There are so many choices, it’s tasty and affordable, it’s well advertised, and is simple to order and consume. There are many reasons why people pick fast food to satisfy their appetites. In our fast-paced society, it is becoming more and more difficult for people to maintain healthy eating habits. Let’s be honest: preparing a complete meal at home takes a lot of work and time. Getting in line at the drive-through is a whole lot easier – everybody in the family can get what they want and you can put dinner on the table as you walk through the door.
It’s no surprise that Americans spend close to $3 billion a year on fast food. The average American spends $1200 per year on fast food. 70% consume fast food three times a week; 7% report eating it every day!
Impact on the Cardiovascular and Digestive Systems
Most fast foods—including beverages and sides—are high in carbs and contain little fiber. The carbohydrates in these foods are released into your bloodstream as glucose (sugar) via your digestive system. Your blood sugar rises as a result.
Your pancreas releases insulin in response to the spike in glucose. Insulin moves sugar to the cells in your body that require it for energy. Your blood sugar levels return to normal when your body consumes or stores the sugar.
Your body has excellent control over this blood sugar management system. Your organs can typically handle these sugar spikes as long as you’re relatively healthy. However, consuming a lot of carbs frequently can cause your blood sugar to increase repeatedly. These insulin spikes may eventually weaken your body’s typical insulin response. You run a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and weight gain.
Other Health Impacts
You don’t have to be an expert to recognize the drawbacks of fast food:
- If you eat fast food often, you will consume more calories.
The majority of fast food dishes have a lot of added sugar. This not only means that you will eat more calories with your meal, but also that the food is less nutrient-dense than a meal should be.
The American Heart Association advises that everyone should limit their added sugar intake to 150 calories or less, or about nine tablespoons. Without eating anything else, you would reach that advised limit if you drank a fast food beverage.
- It’s hard on your brain.
Fast food high in fats or sweets inhibits the function of brain peptides essential for creating and recalling memories. The brain has synapses that support learning, memory, and cognitive functions. Junk food overconsumption prevents the growth of these synapses. This can then affect how effectively you carry out daily tasks.
- A Chance of Renal Problems
Burgers, fries, pizza, shawarmas, and other fast foods are laden with salt and cholesterol. As a result, regular use can increase a person’s risk of kidney and cardiovascular problems.
Your blood’s sodium concentration rises when you consume a lot of salt. These increased salt levels cause high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke in people. Increased cholesterol levels in the blood cause artery blockage and can result in several health issues.
- Edema, bloating, and swelling difficulties can result
When you choose to have a fast food meal, the combination of salt, sugar, and fat may cause edema, a condition where the body retains water. Some people experience bloating and swelling after eating.
Additionally, it may lead to higher blood pressure readings, which may be risky if heart disease is a concern.
When choosing a fast food meal over a healthier option, about 90% of adults underestimate how much salt they consume. According to surveys, fast food “meals” contain more than 1,000 mg of sodium per meal than is recommended.
- Raises Your Blood Pressure
Plaque buildup in blood vessels is one of the health issues brought on by consuming large quantities of fast food. High blood pressure will result from restricting the blood’s ability to flow through them.
Many fatal diseases, including heart attack, brain stroke, kidney disease, aneurysm, retinopathies of the eyes, etc., are caused by uncontrolled hypertension.
The high concentration of sugars and fats in your favorite pizza and hamburgers eventually forces your body to store all of the glucose. Producing insulin is hampered by the body’s accumulation of sugar.
A person is more likely to develop diabetes when their body has low insulin and high glucose levels.
Mental Health Impact
Both your physical and mental health may be impacted by eating too much fast food. A diet heavy on fast food has less than favorable long-term effects, even on our moods. Compared to people who consume little or no fast food, those who consume processed foods from this industry are 51% more likely to experience depression or symptoms similar to it at some point in their lives.
A 2020 study discovered that middle school pupils in China who ate fast food and drank sugary beverages had a higher risk of developing mental health problems.
No matter how tasty they seem, junk foods mess with your metabolism. These foods have excessive sodium, cholesterol, sugar, and trans-fat content, which seriously unbalances your body chemistry. All of this elevates the likelihood of major medical consequences for the individual.
Maybe the next time you find yourself heading for a drive-through, make a quick stop at the super market instead and choose a healthier option for yourself and your family.
The Young Lions are grateful for the support of Steve Cuculich – Tampa philanthropist and founder of Car Credit. Steve’s generosity makes it possible for them to reach more families with their work.