Fast food has become a way of life, with chain restaurants stationed at practically every street corner. It tastes so good, it’s easy to access, and it’s often cheaper than healthier food. Even when we know that fast food is unhealthy and bad for our bodies, we continue to indulge.
It can be okay to pop into your local fast food restaurant or food truck once in a while. However, if you make this a habit, it can result in some really bad consequences for your health. Eating fast food on a regular basis can affect a wide range of your body’s systems.
Fast food is packed with a lot of carbohydrates. By constantly eating this kind of food, you are increasing your risk of getting type-2 diabetes. Type-2 diabetes is a disease where the insulin from your pancreas is unable to deal with the high amount of glucose resulting from the digestion of carbs.
In addition to all those carbs, your favorite fast foods also contain a lot of added sugar and fat. The sugar alone provides a lot of empty calories that offer very low nutritional value. The sugary drinks and bites can also lead to dental problems, especially cavities.
The fat used in fast food is often trans fat, created when foods are refined or processed. This type of fat breaks down into low-density lipoproteins, which make up the “bad” kind of cholesterol. This is the kind of cholesterol that can lead to hyperlipidemia, hypertension and heart disease. High amounts of fat also contribute to obesity.
The risks for developing hypertension and heart disease become worse when you factor in the sodium that’s prevalent in a lot of fast foods. Large amounts of sodium make fast food unhealthy because it can raise your blood pressure to abnormal levels.
There’s also a psychological factor when it comes to eating fast food. Consuming your favorite fast food brings a rush of euphoria that can become addictive. You might try to cut the addiction by skipping meals, but when you fail to satisfy the craving, you may become depressed.
Now that we’ve seen the effects of fast food on your health, here are some of the most unhealthy food items. These might be some of your favorite go-tos, but you should enjoy them in moderation for a healthy diet.
- French fries
Whenever you order greasy food like burgers, wings, or ribs, there are usually french fries on the side. These deep-fried potatoes contain a lot of carbohydrates that may increase your risk of developing type-2 diabetes. The fries are also fried in refined oils, which can make them sources of bad cholesterol.
- Fried chicken
Many fast food restaurant chains offer fried chicken in one form or another. You’ll often find nuggets, wings, or drumsticks on offer. Prepared in a healthy way, chicken can be a good source of protein. However, fast food restaurants often use hydrogenated oils when preparing their chicken, introducing a lot of trans fat and putting you at an increased risk of hypertension and heart disease.
Soda contains a lot of sugar with no nutritional value attached to it. The manufacturers of soda sweeten it with fructose, which your body readily absorbs. As we mentioned earlier, eating lots of sugar increases your risk of developing type-2 diabetes and becoming obese.
Despite their messy goodness, burgers can pose some serious health hazards. The beef patties alone contain a lot of calories. If you add bacon to your burger, that further increases the amount of fat you’re consuming. Any lettuce or tomatoes on top do little to offset the calories already present.
Milkshakes have been part of fast food restaurants for a long time. The ice cream in milkshakes contains a lot of fat, and the whipped cream on top only adds to the total. Sometimes restaurants add other sugary toppings like chocolate cookies or candy, ramping up the calorie total even more.
Even if you’re in an area surrounded by fast food restaurants, you can still find healthy alternatives.
If you can’t do without chicken in your diet, try opting for the grilled version. Grilled chicken contains less fat and sodium than fried, making it a healthier alternative.
You might experience some cravings in the weeks leading up to your period. There are lots of healthy foods you can enjoy during this time. For example, if you have a sweet tooth, you can opt for small amounts of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has plenty of health benefits, including increasing good cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.
If you are craving a milkshake, you could try a fresh fruit smoothie instead, eliminating a lot of the fat. The fruit in the smoothies also provides other nutrients that your body needs.
And it always bears repeating: don’t forget to drink water. Water is responsible for the proper functioning of many systems in your body, including helping clear out the aftermath of eating too much junk.