It is a known fact that regular consumption of junk, fast and processed food can contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, dementia, cancer and mental illness.
What is Fast or Junk Food?
White flour baked goods, and all other high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, high sugar-containing foods and beverages.
- Fast food can be accessed easily and quickly; it doesn’t need to be prepared; it comes packed in packets or boxes which are usually ready to eat and can be put right into your mouth.
- Such foods often contain multiple chemicals and synthetic ingredients.
- They are calorically dense, highly flavoured, and nutritionally poor.
- The common ingredients found are corn syrup, sugar, artificial sweeteners, salt, colouring agents, and other potentially harmful chemicals.
Fast Food Intake and Consequences
- The World Health Organization (WHO) and other nutritional authorities include vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and fruit as healthy foods; and salt, saturated fat, and excess sugar as disease-causing ingredients.
- A link exists between high intake of fast & processed food consumption and premature ageing, destruction of brain cells, risk of other lifestyle-related diseases.
- Research has also observed that excess calories, junk food shortens lifespan, whereas moderate caloric restriction slows the ageing process.
- Let’s consider an example, where the individual is consuming 50 excess calories per day. What will be the short- and long-term result? Fifty excess calories per day, over and above your basic metabolic needs, 10-year period down the line will add about 22 kgs of extra body weight!
- Furthermore, excessive amounts of processed animal products may lead to premature ageing, increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart problems.
How to increase your Life expectancy?
This principle is represented by the equation: H = N/C, which means your healthy life expectancy (H) is proportional to the micronutrient (N) per calorie intake (C) over your life span.
- A nutrition-dense diet that is high in phytochemicals, antioxidants coming from a wide assortment of colourful, root, green, cruciferous and other vegetables.
- Including a variety of nuts and seeds.
- Variety of intact whole grains and millets.
- Consumption of nuts and seeds regularly is related to lower cancer rates, lower cardiovascular death rates, less irregular heartbeats, and an increase in life span.
- Also helps in detoxification - reduction of metabolic waste, aldehydes, and AGEs occur most effectively in the catabolic phase of the digestion, i.e. you live if you finish dinner earlier or have a lighter dinner, maintain a 13-hour window between the end of dinner and the start of breakfast.
- Avoiding intake of processed foods such as white bread, pasta, salad oil, mayonnaise, bakery goods like doughnuts, cookies, other fried salty items like chips. Also sweetened soda, candy and other sweetened desserts or beverages.
Negative effects of junk/fast food
- The white flour-based products or the ones with added sweetening agents being high in glycemic index flood the bloodstream with glucose.
- The absence of fibre, nutrients, or phytochemicals in these products and the fact that they are high in acrylamides and advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), further lead to an increase in glycoproteins in our tissues.
- The sudden spike in glucose leads to abnormally high amounts of insulin hormone, promotes angiogenesis, which fuels the growth of fat cells, increases multiplication and tumour growth.
- Promote buildup of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), known for accelerating ageing and chronic diseases.
- The calories from oil are absorbed rapidly but are largely empty calories (with insignificant micronutrients - a combination that leads to obesity, disease, and premature ageing, may create carcinogenic compounds.
- The food at any restaurant is mostly cooked in preheated oil for instance, one serving of french fries cooked in a preheated oil has 100 times the level of aldehydes.
- The World Health Organization has now classified processed meats (sausage, bacon, and lunch meats) as class 1 carcinogen.
- AGEs are also highest in barbecued and fried animal products which also contain cancer-causing chemicals like amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and lipid peroxidases, which are mutagenic.
To conclude, for increasing one's life expectancy, it is important to follow healthy eating habits with the elimination of fast food to prevent the occurrence of diseases.
- Joel Fuhrman(n.d.).The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food.American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.12(5).375-381
- Murray CJ, Atkinson C, Bhalla K, et al.(2013) The state of US health, 1990-2010: burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. JAMA.;310(6):591-608. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.13805
- Loprinzi PD, Branscum A, Hanks J, Smit E.Healthy lifestyle characteristics and their joint association with cardiovascular disease biomarkers in US adults. Mayo Clin Proc. 2016;91:432-442.
- Mozaffarian D, Benjamin EJ, et al. (2016) Heart disease and stroke statistics. update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation.133:e38-e360.