When it comes to diet, what you put into your body plays a significant role in your overall appearance and health. It can be easy sometimes to pull into a local fast-food restaurant and order a quick bite when you don’t have a chance to cook, and this is not always bad. However, if you select the wrong foods, it can be very harmful to your health.
Many fast food options contain highly processed carbohydrates, sugar, unhealthy fat, and sodium. They are high in calories and are low in anti-oxidents, fiber and many other nutrients.
This guide will discuss the short-term and long-term impacts of fast foods.
Effects of Sugar and Fat
Eating added sugars provides absolutely no nutritional value and contributes to weight gain and heart disease. High-carb foods increase the body’s need for insulin, stimulate appetite, and increase hunger, leaving you less satisfied after every meal.
Fast food is loaded with sugar and fat. For example, some of the Starbucks drinks are loaded with sugar, e.g. a 16-ounce Cinnamon Dolce Latte contains 40 grams of sugar. That is 2.84 tablespoons of sugar and equivalent of eating two Twinkies.
Diets high in fat not only affect consumers’ overall health but put them at risk of obesity, coronary heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Specifically, diets high in trans fats and saturated fats can increase the amount of bad cholesterol in your body and have been linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Effects of Sodium
Too much sodium in your diet can cause water retention, which results in a feeling of bloating. Excess sodium intake can also contribute to
- High blood pressure
- Congestive heart failure
- Kidney disease
- Risk of kidney stones
- Risk of kidney disease
- Risk of stomach cancer
Top 10 Most Unhealthy Fast Food Restaurants
- Carls Junior
- Burger King/White Castle
- Jack in the Box
- Popeyes Chicken
- Round Table Pizza/Pizza Hut
Other unhealthy fast food chains include In-N-Out, Taco Bell/Del Taco, Wendy’s, Quizno’s, Whataburger, Habit Burger, and Donut King.
12 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants
Not all fast food restaurants are unhealthy and offer nutrition-conscious choices. Here are some of the healthier picks
- Panera Bread
- Jason’s Deli
- Au Bon Pain
- Noodles and Company
- Corner Bakery Cafe
- Atlanta Bread
- Einstein Bros Bagels
- Taco Del Mar
- Jersey Mike’s Subs
Impact of Fast Food on the Body
Although healthier fast food options exist, that doesn’t mean fast food should be eaten every day. In order to make the best diet decisions, it is important to understand the impact food has on your body.
1 – Digestive System
Fast foods s high in simple carbohydrates, such as white bread or white rice. During digestion, your system breaks these carbohydrates down into sugar, known as glucose. The glucose is then introduced into your bloodstream, which causes the pancreas to release insulin to absorb the sugar. Blood sugar levels drop as the sugar is absorbed, leading to low blood sugar. Lastly, your pancreas releases glucagon, which tells the liver to use stored sugars. If this continues regularly, it can put you at risk of type 2 diabetes.
2 – Respiratory System
Regularly consuming fast food with excess calories can lead to weight gain and obesity. Obesity causes respiratory issues such as shortness of breath, wheezing without much exertion, sleep apnea, and asthma.
3 – Central Nervous System
Another negative side effect of eating fast food is the effect on the brain’s synapses & molecules that aid in memory and learning. Studies have found that eating doughnuts, croissants, bran muffins, pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs may be linked to depression.
4 – Skin and Bones
Foods high in carbs and sugar also cause the bacteria within your mouth to produce acids that can destroy tooth enamel. Since tooth enamel can never be replaced, avoiding these foods is highly significant. Many people falsely assume that chocolate and greasy food cause acne, but it is, in fact, the carbohydrates that cause this health issue alongside the increase in blood sugar.
Healthy Diet Recommendations
Whether it be out at a fast-food restaurant or at home, it is important that you select foods wisely. Here are some simple guidelines to follow.
Avoid simple carbohydrates such as white bread, rice, doughnuts, tortillas, and bagels.
Instead, aim for healthy carbohydrates such as whole oats, whole wheat products (not enriched), brown rice, yams, as well as corn tortillas, and watch out for sodium and sugar content.
Avoid high-fat proteins such as beef patties, fried chicken, and meats high in sodium, like sliced turkey and ham.
Instead, choose protein like egg whites, healthy fish, lean cuts of beef, lean poultry, and soy.
Load up on high-fiber vegetables if they are available, but avoid eating high-starch vegetables containing a lot of sodium, heavy sauces, or that provide little nutritional value.
Fruits and Sugar
Fruit plays a significant role in a healthy diet. However, drinks such as Jamba Juice smoothies contain incredibly high sugar levels and should be avoided.
The best practice is to eat fresh fruit and avoid juices or smoothies, as they often contain more than the recommended daily intake of sugar.
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