A healthy diet consists of vitamins, minerals, protein and carbs. A sure-fire way to ensure your diet’s nutrition value is at its highest, is to eat meals that include the four basic food groups: dairy, meat, vegetables, fruits, etc.
Unfortunately, a lot of people maintain bad eating habits, such as going for “cheap” options – such as fast foods, canned goods, and frozen “oven foods”, etc. These bad habits relate to a staggering amount of health problems and diseases. Let’s talk about 10 of those effects that come from poor eating habits. Also, if you are more interested in the harmful effects of drinking alcohol, here’s a great post about long term effects of alcohol abuse.
As we ingest more and more amounts of sugars and simple carbohydrates (such as candy, fruit juice, white bread, white flour, soda, etc.), those high levels can develop Type 2 Diabetes. Junk food—or any food with high amounts of refined white sugar little to no nutritional content—forces your body to pump more insulin. This insulin “overdrive” causes your metabolism to stress out, making you vulnerable to diseases. Even eating too much junk food (or any food with no protein or complex carbs), short term, tampers with your moods and feelings – and depletes your energy levels. This is bad news, as less energy leads us to feel less inclined to be active, exercise or work out.
It goes without saying that eating unhealthy foods leads to weight gain. Left untreated, this gained weight turns to obesity – due to our inability to get rid of the accumulated fat gained from bad diets. Nobody needs to be sold on the premise that it’s easy to go overboard on eating; the fact that we’re eating so much can push us to “eat away our sorrows”, thus becoming a vicious cycle.
Unfortunately, obesity has company: kidney disease. Due to the insane levels of salt and fat in bad food, combined with a sedentary lifestyle, developing kidney disease is not just a possibility – it’s a reality. Sadly, obesity increases our chances of heart disease, particular cancers, stroke, and liver disease. As a result of bad eating habits, heart attacks are a dangerous threat for people with obesity.
3. Can Cause Depression
We’ve talked quite a bit about the “vicious cycle” of eating bad foods. For example: you feel bad about overeating junk, and stress yourself out over it – psychologically causing you to crave more bad food. This cycle is a dangerous threat level for causing depression.
“Junk” is any food without adequate nutrients, such as the amino acid neurotransmitter called tryptophan. This amino acid is responsible for providing our brains with serotonin, which is converted into dopamine – the “feel good” hormone.
What is scarier, is a lot of research has shown that junk food chemically alters our brains; our signals are literally being rewired to think we need these foods. Since our brains are being altered to think this way, we begin believing that there is nothing wrong with choosing canned/fried goods in favor of fresh produce.
4. Poor Brain Function
Healthy fats, antioxidants and complex carbohydrates all play their part in producing glucose, which our brain needs. (Not a lot, mind you, but glucose is still essential for our brains to function for prime/optimal performance. Performance, in this instance, refers to clear thinking, motor skills, speech functions, concentrating, etc.) When deprived of these nutrients, our “brain skills” plummet.
5. Drops Energy Levels
Foods with little to no nutritional content (which is essential for our body to function healthily) often plummet our energy levels. Our energy is tied in to the amount of protein and complex carbohydrates we intake, which provide our systems with much-needed glucose. A lack of protein and carbs results in fatigue, agitation and the unfortunate effect of craving more sugar for an “energy boost”. Energy is a necessity that helps us have the will to get through the day.
6. Kills Appetite Control
After eating fried and processed foods, how many times were you hungry shortly after? It’s incredibly easy to eat even more of these foods – in an attempt to sate our hunger. This is because the trans fat found in these foods literally “slaughter” our ability to control our appetite – called the hypothalamus. It goes without saying that, once more, eating bad food becomes a routine in an attempt to feel full.
7. Weight Gain
Our blood sugar is managed by insulin. Simple carbs and trans fat in processed foods spikes insulin levels. When this happens, a condition called insulin resistance is formed. This condition prevents insulin from managing our blood sugar – which inevitably leads to weight gain. This is one of the primary reasons why gained weight leads to obesity.
8. Health Diseases
Unhealthy eating habits can potentially cause two major health diseases: osteocalcin and malignant malnutrition. The former—often linked with a lack of vitamin D (found in a lot of healthy foods)—causes sufferers’ bones to deteriorate. The latter disease causes anemia, edema, and skin pigmentation discoloration.
9. Mood Problems
Serotonin and dopamine are two hormones our brains need to function adequately. People without sufficient serotonin or dopamine production often develop depression and tend to feel sad more often. Judith Wurtman (director of Women’s Health Program at MIT) stated that people with low-carb diets “show high feelings of depression, tension and anger.”
10. Slows Learning
Junk/unhealthy food ruins memory, according to Professor Margaret Morris. In 2011, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a study: functioning, healthy people ate junk food for only five days, and were then subjected them to cognitive tests. Unsurprisingly, results these tests (which measured moods, attention and mental speed) showed that these people’s cognitive functions were low. Here’s why: high-sugar diets that are full of fat prevent BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is responsible for forming memory retention and is a vital part of learning; learning becomes harder.
While fast food/junk food tends to be less expensive than eating healthy foods, leading us to choose the easy option… we end up paying for that choice with our health. Most people know by now (I hope) that fast foods are the primary culprit for many of these diseases. Specifically because fast food is loaded with additives – causing us to become addicted to the fast food. This is because of all the large number of salts, sugars and fats of fast/junk food. Please make the choice today to stop with the unhealthy eating habits and opt for healthier foods that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates – such as whole grains, tofu, spinach, lentils, carrots, etc.