Healthy Living

What's new in health, diet and nutrition.



Q. I want better muscle tone but am afraid that I’ll get big and bulky if I lift heavy weights. Is this true?

A. While many people think that lifting heavy weight bulks you up and that the best way to tone is with lighter weights and more repetitions, this is not supported by scientific evidence. Bulky muscles don’t come from weights alone but from extra calorie consumption as well.

As studies show, in order to lose weight and improve muscle tone, lifting heavier weights with fewer repetitions really helps to burn more energy, and it even provides a temporary metabolic boost after exercise. Always make sure that your doctor clears you for strength training, and seek out instruction and supervision from a certified trainer or exercise physiologist to avoid injury. Combine this with aerobic activity for optimal heart health.

While you might prefer one or the other type of exercise (most people do), it’s important to do both for health promotion. One is not “better” than the other, just different.


Summer Hydration
Enjoying the outdoor beauty of our summers in the Pittsburgh area is a major advantage of living in this region. But rising temperatures and humidity require extra fluid intake—more than many of us typically consume.

The recommendation is easy—when you’re thirsty, drink. While water is the go-to liquid, stick with low- and non-calorie beverages to avoid weight creep. And remember: “Clear” doesn’t mean low-calorie. Read the labels of your liquid-calorie choices!


Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth
Your oral health is a direct reflection of your general health, and foods can have both a positive and negative impact on your dental health.

The best foods stimulate saliva production, which washes away the debris sticking to your teeth that promotes decay. Choose raw vegetables and fruits—such as apples, carrots and celery—that act as mini-toothbrushes as you crunch away.

For strong tooth structure, keep up your calcium intake by consuming low- and nonfat dairy products.

The worst foods? Sticky, sugary foods including sucking candy, lollipops and dried fruit are particular culprits. Sugary drinks, from sodas to sweet teas, all contribute to bacterial plaque growth that promotes decay.

Some foods can stain your teeth—including red wine, coffee, tea and berries. Try using a straw to minimize contact.

A good remedy when you consume a sugary or high-stain food is to rinse well with water to clean your teeth. Sugarless gum also is a saliva-booster. Brush and floss twice a day, and follow up with your dentist at least once a year.


In the News

“Popchips” Come to Pittsburgh
Salt and crunch create an unbeatable edible combination for many people—often in the form of a chip. But it’s a real challenge to find a brand that keeps salt, fat and calories controlled as part of a healthy diet.

Enter the Popchip, which is a potato that is neither baked nor fried but popped, as in popcorn or rice cake.

The popchip comes closest in taste and texture to potato chips. With only 3 grams of fat and 240 milligrams of salt in a 100-calorie single-serve bag—that’s 17 chips—it’s a smart snack when you’re looking for a small indulgence. This snack is available in a variety of flavors— barbecue, salt and pepper, cheddar cheese and sour cream and onion.

Recently the chips have become available in the Pittsburgh area at local Target stores. Not near a Target? You can order the 100-calorie bags from Amazon.com.

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.


 Top Docs Q+A

We asked Dr. James Wilberger, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Allegheny General Hospital:

Q: I spend hours each day working at a desk. What can I do during and after the workday to relieve tension in my back, shoulders and neck?

A: Tension in the back, shoulders and neck may be caused by maintaining one body position for long periods of time. It is important to change positions at regular intervals by simply standing or sitting for one to two minutes or by taking a short walk around the office.

Make sure your computer monitor is at eye level and the keyboard is in a comfortable working position to avoid undue stress on the neck and shoulders. Sit in a chair with good back support to avoid excess stress on the lower back.

Some specific movements or postures, many of which are based on yoga principles, may help release tension. One is simply shrugging the shoulders 15 to 20 times in two or three intervals each day.

For the neck, alternate rotations from right to left and flex chin to chest for five seconds, 10 to 12 times several times a day.

For the lower back, similar side-to-side and forward bending motions reduce muscle tightness and tension.

It is important to maintain a reasonable level of physical activity for back and neck health. Aerobic activities—brisk walking, jogging, bicycling or exercising on a treadmill or an elliptical—are the best ways to maintain overall health and well-being. Specifically for the back, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and to pay attention to the mechanics of lifting.

Most tension-related spine problems are short-lasting and can be relieved using the techniques previously described or by taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. If significant discomfort persists or there are symptoms affecting an arm or leg, seek medical attention.

For more on Pittsburgh’s Top Doctors, visit pittsburghmagazine.com/Top Doctors.

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Hot Reads

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Two years after Chuck Noll’s death, University of Pittsburgh Press prepares to publish the first definitive biography of the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers coach. Pittsburgh Magazine is proud to share an interview with author Michael MacCambridge and an exclusive excerpt of “Chuck Noll: His Life’s Work,” scheduled for release in October.
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Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski bring top-notch vegan, eastern European cuisine to Bloomfield.
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The 412

Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

The Allegheny County Airport Authority has been lobbying for more direct service from Pittsburgh to the West Coast.
Zing Basket Promises Speedy Grocery Delivery to Your Door

Zing Basket Promises Speedy Grocery Delivery to Your Door

The online grocery delivery service opened this week, promising delivery in 45 minutes or less to selected neighborhoods.
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In its 225th year, the reference book on weather suggests we tune up our snow-removal equipment.
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The Ross native finished third on NBC's “The Voice” in December of 2014.

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Hot Reads

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Two years after Chuck Noll’s death, University of Pittsburgh Press prepares to publish the first definitive biography of the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers coach. Pittsburgh Magazine is proud to share an interview with author Michael MacCambridge and an exclusive excerpt of “Chuck Noll: His Life’s Work,” scheduled for release in October.
The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

Renovation is under way at nearly all of our area colleges and universities. For students heading back to school this fall — and their parents — we offer this crash course on the highlights of these projects and their projected benefits.
Fall Fashion: In the Black

Fall Fashion: In the Black

The little black dress, and shirt, and pants, never go out of style. Add mystery to your wardrobe with these easy-to-accent autumn staples.
Apteka: A Taste of Home

Apteka: A Taste of Home

Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski bring top-notch vegan, eastern European cuisine to Bloomfield.
Talk of The Tahn: City of Beer

Talk of The Tahn: City of Beer

There are plans afoot for a international museum of beer to be built and staffed right here in Pittsburgh.
Pitt vs Penn State: Resumption of Hostilities

Pitt vs Penn State: Resumption of Hostilities

After an extended hiatus, the storied rivalry between the Pitt Panthers and Penn State Nittany Lions returns in September to Heinz Field.
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On the Blogs


Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

The Allegheny County Airport Authority has been lobbying for more direct service from Pittsburgh to the West Coast.

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Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

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All the foodie news that's fit to blog
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New Industry Public House Location Up to Par

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Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Le'Veon Bell Talks The Talk But Can’t Walk The Walk

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The Steelers running back emphasized his latest suspension resulted from missed random drug tests, and not a relapse into the marijuana-induced haze that got him jammed up last season. But if you lack the maturity to grasp the consequences of your actions (or, in this case, inactions), does it really matter?

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Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Straight out of Canada, the custom menswear store opens its first U.S. location in Pittsburgh.

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Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
'Hands of Stone' Keeps the Boxing Movie Genre Strong

'Hands of Stone' Keeps the Boxing Movie Genre Strong

Reviews of "Hands of Stone" and "Don't Breathe," plus local movie news and notes.

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Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

Want even more Real Pittsburgh Weddings? We'll be bringing them to you throughout the fall, beginning with this lovely and lucky couple.

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The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Put a Lid On It! The Container Store Coming to Pittsburgh

Put a Lid On It! The Container Store Coming to Pittsburgh

The store famous for carrying storage and organizational products is set to open at the revamped Block Northway in Ross Township.

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The hottest topics in higher education
Two Events Planned for Prospective Waynesburg Students

Two Events Planned for Prospective Waynesburg Students

A fall visitation day and a Saturday information session aim to allow interested students a look into life at the university.

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