Wheat is a proinflammatory agent

Recently, lots of books and articles have been written on the subject of pro-inflammatory foods. These foods are rapidly converted to sugar, causing a rise in the body's insulin levels (read more about this in number nine on my top-ten list), causing a burst of inflammation at the cellular level. Almost everyone knows that blood sugar rises from eating sweets (cakes, cookies, and candy). But lots of foods not considered sweets have pro-inflammatory effects — foods that have wheat in them, like cereal, pasta, breads, and bagels. These foods can be high in simple starches; when these are broken down, they act the same as sweet foods, raising blood sugar levels, releasing insulin, and causing inflammation. Bear in mind that the inflammation occurs in all people, not just those with wheat or gluten sensitivities.

It turns out that inflammation, once thought to be limited to "-itis" conditions like arthritis, may actually be at the root of a number of serious conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer's, and some types of cancer. And if vanity is the only way to prove a point, consider this: Dr. Nicholas Perricone, renowned author of The Wrinkle Cure, considers inflammation to be the "single most powerful cause of the signs of aging."

One great tool for identifying pro-inflammatory foods is the glycemic index (remember this term; I'm going to use it again in number nine). The glycemic index measures how fast your blood sugar rises after you eat a food that contains carbohydrates (like pasta, potatoes, and bread). It rates foods on a scale from 0 to 100, where water is 0 and table sugar is 100. The lower the glycemic index rating, the less likely the food is to be pro-inflammatory. Foods made from wheat, especially refined wheat, have a glycemic index in the 50 to 80-plus range, putting them on the high side and classifying them as pro-inflammatory.

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