How often have you passed that vada pav stand and craved for one yummy bite of that delicious treat? But if vada pav is not your thing, how about when you pass a place serving burgers, wraps or maybe samosa? Feel that craving? Well, all these treats are called junk food. As per the dictionary meaning of junk food, it is considered something useless, extra or something that is not needed. Not only are those foods extremely unhealthy, they also impact various aspects of your life. A junk-food diet typically features a high proportion of processed and fried foods, refined sugars and cereals, processed meat, candy and chocolate and high-fat dairy products. It is known as such because its nutritional value is typically outweighed by the dangers it poses to your overall health.
Why Junk Food Is Toxic to Your Body
Most junk foods are processed food; thus, they are no longer in their natural state. In addition, they are stripped of certain essential nutrients. Junk foods such as candy, chips, cakes, cookies, chewing gum and ice cream are usually added with chemical preservatives and synthetic ingredients. One of the purposes of this is to prolong their shelf life, helping junk food manufacturers and stores reduce costs. Many of these preservatives and synthetic ingredients are harmful to your body.
Why you should avoid junk food?
1. Junk food leads to obesity
Junk food plays a major role in the obesity epidemic. By the year 2050, the rate of obesity in the U.S. is expected to reach 42 percent, according to researchers at Harvard University. Children who eat fast food as a regular part of their diets consume more fat, carbohydrates and processed sugar and less fiber than those who do not eat fast food regularly. Junk food in these children’s diets accounts for 187 extra calories per day, leading to 6 additional pounds of weight gain per year. Obesity increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and many other chronic health conditions. Your waistline will get a boost.
2. Beware of Saturated Fats and Trans Fats in junk food
While saturated fats from pasteurized animal sources are acceptable, but saturated fats from other sources and Trans fats are not good for you. Both these fat variants are known to cause various life threatening cardiovascular conditions, including stroke and atherosclerosis.
3. Junk food can cause type-2 diabetes
One of major contributing factors for the emerging diabetes epidemic is unhealthy diet full of junk and fast food. When you eat a healthy diet, your body gets a steady supply of glucose, which helps maintain insulin sensitivity. On the other hand, when you eat only junk food, the excessive stress exerted on your metabolism affects the ability of your body to use insulin properly. Since junk food lacks fiber content, its consumption directly results in a spike in sugar levels. Further, junk food consumption leads to obesity, one of the main reasons for insulin resistance and development of diabetes.
4. Junk food consumption can cause digestive disorders
Those who are addicted to fatty junk food are bound to suffer from digestive problems like gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That’s because junk food is deep fried. The oil soaked in junk food gets deposited on the walls of the stomach lining, increases acid production. Spices loaded in them irritate the stomach lining, worsening GERD and digestion. Lack of fiber in them hampers digestion, increasing problems like constipation and hemorrhoids. Try this yoga pose to improve digestion.
5. Junk food causes fatigue and weakness
Junk food lacks most of essential nutrients like proteins and vitamins required for maintenance of overall health and functioning of all the systems in your body. Although it makes you feel full and satisfied, it fails to provide you with instant energy, making you feel weak and tired after a while. If you eat junk food items for all your meals of the day over a period of time, you could be suffering from chronic fatigue. Junk food can lower your energy levels to an extent that it may become difficult for you to even perform your daily tasks.
6. Processed foods cause depression amongst teens
A lot of hormonal changes occur in teenagers, which makes them susceptible to mood swings and behavioral changes. And a healthy diet plays an important role in maintaining that hormonal balance. Because junk food lacks those essential nutrients, the likelihood of teenagers to suffer from depression is increased by 58 percent.
7. Processed food cause fluctuations in blood
Junk food is high in refined sugar which exerts stress on your metabolism. Refined sugar causes the pancreas to secrete more amount of insulin in order to prevent a drastic spike in your blood sugar levels. Because junk food lacks sufficient levels of good carbohydrates and proteins, the levels of blood sugar drop suddenly after you eat. This makes you feel irritable and further increases you craving for more junk food.
8. Consumption of junk food affects the brain functions
A study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity shows that one week of eating junk food is enough to trigger memory impairment in rats. Recent research suggests that bad fats (Tran’s fats) from junk food tends to replace healthy fats in the brain and interferes with its normal signaling mechanism. Studies in animals have also shown that fats from junk food slow down the ability to learn new skills.
9. Processed food increases heart diseases
Junk food items are loaded with saturated fats and Trans fats that directly increase triglyceride and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood, contributing to plaque formation and heart disease. Further, causing a sudden spike in blood sugar level increases, junk food damages the linings of the blood vessels causing chronic inflammation. This inflammation causes bad cholesterol to stick to the walls of the arteries, blocking blood flow to the heart. When they’re blocked enough, heart attack occurs. Fats from junk food can accumulate over a period of time in your body to make you obese. The more weight you put on, the higher your risk of suffering from heart attack.
10.Junk food affects our kidney
The reason why you can never say no to fries and chips is because they contain high amount of finely processed salt which increases salivation and secretion of enzymes that enhance your cravings for these foods. High amount of bad fats and sodium from salt disrupts the sodium-potassium balance of the body and causes hypertension. Since the kidney have to filter all the toxins from the blood, eating a lot of junk food has a direct effect on the kidney functioning.
11. Junk food damages the liver
Surprisingly, junk food consumption over a period of time can have similar harmful effect on the liver as alcohol consumptions does. A study reported that people who ate junk food and shunned exercise showed changes in liver enzymes within four weeks. These changes were similar to those observed in people with alcohol abuse. According to some studies, it’s the high level of Trans fats found in a number of junk food which cause liver dysfunction due to deposition in the liver.
12. Junk food increases the risk of cancer
Lack of fiber is the main reason why junk food consumption is linked to an increased risk of cancers of the digestive system. A study published in European Journal of Cancer Prevention revealed that consuming too much of fast food that are high in sugar and fat can increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer. Another study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle showed that men who ate fried foods more than twice in a month had increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
13. Junk food has sodium in it
Junk food and processed food in general, is typically much higher in salt (sodium chloride) than freshly prepared food. Most people in the United States regularly consume significantly more sodium than is necessary, leading to an increased risk of high blood pressure and other health problems. As at January 2010, the Mayo Clinic reports, U.S. health authorities recommend a healthy adult eats no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily; authorities including the Institute of Medicine have suggested lower healthy sodium limit of 1,500 mg daily. Many junk foods have much higher sodium content than these daily recommended limits — a 1.5-ounce serving of McDonald’s spicy buffalo sauce, for example, contains 2,140 mg of sodium, the SMI Analytical website calculates.
14. Junk food are empty calories
Most junk foods contain zero nutritional value. They are nutrient-deprived, but are generally stuffed with various chemicals and additives that add to their shelf value. These chemicals may not decrease your lifespan, but they do no good for your health either.
15. Processed food are packed with hormones and antibiotics
Many a time, these fast foods come packed with various types of chemicals and antibiotics. While certain dishes contain tertiary butyl hydroquinone, a life taking hormone, others contain dimethyl polysiloxane. And it is not just the meat-based dishes; even the fruits and vegetables are not spared as these also contain pesticides and chemicals.
16. Junk food might cause infertility
Studies conducted on various junk foods have proven that most of the meats used in these food items are sources of growth hormones. And researches suggest that these hormones can actually lead to infertility!
A List of Common Junk Food
Candy and candy bars
Pancakes and waffles
Processed vegetable oil
10 Ways how To Quit Eating Junk food
Eating junk food is a habit that you can’t quit using willpower. How do you quit eating junk food? Here are 10 ways.
Have a Reason. Why do you want to quit eating junk food?
- Less fat?
- More health?
- Lower cholesterol?
Have a reason to quit. Write it on a piece of paper & look at it every day. This will act as a constant reminder of your goal.
2. Make a Plan. Quitting junk foods means a change of lifestyle:
- What food will you eat?
- What will you cook?
- What will you eat at work?
Make a plan that has everything: diet, grocery list, schedule, …
3. Be Confident. Don’t believe the hype. Quitting junk food is easy. Your body doesn’t need it. If it could choose, it’d go for clean foods. As long as you’re giving your body what it needs, you’ll be OK. If not: it’s in your head.
4. Take Action. Don’t sit there waiting. If you want to change your eating habits do something about it.
- Go to the grocery
- Cook your food
- Prepare meals for work
Common sense, but worth repeating. If the fridge is empty or if you don’t take food to work, you’ll end up eating junk food. Be ready, be prepared. Take action.
5. Get into Sports. Sport is healthy. When you get into sports, you’ll have the tendency to watch your nutrition too. Which sport? Up to you. I recommend Strength Training.
6. Choose your Environment. Your environment influences your habits. Choose one that helps you achieving your goal.
Remove the junk food from your house, stop buying it, say no to eating at McDonald’s daily. Read your goal. What’s more important for you? Win or lose, your choice.
7. Enjoy Food. Healthy food is not about eating steamed veggies. Healthy food is tasty, as tasty as junk food once you’ve adapted. The trick is to know how to cook. Cooking is a skill. You can learn it. Check Yahoo! Food for recipes & get Books on Cooking.
8. Eat Junk Food. You don’t need to ban junk food from your life. As long as you eat healthy 90% of the time you’ll be ok. One method is to eat clean during the whole week & then take a Sunday afternoon junk fest.
The longer you eat healthy, the more you’ll have adverse effects to junk food. Taste adapts. With time you’ll be glad to eat junk food, but you’ll also be glad to go back to clean food.
9. Watch Super Size Me. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, do it now. You know junk food is unhealthy. But how much? Meet Super Size Me: let’s eat McDonald’s 3 times a day & see what happens.
10. Control Yourself. Sometimes you’ll be tempted to eat junk food. Control yourself. Think. Why did you quit in the first place. What do you prefer? Eating junk food or achieving your goal? Don’t say you don’t care. You do, I know you do. You know what you should be doing.
Write this next to your goal: “I don’t need junk food“.