Watching Your Blood Sugar

Some people figure they don't need to worry about their blood sugar levels because they don't eat sweets. Not true! For one thing, lots of foods that aren't in the sweets category at all can mess with your blood sugar levels. Potatoes, for instance — they're killers when it comes to blood sugar! We'll talk more about specific foods and how they affect your blood sugar levels later in this section, but first, what does it mean, and why does it matter?

The term blood sugar refers to how much glucose is in the blood. Glucose is the body's primary source of energy, so it's important stuff. But it has to stay in just the right range — not too high and not too low — or it can cause problems. The body uses hormones called insulin and glucagon to regulate blood sugar levels, but sometimes the body just can't keep up, often because the foods we're eating cause blood sugar levels to rise too much. Diabetes melli-tus is an example of a disease related to the failure of blood sugar regulation.

Blood sugar levels also affect hunger and cravings. Foods that cause your blood sugar to go up quickly (and then come down quickly) cause you to get hungry, even when you shouldn't be. This is only one of the many reasons high glycemic index foods (I explain exactly what those are in the "Understanding the glycemic index of foods" section) result in weight gain.

For more detail on how blood sugar affects hunger and weight gain, check out Living Gluten-Free For Dummies.

Gluten-free fights Father Time

Can gluten-free make wrinkles flee? Possibly! According to many experts, gluten-free is the way to be if you're trying to turn back the wrinkled hands of time or stave off symptoms of menopause. Anti-aging specialists often tell patients to avoid wheat, and especially refined flours, to improve the quality of skin and erase wrinkles. One of the best known experts in his field, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, maintains that wheat and other high glycemic load foods provoke an inflammatory response that causes our skin to age more quickly. He says that avoiding foods like wheat can actually help reverse the aging process.

Wheat-based foods are also implicated in symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, fatigue, and mood swings. Patients are often advised to give up wheat to alleviate menopausal symptoms.

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