If the tag ‘junk food’ is not enough reason to make anyone refrain from the indulgence of foods so labelled, then perhaps the definition of it should be able to make you think again: Junk food is said to be food that tastes good but is high in calories and having little nutritional value. Junk food is here with us and has over the years, silently wreaked havoc on our population without our knowing it. Junk food has been necessitated by the fast pace of urban lifestyle and of course, a backlash of our knack for wholesale adoption of western culture which includes dietary behaviours.
But the consumption of junk food has become a popular habit and culture that has transcended our urban society; junk food continues to leave its destructive marks even deep into our rural hinterlands. Research studies are constantly exposing the dangers posed by the consumption of this category of foods: For instance, recent studies have shown that people who are in the habit of consuming junk food risk the danger of developing memory problems.
A research published in the journal Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity proves that much: One week of consuming junk food was sufficient to cause memory impairment in mice. The research implies that trans fats from junk food tends to replace healthy fats in the brain and interferes with its normal signalling mechanism. Also, through studying animals, evidences are that fats from junk food slow down your ability to learn new skills. We strongly feel that junk food is very harmful, and it has taken a big toll on the populace.
Among the various forms and shades of junk food are the ubiquitous pastries; they are basically consisting of dough of flour and water and shortening. Thus most of the varieties of baked foods made of dough or batter are also in the class of processed foods which pose serious danger to the health of anybody when consumed on a regular basis. These forms of processed foods are so called because for instance, the fibre of the flour so used have been totally eliminated in the process of refinement thereby exposing you to cancer risk and digestive or bowel problems.
Another category of junk food items you must watch out for include processed and seasoned meat – especially the red meat stuff; others are inclusive of fried foods and instant foods in the mould of noodles and pasta, etc. These equally have the capability of causing cancer, kidney disease, fatigue and weakness, digestive problems and even depression among young people. And so apart from the recent revelations linking these health issues to the over indulgence in junk food, studies have also confirmed that the increasing rate of cardiovascular diseases like hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and even diabetes, is most of the time traceable to or triggered by this dietary lifestyle.
Since junk food is usually heavy in saturated fats and trans fats, your heart is basically put at risk because it leads to increased triglyceride and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood which causes plaque build up in the arterial walls. This of course can as well raise blood sugar levels and likely trigger off an onset of diabetes. Also, the consequent inflammation results in bad cholesterol lining the walls of the arteries which restricts blood flow to the heart; this is a predisposing factor to heart attack apart from obesity, which can result from junk food accumulating in your body over a period of time.
It is indeed time for us to return to nature and natural foods – at least the way it used to be back in our traditional settings. It is therefore advisory that parents especially, help their children and wards lead healthier lifestyle by training them to adopt wholesome nutritional habits. Both adults and children should be enlightened on the importance of going back to enjoying traditional home cooking.
Urbanisation and the hurried life pattern of the present times should not be good enough reason to subject yourself to perpetual dependency on so-called fast foods; we must therefore always make conscious effort to discourage this unhealthy habit by consuming more of fruits and vegetables and less of processed foods in order that we and the generations unborn can live long and well.