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

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

The latest restaurant from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group brings Texas-style smoked meats and more to Downtown.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

After a Stanley Cup-winning season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, one player’s wife is working on her own claim to fame.
What to Do with Unused Churches in Pittsburgh

What to Do with Unused Churches in Pittsburgh

A Pittsburgh preservation group says there are approximately 30 unused churches in Allegheny County.
How Would You Make Pittsburgh's Liberty Avenue Better?

How Would You Make Pittsburgh's Liberty Avenue Better?

This week, your suggestions could have a significant impact on one of Downtown’s busiest streets.
A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Hamilton’: Everything You Need to Know

A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Hamilton’: Everything You Need to Know

The hit musical is coming to the ‘Burgh, so what’s the big deal?
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

The latest restaurant from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group brings Texas-style smoked meats and more to Downtown.
Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Go subterranean at Laurel Caverns, the largest cave in Pennsylvania.
For Pirates' Jameson Taillon: Pressure is a Privilege

For Pirates' Jameson Taillon: Pressure is a Privilege

As Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon enters his first full season with the big leagues, the weight of anticipation has given way to a need to deliver.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

After a Stanley Cup-winning season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, one player’s wife is working on her own claim to fame.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Booze, Beer and Bars: Pittsburgh's Fascinating History of Drink

Booze, Beer and Bars: Pittsburgh's Fascinating History of Drink

Bartender Sean Enright and journalist Cody McDevitt dive into Pittsburgh's boozy history with "Pittsburgh Drinks: A History of Cocktails, Nightlife & Bartending Tradition."

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

Voodoo Brewery is an enticing alternative to the many chains in and around the Waterfront.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Even as they entertained Dont’a Hightower for nearly seven hours during a free-agent recruiting trip to the South Side, the Steelers never lost sight of who they are or what they’re all about.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

The miniature bath- and shower-oil collection from Aromatherapy Associates makes every shower a luxury experience.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

Reviews of two films appearing at the 2017 Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: "I, Daniel Blake," and "The Eagle Huntress." Plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
#Wedding: What’s Trending in the Wedding World

#Wedding: What’s Trending in the Wedding World

Married couples talk hashtags — and why they used them at their weddings.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Get the Scoop Behind One of Pittsburgh’s Most Unique Condos

Get the Scoop Behind One of Pittsburgh’s Most Unique Condos

The Carnegie Museum of Art’s new exhibit features the works of architect Arthur Lubetz and Front Studio, including the vibrant Glass Lofts Building in Garfield.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
New Club is a Hit at Thiel College

New Club is a Hit at Thiel College

The Outdoor Recreation Club becomes the newest student organization at the college.

Comments