There’s nothing like kicking back with a fine smoke. The ideal scenario for enjoying a good cigar is one of total relaxation, unwinding at the end of a long day, maybe with friends or an adult beverage by your side. But did you know that the habits you keep in between smoke sessions can make those magic moments even more enjoyable? It’s an embodiment of the ancient Chinese concept of yin and yang – your “down time” is intrinsically connected to your “go time,” and when managed properly, the two compliment and enhance each other beautifully. Maintaining your health through things like diet and regular exercise will help you reach your full human potential, which in turn can make your preferred leisure activities more rewarding. None of this is rocket science, and maybe you’re already consciously maintaining this balance, but a little reminder never hurts. Read on for a few key tips on how a healthy lifestyle can make your cigar time even better.
Dehydration sucks, literally. Water’s purpose is to flush out and detoxify your system, diluting and removing toxins that we absorb regularly from the things we eat, drink, and even the air we breathe. When you’re not drinking enough water, you’re not getting what the body needs to rid itself of pollutants and rejuvenate your organs – instead, what little fluids you have in you are sucked into diffusing toxins, and the other jobs that water needs to perform don’t get done. And they’re pretty important jobs. For instance, water is also needed to transport tryptophan, the amino acid that produces serotonin, the chemical messenger that regulates mood and promotes feelings of well-being, to the brain. When there’s not enough water present to carry this task out properly, serotonin levels will be out of wack, leading to depression and anxiety. Water helps to regulate body temperature and the digestive system, strengthen muscles and joints, and aids pretty much all other essential systems of the human body. When you’re dehydrated, none of your organs are getting the TLC that they need for proper functioning, and as a result, you’ll end up feeling tired and sluggish, as well as being vulnerable to countless other problems. Like oil is to your car engine, water is to your body, and without enough of it, that check engine light is surely coming on.
Those who imbibe in cigar smoke are particularly at risk of becoming hydrated as it contains numerous irritants that the body must deal with. So, unless you’re cool with being lethargic, irritable, and all dried out in general, make sure you’re drinking a good amount of water both between and during smoke sessions. About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) per day is recommended for men and around 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) per day for women, but if you’re not the measurin’ type, the old adage of 8 glasses a day should do you just fine. Keep in mind you’ll need to drink a bit more when performing strenuous exercise and on particularly hot days.
The number of ways in which simply taking a walk is beneficial to your health is wild. It’s a natural way to release mood-improving endorphins that relieve stress, it’s a great low-impact exercise for maintaining a healthy weight, it lowers blood pressure, and helps to optimize both energy in the waking hours and your quality of sleep. In addition to these physical benefits, some of the world’s most brilliant and gifted minds have cited walking as a crucial practice for contemplation, problem-solving, and creation. Everyone from Albert Einstein to Isaac Asimov to RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan has extolled the virtues of a good, long walk. Make it a point to take a little jaunt in the morning before work, after dinner, or whenever you have a good 30 minutes to spare, and you’ll be better off in body, mind, and spirit when it’s time to light up and let loose.
There are few maxims more true than “you are what you eat,” and unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans eat like absolute s#!+. Statistics show that 117 million adults have a preventable chronic illness that’s directly related to poor eating patterns, and it is projected that half of all US adults will be overweight by 2030. Going back to the automotive analogies, if water is the “oil” for your body, food is the “gas,” and when you’re not running on the proper fuel, you’re opening yourself up to a world of potential health issues.
While it’s important to follow recommended dietary guidelines that reflect a rounded diet of nutrient-dense foods, there are a couple of notes that are particularly of interest to cigar smokers.
Smoking causes an abundance of free radicals in the body that can lead to cell damage. The best combatants against free radicals are antioxidants, particularly Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Stogie lovers should make it a point to seek out foods that are rich in these two nutrients. Citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, and tomatoes are all excellent sources of Vitamin C, while nuts, seeds, and green, leafy vegetables provide good amounts of Vitamin E. Make sure to include these items in your regular eating schedule in order to offset potential negative effects.
The bottom line here is that when you eat better, you’ll feel better and be more inclined to get the most out of your favorite smokes.
While all of the other points in this article are conducive to managing stress levels in various ways, stress management itself should be on your to-do list of essential wellness practices. After all, mental health is health, and as relaxing as a good cigar can be, it is much more thoroughly enjoyed when you’re not bogged down with worries. Stress is a necessary part of life. It’s a vital warning system that triggers the fight-or-flight response and a tool through which we learn and grow, but if it goes unchecked, it can be detrimental to your overall health. Basic things like making sure to get a proper amount of sleep, taking the time to check in and conversate with family and friends, and maintaining regular physical activities like working out can have a huge impact on reducing stress levels, which in turn can lower blood pressure, alleviate headaches and body pains, and contribute to an overall greater level of well-being.
Again, the premise is simple – the healthier you are, the easier it is to relax, and the more poignant your premium cigar experiences will be. Keep these tips in mind, reevaluate any of them that you may be neglecting, and watch how it lights up your cigar routine – you might be amazed.