5 Harmful Effects of Junk Food
NDTV Food Desk | Updated: August 14, 2017 18:02 IST
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In his book, Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food, Andre F. Smith defines junk food as, "those commercial products, including candy, bakery goods, ice cream, salty snacks, and soft drinks, which have little or no nutritional value but do have plenty of calories, salt, and fats. While not all fast foods are junk foods, most are. Fast foods are ready-to-eat foods served promptly after ordering."
The more junk food you consume, the less likely you are to consume the essential nutrients that your body relies on. You know that junk food can hurt your health, but you may have not known about the effects of junk food on how your brain functions.
1. It can cause memory and learning problems
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 showed that healthy people who ate junk food for only 5 days performed poorly on cognitive tests that measured attention, speed, and mood. It concluded that eating junk food for just five days regularly can deteriorate your memory. This probably stems from the fact that a poor or toxic diet can cause certain chemical reactions that lead to inflammation in the hippocampus area of the brain which is associated with memory and special recognition.
Diets that are high in sugar and fat can suppress the activity of a brain peptide called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) that helps with learning and memory formation. Moreover, the brain contains synapses which are responsible for learning and memory. Eating too many calories can interfere with the healthy production and functioning of these synapses.
2. Increases the risk of dementia
This has been one of the scariest discoveries associated with the consumption of junk food. You may know that insulin is produced in the pancreas and helps in the transportation of glucose to fuel the body. Insulin is also produced in the brain where it helps in carrying signals between nerve cells and forming memories. A study conducted at the Brown University shows that too much fatty food and sweets can substantially increase the insulin levels in our body.
Just like in the case of Type 2 Diabetes, with higher levels of insulin, the brain stops responding to this hormone and become resistant to it. This can restrict our ability to think, recall or create memories, thus increasing the risk of dementia. Researcher Suzanne de la Monte, M.D., a professor of pathology, neurology, and neurosurgery at Rhode Island Hospital and the Alpert Medical School of Brown University was the first to uncover this association. Following this discovery, most scientists refer to Alzheimer’s as a form of diabetes of the brain.
Also read: (Shocking Secrets About the Junk Food Industry)
3. Lessens its ability to control appetite
Excess consumption of trans fats found in fried and processed foods can send mixed signals to the brain which makes it difficult to process what you have eaten and how hungry are. This is probably why you end up overeating. Healthy brain functions require a daily dose of essential fatty acids like omega-6 and omega-3. Deficiency of these two elements increases the risk of attention deficit disorder, dementia and bipolar disorder and other brain-related problems.
Over consumption of junk food may displace these with trans fats which are harder to digest. A 2011 study shows that trans fats may cause inflammation in hypothalamus, the part of brain that containing neurons to control body weight.
In worst scenarios, the habit of overeating can be similar to drug addiction to an extent that relying on junk foods may activate the pleasure centres of the brain greater than receiving drugs.
(Junk Food May Kill Your Appetite for Healthy Food)
4. It can cause chemical changes that can lead to depression
A lot of studies have shown that eating foods high in sugar and fat actually changes the chemical activity of the brain making it more dependent on such foods. A study conducted at the University of Montreal on mice showed that they suffered with 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 eventually you would turn back to those foods to comfort yourself and handle these feelings. Soon, you may be caught in a vicious cycle even before you know it. Also, by consuming too much fast food you may lose out on essential nutrients like amino acid tryptophan, the lack of which can increase feelings of depression. An imbalance of fatty acids is another reason why people who consume more junk food are at a higher risk of depression.
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5. It makes you impatient and can cause uncontrollable cravings
Eating a sugary cupcake or doughnut may temporarily spike your blood sugar levels making you feel happy and satisfied but as soon as they return to normal you are left feeling all the more irritable.
Fast food is packed with refined carbohydrates which cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate rapidly. If your sugar levels dip to a very low level, it can cause anxiety, confusion and fatigue. With high content of sugar and fats, you tend to eat too fast and too much to satisfy your cravings. This can inculcate an impatient behaviour while dealing with other things. Fast foods and processed foods may be laden with artificial flavourings and preservatives like sodium benzoate that tends to increase hyperactivity.
Fast foods are specially designed to be addictive in nature with high levels of salts, sugars and fats that make you crave them. The addictive nature of fast food can make your brain crave them even when you are not hungry.
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Effects of Junk Food: Essay, Speech, Article, Paragraph
Introduction (Essay on Junk Food)
For every human being, good health is the necessity of living a healthy life. So, there is a need to maintain the healthy diet and healthy habits throughout the life. In this scenario, every one of us is enjoying well the taste of junk food because it is delicious, affordable and readily available. The consumption of eating junk food is increasing day by day and making us diseased.
The term ‘Junk’ was coined by Michael F. Jacobson in 1972. The junk food is the food that contains higher calories than the sugar or fat. It contains less vitamin, protein, and minerals. So, it is less nutritious and harmful for the body system. Junk food refers to generally the heavy and unhealthy diet. It always looks attractive and yummy for the people of every age group. But what they look from outside never become from inside.
People of all age groups like to eat junk food and they choose to eat it whenever they enjoy special time with family like a birthday party, marriage anniversary, etc. They easily become used to of taking soft drinks, wafers, chips, noodles, burgers, pizza, french fries, Chinese dishes, fried foods, candy, baked goods, ice creams, cookies and other varieties of fast food available in the market. No junk food provides of them anyone any nutritious value.
Also Read: Impacts of Smoking on Health – Essay, Speech, Article
Consequences of Eating Junk Food
The Occasional consumption of junk food doesn’t harm the human body as the regular consumption harms. It can create the following problems to the body
The Nutritious Deficiency
Although junk food satisfies your hunger, it provides little nutrition. But the continuous dependency on nutrient-poor foods can leave you with too little appetite for more nutritious foods, increasing your risk of nutritional deficiencies. The average American diet is deficient in fiber, omega-3 fats, magnesium, and calcium, writes Dr. Steven Masley on ClinicalAdvisor.com. Highly processed foods contain little fiber, a substance your body needs for a healthy gastrointestinal tract and for control of cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are the main sources of fiber, as well as many other essential nutrients.
The Weight Gain
Natural whole foods like vegetables, whole grain products contain fewer calories by volume than junk foods. For example, a 100 g serving of plain baked potato provides 93 calories compared to 292 calories in 100 g of restaurant french fries. By eating 500 calories a day more than you need, you’ll gain about a pound each week. As the fast foods are so high in calories, frequenting fast food restaurants increases your risk of unhealthy weight gain.
The Heart Problems
Your body needs some fat for health, but junk food provides primarily fats that harm your health. These man-made, processed fats are common in commercial baked goods. Processed, packaged foods are often high in salt, or sodium. Excess sodium in your diet can increase your risk of high blood pressure and hence it leads to several heart problems.
A diet that provides large amounts of processed carbohydrates like those in candy, commercial baked goods, and potato chips promotes the insulin resistance. In insulin resistance, some cells no longer respond to insulin, which leads to high blood sugar, increasing the risk of diabetes.
Conclusion (Speech on Effects of Junk Foods)
No one should consume the junk food beyond limits as this may cause very bad consequences to the health. It can be consumed once in a while like on any occasion. The parents should take care it that the children could not consume much junk food. More the distance from junk foods, more the healthy and happy life.
- Children in many countries are eating more fast food and convenience snacks. Why are children doing this and how serious are the consequences?
- The fast food industry has negative effects on our health, the environment and family eating habits. Do you agree or disagree?
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