Junk foods are called 'junk' not without a reason. They are essentially food items that contain no nutrition and become a source of empty calories that may lead to obesity which adds to the risk of other lifestyle diseases like hypertension, high cholesterol, heart problems and diabetes.
It may be heartening to indulge in cheesy, fatty or sugary foods, occasionally, but given the rush of fast food chains in India and worldwide, the so called 'junk diet' is becoming a part of our day to day life. Take a hint from the growing prevalence of childhood obesity per year. According to the World Health Organisation, the number of overweight children under the age of five was predicted to be over 42 million in 2015 globally.
There is a lot of proof to show that junk food can muddle with your body and your brain and the latest study, published in the Journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, provides a warning sign. A team of researchers have found that steady consumption of fried potatoes (most commonly enjoyed as French fries) is associated with an increased risk of death. The health risk has been connected by the method of cooking the potatoes and their consumption and not potatoes in general reflecting the effects of fried and fatty foods. Here are four ways in which French fries and other fast food items can destroy your health.
1. Digestive problems: Fast food can cause major digestive problems like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and even peptic ulcers. This is particularly connected to fried foods. The oil used for frying gets saturated into the junk food and is deposited on the walls of the stomach lining which leads an increase in acid production and creates an imbalance. Moreover, the lack of fibre may cause constipation and haemorrhoids.
2. Depression: Junk food not only damages your body but it also has an adverse effect on your brain. A study conducted at the University of Montreal on mice showed that they suffered from withdrawal symptoms after their regular junk food diet was discontinued. In humans, these withdrawal symptoms can lead to the inability to deal with stress, make you feel depressed and ultimately you revert to those foods which are comforting and help you feel better.
3. Oscillations in blood sugar levels: Fast food is packed with refined carbohydrates that cause your blood sugar levels to sway quickly adding extra stress on your metabolism and driving up insulin production. This may cause sudden highs in your blood sugar levels making you feel happy and satisfied for a short time but as soon as the levels fall back to normal, you are left feeling more irritable and impatient. Over time, this stress can destroy your body's capability of using the insulin secreted by your pancreas and puts you at an increased risk of developing diabetes.
4. Increased risk of kidney and liver disease: Daily consumption of highly-processed, sugar, and fat-laden foods can affect blood glucose balance which can critically add pressure your kidneys and endocrine system. In the same way, frequent and steady consumption of junk food may lead to fatty deposits that can cause liver dysfunction. Dr. Anshul Jai Bharat, a Delhi-based Nutritionist, agrees, "Junk food has too much processed sugar and salt, so when it goes into your system it leads to hormonal imbalances that directly impacts the functioning of your kidneys and the liver."
Fast food items are inexpensive and mass-produced and for them to be so, they are pumped with high quantities of sugar, fats and salt that makes them addictive and tempting. They may offer maximum taste but minimum nutrition and put your health at risk. So, don't fall prey to these foods. Make cooler choices.