Health Bites

Bringing Up Baby
Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers have special nutritional needs, and the United States Department of Agriculture wants to help. The USDA has a new section on its Web site,, that provides information about myriad topics for these two groups, from dietary supplements to weight gain. In addition, the MyPyramid Plan for Moms offers recommendations for what women should be eating while nursing or during each trimester of their pregnancy — including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat and beans — as well as how much physical activity they should be getting.
The Whole Story
Believe it or not, fruits, vegetables and other natural foods are anatomically correct, so to speak. Consider that a walnut looks like a brain, and a tomato is red and has four chambers, just like a heart.
According to the “Farmacist Desk Reference: Encyclopedia of Whole Food Medicine,” a new book by author Don Tolman, “Our bodies are designed upon the same mathematical geometries of plant whole foods. There is not a single organ, anatomical structure or physiological function that doesn’t have its color, texture, form and function replicated in a plant whole food.”
Tolman’s two-volume set of hardbound books is a compendium of how to use plant whole foods as preventative and remissive medicine. It features 1,600 illustrated pages of information about getting and staying healthy, eating right, and understanding food and its effects on the body.
The book also contains whole food wisdom from the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, Chinese, Native Americans and Incas, who typically were free from degenerative disorders, largely due to the organic, whole, fresh and completely natural foods they consumed.
“With the eventual introduction, centuries later, of highly processed foods, the incidence of disease rose,” Tolman says. “The health care system came to accept degenerative disease as inevitable and the medical treatment of symptoms as the normal response to this grim reality.” With his book, Tolman hopes to educate consumers about the benefits of eating whole foods. For more information, visit .
Pill Talk
Are sleeping pills safe? The recent death of actor and one-time Oscar nominee Heath Ledger has put a spotlight on prescription drugs such as Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta, which have become common antidotes to insomnia. All too often, Americans rely on sleep aids when the usual tricks — sticking to a regular sleep schedule, exercising regularly, avoiding caffeine and naps, keeping stress under control, relaxing before bedtime — don’t work.
According to the Mayo Clinic, today’s prescription sleeping pills don’t carry the same dependency and overdose risks that they did in the past. However, “risks remain — especially for people who have certain medical conditions, including liver and kidney disease.”
It’s recommended that consumers take pills such as these for no more than two weeks at a time, but studies show that this guidance many times is ignored or flat-out abused. And as the Mayo Clinic points out, sleeping pills may not be safe if the user has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, depression or even lung disease. Serious side effects or even death can result.
For more detailed information, visit .