You Can Be in Control
There are few things in life over which we have control. But, one thing over which we have complete control is that we choose what we eat. Every day we decide which foods we put into our bodies.
There is a vast assortment of rich, natural, fresh foods that take some thought and preparation. Or, the second possibility is a variety of unhealthy foods that are easy and convenient. Sadly, the price you may pay for the second choice is to be plagued with poor health and to die before your time.
Eating healthy is a popular trend today. It is my hope that it will become a common American lifestyle than will last for generations – rather than just a passing fad.
You would have to live in a cave to be unaware that you should be eating healthy foods. Yet, despite the abundance of information promoting healthy food, unhealthy foods still make up a large portion of many diets.
NEWS-Medical/Life Sciences explains that,
Fast food or junk food is a generic term for all kinds of foods which are rich in energy, because they contain a lot of fat and sugar, as well as salt, but are relatively low in other important nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Bad Decisions Made by Busy People
It is common knowledge that fast foods, junk food, and processed quick meals are not healthy. The challenge for most Americans is that their lives are busy, too busy. They work 12-hour days, seven days a week, and rarely take time off for fun. Eating has become a necessity and not a pleasure.
Time is at a premium for busy people. They will do anything to find more time, including eating whatever is the easiest and most convenient, without considering the nutrient value of their food choices. It stops the hunger pangs and that is enough. However, it is difficult to understand why they ignore the fact that their choices do not provide enough nutrients to sustain good health.
Fast foods, junk foods, and highly processed foods are loaded with calories because of the high sugar and fat content. Another frightening fact provided by WebMD is, “These types of foods are very addictive.” Once you are hooked, it is a tough habit to break.
A steady diet of unhealthy foods can do serious damage to your health. It will eventually take a heavy toll on your physical and mental well-being. It can also contribute to a much shorter lifespan than you would like to have. As the title says, don’t choose to die before your time.
8 Health Threats from an Unhealthy Diet
Let’s look at some ways that an unhealthy diet hurts your mind, your body, and is a danger to your children.
Weight Gain Is Inevitable
This is practically guaranteed. Eating foods loaded with calories may taste good and satisfy some unhealthy cravings for fat and sugar; but they don’t satisfy the needs of your body. The foods you eat must provide the nutrients required for good health, or you will face the consequences. Plus, the body will store the excess calories as fat, and you will gain weight.
For example, a McDonald’s Big Mac contains 540 calories. A homemade whole grain chicken salad sandwich of the same size is much more filling and contains only 320 calories.
By eating at McDonalds for only one of your daily meals, you add an extra 220 low-nutrient calories per day. If you do this every day of the week, you add 1,540 calories for the week. Add an order of fries with the hamburger at 230 calories each, and you pick up an additional 1,610 calories per week. totaling 3,150 calories extra per week. If you do this for a few weeks, you will pile on the pounds quickly.
Science Daily reports that an unhealthy diet filled with these types of foods is one of the leading causes of obesity, which also increases your risk of developing diabetes.
Mental Health Issues
There have been concerns for years about the impact of junk food on mental health. My son took his own life because of bipolar disorder. Since then I have closely followed the studies on this. I think his condition was exacerbated by his steady diet of junk food and energy drinks.There was nothing I could do to convince him to change his diet. He refused with dire consequences.
A study published Feb. 16, 2019 in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, showed that:
California adults who consumed more unhealthy food were also more likely to report symptoms of either moderate or severe psychological distress than their peers who consume a healthier diet.
Jim E. Banta, PhD, MPH, associate professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said the results are similar to previous studies in other countries that have found a link between mental illness and unhealthy diet choices. Increased sugar consumption has been found to be associated with bipolar disorder, for example, and consumption of foods that have been fried or contain high amounts of sugar and processed grains have been linked with depression
Bad diets have also been linked to memory loss and dementia due to high blood pressure and cholesterol disrupting the blood supply to the brain.
Ask yourself, “Is the convenience or instant gratification received from eating fast food and junk food worth endangering yourself with the possibility of mental illness?”
Poor-quality food deprives your vital organs of the nutrients needed to do their jobs. If deprived long enough, damage can occur, which can lead to eventual organ failure.
For example: Healthy carbohydrates support the central nervous system, brain, and immune system. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that support the heart. Without these nutrients, the blood vessels in and around your heart can be damaged, and you increase the risk of a heart attack.
Your organs will not remain heathy and continue to do what they are meant to do without a steady diet of nutritious-rich foods,
Food with high levels of unhealthy fats, processed sugar and white flour, and little or no proteins is dangerous. Some favored snacks like chocolate, chips, donuts, cookies, sodas, and energy drinks contain no protein.
Even fast food hamburgers and sausages don’t contain much protein. The meat is mostly fat, unlike fish, chicken, and lean meat, which are loaded with protein. Plus, the sodium content in fast-food sandwiches is dreadfully high and creates its own set of health issues – specifically high blood pressure.
Protein fuels body maintenance. It is needed to build new cells and to maintain and repair existing cells. If the foods eaten do not provide adequate protein, the body will take it from existing muscle cells. Then, the muscles shrink and become weak.
Unsightly Skin Problems
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and the one that other people see. It is nourished by the foods we eat just like all the other organs. Eating unhealthy foods that do not contain adequate nutrients is a sure path to several nasty skin problems.
Vitamins and minerals from fresh fruits and vegetables will keep your skin smooth and clear with a healthy glow. When your diet short-changes your body on vitamins, your skin can become dry and scaly. It can also lead to the development of unsightly age spots and skin rashes. Not ingesting enough minerals will cause premature wrinkles and skin sores.
There have been studies done that have found a possible connection between fast foods and acne. There is no empirical evidence of the connection, but it is highly probable. This is a condition that you do not want. The chance that it causes acne makes fast foods unacceptable as part of your regular diet.
It is important to take good care of our skin since it plays a major part in “our” presentation to the world.
Unstable Blood Sugar Levels
One of the main tenants of eating well is to limit your intake of “added sugars.” This means processed sugar of any kind including granulated sugar (AKA sucrose). There are many others that you commonly see on food labels such as: lactose, dextrose, maltose, high fructose corn syrup, etc. (there is a long list).
An unhealthy diet does only the opposite. It floods your body with added sugars (AKA simple sugars). Most junk foods are filled with them. Every time you eat a donut, a candy bar, your favorite Frappuccino, an ice cream cone, a Ho-Ho, a packaged fruit pie, or a Big Gulp, you are flooding your body with sugar.
Simple sugars (processed or added sugars) are dangerous is because they digest quickly and enter your blood stream immediately. The sugar creates a short surge of energy that feels good, but quickly crashes, leaving you feeling drained.
When you are continually eating sugary snacks, you create frequent surges and drops in blood sugar. Your concentration and performance are compromised, which can affect your productivity. The surges can also damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of contracting diabetes. You can recognize the surges and drops by your fluctuating energy levels.
Added sugars have also been associated with rising levels of obesity, heart disease, and increased cancer risk.
Higher Risk for Chronic Disease
Added sugars, along with unhealthy fats, and sodium, make up the trifecta of dangerous ingredients in unhealthy foods. In addition to the trifecta, most junk foods are filled with additives – chemicals, preservatives, and trans fats.
Unfortunately, the medical world and food manufacturers have known about the dangers of these additives for some time. There is a lot of information that has built consensus among the experts regarding the connection of additives and chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Additives were found extremely toxic for the kidneys, creating problems like renal failure.
The recommendation on foods that contain additives is to consume them at your own risk. Keep in mind that the main purpose of additives is to increase the shelf life of a product, to make it more addictive, and/or to make it taste better. The effect on health is not a factor in deciding whether to use them, or not.
A Threat to Your Children
This is most the serious problem. Your eating habits influence your children in the way eat now and how they will eat in the future. Children learn eating habits from their parents. If you eat fast foods and junk foods regularly, or – if you are unconcerned about eating a healthy diet or ensuring that your children eat healthy foods, you will be establishing habits that will be almost impossible to break. You will set them on a path that may bring serious health problems and early death long before you are ready to let them go.
NEWS-Medical/Life Sciences warns the public that:
Fast food intake more than three times a week is associated with greater odds of atopic disorder [in children] such as asthma, eczema or rhinitis, while asthma severity is almost 40% higher in teenagers and more than 25% in younger children.
Eating junk food 4-6 times a week leads to lower math and reading skills compared with the children who did not eat so much junk food.
Make Eating Well a Priority
There are other statistics I could quote, but I think you get the idea. Make eating well a priority. Take care of yourself and your children. Eat well – stay well – live well (for a long time).
Eating healthy may not seem like it should be a priority when you are extremely busy. But . . . remember, your health is your most valuable asset. Make it a priority and join the trend of eating healthy. Then, take it a big step further and make it your lifestyle.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be time consuming. A healthy omelet with a side salad can be prepared in less than 15 minutes. A pot roast with all the trimmings can be put together in the crock pot in 15 to 20 minutes. A healthy breakfast of a piece of fruit and hearty wheat toast with peanut butter can be ready in 5 minutes.
There Are Books to Help You
There are many books available to help you with the learning curve, which may be involved if healthy eating is new to you. Go to Amazon.com and type in “healthy eating” or “healthy eating cookbooks.” Check out any of the “Mediterranean Diet” books if you prefer a structured eating plan to help you establish this new pattern without making you crazy,
Healthy Foods like those described above are quick and easy once you get past the learning curve.
Hopefully, you will be more willing to make different food choices now that you are more aware of what can happen if you don’t. No one wants to die before your time. You have it within your power to ensure that you, and those you love, live long and healthy lives.
Choose to eat healthy. Protect your life and the lives of your children from the dangers discussed in this article.
Thanks for joining us today. Hope to see you next time.