In addition to the burgers and fries that we consume on a huge scale, fast food also refers to foods that we purchase at the grocery store and “prepare” at home. These heat-and-serve meals are particularly bothersome because most people don’t even realize they’re consuming fast food. Often called convenience foods, these types of foods include frozen meals, pizza, and hot dogs. While most people have limited their trips through the drive-thru, these types of foods are still heavily consumed. And they are making us sick.
Processed foods and foods loaded with preservatives are particularly difficult for your body to break down and process. Digestive juices pose little threat to processed foods such as Ramen noodles which barely lose their noodle form throughout the majority of the gastro-intestinal system.
Not only is it nearly impossible for your body to extract a lot of nutrients from many of these foods, they often loiter about in your gut on an extremely sluggish journey down hill. This only serves to back up your system and make it further impossible for your body to absorb nutrients.
Fast Food Equals Malnutrition
Since processed foods and fast foods leave you feeling full without filling you up with nutrients and healthy fiber, it’s very easy to become malnourished if you consume too many of them. Even if you do consume some sort of nutrition throughout the day, a gut full of processed foods may be unable to adequately process the good foods you do eat.
Additionally, fast foods are packed with addictive ingredients such as processed sugars and MSG. When eaten, these ingredients cause a spike in blood sugar and the release of dopamine – a feel-good chemical – in the brain. This chemical reward system leads to addiction and the consumption of a larger quantity of greasy, fast, convenient foods.
Weight Gain and Diseases Associated with Fast Food
A typical number whatever from your local fast food restaurant packs an average of 1,400 calories – dieticians recommend a 1700 – 2,000 calorie per day diet (in addition to exercise) for optimal health and weight maintenance. If you eat out several times a week, you can see how you will quickly consume more calories than your body can burn off, which will result in weight gain.
As if being overweight isn’t reason enough to stop eating fast food, obesity is directly linked to the majority of premature deaths in the US. Not only does obesity put you at risk for certain heart and circulatory diseases, it also can lead to diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and a whole host of issues that can leave you feeling ill; many of the diseases associated with obesity can even shorten your life span.
Since fast food isn’t going to go anywhere anytime soon, it’s up to you to eliminate it from your diet. Consume fresh foods whenever possible and start cooking your own meals. If time is a factor, prepare several meals on the weekend so that you can heat and serve them throughout the week.