What is junk food?
Junk foods are processed foods consisting of high calories, but that is considered only as a broad umbrella. These foods are prepared in a way that they look appealing and are enjoyable so you are chemically programmed to ask for more. According to Dr. Sunali Sharma, Dietician & Nutritionist, “Commercial products including but not limited to salted snack foods, gum, candy, sugary desserts, fried fast food, and sweetened carbonated beverages that have little or no nutritional value but are high in calories, salt, and fats may be considered junk foods. Though not all fast foods are junk foods, but a great number of them are. For instance, a salad may be fast food, but is definitely not junk food. Some foods like burgers, pizzas, and tacos may alternate between junk and healthy categories depending on the ingredients, calories and process of manufacturing.”
Fast Food and Overeating
Of course, junk food is also readily available at restaurant chains across the country in the form of French fries, chicken nuggets, shakes, soda, etc. Not only are most fast foods not terribly healthy, one study indicates that there may be something about fast food that actually encourages gorging.
In the study, from the Children’s Hospital in Boston, teens age 13-17 were given three types of fast-food meals (all including chicken nuggets, French fries, and cola). In one meal, the teens were served a lot of food at once. In another, a lot of food was served at the same time, but in smaller portions. And in the third test meal, a lot of food was served, but in smaller portions over 15-minute intervals.
The researchers found that it didn’t seem to matter how much food was served — the teens still took in about half of their daily calorie needs in that one meal. The researchers suggested that certain factors inherent to fast food might promote overeating:
- It’s low in fiber.
- It’s high in palatability (that is, it tastes good).
- It offers a high number of calories in a small volume.
- It’s high in fat.
- It’s high in sugar in liquid form.
Taking the ‘Junk’ out of Junk Food
Now that you’ve got the facts about junk food, how can you try to eat more healthfully in our junk- food-filled world? Here are three tips:
Choose fast-food restaurants that offer healthier choices. And no matter where you are, opt for food and beverages that are made up mostly of ingredients that offer nutrients along with calories. Enjoy freshly squeezed orange juice or a whole-wheat bagel instead of soda or donuts. Buy a bean burrito, pizza topped with vegetables, or a grilled chicken sandwich on a whole-grain bun instead of tortilla chips with processed cheese sauce; frozen pizza rolls; or fried chicken pieces and French fries. Avoid sweetened beverages.
Look for products low in sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, milled grains, and partially hydrogenated oils. Choose a 100% whole-wheat cracker made with canola oil, for example, or snack on a cheese and fruit plate instead of a bowl of cheese puffs.
Limit TV viewing, for yourself and your kids. Certain TV shows seem to attract more junk food commercials more than others, so parents might want to discourage kids from watching these shows. Or try TIVO (where you can fast-forward through commercials) or watch DVDs.
10 reasons junk food is bad for your health
1.Junk food may be the reason behind your fatigue:
Although junk food and fast food makes you feel full and satisfied, they lack all the necessary nutrients like proteins and carbohydrates to keep your body energized and healthy.
If you eat junk food every time you’re hungry, you may feel chronically fatigued. It can lower your energy levels to an extent that it may become difficult for you to even perform your daily tasks.
2.Junks food may lead to depression in teenagers:
A lot of hormonal changes take place in teenagers which makes them susceptible to mood swings and behavioural changes. And a healthy diet plays an important role in maintaining that hormonal balance. Because junk food lack those essential nutrients, the likelihood of teenagers to suffer from depression is increased by 58 percent.
3.It impairs digestion:
Those who are addicted to fatty junk food are bound to have digestive problems like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That’s because junk food is deep fried. So, the oil from the junk food gets deposited in the stomach causing acidity. They cause irritation of the stomach lining because they are too spicy, and they also lack fibre which is important for proper digestion.
4.It causes fluctuations in blood sugar levels:
Junk food is high in refined sugar which puts your metabolism under stress. 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.
5.It affects the brain function:
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 (trans fats) from junk food tends to replace healthy fats in the brain and interferes with its normal signalling mechanism. Studies in animals have also shown that fats from junk food slow down the ability to learn new skills.
6.It increases the risk of heart disease:
Junks food increases cholesterol and triglyceride levels which are major risk factors for the development of heart diseases. Moreover, fats from junk food accumulate over the time in your body to make you obese. The more weight you put on, the higher your risk of suffering from heart attack.
7.It can cause kidney disease:
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 enhances your cravings. High amount of bad fats and sodium from salt increases blood pressure and affects the kidney function.
8.It can damage your liver:
High levels of trans fats found in a number of junk food can cause deposition of fats in the liver, which can cause liver dysfunction.
9.It can cause type 2 diabetes:
When you eat a solid eating routine, your body gets a relentless supply of glucose which keeps up insulin sensitivity. Yet, when you eat just fast food, the over the top pressure applied on your digestion can influence the capacity of your body to use insulin properly.
10.It increases your risk of cancer:
A study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention uncovered that devouring a lot of fast foods that are high in sugar and fat can expand your odds of creating colorectal disease. Another investigation from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle demonstrated that men who ate browned foods more than twice in a month had expanded danger of creating prostate cancer.1 250