Lifestyle Medicine – Does Nicotine Have Any Benefits? – South Coast Herald

In the early 1970s, when I was a young medical student, Groote Schuur Hospital still enjoyed the fame of being the site of the world’s first heart transplant.

Professor Christiaan Barnard became an instant celebrity.

I was shocked when a local newspaper reported that he advised his daughter to start smoking to control her weight gain.

But I guess that was typical of the tendency of clinicians at the time to decouple lifestyle behaviors from medical interventions.

However, one might have expected someone of Barnard’s stature to recognize the dangers of smoking, as he dealt with its consequences on a daily basis.

It is well known that nicotine has effects on weight control.

Many ex-smokers discovered, to their chagrin, the problem of weight gain after overcoming tobacco addiction. Why is it?

Dr. Michael Greger, in his masterpiece How Not To Diet, explains the science.

The source of energy for all living things is the conversion of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) into adenosine monophosphate (AMP).

This releases two phosphate molecules, which can then be reincorporated to “recharge the battery” by mitochondria in the cell when we eat more food (or when plants are exposed to sunlight).

ALSO READ: OPINION: Lifestyle medicine: A planetary diet for the health of people and the environment.

When we don’t eat, an enzyme called AMP kinase (AMPK) tells the body to burn fat, which is great news for people trying to lose weight.

The problem is that AMPK also stimulates the appetite to refill fat stores. This is where nicotine comes in. It blocks AMPK’s appetite stimulation.

How do you circumvent the negative effects of the main source of nicotine – smoking – while enjoying the benefits of blocking AMPK on the appetite center?

Botanists tell us that tobacco plants are part of the nightshade family – which includes tomatoes, potatoes and peppers.

All of these herbs happen to contain small amounts of nicotine.

So, apart from the fact that peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, they can also help control obesity.

Other foods with a similar effect on AMPK include pomegranate seeds, goji berries, and a food I don’t know about, but popular in the Middle East – barberry.

Obviously, they are available in South Africa.

Another readily available AMPK modulator is vinegar.

A Japanese study showed that taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily (or 2 teaspoons per meal) resulted in weight loss of 2.3 kg over three months, and 1 tablespoon resulted in 1.4 kg, compared to weight gain in placebo. band.

But when the study was stopped, the weight resumed. So, keep taking the vinegar.

Of course, there are loads of different flavors, even strawberry or chocolate vinegar – or, you can just feed your gut bacteria lots of plant fiber, and they’ll make the vinegar for you.

Does nicotine have any benefits? Yes, but certainly not while smoking.

Dr. Dave Glass
MBChB, FCOG(SA), DipIBLM.

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