Can you get sick from junk food? (+8 tips)

In this article, we are going to answer the question, “can you get sick from eating junk food”?  

Can you get sick from eating junk food?

Yes, you can get sick from eating junk food. Although occasionally eating junk food may not cause immediate side effects, compulsively eating junk food and making it a habit can lead to serious health problems. 

What is junk food? 

Junk foods basically include all those types of food that are high in calories but offer no or little nutritional value. They lack essential nutrients that are important for our body such as minerals, vitamins and fiber. They are usually loaded with carbohydrates and saturated fats, which when consumed in excess for the long-term can be harmful for our health. 

Fast foods such as burgers, pizzas and french fries are typically considered as popular options of junk foods. Highly processed foods such as pastas also fall in this category

Immediate effects of eating junk food:

  1. Eating one meal of junk food is enough to raise your blood pressure. As these foods are high in sodium content, they can damage the arteries, consequently raising the blood pressure. High content of sodium can especially be damaging to renal arteries, thereby affecting the functioning of kidneys.
  1. Junk foods are especially high in fats. Consuming excess fats leads to the deposition of these fats in our bodies, increasing our percentage of body fat and leading to obesity.
  1. Junk foods are composed of simple carbohydrates like starch. These carbohydrates are easy to digest, and therefore, not filling for a long period of time. Although one immediately experiences a rush of energy after having junk food, their energy levels quickly become low, causing the person to feel tired and cranky.
  1. Consuming junk foods can harm our gut. This is because these foods usually lack fiber which is essential to maintaining a healthy digestive system. Therefore, eating junk foods often leads to a feeling of bloating.
  2. Junk foods are high in saturated fats, which are not easy to digest. To digest them, our body produces more stomach acid than usual, which leads to indigestion.
  1. Junk foods often contain additives and preservatives to help them last longer. These in turn prove to be bad for our skin, leading to breakouts.
  1. Our natural hormonal balance can get messed up due to the excessive consumption of junk foods. This is because the excess fat and simple sugars interfere with the proper functioning of the hormones leptin and ghrelin. This can also lead to weight gain due to poor metabolism of the body.
  1. Although momentary consumption of junk foods makes one feel happy and content, after a few hours, a person begins to feel low and depressed. This is because the hormone seretonin, which is responsible for mood regulation in our bodies, has most of its receptors located in our gut. Therefore, the type of food that enters our gut affects the mechanism of the functioning of serotonin.
  1. Junk food can cause inflammation throughout our bodies. Food that is high in fat and sugar has been linked to an inflammatory response by our bodies, which can impair our immune system and make us susceptible to infections in future. Our impaired immune system puts us at a higher risk of contracting chronic diseases like Crohn’s disease, Type 2 Diabetes and arteriosclerosis.

How to eat junk food safely?

  1. Maintain the 80/20 ratio. If you want to consume junk food in a week, make sure that while 20% of the time you’re eating junk food, the remaining 80% of the time you are eating healthy food. 
  1. Opt for smaller sized options, do not upsize your meals. This way you can prevent yourself from eating extra calories.
  1. Try and look for healthier alternatives. For instance, for your burger, swap the bun with a lettuce wrap to prevent the addition of unwanted simple carbohydrates. 
  1. After a meal of junk food, try to eat more healthy foods such as greens, vegetables and basically foods loaded with fiber to boost your metabolism and ease digestion.
  1. Adopt good eating habits such as eating slowly by chewing for a longer time. This prevents one from overeating.
  1. Exercise regularly to keep your metabolism high and prevent the build up of fat in your body.
  1. Sleep well. This is because adequate sleep results in less hunger and more ability to control eating patterns.
  1. Avoid late night snacking on junk food. This allows the junk food to be given enough time to digest properly.

In this article, we have answered “can you get sick from eating junk food” as well as provided tips on how to eat junk food safely.

References:

  1. https://www.eatthis.com/junk-food-side-effects/
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/sneaking-a-little-junk-food-doesnt-mean-all-is-lost/2018/02/26/828b75fa-1b36-11e8-9de1-147dd2df3829_story.html
  3. https://www.thedailymeal.com/eat/8-reasons-why-fast-food-making-you-sick-and-tired-0/slide-9
  4. https://www.cookinglight.com/news/recent-study-shows-fast-food-may-damage-immune-system
  5. https://www.liverdoctor.com/junk-food-creates-more-inflammation/

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.