Junk food is often our first go-to option if we are snacking on the go or don’t feel like preparing dinner. It is also the comfort food that ranks number one on the emotional eating agenda, which helps us drain the flooding emotions. To any average person, these points might seem legit since it can be seriously tiring to prepare a meal after a long exhaustive day at work. However, those who know the harmful effects of junk food that show in the long haul try to avoid it as much as possible.
Even so, 80% of the US citizens say that they eat fast food at least once in a month. Only 4% of the population does say that they do not eat at a fast food restaurant. Moreover, 57% of the Americans in the age bracket of 18-29 report that they eat junk food at least once in a week. Calorie consumption via soft drinks stands at 7.1% and junk food intake totals calorie intake at 28.8%.
These staggering figures show that the intake of junk food is high. Basically, junk food includes foods that exhibit a high content of unhealthy fats, salt, sugar, and calories. At the same time, these are low in essential nutrients such as proteins, minerals, vitamins, and complex carbohydrates. Such a composition shows that consistently eating junk food fails to provide your body with the required important nutrients.
However, it is essential to learn about the long-term consequences of such food items before continuing to rely on them as your main source of nutrition. Here is a look at the harmful effects of junk food:
Increased risk of respiratory system problems
Excess calories in fast food add to one’s weight, steadily culminating in obesity. This problem is, in turn, linked with an increased risk of respiratory problems including shortness of breath and asthma.
The extra pounds put pressure on your lungs and heart. The symptoms of such a pressure show themselves in the form of exertion. The risk of these respiratory problems is clear in the case of children. A study confirms that kids who eat junk food at least thrice in a week are at an increased odds of developing asthma.
As pointed out above, junk food does not contain essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other all-important nutrients. Each of these elements plays a critical role in the body and offer significant health benefits. Even though, you might feel energized after an outdoor snack and are able to kill your hunger, you are getting little nutrition from the fast food.
This amps up your risk of developing nutritional deficiencies. On top of it, highly processed food is low in fiber, which is vital for smooth digestion, regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and the overall gastrointestinal tract.
Weight gain and obesity
Fast food boosts high content of calories in its composition. This is why it is easy to put the extra pounds while simultaneously encouraging insulin resistance, which takes up the odds of developing diabetes
Whole grain products, vegetables, and lean meat contain fewer calories by volume. These can be compared with hamburgers, French fries, and donuts that boast high calorie content. For instance, a 100 gram serving of baked potato yields 93 calories. On the other hand, a 100 grams serving of restaurant fresh fries provides 292 calories. This shows the differences in calorie count and how the high calories of fast food add to your weight.
High blood pressure
Most fast food items contain high amounts of sodium. If the amount of junk food consumed is great, there is a likelihood for teenagers developing high blood pressure. The problem is not limited to this health issue one. Instead, high blood pressure brushes up the risk of high cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and stroke.
In the teenage years, health experts recommend the intake of 2400 mg sodium. This recommendation is clearly disrupted, as only a ten-ounce potato chips pack contains 1680 mg of sodium.
Leads to depression
Healthline notes that excess fast food correlates with depression. Such food is high in fats and calories. Keeping in mind that the brain functioning is significantly impacted with the type of food taken. In the case of increased amounts of fat, the brain falls into a hole of despair and depression.
Consequently, the body is not unable to deal with stress of any kind. Furthermore, junk food does not contain protein and a decline in the right amounts of amino acids in the body can also pave the way for depression.
There is a slow but sure link between the intake of fast food and memory slips. Eating junk food on a regular note can boost your cravings as well. All this climaxes in inflammation in the brain, specifically, in the brain region called hippocampus.
This is the area in the brain, which is responsible for storing memories but the inflammation can potentially culminate in loss of memory. High sugar diet due to the consumption of junk food suppresses brain function too.
Effect on bones
Sugars and carbs in processed food and junk food can increase the acid in your mouth. These acids break down the first layer of your teeth known as the enamel. As this layer disappears gradually, the path for bacterial invasion is clear, leading to cavities.
At the same time, the fast food-induced obesity can result in complications of muscle mass and bone density. Resultantly, obese individuals have an increased likelihood of breaking bones.
A diet that is rich in fast food provides increased amounts of processed carbohydrates that promote insulin resistance. In such a case, certain cells in the body fail to respond to insulin, which leads to high levels of sugar in the blood. Such a problem enhances the odds of developing diabetes.
High-glycemic index junk foods like sugary breakfast cereals, hard candy, donuts, potato products, and more also encourage a rise in the blood sugar levels. This, again, chip in the tendency of developing diabetes as well as heart disease.
Increased dementia risk
Insulin is produced in the pancreas and helps in the transportation of glucose to body cells. It also helps in the carrying signals between nerve cells, subsequently, helping in the formation of memories. In this context, a study conducted in the Brown University came to the conclusion that excess sweets and fatty foods can profoundly increase insulin levels in the body.
In such a case of high insulin concentration, the brain stops responding to the hormone, becoming resistant to it. Consequently, this impacts your ability to create memories, think, and recall matter, which swells the risk of dementia.
Carb-heavy foods lead to acne. Grease foods are not the culprit but foods such as fresh fries, potato chips, and hamburgers lead to acne. Foods that contain sodium also perk up the risk of headaches. Therefore, junk food can lead to both acne and headaches.
Briefly, the harmful effects of junk food are varied. The negative effects range from effects on your memory to dental distress. A high sodium content of fast food can also lead to headaches, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems. Such food is also not healthy for the digestive tract, as they exhibit a low fiber content that promotes gastrointestinal health.