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Negative Health Effects of Fast Food

The ill effects of fast food and the potential danger it possesses from its regular consumption is shocking. Obesity, increase in cholesterol levels, nutritional deficiencies, cardiac disorders, loss of muscle mass, depression, and even sexual dysfunction, can all be caused by eating fast food on a regular basis. Soaked in trans fat and loaded with calories, fast foods are labeled as ‘health hazards’ by many leading medical professionals.

10 Negative Health Effects of Fast Food

#1 – Headaches
The processed meat used in fast food contain nitrates, nitrites, artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate which increase blood flow and can trigger a migraine attack. Additives are used to keep the meat fresh and to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum the bacteria which causes food poisoning. The increased blood flow can cause excessive pressure to build up in the head and can lead to headaches.

#2 – Collection of Trans Fat
The processed food used in the fast food industry is loaded with trans fat, which not only increase the ‘bad cholesterol’ (Low Density Lipoprotein) levels but also reduce the ‘good cholesterol’ (High Density Lipoprotein) levels. Processed meat used by fast food industries can sometimes have 45% more trans fat than their natural counterparts.

#3 – Increased Cholesterol Levels
Consuming fast foods leads to an increased intake of cholesterol which is highly dangerous for humans. The cholesterol molecules attach themselves to the arteries which leads to their thickening or clogging. This can obstruct the blood flow and lead to high blood pressure. The accumulation of cholesterol in any one of the main arteries can cause blockage and lead to heart conditions.

#4 – Depression
Depression is one of the many negative effects of fast food. This emotional condition has been linked to regular consumption of fast foods by a study done by the University College of London. According to the study, people who indulge in fast foods often are 58% more likely to suffer from depression. Fast foods do not contain antioxidants, foliate, and omega -3s which is necessary for good mental health. Fast foods contain preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilizers, and flavor enhancers which can affect the mental well-being of the person.

#5 – Excessive Sodium Intake
Fast foods contain high amounts of sodium which can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure. Although small amounts of sodium is needed for bodily functions, consuming too much can lead to not just high blood pressure, but build up of fluids in people who are suffering from liver cirrhosis, congestive heart failures or kidney ailments.

#6 – Sexual Dysfunction
What we eat affects our physical, mental, and sexual health. Fatty acids found in fast foods are a major contributor to sexual dysfunction, not only does it cause weight gain but can trigger biochemical changes which effect libido, sperm count and female ovulation.

#7 – Food Poisoning
Even if we overlook the dangers posed by low fiber, trans fat and high calories, fast food pose another problem, food poisoning. The processed meat is many times contaminated with manure which contains Escherichia Coli and Salmonella. E.Coli is considered very difficult to treat and sometimes referred to as the worst sort of food poisoning. Even after antibiotics kill the bacteria, the toxins released by it can produce harmful effects. This disease is usually spread through undercooked hamburgers and is a leading cause of renal failure among American kids.

#8 – Addictive Nature of Fast Foods
According to the Science Daily, high levels of sugar and fat can cause blood sugar to spike and then crash suddenly. The patrons of fast food feel a sudden rush of euphoria when this happens making them dependent on the euphoric effects of insulin surges. Therefore one of the harmful effects of fast food consumption is the addiction or the incessant craving it causes among people.

#9 – PFCA Contamination
The wrappers used in the fast food industry are coated with perfluoroalkyls (PAC) which prevents the grease from leaving through. These have been proven to get inside the human body and change into more harmful forms which can lead to many health complications. The wrappings used in fast food industry are a significant and indirect source of PFCA contamination.

#10 – Weight Gain
Studies have found a direct link between fast food consumption and weight gain and increased Body Mass Index (BMI). The high levels of trans fat and calories present in fast foods leads to accumulation of abdominal fat and even insulin resistance which is an early indicator of diabetes. Obesity has been ranked the number one health threat for Americans; it is also the second leading cause of preventable death in United States which claims up to 400,000 lives a year. Obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart problems, hypertension, blocked arteries, increase in cholesterol levels, malnutrition, loss of muscle mass and depression.

Fast food addiction can lead to an unhealthy and depressive sedentary lifestyle; to prevent this, it’s recommended to switch to a healthy and balanced diet along with regular exercise. Remember the key to happiness is a healthy lifestyle.

Effects of Fast Food on Children

Fast foods are a wide range of easily prepared meals, and have gained in popularity with the rise of the increasingly hectic modern lifestyle. Inability to cook elaborate meals while according with the clockwork of daily life has resulted in the time-consuming ‘family dinners’ being confined to weekends, while the busy weekdays are disposed of via the likes of sandwiches, wraps and rolls.
Fast foods, per se, can be incredibly healthy meals, depending on the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the cook. However, the term has, in recent times, become almost synonymous with junk food, which is only appealing to the palate, loaded on unhealthy calories and has little or no nutritional value. While healthy fast foods, such as salads or soy burgers, are recommended for a wholesome daily diet, unhealthy fast foods (junk food), such as commercially sold burgers, aerated drinks, pastries and candy are harmful, and should be consumed in moderation. Children’s appetite and taste — notoriously difficult to control — can be severely affected by continual consumption of junk foods. The calorie-filled junk foods lead to obesity, which aids and abets numerous, more serious diseases.
Ill Effects of Junk Food
Obesity passively promotes a sedentary lifestyle, since an obese child can’t partake in physical activities as intensely as a healthy child. Embarrassment at one’s own obesity can also force a child to become reclusive. The lack of regular exercise further increases obesity, and significantly increases the chances of the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Junk foods and aerated drinks, such as sodas, lead to increased levels of blood sugar in children. This increases the chances of acquiring type 2 diabetes, i.e., the condition of natural bodily production of insulin being unable to counter the amount of blood sugar in the body.
Type 2 diabetes increases the chances of heart diseases by up to 4 times and contributes significantly to damage to the kidneys, as well as increasing chances of dementia.
Saturated fats lead to high levels of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is notorious for being the cause of various heart problems, and can cause major cardiac disorders.
Junk foods often contain high amounts of salts. Although they impart a mouth-watering, spicy flavor, an excess of sodium or potassium (which are irreplaceable components of salts, including sodium chloride — table salt) is prime cause for an increase in blood pressure. Disorders regarding blood pressure can have a severe inhibitory effect on an individual’s life.
The artificially induced spicy taste is said to be addictive. Children used to junk food may have trouble adjusting their palate to the relatively blander healthy foods.
Fresh fruits and vegetables supply vital nutrients and energy, which is required for the developing bodies of children. A deficiency of iron, for example, can lead to anemia. Anemia, combined with the overload of complex sugars and saturated fats found in any sample junk food, can lead to a weak and habitually lethargic child.
The virtually total absence of green (leafy) vegetables and fresh fruits in the diet causes a deficiency of macro- and micro-nutrient supplements in the body. This damages the body’s immune system and leaves children susceptible to various diseases and ailments.
Deficiency of calcium damages the teeth, nails and bones, reducing bone density and increasing the chances of skeletal damage and tooth decay.
Healthier Alternatives
As stated earlier, fast food doesn’t necessarily mean junk food. Salads, fruits (preferably fresh and whole/sliced, or else in the form of fresh fruit juice), nuts and non-processed cheese can make for healthy and tasty quick-snacks. Including more veggies and fruits in meals never hurts, although kids are likely to reject the relatively bland alternatives in favor of spicier junk foods, even if the blander options are the healthier ones. Habituating children to healthy foods without introducing junk foods from a young age is the most reliable and effective way to keep the kids off junk food, without having to admonish them. Studies have suggested that even heavy consumption of junk food by a pregnant woman can result in the child being predisposed to favor the taste.
If you can’t get your children off unhealthy fast foods, you can at least make healthier choices for them.
Getting a pizza without the usual extra cheese would go a long way. Nobody can taste the extra cheese anyway!
Burgers can be ordered with a single patty instead of the usual double, and with extra lettuce (or coleslaw), tomatoes and onions.
Whole wheat bread contains much more fiber than the white counterpart, and thus aids digestion. Making (or ordering) sandwiches made from whole wheat bread is a healthier option.
Grilled, baked and roasted meats are a better option than the fried varieties. This is due to the absence of frying oil, which contains saturated fats. This also applies to other foods that are usually fried, but can be prepared without oil, such as potatoes.
Homemade ‘junk food’ can be prepared in healthier ways, such as reducing the amount of spices, sugar and salts, or using low-fat dairy products. Freshly cooked, homemade junk foods are inherently healthier than their commercially sold avatars.
Although soups are universally agreed to be one of the healthiest foods, cream adds to their calorie content, negating their benefits. Soups without cream are undoubtedly one of the healthiest and most filling foods.
Alternatives will help decrease adverse effects, even when resigned to giving in to your children’s clamor for junk foods. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the craving for the spicy tastes is only natural, and banishing fast foods completely may only serve to fuel the craving. While junk foods are, without doubt, harmful if consumed continually, occasionally indulging in the sinful pleasure is fine. A parent-approved frequency of eating processed junk foods can also teach children the important lesson of moderation.