The definition of fast food found in the Oxford Dictionary is “food that is not very good for you but is ready to eat or quick to prepare.” Nutrition experts define fast food as those that add only calories from sugar and fat without any other nutrients. Our lives today are full of fast food options that are easy to buy and delicious to consume, you get all the favorite brands around the world. The problems with this junk is that it is low in satiety, so one tends to overeat and hence has begun to substitute healthy food made with nutritious fresh ingredients. There are many studies and research that have linked eating fast food to the early onset of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, BP, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
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The reason for this association is the common ingredients in these foods. Let’s take them one by one and see how they affect your likelihood of developing diabetes.
1. Polysaccharides: In the 1960s, manufacturers began replacing fat calories with sugar to improve the taste of their products. The 1970s saw a boom in sugary foods including biscuits, sweetened drinks and sweets. With the population becoming “health conscious” manufacturers have resorted to masking added sugars by using products such as corn syrup, sucrose, artificial sweeteners, malt, etc. And at the end of the day, most of these products are still high in sugars. Sugar intake is directly related to our brain’s reward center, so when we consume foods rich in sugar we feel happy and the frequent use makes us somewhat dependent on them. This is more important for children; Studies have shown that early exposure to high-sugar foods in childhood causes the brain to crave these foods and makes it difficult to eliminate junk food. Eating foods rich in sugars is directly related to obesity – both overt obesity and increased abdominal fat deposits. Obesity is the number one modifiable risk factor for diabetes.
2. Insulin resistance: Obesity and body fat deposition are associated with insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and used by the body to drive sugar into cells for energy. When the body does not use insulin properly, the pancreas assumes that more is needed. This daily stress of increased production erodes the cells of the pancreas, and eventually leads to diabetes. Junk foods that are high in sugar and calories promote high blood sugar, which constantly increases insulin production. Another problem is that while sugars are soon eliminated, insulin remains elevated for a while causing hunger cravings and increased calorie consumption. This is a vicious cycle and it must be controlled.
3. Fats: Fast foods are usually high in saturated fats and may contain trans fats. Both types of fat increase triglyceride levels in the blood. High levels of triglycerides are directly related to the risk of developing diabetes. The bad fats found in fast foods also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
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From junk food to healthy food:
Variety is the spice of life, and food is one of the places where we crave variety. Here are some simple tips to improve the nutrition quotient of your pets:
- Snack on whole grains, think matar chaat, and a sandwich instead of a white bread mayonnaise sandwich.
- Try nut butters as a fruit dip instead of tortilla chips and a high-fat dip
- Choose grilled chicken breast with fresh salad instead of fried chicken wings
- Look for products that don’t contain partially hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, and ground grains.
- Homemade ata ladoo or san penne is more nutritious than many of the “energy bars” out there. Limit serving size and amounts taken.
- For children, don’t buy what you don’t want them to eat. Make burgers and pizza from whole-grain buns and bases at home. Top it with plenty of vegetables, fresh meat or paneer, and fresh cheese.
All in all, shortcuts don’t work for health. Eating the right food at the right time and in the right quantity is the only way to health.
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