We all know that junk food is bad for our health—it’s pretty much in the title that describes the food. The name “junk” indicates food that is low in nutrients and often artificially enhanced to be absolutely delicious. Foods like cake, cookies, potato chips, ice cream, candy, and chewing gum all fall under the umbrella of junk food. If you didn’t already know, here are a few of the most common dangers of junk food:
Have you ever read the nutrition labels on junk food? Take a can of soda, for example. It contains more sugar per can than your body needs in an entire day. Not only that, but the form of sugar is highly refined. That means it’s too easy for your body to digest and absorb. Drinking soda floods your body with sugar, which is turned into glucose. Excessively high glucose levels trigger insulin production to keep your blood sugar normal. Over time, this constant increase in insulin can lead your body to become resistant to it, which eventually leads to diabetes. All because of the incredibly high sugar content of your junk food. Granted, not all junk food is loaded with sugar—potato chips and other fried foods are relatively sugar-free. However, most sweetened junk food contains far more refined sugar than is good for your health.
Do you have any idea how damaging junk food can be for your health? To begin, diabetes is one of the most common risk factors for fatal heart disease. But it’s not just the sugar you need to worry about—the fat can also be a huge problem. Fried and fatty foods (like potato or tortilla chips or French fries) are loaded with trans fats, not to mention the fact that they’re cooked in hydrogenated oils. These two things are most likely to clog your arteries and cause serious heart problems. Eating fried and fatty foods like this is all but guaranteed to lead to heart disease. The more you eat, the higher your mortality risk!
The human body is designed to respond to the demands you place upon it. If you need more energy, your body produces more energy (also known as the thermic effect). But if you don’t require as much energy, your energy output will remain low regardless of how much food you eat. Junk food requires very little energy to break down and metabolize, meaning there is very little thermic effect. Your body burns fewer calories trying to process the food you’ve eaten, so you use up fewer calories throughout the day. And yet, you’re still putting A LOT of calories into your body. Junk food is very high in calories (from fat and sugar), but there’s almost no energy use from the digestion process. As a result, your metabolism slows down at the same time as you’re overloading your body with calories of sugar and fat.
Junk food tends to be fairly high in calories, thanks to all the fat and sugar it contains. You’ll find that a pack of cookies contains far more calories than are good for your health. As a result, you end up packing on the pounds. Your body turns sugar into stored fat more easily than dietary fat, as it’s harder to break down fat (meaning a slower release of energy). But all the excess sugar in your bloodstream has to go somewhere, and your body turns it into fat to store for later. The more junk food you eat (especially sugary junk food), the more likely you’ll be to gain weight.