The definition of junk food found in the Oxford Dictionary is “food that is not very good for you but that is ready to be eaten or ready to be eaten”. Nutritionists define junk food as one that simply adds calories from sugar and fat with no other nutrients. Today our life is full of junk food options which are easy to buy and delicious to eat, you get all the favorite brands across the world. The problem with this junk is that it has less satiety, so one tends to overeat and hence it has started replacing healthy food made with nutritious fresh ingredients. There are many studies and research that have linked the consumption of junk food with the onset of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, BP, heart diseases and cancer.
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The reason for this link is the commonly found ingredients in these foods. Let’s take them one by one and see how they affect your chances of increasing your risk of diabetes.
1. Sugars: In the 60s, manufacturers began replacing fat calories with sugar to improve the taste of their products. The ’70s saw a boom in the consumption of sugary foods, including cookies, sweetened drinks and candy. With the population becoming: “health conscious” manufacturers resort to hiding added sugars by using products like corn syrup, sucrose, artificial sweeteners, malt etc. At the end of the day most of these products remain high in sugar. Sugar intake is directly linked to our brain center for rewards, so we feel happy when we consume high sugar foods and frequent use makes us somewhat dependent on them. This is more important for children; Studies have highlighted that exposure to high sugar foods in childhood causes the brain to crave for them and make it difficult to give up junk food. Consumption of high-sugar foods is directly linked to obesity – both overt obesity and increased abdominal fat accumulation. Obesity is the number one modifiable risk factor for diabetes.
2. Insulin Resistance: Obesity and central body fat deposition are associated with insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and used by the body to push sugar into cells for energy. When the body does not use insulin properly, the pancreas assumes that more is needed. This daily pressure to increase production damages the pancreatic cells, and eventually leads to diabetes. Junk food is high in sugar and calories promote spikes in blood sugar, which leads to a constant increase in insulin production. Another problem is that when the sugar clears too soon, insulin remains high for a period of time, leading to hunger cravings and increased calorie consumption. It is a vicious cycle and needs to be controlled.
3. Fats: Junk foods are typically high in saturated fat and may contain trans fats. Both these types of fats increase the level of triglycerides in the blood. High levels of triglycerides are directly linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes. Bad fats present in junk food also increase the risk of CVD.
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Healthy eating from junk food:
Diversity is the spice of life, and food is one place we crave for variety. Here are some simple tips to improve the nutritional content of your favorites:
- Snack on whole beans, think matar chaat, sundaal instead of mayo-filled white bread sandwiches.
- Try nut butter as a dip with fruit instead of tortilla chips and high-fat dips
- Choose Grilled Chicken Breasts with Fresh Salad Instead of Fried Chicken Wings
- Look for products that do not contain partially hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, and milled grains.
- A homemade flour ladoo or besan pinni is more nutritious than a lot of “energy bars”. Limit serving sizes and portions taken.
- For kids, don’t buy what you don’t want them to eat. Make Burger and Pizza at home from Whole Grain Buns and Base. Top them with lots of vegetables and fresh unprocessed meat or cheese and fresh cheeses.
Overall, shortcuts do not work for health. Eating right food in right quantity at right time is the only way of health.
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