Archive for Health and Nutrition News

Awareness Wednesday: The Skinny on Saturated Fat

The media and doctors have hard-wired us to believe that saturated fat is terrible for your health and should be avoided at all costs, but is it even true? There is a lot of confusion and contradictory evidence when it comes to fats in general, but the plain truth is that our bodies need a moderate amount of good, healthy fats for proper function and optimal health. Fats are essential for every cell in the body. Saturated fats in particular make up part of every cell membrane in your body, are necessary for calcium and vitamin absorption in the body, and make up a significant part of your brain. There are countless benefits to eating a moderate amount of saturated fat from natural sources including:

  • Improved cardiovascular and liver health
  • Stronger bones
  • Healthy lungs, brain and skin
  • Proper nerve signaling
  • Strong immune system

A general guideline for saturated fat consumption is that it should make up approximately 7 percent but no more than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake. This means that somebody who eats 2000 calories per day should have between 140 and 200 calories from saturated fat or 15 to 22 grams of saturated fat.

Naturally occurring saturated fats such as those found in meat, avocados, raw nuts, coconut oil and olive oil are great sources of the saturated fat we need to survive. It’s the man-made, artificial saturated fats found in processed foods and oils that are giving all saturated fats a bad name. The problem comes from when unsaturated fats are artificially manipulated into saturated fats and they become something we’ve all heard a lot about over the past few years: trans fats. Trans fats have been scientifically proven to raise the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic health problems, but the same cannot be said for natural saturated fat sources. This interesting article from Men’s Health debunks study after study that tried (and failed) to prove that saturated fat clogs arteries and causes heart disease.

Weston A. Price, a prominent dentist and nutritionist, traveled around the world 100 years ago and recorded the eating habits of indigenous people. During his travels, he found that many indigenous people were much healthier than modern people due to their traditional diets that were often high in saturated fat from coconut oil or butter.

“In his studies, [Weston A. Price] found that plagues of modern civilization (headaches, general muscle fatigue, dental caries (cavities), impacted molars, tooth crowding, allergies, heart disease, asthma, and degenerative diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer) were not present in those cultures sustained by indigenous diets. However, within a single generation these same cultures experienced all the above listed ailments with the inclusion of Western foods in their diet such as: refined sugars, refined flours, canned goods, foods from depleted soil, processed vegetable oils, animals in confinement, dairy products, refined grains, extruded grains, soy, MSG, artificial flavorings, refined sweeteners, processed pickles, soft drinks, refined salt, synthetic vitamins, microwaving foods, irradiating foods, hybrid seeds, and GMO seeds.”

Now, that’s what you call food for thought.


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Awareness Wednesday: Prescription Drugs

At Solaris we talk a lot about the importance of paying attention to what we put into our bodies such as food, beverages, vitamins and supplements. What about prescription drugs? This week’s Awareness Wednesday is dedicated to a subject that a client recently brought to our attention: researching doctor-prescribed medications and their potential side effects before you start taking them. With permission, we are sharing the message we received last week that highlights the significance of being proactive about health matters and staying up-to-date about what is going into your body.

“As some of you may have heard, my mother recently fractured her femur (thighbone). She has osteoporosis so it shouldn’t come as a complete shock, except that the type of break she had is uncommon, usually caused by some sort of trauma like a car accident, but she was literally walking across the street. The chances of a spontaneous femur fracture are quite low but they do happen. However, she had an almost identical “spontaneous” femur fracture in her other leg just over two years ago. Fortunately, she recovered from the first fracture, and her current recovery is promising as well.

The reason I am bringing this to your attention is because her surgeon and doctors strongly believe that the medication that she takes for osteoporosis may have actually contributed to both bone fractures. There are past and ongoing studies that indicate that long-term use (5+ years) of Fosamax and other bone-strengthening drugs may have the opposite effect than intended by actually causing microfractures that ultimately lead to serious fractures in some people.

Businessweek Article
ABC News Article

If you have parents, relatives, or family friends that take bone-strengthening drugs please bring these studies to their attention. My mother had been taking them for over ten years and first heard about this last week. To be clear, I am not advising anybody to stop taking doctor-prescribed medications, but it can’t hurt for those taking these medications to do some research on their own and talk to their doctors about it.”

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. Solaris Whole Health is NOT recommending that people immediately stop taking medications. The above story merely serves as a strong example of the importance of being an educated consumer and weighing the costs and benefits of starting or continuing to take prescription drugs.

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Puberty at the Age of 7?

Recently, both the New York Times and posted articles about new research that has found young girls reaching puberty at a far earlier age than in the past – as young as age 7!  The cause may be related to diet and nutrition as well as environmental factors.  Read the articles and watch the video on to get the full story.

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Q&A w/Stephanie Solaris: Vitamin D

Q: How much Vitamin D do I need and how can I get the recommended amount?

A:  Vitamin D is essential to your health.  It helps the body absorb calcium so it can keep bones healthy and strong.  Young children need Vitamin D to prevent rickets, and older adults need it along with calcium to prevent osteoporosis.  As of recent, Vitamin D has also shown to prevent cancer, hypertension (high-blood pressure), and autoimmune diseases.

Recommended Amounts of Vitamin D.

Normal levels of Vitamin D range between 50 I.U.’s (International Units) and 100 I.U.’s per dL.  You can check your Vitamin D levels by getting blood work done.

Sources of Vitamin D.


Vitamin D. is difficult to come by in nature – very few foods contain the amount a healthy adult would need in a day.  However, small amounts of Vitamin D can be found in fish, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.  See chart below for sources and dosage.

Table 3: Selected Food Sources of Vitamin D [30]

Food IUs per serving* Percent DV**
Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon 1,360 340
Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces 794 199
Mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light to increase vitamin D, 3 ounces (not yet commonly available) 400 100
Mackerel, cooked, 3 ounces 388 97
Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces 154 39
Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup 115-124 29-31
Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup (check product labels, as amount of added vitamin D varies) 100 25
Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the DV for vitamin D, 6 ounces (more heavily fortified yogurts provide more of the DV) 80 20
Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon 60 15
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines 46 12
Liver, beef, cooked, 3.5 ounces 46 12
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup (more heavily fortified cereals might provide more of the DV) 40 10
Egg, 1 whole (vitamin D is found in yolk) 25 6
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce 6 2
*IUs = International Units.

**DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for vitamin D is 400 IU for adults and children age 4 and older. Food labels, however, are not required to list vitamin D content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Database Web site,, lists the nutrient content of many foods and provides a list of foods containing vitamin D: A growing number of foods are being analyzed for vitamin D content. Simpler and faster methods to measure vitamin D in foods are needed, as are food standard reference materials with certified values for vitamin D to ensure accurate measurements [31].

Sun Exposure

Another way to meet the required Vitamin D level is through sun exposure.

For light-skinned individuals – 10-15 minutes of sunlight exposure to the arms, legs, or face/day (without sunscreen)

For dark-skinned individuals – 30 minutes or more of sunlight exposure to the arms, legs, or face/day (without sunscreen)


The last source of Vitamin D is through dietary supplementation.   Ask your health care professional for recommended supplements and dosage.

SWH Recommendations

The best ways to obtain enough Vitamin D is through sun exposure and supplementation.  To get enough sun exposure, we recommend taking a walk during lunch time to get your levels in for the day.  As for supplementation, because everyone is different and we believe in individualized nutrition, we recommend that everyone check their Vitamin D levels before beginning a supplementation plan.


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Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead!

“Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” chronicles one man’s journey towards health and the people he helps along the way.  The documentary features prominent Australian businessman, Joe Cross, as he traverses the U.S. drinking nothing but the juices of raw vegetables and fruits for 60 days.  Why?

A few years ago, Joe was diagnosed with a “debilitating autoimmune disease called chronic urticaria”.  Overweight and relying heavily on medications like steroids to maintain his self-professed overworked, overindulgent lifestyle, Joe knew he needed to make some drastic nutritional and lifestyle changes. And change he did.

(from left) Stephanie, Joe, Angela

This past Monday, Stephanie and I had the pleasure of meeting Joe in person.  As luck would have it, our client, Angela (SWH April Success Story), knows Joe and invited us to a private screening of his film (to be released May 2010).  Joe’s commitment to good health and a balanced lifestyle mirrors our own philosophy.  We commend Joe and his mission to help others achieve an optimal level of health!

Stay tuned here for updates about the movie.  To find out more about “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, check out their website here.

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Q&A w/Stephanie Solaris: Get Lean In 8 Weeks!

Q: Is it possible to get a leaner body in 8 weeks?

A: YES with 7 simple steps AND without starving yourself!

I tell my clients staying on a nutrition plan has nothing to do with ‘will power’.  It has to do with biochemical, emotional and lifestyle imbalances.   Start by incorporating these 7 steps.  When you’re in balance at all levels, the weight will come off willingly!

1. Get Enough Sleep.
Make a conscious effort to go to bed and wake up at about the same time at least 5 out of 7 days a week.  Consistency is key.

2. Stay hydrated.
Good rule of thumb – drink half your weight in ounces of water each day.

3. EAT and EAT often.
Eat within the first hour of getting up in the morning.  Even better – eat dinner for breakfast.  Feed the fire of your metabolism every few hours with food!

4. Don’t exercise for the first 4 weeks.
Yes, you read that right.  Focus on your nutrition and eating right given your current lifestyle.  Remember, no excuses!  Give yourself 3 weeks to lock in your nutrition plan, then roll into cardiovascular exercise the next 5 weeks. For optimal fat burn, exercise first thing in the morning before having breakfast and eat within 30 minutes after your workout.

5. Log your food.
A study conducted from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that ‘those who kept a daily food journal lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records’.

6. Eat whole foods.
Don’t eat processed foods and don’t count calories.  Eat some kind of protein at every meal; this includes yogurt.  The only thing our bodies can’t store is water and protein.  We need to replenish these high burning protein stores often.

7. Have Fun!
The more you stress out about your weight, the more weight you will keep on!  When you’re stressed, the body excretes cortisol.   Too much cortisol activates fat storing enzymes.  So, no judgment!  If you make a mistake, just change your food choice next time and love yourself thin!

Give yourself 21 days to successfully change your habits.  If you have difficulty incorporating any of these tips consistently, seek out a professional.  You’ll be thankful you did and you’ll have fun too!

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Grocery Tip: Get the Greens Near the Most Light

FAST FACT: Pick the spinach at the top of the pile when grocery shopping – it has more nutrients!

According to an experiment done by Gene E. Lester, a plant physiologist with the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Weslaco, Texas, greens that receive more light on a shelf at the supermarket contain more nutrients than the ones that don’t.

Read why here.

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