Feed The Yogi
Nourish your body, mind, spirit, practice and friends
Summer Nutrition
Categories: Food, Nutrition

Dear Readers,

I’m so pleased to introduce Kathryn Bruni- Young, Toronto yoga teacher, nutritionist and new columnist for Feed The Yogi. Kathryn has a lovely understanding of yoga (she’s been practicing since age 16!), as well as nutrition. I hope you enjoy her column as much as I have, and Kathryn I hope you keep them coming!


Turn Your Nervous System on and Keep it Shining All Summer Long
by Kathryn Bruni-Young

Summer is an energetic time of the year for many reasons. Plants and parks come back to life, people come out of winter hibernation, and best of all, the sun shines strong. There are many things you can do to tune up your nervous system to get ready for this exciting and exhilarating season.

Step One: Ditch the coffee cup for a few weeks and adopt a new morning beverage.

Let’s begin with reviewing exactly what coffee does in the body by first looking at the general anatomy of a nerve. Nerves have different receptors for different chemicals in the body. Different chemicals bind to nerve receptors and deliver different messages to the nerve. Each nerve has an “on switch” and an “off switch”. These are two receptors that work at different times and by taking turns, they create balance in the nerve.

When caffeine is ingested it begins circulating and it heads straight for one key receptor in each nerve. This is the adenosine receptor, which could also be called the “off switch” receptor. Caffeine takes the place of adenosine and rather than telling the nerve to turn off because its time for a rest, it tells the nerve to keep on rockin’ because the party isn’t over! Basically, this whole process prevents the nerves from attaining balance or rest and like anything else that is overtired, eventually it falls apart. I’m not saying cut it out forever, but its nice to give the nervous system a bit of a break every now and again, even taking 3 weeks off caffeine at the beginning of the summer can be very beneficial to the system.

Taking a caffeine break in the summer might be easier to do than in the winter for a couple reasons. First of all, people tend to be naturally more motivated and more energetic in the summer. Everyone is excited to put their parkas back into the closet and take their flip flops out for a stroll. Also, many beautiful fruits and vegetables come into season, which means more raw, vibrant foods are being consumed. The more raw energy you absorb from your foods, the more raw energy you take with you throughout your day. For an outstanding spring/summer diet try to eat as many fruits, vegetables, whole grains and clean proteins as possible. Raw is great, but for the unseasoned body, it can mean potential temporary discomfort so break it in slowly, eating some raw food with each meal.

But what do I replace me delicious morning beverage with???
Try having a very large glass of water (a pint glass works well) of warm water with ½ a lemon squeezed in. Making sure the water is not freezing cold is important, either warm some up in the morning or leave your bottle out on the counter for the night. When warm water enters the body it spends very minimal time in the stomach and passes straight into the large intestine which can often stimulate a bowel movement (this is essential for proper detoxification). The lemon stimulates the liver and entire digestive system to start working because it is actually considered a “bitter” and it’s a great way to start out the day. Also, although lemon tastes sour and acidic, it actually has an alkalizing effect on the body because of its high mineral content (organic lemons tend to carry more minerals). If you hate really sour drinks, try adding a small amount of stevia or raw honey, making more of a lemonade cocktail.

Step Two: Add a couple healing herbs to the mix.

Herbs can be great for cleansing, stimulating, rebuilding and more. One specific class of herbs that are great for nervous system rebuilding are adaptogens. Adaptogenic herbs are substances that help the body deal with stress. They frequently contain steroidal saponins which mimic corticosteroids secreted by the adrenal glands. Basically, they can be used as a tonic for the adrenal glands and entire nervous system. Herbs can be taken in many different forms, some are foods and some are supplements, please consult your healthcare practitioner before commencing any herbal protocol, especially if you take prescription medications.

A few great adaptogenic herbs and/or foods are…
– Liquorice root (or) Eleutherococcus senticosus
– Borage (or) Borago officinalis
– Reishi mushroom (or) Ganoderma lucidum
– Maca (or) Lepidium meyenii

Step Three: Bring in some good fats for the duration.

Udo Eraumus once said, there are fats that heal and fats that kill!
One specific type of fat that is very important to not only the nervous system, but health in general is the omega 3 essential fatty acid. This fat is essential because the human body does not have the ability to produce it. Omega 3 fat is exceptionally important for proper brain development and function, especially important for pregnant mothers and children. A few foods that contain omega 3 in high doses are walnuts, chia seeds, flax seed and oil and cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel.

Aside from the fact that omega 3 fats are great brain food, they are also growth enhancing. When consumed in higher doses (approx. 15% of daily caloric intake) they can increase the rate of metabolic reactions in the body and increase the rate of oxidization. This means that more fat could be burned into carbon dioxide, water and heat, prompting the body to burn through excess fat stores. Omega 3 fat also has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and it is slightly alkaline which is important because most fats are acid forming in the body.

Another nervous system promoting fat is lecithin. Lecithin is a fat found mainly in eggs, but it can also be taken in supplement form, made from non-GMO soy. Lecithin supplies the body with choline, which is essential in the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a great nervous system supporter because it helps build up the brain and spinal cord.

Lecithin is an emulsifier and when ingested it begins to put built up cholesterol back into solution. The natural lecithin found in eggs allows the body to properly absorb the cholesterol, both of which are contained in the yolk; cholesterol eaten in moderation and as a whole food (like an egg) is essential for the nervous system and the brain, the strength of cell membranes, and the proper function of the endocrine system and adrenal glands. Lecithin also acts as a detergent in the body and can be supplemented in higher doses to help detoxify and cleanse the liver. Lecithin is somewhat of a miracle fat that should be part of a balanced and supportive diet.

Step Four: get some serious R&R time.

Getting enough rest and relaxation is essential for good health. Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises can be great ways to calm the nervous system and give the body a chance to rebuild. There are many different yoga classes out there and sometimes finding the right one for your own personal likes and dislikes can be challenging, but at the end of the day, there is always going to be something for everyone.

(Kathryn beautifully demonstrating how to best feed a yogini)

Kathryn Bruni-Young is a certified yoga instructor and a committed student to the field of holistic nutrition. At age 16, Kathryn began to explore her passion for yoga/movement and decided to attend an alternative high school so that she could complete the Downward Dog yoga teacher training program. Upon graduation she began teaching at Downward Dog Yoga Center in Toronto under the guidance of Diane Bruni and Ron Reid. She continues to instruct yoga classes at Downward Dog with great enthusiasm and a real love for the practice. Kathryn’s teaching is a reflection of her own personal yoga practice which is best described as challenging, flowing and fun. She is naturally drawn to handstands and arm balances as areas in her practice and teaching to constantly attempt, learn and evolve. Her main yogic influences come from teachers Diane Bruni (Toronto), Richard Freeman (Colorado) and Vinnie Marino (Los Angeles).
Kathryn also has an intense interest in the world of alternative medicine and healing. She will be graduating from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in January 2011, as a certified holistic nutritionist and hopes to pursue more learning and a career in the field of nutrition and holistic healthcare.
Kathryn can be contacted at kbyfoods@hotmail.com

Photo by Tim Bermingham

1 Comment to “Summer Nutrition”

  1. […] healthy omega fats, essential for good health, as Kathryn Bruni- Young explains in her article on Summer Nutrition . […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.