Fast food – You know it’s bad for you, and yet it can be very difficult to resist. This is probably due to easy availability, low cost and aggressive marketing. But have you really considered the extent of the harm done to your health by fast food consumption? Here’s a look at what happens to our bodies when we succumb to the temptation of eating fast food:
Fast foods are loaded with highly-refined carbohydrates and fats with little or no nutritive value. When your digestive system breaks down these foods, there is instant release of sugar (glucose) into your blood stream. The excess sugar lights up the reward pathway in your brain which stimulates the release of dopamine, a feel-good hormone that can create a cycle of cravings for fast food.
Your pancreas responds to the surge in blood sugar levels by creating insulin which takes the sugar out of your blood and puts it into your body’s cells where it can be used as energy. As long as you are indulging in fast food only once in a while, your body will be able to handle it. But frequently eating fast food and repeated spikes in blood sugar could result in insulin resistance, weight gain, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Another component of fast food that is absolutely harmful to your health is artificial trans fats. These are industrially-produced fats that give processed foods their desirable taste and texture. Trans fats increase levels of your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers your good cholesterol (HDL). This can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Apart from the harmful effects to your body, fast food can contribute to depression and anxiety. Sudden peaking in blood sugar levels triggered by fast foods are always followed by a sugar crash that leaves you feeling irritable, anxious, and depressed. To elevate your mood, you may feel compelled to eat more fast food.
How do you break this vicious cycle of unhealthy eating? Planning your meals ahead of time is the best way to handle fast food cravings. You are far less likely to grab a pizza or hamburger if you have healthy snacks readily available. Pack as much fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and protein into your diet. The more varied your diet, the less likely you are to crave fast foods.
Complement your healthy eating plan with moderate exercise for a few weeks and get ready to be amazed at the positive changes in the way you look and feel.
Greater Houston Gastroenterology is the largest full-service gastroenterology group in the Houston metropolitan area, bringing high quality, cost-effective personalized care to patients from The Woodlands and North Houston to Sugar Land, Richmond, Pearland, and Angleton.