COVID 19 has not been easing off of health scares and the anxiety born out of constantly worrying about the safety of your loved ones. Let us not try to add to our health worries. There are things you are doing that could actually be damaging your health. And at a time when we all need to be at peak health, you should focus on strengthening your immunity.
The dangers of fast foods
None of us can claim that we are able to resist the lure of fast foods. They are delicious and at the end of a stressful day, these foods can be mood-lifters. They are part and parcel of friends’ meet-ups. We even serve them to guests because who honestly has the time to cook elaborate dishes?
But the harsh truth is, fast foods have a ruinous effect on your health. They are particularly notorious for triggering and/or aggravating obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases and even some types of cancer.
As you may have heard, some of these diseases are considered comorbidities for a person infected with COVID-19. That means if you develop these health conditions, you are likely to suffer a more severe COVID infection than usual. So why take that risk? Let us get into the details of how fast foods can destroy your health.
Fast foods and heart health
Fast foods are loaded with unhealthy fats that can increase LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in your body. This LDL deposits along the arteries that carry blood to your heart. The arteries become narrow and the walls become hard. Blood has to push harder to reach your heart. This triggers hypertension (high blood pressure). Also, since the passages are narrowed, very little blood is able to make its way to the heart. Those muscles of the heart that are oxygen-deprived (blood carries oxygen) slowly stop functioning. Eventually, LDL and high blood pressure trigger a heart attack or even a cardiac arrest.
Fast foods may also initiate a stroke. The LDL that accumulates in the arteries as plaque may break free. Blood will carry it to the brain where it will cause a stroke.
Fast foods and non-alcoholic-fatty-liver disease (NAFLD)
NAFLD is a silent killer. It can wear away your liver’s ability to function. It is not just alcohol that causes chronic liver disease but foods that pack in a lot of unhealthy fats and sugars can also damage your liver. Fast foods can cause fats to be deposited in your liver and may even trigger inflammation. If unchecked, this could lead to serious liver damage (cirrhosis). NAFLD may even cause liver cancer. NAFLD is almost always a result of a diet rich in triglycerides (hint: all those rolls, burgers and pizzas you adore). NAFLD can easily be avoided and even if you have already been diagnosed with fatty liver disease, you can drastically reduce your liver fat by losing weight.
Fast foods and diabetes
Fast foods are loaded with sugars, fats and salts. None of these in excess is good for you, especially if you have already been diagnosed with diabetes. These foods will mess up your diabetes management plans. Besides, fast foods have a high glycemic index, which means right after consumption, they will make your blood sugar level shoot up, the level will drop again soon. This constant fluctuation is really bad for someone with diabetes and may even trigger insulin resistance in people who do not have diabetes.
Fast foods and obesity
By now we all know that fast foods stuff us with calories. Our sedentary lifestyles do not allow us to burn these extra calories and the result is weight gain. This has happened to multitudes of people during the lockdown. But did you know that obesity is the risk factor for many diseases including heart problems, fatty liver disease, arthritis, asthma, type 2 diabetes and stroke?
Fast foods and obesity can also trigger different types of cancers such as breast cancer, endometrial cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, ovarian cancer, liver cancer, oesophagus cancer or kidney cancer.
Does that mean it’s a complete ‘no’ to fast foods?
Actually, there is a bit of good news. Some ‘fast foods’ are not all that bad for you. Usually, grilled foods use very very little oil and hence are not exceptionally harmful. Instances of good fast foods include chicken bowls, quinoa bowls, protein bowls, grilled sandwiches, tandoori chicken or paneer, veg/ chicken wraps (if the tortilla is made from whole wheat or mixed grains). But a word of caution, this is not a license to binge on fast foods. Everything needs to be eaten in moderation.
How to kick fast foods addiction
Like any addiction, this too may seem like a difficult addiction to extricate yourself from.
- Understand the terrible risks of consuming fast foods especially now that a pandemic is raging. For the sake of a few minutes of pleasure of munching on something delicious, you cannot jeopardize your health.
- Plan your meals thoroughly. Do not deviate from the plan. Do not go to work without your lunch so that you are not inclined to order something unhealthy.
- Eat lots of protein, fibre and water. These keep you feeling full. If you want snacks between meals or while watching a movie, try nuts, seeds, yoghurt with fruits, makhana, popcorn, etc.
Take a vow to steer clear of fast foods. Do not push off implementing this vow, do it right away. There are many healthy foods you can eat that taste exciting. Eat healthy and filling meals so that you are not tempted to binge. Also, remember to exercise a little every day to amplify the effects of your healthy diet and to boost your immunity against diseases.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.