Everywhere you look, junk food is deemed the enemy. Yet it still continues to be a booming business between packaged snacks you can buy at the grocery store to fast food chains popping up on the regular. There are many reasons why we consume junk food, mostly because of convenience or cheaper cost.
Although many fast food chains are providing “healthier” choices on their menu, they still don’t come close to preparing food yourself.
It is well known that junk food is linked with negative health outcomes including type 2 diabetes, depression, digestive issues, high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and even premature death. And the more frequently you consume junk food, the higher your risk of these health outcomes.
But you may think a person who consumes junk food several times a week is at highest risk, but a study on fast food uncovered that merely one junk food meal a week was enough to increase the risk of obesity. Consumption of two junk food meals a week was associated with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
If you’re the type of person who is more concerned with the short-term effects of junk food than the long-term ones, then listen up.
Just after a few days of junk food, your metabolism begins to change. One study that looked at men who consumed junk food for five days found that they experienced a reduction in their muscle’s ability to turn glucose into energy even though the participants didn’t up their caloric intake. This is what contributes to insulin resistance and ultimately type 2 diabetes.
After a single junk food meal, your arteries begin to narrow, which increases blood pressure. You will also experience a jump in your sugar levels, which leads to a sharp drop later. This causes you to feel tired and have a low mood.
One junk food meal can also increase inflammation throughout the body. Furthermore, an Australian study found that among asthmatics, a junk food meal increased inflammation and could trigger more frequent asthma attacks.
Clearly, regular junk food consumption isn’t recommended, but sometimes we just can’t help it. You don’t need to feel completely bad for having a junk food meal once in a while, but just take a look at your overall health to see if that meal is detrimental or not. For example, are you already overweight, have other health problems, or smoke? If so, then it’s best you avoid junk food as much as possible. If you generally live on the healthier side, then you can enjoy a cheat meal every now and then.