It is commonly accepted that between the months of September and January we enter into cold/flu season. But why does this time of year tend to come with an increase in illness? And why is vitamin C such a powerful remedy to consciously infuse into our diets? What is vitamin C really doing for us? And lastly, what are valid sources of vitamin C to incorporate during this time of year?
The days are getting shorter, the weather is becoming cooler, schedules are shifting and more likely than not, you’re beginning to think about and plan for the remainder of the year. Between October and December, things begin to pick up for many of us. Regardless of the fact that this year naturally calls for us to slow down.
In Ayurvedic Medicine, they would refer to this time of year as vata season (late fall/winter). Vata indicating cold, dry, light, clear and moving. As more vata energy accumulates within the body, symptoms that often come with this time of year can include insomnia, dry skin, arthritis, constipation, high blood pressure, stress/anxiety, depression and decreased immune function. Ayurveda is an entire science that can be applied to balance the body when energies, like vata, increase with the seasons.
THE SEASONAL SHIFT + STRESS
This season, in nature, is more taxing on the body. And it is the reason why all other mammals go into hibernation. As humans living in the west, during the 21st century, life doesn’t slow down unless we consciously choose to create that space. Our demands stay the same, if not increase, while all of this change and shift is occurring, and inherently, stress increases within the body. This is the real culprit behind illness. It is also the reason why death rates increase, specifically those associated with cardiac arrest, during this season.
Nature knows this and it is why she has made available foods like sweet potatoes, winter squashes, citrus fruits, etc. All high in stress busting vitamin C to support our more delicate systems. This is the reason holistic nutrition and ancient healing modalities, such as Ayurveda, encourage seasonal eating. Mother earth has us covered if we align ourselves to her.
VITAMIN C: THE ADRENAL NOURISHING NUTRIENT
Vitamin C and vitamin C rich foods work on the level of nourishing our adrenal glands, the two almond shaped glands that live right above the kidneys. Our adrenals are responsible or the output of cortisol, aka, our stress hormone. Cortisol is an essential hormone, when balanced. But the issue with our inundated society is that our cortisol levels tend to be incredibly high, or, in some cases, incredibly low, as an overcompensation for being to high for too long. When stress hormones are elevated, this takes precedence within the body, and therefore, all other key functions become weakened (immune, digestion, metabolism, etc.) We can correlate this with the weight gain that also has the potential to creep in during this season. We then add financial stress, family stress, busy schedules, less sleep and sugar + alcohol to the mix, and we have what we would call the perfect storm. We can’t pinpoint one thing, rather, it is the accumulation of all of the things that create havoc within the system.
If we want to balance the inevitable demands of this time of year, we have to look at the health of our adrenals. Vitamin C is the number one nutrient for nourishing these glands. In Chinese Medicine, the kidneys/adrenal glands are where your life force, also known as your Qi, resides. You can imagine that if this area is in anyway depleted, one will experience negative symptoms.
Vitamin C is a powerful, everyday nutrient to include. Whether you’re sick or not, up keeping your levels of vitamin C will reduce your likelihood of becoming ill, while simultaneously helping your body to process stress.
There are lots of ways to get your vitamin C, eating in season is one of the easiest and most basic ways to start. From there, including specific “booster foods” that exceed your typical levels of vitamin C, like camu camu, are beneficial to incorporate. You can also take a high quality vitamin C supplement, that said, many of the formulas on the market are synthetic. My favorite ways to get my daily dose of adrenal nourishing vitamin C are through rose petals, specifically my Lunar + Bliss elixir, and Maju Superfoods Organic Camu Camu.
Camu Camu has been found to have up to 60x the amount of vitamin C found in oranges. Its dense levels of vitamin C serve to support immune function, significantly improve liver health (important during this time when alcohol + sugar tend to be consumed more regularly) and even enhance + uplift mood. High doses of vitamin C actually trigger the brain to produce more serotonin, making camu camu a gentle, but effective, remedy for those who tend toward seasonal depression.
Vitamin C rich foods like rose + camu camu have been a huge part of my journey, along with adaptogenic herbs + meditation, in healing my adrenals from previous adrenal fatigue. I love making potent tonics with organic camu camu, like the one I have provided below. If you ever feel like you need a boost throughout the season, whip up this healing tonic to rejuvenate your adrenals, support detoxification + boost the immune system. It's the perfect morning tonic to enjoy upon waking.
STRESS BUSTING CAMU CAMU DETOX TONIC
10 oz. warm water
1 tsp. maju superfoods camu camu
Juice from 1/2 organic lemon
1 tbsp. cold pressed pomegranate juice
1 tbsp. cold pressed cranberry juice
1 dropper full of rhodiola tincture (optional)
3-5 drops pure liquid stevia (optional)
Heat water on the stove, without letting it reach boiling (if it does, simply allow it to cool prior to adding additional ingredients)
Once water is heated, add to a blender with all other remaining ingredients
Blend for 10 seconds and pour into a mug, enjoy first thing in the A.M. for a liver loving, immune boosting , stress busting tonic to encourage wellness all season long