Healthy Living

Dr. Fernstrom takes a look at olive oil varieties, detox diets, the relationship between physical activity and body image, and more.



Olive oil is available in many varieties, from lighter to darker with bold flavor.

Q. I’ve seen bottles of “light” olive oil at my local supermarket. Is light olive oil lower in calories than regular olive oil?

A. Olive oil labeling can be misleading. In this case, “light” refers to color and flavor, compared with dark-green, flavorful olive oil. All olive oils have the same number of calories, about 120 calories per tablespoon.

The first press of the olives produces dark-green, strongly flavored oil and is the priciest. The second press of the same olives produces oil with a lighter color and flavor. While both are heart-healthy oils, they have different uses in cooking, depending upon whether more or less flavor is desired.


The Skinny on Detox and Cleansing Diets

Should you detoxify and cleanse your way to good health? Whatever your purpose—weight loss or increased energy—here are the pros and cons of these programs.

First, our bodies have a four-part, built-in detox system, comprised of our liver, kidneys, lungs and skin. There’s no medical reason for further detoxing to help out, especially when it involves digestive-tract modifiers, such as laxatives and colonics. We have a sensitive salt and water balance in our bodies, as well as millions of healthy bacteria. These can be altered in a bad way by digestive cleanses.

Stick with lean proteins and lots of fruits and vegetables, and cut out processed foods. Eliminating processed foods will automatically cut sugars, fats and calories from your diet. These are big pluses to cleaner, healthier eating. Getting enough sleep and daily physical activity rounds out the health-promotion plan.

Feeling unusually tired or having digestive problems? See your doctor for evaluation and treatment.


Physical Activity and Body Image

Have you ever looked in the mirror and wished you were slimmer, taller, more muscular or more petite? If so, you’re not alone. Nearly two-thirds of American adults are dissatisfied with their bodies.

New studies show that there’s a simple solution to at least feeling better about your body, even if you can’t change its shape: physical activity. Whether the health benefits of exercise were measurable or not, those studied felt better about their bodies just by being more physically active. Neither duration nor intensity of exercise appeared to matter.

Simply taking a walk and moving more is what a lot of people need to get a better self-image. That amounts to a small effort for a significant, positive health outcome—a real win-win!


in the news

Just a generation ago, the medical community believed that the brain didn’t change much after infancy, but recent research at Carnegie Mellon University shows that the brain can change its connections in elementary-school-age children.

The researchers studied children in third to fifth grades who were poor readers and provided them with intense remedial-reading support. What they found was astounding: Not only did the children improve their reading skills, but they also grew new brain connections. The changes were in white-matter pathways, the neural tissue that surrounds and supports nerve cells.

This is an important advancement in understanding how reading stimulates brain growth and improves cognitive function because literacy is important for many reasons.

Dr. Madelyn H. Fernstrom, Ph.D., C.N.S., is the founder and director of UPMC's Weight Management Center. She is the diet and nutrition editor for NBC's "Today Show" and is the author of The Runner's Diet. Also visit "Health Journal with Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom," a health and wellness blog at iVillage.com.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

The annual New Year’s Eve event features food, fireworks, music and more.
Antonio Brown Makes Catch on the Field but Loses the Pizza

Antonio Brown Makes Catch on the Field but Loses the Pizza

The Steelers wide receiver stars in a new commercial where he first loses out to a Patriots' cornerback, but gets his revenge when it counts the most.
Never Wait in a Long Line For a Drink in a Crowded Bar Again

Never Wait in a Long Line For a Drink in a Crowded Bar Again

A new app developed in Pittsburgh, is designed to get more customers served more quickly when the bartender is swamped.
Sweet Surprise: Kelly Frey Awarded for ‘Sharing Her Heart‘

Sweet Surprise: Kelly Frey Awarded for ‘Sharing Her Heart‘

The mother of a child with special needs, Frey tirelessly shares what she has learned with other families in similar situations.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Omar Abuhejleh taps deep into his roots at his vegan cafe that's focused on Levantine cuisine.
Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

I’ve traveled a lot of miles, and I still stare in bewilderment at people who tell me they’ve moved to a place because “You can’t beat the weather.”
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

The annual New Year’s Eve event features food, fireworks, music and more.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Miracle on Liberty Pops Up in Pittsburgh

Miracle on Liberty Pops Up in Pittsburgh

The holiday themed cocktail bar is one of around 20 international Miracle popups.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

We’ve compiled the best pumpkin patches for fall family fun.

Comments


Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

The park's winter celebration is great for families and a fine choice for anyone who loves Christmas (and/or funnel cake).

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pittsburgh The Heart of the NFL? Yinz Got that Right

Pittsburgh The Heart of the NFL? Yinz Got that Right

At the NFL Scouting Combine, at the NFL Draft and wherever NFL games are played, there’s often something of a Western Pennsylvania reunion taking place.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Locket Full of Joy

Locket Full of Joy

The handcrafted piece opens to hidden treasures.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

PM film critic Sean Collier picks ten forthcoming flicks likely to rake in nominations for the 89th Academy Awards.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Real-Pittsburgh Weddings: It was Not Love at First Sight

Real-Pittsburgh Weddings: It was Not Love at First Sight

These romances were years in the making.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

The Carnegie Museum of Art is full of Christmas cheer — and great deals. Plus, get the scoop on The Block Northway’s latest retail offering.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuba and Euphonium Players Invited to Join in Christmas Concert

Tuba and Euphonium Players Invited to Join in Christmas Concert

Waynesburg University will present a TUBACHRISTMAS concert on Dec. 9.

Comments