Changing The African Food Narrative

6 Reasons You Need To Stop Eating Junk Foods

The saying bad things come in attractive packages has never been truer than in the case of junk food. In traffic, the roadside hawkers are sprinting after vehicles to dispose of their wares. At the cashier’s till in the supermarket, they are kept handy for when there’s no complete change to give you. Served in attractive and colourful mouth-watering packages, junk foods are just that – junk.

They offer little to zero to you in terms of nutritional content. Junk food is often mistaken for fast food but while one can be the other, the terms mean different things. Junk food’ refers to those foods which are mostly processed, containing high levels of calories from sugar or fat with little fibreproteinvitamins or minerals. ‘Fast Food’ on the other hand refers to easily prepared, mostly mass-produced and processed food. Not all fast food is junk food and not all junk food is fast food, however, they overlap. Here are seven reasons why you might reconsider spending your money on junk food.

  1. LOW NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Fast foods are low in all the good stuff that aid proper body functionality and which keep you healthy. Rather than contain proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals which your brain and top body systems functioning at their max, those calories and saturated fats and way too much salt clog your system and make you more vulnerable to illnesses and long term illnesses.

 

  1. BAD FOR YOUR BRAIN: There is a reason why some foods are categorized as brain foods and hardly any of these foods are sold in your easy-fix and junk food stores. Our brains need some foods to function optimally and to ensure mental health; foods like avocados, foods rich in antioxidants, nuts, fruits, deep water fish, and hardly any of these foods are sold in your junk food haunts.

 

  1. OBESITY: If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9 you are considered overweight. If your BMI is 30 or over you are considered obese.

Here’s how you calculate your BMI:

  1. a) divide your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in metres (m)
  2. b) then divide the answer by your height again to get your BMI.

 

In  comparison to normal weight people, obese people are more at risk of contracting illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, stroke, breathing disorders, and several others.

 

  1. HEART DISEASES: Bad fats – Saturated fats and trans fats – raise the body’s cholesterol level are key risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Saturated fats are sourced from red meat and dairy products. These can be replaced with healthy oils, which can be found in foods like avocadoes, fatty fish, seeds and nuts and plants. Similarly, high levels of sodium, common in junk foods, can lead to high blood pressure/hypertension and consequently increase your risks of heart attack.

 

 

  1. ADDICTIVE: It is very very easy to become addicted to carbonated drinks and junk foods such that before you know it, you’re driving there for lunch and filling your house and office desk with them. And there’s nothing harder to break than addictions and habits. And no, if you do fall prey, there’s no rehab centre to help you break your habit!

 

  1. AFFECTS MENTAL HEALTH: Mental health conditions such as ADHD, depression, ADHD and Alzheimers have been linked to Junk foods. A study of 120 children and adolescents, consuming fast food, sugar and soft drinks were associated with a higher prevalence of diagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (Pediatrics, Vol. 139, No. 2, 2017). When it comes to mental health, Mediterranean diets are prescribed over Western diets *cue in article on mental health*

 

COULD CAUSE CANCER: study carried out by researchers from the university of Arizona and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggests there’s a link between a diet full of high calorie, low nutrient foods and a higher risk of certain cancers like  breast cancer, colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, renal cancer, gallbladder cancer, oesophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

 

Similarly, a research led by Dr. Janet Stanford and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center colleagues has associated regular consumption of deep-fried foods such as French fries, fried chicken and doughnuts with an increased risk of prostate cancer, an effect which appears to be slightly stronger with regard to more aggressive forms of the disease.

 

In keeping with your new year, how much junk food are you willing to part with?

 

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