For about ten years I was a smoker, ranging from light to pretty heavy at certain times. I'm now 32 years old and have not smoked in about 2 years. I also do a lot of running and biking now, and have run three marathons. So the smoking didn't do enough damage to prevent me from being very active physically, but I'm sure it did some damage.
Anyway, I was reading about how apples and apple products are thought to be really good for the lungs. Eating a lot of them may prevent asthma from happening in children; it is thought to lower the risk of lung cancer significantly. So I started getting unfiltered apple juice, and bought some relatively inexpensive apple polyphenol supplements.
This is the weird part...I took the apple polyphenol capsule for the first time at night, before bed. When I woke up the next morning, I had a cigarette taste in my mouth, just like I had in the mornings as a smoker, and for several months after. I hadn't experienced this in probably 18 months, until taking the apple pill. It was like it stimulated my lungs to clear out some smoking gunk that was still lingering in them after all this time. That's how I always thought of the morning cigarette taste, anyway; that gunk had worked itself out of my lungs during the night. I now take the polyphenols daily and this has happened a couple times (waking up with the cigarette taste).
Maybe this is coincidence, but it has me wondering, how much can the lungs heal themselves after the abuse of smoking? I'd like to think that between the running and the nutritional help, they can one day be almost as good as new.