By Nanci Katra
With summer over and autumn beginning, cold, flu, hayfever and allergy season is well and truly here. All of the issues that come with allergic reactions and sensitivities, as well as cold and flu, require vitamin C to help the body stay healthy. I’ve picked my top 5 fav facts about vitamin C, and explained why this vitamin is so essential, not only during the season changes, but all year around.
An antioxidant is something that scavenges free radicals (unstable, sometimes damaging substances created as a by-product of normal metabolic processes or from external sources, like pollution or chemicals) in our bodies. So it helps repair cells and tissues from damage, and assists in keeping us healthy. Vitamin C is an extremely potent antioxidant, and does so by protecting other substances from being oxidised, and becoming oxidised itself. In food, its naturally occurring form is ascorbic acid, or ascorbate.
Vitamin C is arguably best known for being immune supporting. It is essential for enhancing our cells that help fight off nasties (lymphocytes, phagocytes, natural killer cells). It also influences the way our cells respond to illness.
In times of stress, be it physical (intense training) or mental, we pull vitamin C from the main storage unit in our body, the adrenal glands (which sit just near the kidneys), and send it to our blood. This increases our body’s need for this vitamin, as it needs to be constantly replaced. The more stress we are under, the more our body needs vitamin C.
Histamine is a compound that has a role in immune, gut and neurotransmitter function. Specific to allergies and hayfever, histamine is released when a trigger is received (dust, pollen etc.) and works to release the allergen from your system. This response is great, but in some of us, it is exaggerated, and can cause more harm than good, as it causes inflammation and a build up can leave you with a bunch of awful symptoms. An anti-histamine reduces this response.
Some people also have a histamine intolerance, and as it is found naturally in some food (citrus, red wine, fermented food to name a few), the same symptoms may occur when high histamine substances are consumed.
Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine, and is much more beneficial to your body than an over the counter medication, as they cause your body to forget how to use histamine effectively.
Vitamin C plays a role in collagen synthesis. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, and is responsible for formation of gums integrity of teeth, cartilage strength and quality, plumpness and tightness of our skin (great for anti-ageing beauty routines) and healing of wounds. Without vitamin C, our bodies can’t make adequate collagen, and can lead to poor wound healing, gum/tooth issues, sagging skin, joint pain and loss of elasticity and firmness of skin.
Consume vitamin C rich foods, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, rosehip, kiwifruit, strawberries, blackcurrants, citrus, and red capsicum regularly, as the vitamin C in food is well absorbed by the body and contains natural bioflavonoids. If you’re someone who is highly active or stressed, consider supplements, but make sure to consult with a trusted nutritionist or naturopath first!
Enjoy the season change!
Why not try this beautiful broccoli recipe – Sesame Garlic Broccoli?
This makes a great side dish to accompany your protein of choice. It’s full of immune boosting ingredients, fibre, liver loving compounds, has circulatory boosting properties and packs a mouthful of great flavour!
- 1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets and steamed to desired texture
- 1tbs sesame oil
- 1tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1tbs salt reduced tamari sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1tbs fresh grated ginger
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
- sea salt, black pepper (to taste)
- 2tbs slivered almonds
- sesame seeds (to garnish)
- Mix all ingredients (except almonds and sesame seeds) together and coat broccoli evenly
- Garnish with sesame seeds and almonds to serve. Enjoy! 🙂
About the author: Nanci is a Naturopathic Nutritionist (Adv. Dip. Nut Med), Yoga Teacher, Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga Teacher and Singer who believes strongly in the power of food as medicine. She lives by the motto, ‘Food for the body, yoga for the soul’. When she’s not researching her favourite nutrition topics or saluting the sun on land and sea, you’ll find her exploring Sydney’s best hikes and trails, discovering health food hot spots, and hanging out with her dog!
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