Healthy Living



Question of the Month

Q. How can I cut down on my salt intake?
A. New guidelines for salt (sodium) intake recommend less than 2,400 mg daily - about a teaspoonful. Is that a lot? Not really. Most of us easily consume three to four times that amount. And low salt doesn't mean low flavor. Lose the salt shaker and season food with fresh or dried herbs or with salt-free seasoning mixes. Limit your intake of processed foods in cans or boxes; a single serving of canned soup can contain up to half your sodium need for an entire day. Limit your use of condiments, and look for low- and reduced-sodium products. Monitoring your salt intake is a definite health plus.

The Pros of Probiotics

Our digestive tracts normally contain trillions of healthy bacteria contributing to digestive health. The term probiotics refers to foods and supplements containing "good" bacteria, which support healthy digestion. Claims abound about their positive health effects, but the most well-studied claim is their use to help treat diarrhea during treatment with some antibiotics, which kill off both good and bad bacteria. Adding probiotics during antibiotic treatment contributes a steady source of healthy bacteria to improve digestive health.

Probiotics also have been shown to help people with constipation, irritable bowel and other causes of diarrhea. You'll find them naturally in yogurt and fermented foods such as sauerkraut and miso. In addition, probiotics are sometimes added to yogurt and cereals, and are found in bars like Attune or in supplement form - all available at area supermarkets. While not a must-have, probiotics can often help support digestive health. Check with your doctor before boosting your intake with sources other than foods.

Fitness Plan for Your Brain

Even your brain needs a workout to stay healthy, and here are four easy steps to follow.

    * Be physically active. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and body, and appears to support brain health just as it does for our hearts - by improving blood flow, lowering blood pressure and controlling weight.
    * Eat a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, omega-3-fats and whole grains. This combo is a brain-health plus.
    * Keep up novel mental activities and new learning. It's really a "use it or lose it" mentality. Try a crossword or Sudoku puzzle or a computer game, or shop without a list; the important concept is "new."
    * Manage your stress. Moderating your response to stress helps by reducing the level of circulating stress hormones, which can negatively affect the brain, including your memory. Take a 30-minute "personal time" break, and make time for daily exercise. These provide a double-duty brain boost - to relieve stress and to increase circulation.

In the News: Marriage, Divorce and Your Health

Many studies show that married people tend to be healthier than single people for reasons ranging from emotional support to greater financial resources and better health care.

A recent study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior took a look at personal health when a marriage ends. Men and women now single (either from divorce or from the death of a spouse) were 20 percent more likely to report chronic health problems including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. While this study does not prove that marriage loss causes health problems, it shows a strong and lasting association. Even for those who remarried, health problems were still greater when compared with those who were married to their first spouse.

The mechanism(s) for this are still under study, but a likely theory is related to the effects of long-term stress on both the body and mind. If you're a singleton, make your physical health a priority.


If you have a health question for Dr. Fernstrom, e-mail her at fernstrom@wqed.org.

 
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

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

When viewed from the foot of the South Side Slopes of Pittsburgh, the stairs ascending Josephine Street form a massive image that consists of more than 7,500 individual mosaic tiles.
Joe Manganiello Plays the Good Guy for Children’s Hospital

Joe Manganiello Plays the Good Guy for Children’s Hospital

The actor, director and Mt. Lebanon native is joining the board of trustees of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.
Pittsburgh Man Sets World Record By Lifting 1 Million Pounds

Pittsburgh Man Sets World Record By Lifting 1 Million Pounds

Matt Scoletti accomplishes the feat in just under nine hours.
Why Thanksgiving Comes Every Day for 3 Pittsburgh-Area Men

Why Thanksgiving Comes Every Day for 3 Pittsburgh-Area Men

They owe their lives to one man who lives on in each of them.
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


The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

When viewed from the foot of the South Side Slopes of Pittsburgh, the stairs ascending Josephine Street form a massive image that consists of more than 7,500 individual mosaic tiles.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
The Café Carnegie Now Open in Oakland

The Café Carnegie Now Open in Oakland

Chefs Sonja Finn and Becca Hegarty helm the refurbished restaurant at the Carnegie Museums.

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.
Big Ten-Champion Nittany Lions More Worthy Than Buckeyes

Big Ten-Champion Nittany Lions More Worthy Than Buckeyes

For some reason Ohio State is ranked No. 2 in the latest playoff rankings and Penn State is No. 7. That has to change if Penn State beats Wisconsin on Saturday night.

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.
Thinking Small: Pittsburgh Weddings That Are Intimate Affairs

Thinking Small: Pittsburgh Weddings That Are Intimate Affairs

Bigger isn’t always better, at least when it comes to these couples’ wedding ceremonies.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
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
Classic Christmas Tale Gets a Twist at Slippery Rock University

Classic Christmas Tale Gets a Twist at Slippery Rock University

An adapted version of “A Christmas Carol” will be presented during a seven-show run.

Comments