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

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

For a city only two centuries old, Pittsburgh has amassed a surprising amount of history. To assemble this collection of 50 of the region’s most fascinating historical artifacts, we hunted through museums, archives and private collections. We also looked for things many of us might pass each day without appreciating their significance.
The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

Tracing the story of the chain back to its roots — which, surprisingly, are not in Pittsburgh.
In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

After making films focused on Pittsburgh, Sokolow is rising through the ranks of U.S. women documentarians.
Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Salem’s offers accessible and delicious meals for Pittsburghers of all stripes.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Mike Feinberg Company Says Goodbye to Pittsburgh

Mike Feinberg Company Says Goodbye to Pittsburgh

After 60 years of supplying Pittsburgh oddities and party favors, the staff of Feinberg’s in the Strip District says they’ll miss the love the city has shown them.
Friday Night Sleep Out to Raise Money for Homeless

Friday Night Sleep Out to Raise Money for Homeless

If you’re on the hunt for Friday night plans with a purpose, consider sleeping outside to benefit those in Pittsburgh who have to spend every night on the streets.
The Fascinating History of the David McCullough Bridge

The Fascinating History of the David McCullough Bridge

More than 80 years after its demise was erroneously reported, the David McCullough Bridge still stands as an engineering and architectural highlight among the city’s many spans.
Gone Viral: Duquesne Students Score Big With Rat Slapshot

Gone Viral: Duquesne Students Score Big With Rat Slapshot

Their tic-tac-toe passing would impress Mike Sullivan.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

For a city only two centuries old, Pittsburgh has amassed a surprising amount of history. To assemble this collection of 50 of the region’s most fascinating historical artifacts, we hunted through museums, archives and private collections. We also looked for things many of us might pass each day without appreciating their significance.
The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

Tracing the story of the chain back to its roots — which, surprisingly, are not in Pittsburgh.
In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

After making films focused on Pittsburgh, Sokolow is rising through the ranks of U.S. women documentarians.
Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Salem’s offers accessible and delicious meals for Pittsburghers of all stripes.
Pittsburgh Penguins Share Tips for Parenting on Ice

Pittsburgh Penguins Share Tips for Parenting on Ice

In a year when youth-hockey participation is expected to increase, Pittsburgh Penguins players weigh in on the role of the hockey parent.
Face the Frost: Go Daytripping on Winter Hikes in Pittsburgh

Face the Frost: Go Daytripping on Winter Hikes in Pittsburgh

There’s a magical, snowy landscape right in your backyard.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Mike Feinberg Company Says Goodbye to Pittsburgh

Mike Feinberg Company Says Goodbye to Pittsburgh

After 60 years of supplying Pittsburgh oddities and party favors, the staff of Feinberg’s in the Strip District says they’ll miss the love the city has shown them.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
CSA Day Reminds Pittsburghers (and Beyond) To Support Local Farms

CSA Day Reminds Pittsburghers (and Beyond) To Support Local Farms

It's the third year running for the concept, which was created by Simon Huntley of Pittsburgh's Small Farm Central.

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


Adventure Bingo Returns at the Ace Hotel

Adventure Bingo Returns at the Ace Hotel

The one-of-a-kind night of bingo, trivia and madcap monologues returns in a new spot.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Dave Hanson and the Enduring Legacy of Slap Shot

Dave Hanson and the Enduring Legacy of Slap Shot

The Hanson Brothers and other stars of the classic hockey film will return to Johnstown this weekend for a 40th anniversary celebration.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Chalk It Up

Chalk It Up

Doodle while you dine, or let your imagination run wild, with chalkboard placemats from Pittsburgh-based Chalk Lots.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Our Full 2017 Oscar Predictions (Wherein La La Land Wins Everything)

Our Full 2017 Oscar Predictions (Wherein La La Land Wins Everything)

Breaking down what we know and only think we know about the 2017 Academy Awards.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Our Favorite Unique Centerpiece (That’s Not Flowers)

Our Favorite Unique Centerpiece (That’s Not Flowers)

This couple’s centerpiece from our Real Pittsburgh Weddings shines brighter than the traditional table bouquet.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
The Candle Lab Ready To Make Its Debut in Lawrenceville

The Candle Lab Ready To Make Its Debut in Lawrenceville

The Columbus-based store, where you can customize your own candle fragrance, is expected to open in March.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at ‘Fences’

Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at ‘Fences’

An art director from Warner Bros. Studios will visit La Roche College to talk about the Oscar-nominated film with ties to Pittsburgh.

Comments