Do you know that junk food can affect your mental and physical health?

4 mins read

When was the last time you had a delicious meal of burger & fries? The thought of pizza and tacos is making me hungry and I am sure you people must be famished too. Well, whenever we feel hungry or too lazy to cook, we rely on junk food which is also known as fast food. As you can get it easily and it doesn’t take much time to be prepared. After all, it is called fast food for a reason.

Junk food has now become a substitute for homemade meals. The fast-paced and hush-hush lifestyle has changed the priority for food as well. Often, it becomes difficult to get the time to prepare or cook a meal; hence people choose junk food as a replacement meal. Junk food has now become a part of everyday life. 

But do you know that junk food isn’t healthy for your body and mind? Junk food is high in salt, sugar, and fat with little to no nutritious value. It not only affects one’s physical health but mentally exhausts a person too. There are many studies undergoing to measure the intensity of its effect on the human mind. But, its effect on physical health is well-known. The world’s obesity and diabetes rate are increasing day by day and one of the reasons for this is the rapid craze for fast food among people.

Let’s discuss junk food’s impact on mental and physical health.

Photo by Robin Stickel: https://www.pexels.com/photo/fries-and-burger-on-plate-70497/

There is plenty of options available when it comes to junk food. The young generation is exposed to a wide variety of choices. With outstanding marketing schemes, the companies have leveled up their advertising game as well. 

Amazing advertising tactics lure almost every generation of people. Over the last decade, there has been exponential growth in the junk food market. But however mouth-watering it looks, it has so many problems associated with it. One can develop many complications over a period of time. We will be discussing a few of the problems in detail.

Short-Term problems.

Physical health

Photo by Tim Samuel: https://www.pexels.com/photo/hungry-woman-eating-junk-food-6697285/

Fast foods contain a high level of calories, fat, and sugar. A high level of sugar intake can lead to diabetes. Not only diabetes but sugar rush results in neurological damage as well. “High amounts of sugars cause neurological damage” because they trigger inflammation, says Wesley Delbridge, RDN and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Imbalance in intake of nutrients

Junk food provides a lot of calories but unfortunately few of the nutrients that our body needs. The body can’t take benefit from the nutrients it needs as these fast foods lack vitamins and minerals. Junk foods are also known as discretionary foods which means they are “not needed to meet nutrient requirements and do not belong to the five food groups”.

According to the dietary guidelines of Australia and many other countries, these five food groups are grains and cereals, vegetables and legumes, fruits, dairy and dairy alternatives, and meat and meat alternatives. A brain scan also reveals that sugar can be addictive. No matter how much you consume it you will always end up craving more of it.

Mood Swings

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Fast foods are rich in carbohydrates, which results in fluctuation in blood sugar. Sometimes low and high blood sugar can cause panic attacks, insomnia, and other anxiety symptoms. Fried food lacks omega-3 fatty acids which can cause the brain to mimic anxiety symptoms. 

Long-term problems

Apart from short-term problems, junk food is also responsible for many long-term problems. Junk food not only disturbs the natural order of the digestive system but also creates havoc in a person’s life. Let’s throw light on a few of the problems.

Depression & Anxiety

According to a Spanish study, those who consume fast food are 51 percent more likely to be depressed than the ones who don’t consume it.

Heart-related diseases

As junk food is high in salt it can impact the functioning of a person’s blood vessels. A high level of salt can increase a person’s blood pressure, making a person more vulnerable to heart diseases like heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease.

Obesity/Weight gain

Often people become addicted to fast food, they consume it on daily basis. Junk food contains high calories which when consumed on daily basis lead to weight gain or obesity. If a person eats more calories than they burn, they gain weight. 

Digestive problems

As junk food is low in extremely low in fiber. The doctor believes that it can cause constipation or other digestive problems such as diverticular disease. It can also reduce the healthy gut bacteria which help in digestion.

Memory loss and decrease in learning abilities

A recent study shows that there is a link between memory loss and unbalanced diets exceptionally high in fat and carbohydrates. Fast food can lower a person’s capacity for learning and memory. This sort of diet may also raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease

Junk foods can activate the “happy hormone,” like dopamine in the brain, making us feel good when we eat these foods. This can lead us to want more junk food to get that same happy feeling again. The brain releases dopamine when it is expecting a reward by shopping or eating.

As fast food is tasty, convenient, and easily available, more and more people are shifting to it completely. Switching from healthy homemade food to readily available junk food isn’t just a matter of health but a lifestyle as well. Individuals get addicted to junk food as it doesn’t require much chewing and easily breaks down in the mouth. These highly processed foods reduce a person’s desire for fresh and whole food. 

Junk food companies are incorporating various marketing schemes to attract customers to its product. The increase in advertising campaigns for fast food is creating a high demand for processed food in the market. 

A study showed that adolescents aged 12–17 years view over 14.4 million food advertisements in a single year on websites. The frequently advertised products are cakes, cookies, and ice cream. Another study examining YouTube videos popular amongst children reported that 38% of all ads involved food or beverage and 56% of those food ads were for junk foods.

There’s no doubt about how flavorsome these fast foods are but it is not only about the tongue but overall health. The way people especially the young generation are shifting from homemade meals to these highly processed foods is a matter of concern. Healthy food helps in building a strong body and brain, which fast food can never compete with. 

Renu Solanki works as a content specialist with Postbox Consultancy Services. She is an English Literature graduate.

She is an avid-reader and passionate about the study of the Universe, Spirituality, Psychology and Traditional Culture. In her free time she likes to indulge in a steaming cup of black coffee & Netflix.