.4 - 6.8   Milk
6.5 - 8.5   Water

Depending upon urinary flow rate, renal clearance of nicotine may be as high as 600 milliliters per minute in acidic urine having a pH of 4.4, to as low as just 17 milliliters per minute in alkaline urine having a pH of 7.0.[10]

Aside from juices, adding extra fruit and vegetables to your diet will aid in helping stabilize blood sugars, and may aid in helping diminish weight gain.

A 2012 study found that the odds of successful smoking cessation for 14 months among the one-quarter of study participants consuming the greatest amount of fruits and vegetables daily was three times greater than among the one-quarter consuming the least.[11]

What we don't know is if most within the greater fruit and vegetable group were simply more health conscious to begin with, and thus more motivated.

But don't overdo it. Remember, our primary objective is to stabilize blood sugar during the most challenging portion of recovery - the first 3 days - so as to avoid experiencing needless symptoms.

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1. hypoglycemia. (n.d.). Dorland's Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers. (2007). Retrieved August 22 2008 from
2. National Institutes of Health, Hypoglycemia, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH Publication No. 03-3926, March 2003.
3. Hepburn DA, et al, Symptoms of acute insulin-induced hypoglycemia in humans with and without IDDM. Factor-analysis approach, Diabetes Care, November 1991, Volume 14(11), Pages 949-957.
4. Wilson T, et al, Human glycemic response and phenolic content of unsweetened cranberry juice, Journal of Medicinal Food, March 2008, Volume 11(1), Pages 46-54.
5. Wilson T, et al, Human glycemic response and phenolic content of unsweetened cranberry juice, Journal of Medicinal Food, March 2008, Volume 11(1), Pages 46-54.
6. renal clearance. (n.d.). The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved August 20, 2008, from website.
7. Tucker GT, Measurement of the renal clearance of drugs, British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, December 1981, Volume 12(6), Pages 761-770.
8. Hukkanen J, et al, Effect of grapefruit juice on cytochrome P450 2A6 and nicotine renal clearance, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, November 2006 Nov, Volume 80(5), Pages 522-530.
9. U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Approximate pH of Foods and Food products, Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition, April 2007.
10. Benowitz NL, et al, Nicotine chemistry, metabolism, kinetics and biomarkers, Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology 2009; Volume 192), Pages 29-60.
11. Haibach JP, et al, A Longitudinal Evaluation of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Cigarette Smoking. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, May 21, 2012. [Epub ahead of print]

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Page created July 8, 2015 and last updated July 8, 2015 by John R. Polito