Most of us relish fried and fatty foods. When we pass a bakery or restaurant, we cannot control ourselves, and we end up eating calories. But are these foods really healthy? Can these foods be consumed daily? This blog will explain junk foods and their effects on health.
Junk foods contain empty calories and do not really benefit your body when consumed. This is the reason they are called as junk foods. They do not contain any nutrients or minerals the body requires. These foods can raise your blood glucose level and contains high levels of fat, sugar and salt content.
Junk foods lack essential nutrients like fibres, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. When these foods are taken in excess, they can result in health complications like obesity and Diabetes.
Junk foods are readily available and require less preparation, and are inexpensive. So, most people prefer fast foods that are easily available to reduce the cooking time. But little did do they know they were harming their own health.
Despite these health hazards, junk food consumption is still increasing and popular among youngsters.
Junk food examples
The definition of junk food can vary from one person to another, but the standard thought about junk food is it is not healthy and contains empty calories. Some of the common junk foods are listed below.
- Ice creams and
- Fried and processed foods.
Junk foods in disguise
Most foods we think healthy are unhealthy. The choices we make for our breakfast and blame it on time availability. We have been eating healthy, and when there were certain breakfast alternatives, we wanted to try them, and now they have become our staple foods.
The protein bars and protein shakes are not really rich in protein. These foods contain artificial sweeteners to make them more palatable.
The foods that claim to be alternative for refined flour biscuits do contain some amount of refined flour. Some foods that disguise themself as sugar-free do contain artificial sweetening agents.
Some of the common disguises that can be seen in food packets are sugar-free and gluten-free. These tags are given to make the unhealthy food appear healthy.
What makes junk food addictive?
Junk foods are addictive as they contain a high amount of sugar and fats. The sugar content in the food will trigger certain brain signals, which makes us eat the food again and again.
The brain tries to store the taste of the food, which makes us consume the food repeatedly. This process of eating the same food again and again, makes us get addicted to the food.
Additionally, the high content of salt and sugar in the food will also satisfy our taste buds and add to the addiction factor.
When a person gets addicted to junk, it will be very difficult to reverse the habit of not eating junk food. Eating junk food once in a while can be acceptable, but when it becomes a daily habit, it can cause health issues.
Does junk food affect metabolism?
Consuming junk foods in large quantities can have certain health effects.
Less energy to digest junk
Junk foods can be digested easily and absorbed by our bodies. So, after consuming junk foods, we feel hungry and tend to eat more in a short span of time.
The junk foods we eat may end up as empty calories and will not keep us full for long, whereas healthy foods can make us feel full for a long time. Sometimes, junk food can make us binge eat.
Insulin resistance in the body
Overconsumption of processed foods can lead to insulin resistance. These foods can raise blood sugar levels and lead to Diabetes.
Junk foods contain refined sugar that can slow the breakdown of carbohydrates. Junk foods usually come in large quantities, which makes you consume more and also makes you feel hungry sooner than other foods.
These reasons can make the body become resistant to insulin hormone, which can later develop as type 2 Diabetes.
Sugary beverages can slow down metabolism
According to NCBI data, consumption of added sugar beverages is associated with the development of fatty liver disease, type 2 Diabetes, insulin resistance, hyperuricemia, cardiovascular diseases and other metabolic syndromes.
When a person consumes excess sugar, there is a possibility of the liver converting them to fat. Sugar can alter the hunger hormone, which can make you eat more.
What are the complications associated with consuming too much junk food?
Junk foods can possibly have negative effects on our bodies. They can cause certain health complications.
The foods we eat determine our lifespan. So, if a person consumes too much junk food, it can lead to obesity.
Consuming junk foods with a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of obesity. According to a study with a group of men and women aged between 19-55, it was found that women who consume junk food assisted by sedentary lifestyles have an increased risk of obesity when compared to men.
A population-based study was conducted in Korea, and it demonstrated that sweet dietary habits are related to metabolic syndrome. Additionally, people who consume junk foods are more likely to be overweight.
Junk food consumption can trigger inflammation, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Consumption of junk food is directly associated with premature heart diseases, according to an article published in NCBI titled “Junk food and heart disease: the missing tooth”.
According to Reuters, 35% of heart attacks that happen globally are due to overconsumption of junk foods.
Type 2 Diabetes
Junk foods are usually high in sugars and processed foods. These foods contain artificial sweeteners, high calories and oil, which can increase the risk of type 2 Diabetes.
According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being overweight can account for 90-95% of type 2 Diabetes.
How much junk food can we consume?
Junk food can be consumed in low quantities. No one can ever say no to a hot samosa or a relishing slice of cake. It is okay to consume junk foods once in a while.
You can have cheat meals, but make sure you do not end up binge eating because junk foods have the capability to make anyone overeat.
You can also treat yourself to a small muffin or a slice of chocolate when you have consumed healthy food for at least two weeks. This way, you can satisfy your cravings at the same time and not end up overeating junk food.
How to eat less junk food?
There are certain ways to keep yourself away from junk food.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
When you have a craving for sweets, you can consume fruits like watermelon. These fruits can help satisfy your sweet cravings.
Apple can be a great alternative for a crunchy craving. Apples are high in fibre which can be beneficial for your health.
Make lifestyle changes
When you visit a store, try not to purchase junk and packed foods. Purchase some healthy alternatives that can be made at home. When compared to packed foods, homemade foods can be less harmful.
At the same time, keep in mind not to overeat. Try to have a salad with different colours. This will make you eat the food and keep you full for a long time.
Keep oneself active
Physical activity is important to keep your weight in check. When you have consumed junk, try to walk the extra mile. Instead of riding a bike, try taking a bus or walking for a while.
Work out for thirty minutes a day. This will help you to burn the calories you have gained in a day.
Consumption of junk food can be reduced if you consume more fruits and vegetables. These foods will help you keep yourself full for long so you will not end up overeating.
Cravings for junk food can reduce only when you stop the habit of eating. However worth the calories these foods can be, they aren’t worth the disease, which can be caused due to overconsumption.
Three main reasons why people eat junk food?
People consume junk foods because,
1 · They are easily available,
2 · Takes less time to cook and
3 · Less expensive.
What are the effects of junk food on health?
Junk foods can lead to obesity and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 Diabetes.
What qualifies as junk food?
Foods that contain no nutritional value and are high in kilojoules (sugars, salts and fats) are placed under the category of junk foods.