Discover the health benefits of fresh herbs

Mint infusion: you'll love the flavors

herbs blogIn our ongoing series about ways to enjoy the flavors of fresh herbs, today we’re featuring mint.

As the temperatures start to climb this summer, you might find yourself reaching for an extra beverage throughout the day. Water is one of the best ways to hydrate but if a burst of mouth-tingling flavor would add to the appeal of water, think about using fresh mint.

Mint used alone or in combination with other herbs, sliced fruits or vegetables can boost your enjoyment of water and reduce your sugar intake. If you’re looking for inspiration, try this mint infusion that can be served hot or cold.

  • Start with a handful of clean, fresh mint leaves, tear them up and place in the bottom of a teapot or French press.
  • Cover the leaves with 2 cups of boiling water and let this steep for 3-7 minutes.

Since mint comes in at least 30 varieties, you could “experi-mint” with flavors such as spearmint, pineapple mint or chocolate mint. The pleasing flavors of orange, ginger or cucumber slices combined with mint create several cool, fresh drink choices. Continue reading

What causes metabolic syndrome?

Condition may be inherited but lifestyle choices still play major role

A new study about genetic mutations causing an inherited form of metabolic syndrome points to the potential of future drug development to treat diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

While the results of this study are promising — and the first to indicate that a genetic mutation can influence the development of metabolic syndrome and coronary heart disease — the study involved a very small group and was not representative of a larger population. However, it does indicate that, over time, we may be able to block the effects of the mutation that leads to metabolic syndrome with medicine.

Lifestyle influence

MFP 071 320x320

The U-M Metabolic Fitness Program promotes behavioral change for a healthier lifestyle.

In the meantime, the answer to the question, “What causes metabolic syndrome?” is that lifestyle choices play a major role in controlling the five health conditions involved with the disease. Having three or more of these conditions may lead to a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, which can result in heart attack, stroke, heart failure and diabetes.

While over 80 percent of those with metabolic syndrome are likely to have a genetic link to the condition, lifestyle choices are believed to be a major contributor. Lifestyle changes can also help a patient achieve better health and reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Continue reading

Fatty liver disease: What you need to know

Family history and obesity contributing factors in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Women Walking
Physical activity even without weight loss can reduce fat in the liver.

Some fat in the liver is normal, but for a large and growing group of people too much fat in the liver puts them at risk for a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The rise in numbers of people with fatty liver disease is tied to the increase in obesity. It’s yet another reason to maintain a normal weight, but you don’t have to be obese to get it.

About 30 percent of adults and an increasing number of children now have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The abnormal accumulation of fat in their liver tissue can lead to inflammation, liver damage requiring liver transplant, cancer, and even death.

We are seeing that rates of fatty liver disease can differ by ancestry. Hispanics have higher rates of fatty liver disease than other groups.

The racial difference is unclear but part of the story may be genetic predisposition to developing the disease in combination with the right environmental triggers.

The general public may not be aware of their risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, but about a decade ago the medical community recognized it as a digestive health issue to watch.

Continue reading