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13 Effects Of Fast Food On The Body

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The Effects Of Fast Food On The Body

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Effects of Fast Food on the Body

Food is fuel for your body and has a direct impact on how you feel as well as on your overall health. Fast food refers to food that can be served quickly. In many cases, that means food that is highly processed and contains large amounts of carbohydrates, added sugar, unhealthy fats, and salt (sodium). These foods generally contain a high number of calories but offer little or no nutritional value.

A 2013 study published in JAMA Pediatrics showed that children and adolescents take in more calories in fast food and other restaurants than at home. Eating out added between 160 and 310 extra calories a day. According to the National Institutes of Health, some fast food meals give you a whole day’s worth of calories. That can really pack on the pounds. Being overweight is a risk factor for a variety of chronic health problems.

When fast food frequently replaces nutritious foods in your diet, it can lead to poor nutrition and poor health.

Digestive and Cardiovascular Systems

Many fast foods and drinks are loaded with carbohydrates and, consequently, a lot of calories. Your digestive system breaks carbs down into sugar (glucose), which it then releases into your bloodstream. Your pancreas responds by releasing insulin, which is needed to transport sugar to cells throughout your body. As the sugar is absorbed, your blood sugar levels drop. When blood sugar gets low, your pancreas releases another hormone called glucagon. Glucagon tells the liver to start making use of stored sugars. When everything is working in sync, blood sugar levels stay within a normal range.

When you take in high amounts of carbs, it causes a spike in your blood sugar. That can alter the normal insulin response. Frequent spikes in blood sugar may be a contributing factor in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Added sugars have no nutritional value but are high in calories. According to the American Heart Association, most Americans take in twice as many sugars as is recommended for optimal health. All those extra calories add up to extra weight, a contributing factor in heart disease.

Trans fats, often found in fast food, are known to raise LDL cholesterol levels. That’s the undesirable kind of cholesterol. It can also lower HDL cholesterol. That’s the good cholesterol. Trans fats may also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Too much sodium helps to retain water, so it can cause general bloating and puffiness. Sodium can contribute to high blood pressure or enlarged heart muscle. If you have congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, or kidney disease, too much salt can contribute to a dangerous build-up of fluid. According to the American Heart Association, children who have a high-sodium diet are at twice the risk for developing high blood pressure than children on a low-sodium diet. Excess sodium may also increase risk for kidney stones, kidney disease, and stomach cancer.

High cholesterol and high blood pressure are among the top risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Respiratory System

Obesity is associated with an increase in respiratory problems, and treating those ailments may be more complicated. Even without diagnosed medical conditions, obesity may cause episodes of shortness of breath or wheezing with little exertion. Obesity may play a role in the development of sleep apnea and asthma.

A recent study published in the journal Thorax suggests that children who eat fast food at least three times a week are at increased risk of asthma and rhinitis (congested, drippy nose).

Central Nervous System

There are many types of headache and many things that can cause them. Some dietary triggers that can be found in fast food include salt, processed meats, nitrates, and MSG.

A study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition showed that eating commercial baked goods (doughnuts, croissants, cake) and fast food (pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs) may be linked to depression. People who eat fast food are 51 percent more likely to develop depression than those who eat little to no fast food. It was also found that the more fast food they consumed, the more likely study participants were to develop depression.

Skin and Bones

Chocolate and greasy foods, often blamed for acne, are not the real culprits. It’s carbs. According to the Mayo Clinic, because foods that are high in carbohydrates increase blood sugar levels, they may also trigger acne.

The Thorax study showed a higher risk of eczema (inflamed, irritated patches of skin) among children with a diet high in fast food.

When you consume foods high in carbs and sugar, bacteria residing in your mouth produce acids. Those acids are hard on your teeth. In fact, they can destroy tooth enamel, a contributing factor in dental cavities. When the enamel of your tooth is lost, it can’t be replaced. Poor oral health has also been linked to other health problems.

Excess sodium may also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis (thin, fragile bones).

This article has been posted with permission of

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