Listening to your body

Here's something to chew on: The foods that taste good — sweet foods, salty foods, fatty foods — are essential for a healthy body.

i Sweet foods are a source of quick energy because their sugars can be converted quickly to glucose, the molecule that your body burns for energy. (Check out Chapter 8 for an explanation of how your body uses sugars.)

Better yet, sweet foods make you feel good. Eating them tells your brain to release natural painkillers called endorphins. Sweet foods may also stimulate an increase in blood levels of adrenaline, a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. Adrenaline sometimes is labeled the fight-or-flight hormone because it's secreted more heavily when you feel threatened and must decide whether to stand your ground — fight — or hurry away — flight.

1 Salt is vital to life. As Chapter 13 explains, salt enables your body to maintain its fluid balance and to regulate chemicals called electrolytes that give your nerve cells the power needed to fire electrical charges that energize your muscles, power up your organs, and transmit messages from your brain.

1 Fatty foods are even richer in calories (energy) than sugars. So the fact that you want them most when you're very hungry comes as no surprise. (Chapter 2 and Chapter 7 explain how you use fats for energy.)

1 Which fatty food you want may depend on your sex. Several studies suggest that women like their fats with sugar — Hey, where's the chocolate? Men, on the other hand, seem to prefer their fat with salt — Bring on the fries!

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