There is a reason why junk food is called “junk food.” That is exactly what a person is putting into their body when they consume foods like ice cream, chips, soda and cookies. In fact, junk food should never be eaten or included as part of a person’s diet due to the health risks involved with mass consumption. There are a number of concerns to be aware of before people think about before going on a junk food binge.
First of all, junk food has addictive qualities. Food companies spend a lot of money researching what is the perfect mixture of ingredients to keep costumers coming back for more. Thus, when people are eating a bag of chips or a chocolate chip cookie they must realize that they are buying into a whole system which invests and manipulates their food to make people hooked so that they will keep coming back for more.
In addition, junk food has very little nutritional value. In fact, it is low in the things that are healthy and high in the things that are not: sugar, sodium, cholesterol, calories. When junk food gets processed it is stripped of its vitamins and minerals. Therefore, it only comprises “empty calories” that do not benefit the body’s health but rather leads to disease.
There are a number of diseases and risks to health that occur when junk food is regularly consumed. According to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative extension, large amounts of junk food consumption may lead to low energy, sleep disturbance, mood swings and even poor academic achievement. In addition, junk food leads to greater health problems such as obesity and diabetes. Researchers at Harvard University expect the rate of obesity in the United States to reach an alarming 42 percent by 2050.
Junk foods also consist of more fat, more processed sugar and more carbohydrates than regular foods. It can increase a person’s risk of getting diabetes, cardiovascular problems and other chronic health diseases. Research has also shown that a vast consumption of junk food and fast food may lead to depression, especially in teens. There is a 58 percent increase in risk of depression when people eat saturated fat, trans fats and processed foods.
Even though junk food can taste good and the body often craves things that are high in sugar, salt or fat, these are the foods that people should never eat. Anything containing high amounts of sugar and gluten are among the foods that people should try to avoid.
Processed baked goods like donuts and pre-packaged muffins are packed with high levels of sugar and preservatives to increase shelf life. In fact, Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi states that they could probably sit on the shelf for years. Anything that can have such a long shelf life is bound to also be hard for the body to digest and create problems within the health system.
Drinking soda is also extremely bad for the body. Dietitians recommend only six teaspoons of sugar a day, but drinking one can of soda is like consuming 10 packets of sugar. One can of soda alone already exceeds the daily maximum that a person should consume. Dietitians agree that sugar is one of the worst things for the body because it is linked with heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even cancer. Furthermore, it is extremely addictive.
A less known fact is that foods containing gluten or grains also should be avoided. Gluten, even whole wheat, has a very high glycemic index, which will raise a person’s blood sugar levels and cause him or her to crave more carbohydrates after eating it. A popular food that contains gluten is bagels. According to Tanzi, the bagel’s high glycemic index will cause inflammation in the body and may even accelerate aging.
Food companies have created a market for junk food to be sold in stores and many people even consume junk food on a regular basis. Although junk food does have addictive qualities, people can begin to create good habits for themselves by choosing the healthy option over the foods that should never be eaten. When healthy habits are established, selecting the fruit salad over the baked goods will become a natural tendency that will then lead to people living healthier lifestyles.
Opinion by Joyce Chu