How does fast food cause heart disease

Fast food is harmful to the mind and body

Diseases and Depression from Fast Food

A diet high in fast food can increase your risk of various diseases. These are not just physical illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, the psyche is also affected, which can lead to depression, for example.

Nutritionist Nancy Geib from the Cleveland Clinic (USA) gives an overview of the disadvantages associated with consuming fast food. These include not only possible weight problems, but also various physical and mental illnesses.

Fast food is often very unhealthy

The consumption of fast food is widespread, but has the disadvantage that this type of food is mostly unhealthy. Many fast food restaurants focus on process and efficiency rather than serving high quality, nutritious foods.

Occasional fast food consumption is harmless

There is nothing wrong with eating fast food occasionally. Sometimes such a meal may even be the only option, for example when you are in a rush and you have no other quick way to find healthier foods. The occasional fast-food meal isn't something to worry about, reports Nancy Geib in a Cleveland Clinic press release.

"If you do your research and look for the best options, you can definitely go to a fast food restaurant if there are no other options," adds the expert.

Avoid regular consumption

But when burgers, french fries, and similar fatty foods become the focus of your diet, they can add to serious health problems. An unhealthy diet increases the risk of depression, cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases, reports Geib.

Many people eat fast food every day

The history of fast food goes back almost a century, but the concept - and some of the most iconic fast food restaurants in America - didn't gain massive popularity until the 1940s and 50s. Today, fast food has become an integral part of American culture, with one in three people in America eating fast food every day, reports the nutritionist.

What is called Fast Food?

Fast food is highly processed, mass-produced food that is prepared quickly - for example on the grill or in the deep fryer. By standardizing the food and preparation methods, the preparation is considerably accelerated.

Why is fast food so unhealthy?

Of course, when it comes to fast food, too, it depends on the food you eat, what effect it has on your health, and only a few of the effects that frequent consumption of fast food have on your body are listed below.

High blood pressure

Many fast food products are packed with sodium, which acts as a preservative and enhances the taste at the same time. The problem is, high sodium diets are known to increase blood pressure, which puts a strain on the cardiovascular system. Over time, high blood pressure can stiffen or narrow blood vessels, making it an important risk factor for heart attack, stroke and heart failure (heart failure). Because sodium is so common in the daily diet, it can add up quickly, explains the nutritionist.

A single bacon cheeseburger, for example, can bring you close to the daily recommended 1,500 milligrams of sodium, emphasizes Geib. The same goes for a large piece of fried chicken breast with mashed potatoes and sauce. Even seemingly healthier options, like an Italian sandwich, can add more than 1,000 milligrams to your daily sodium intake.

Flatulence from fast food

Eating meals that are high in sodium, high in fat, or high in refined carbohydrates (such as bread, rolls, or breading) can lead to bloating and gas. And if you add a lemonade to your meal, the carbonation can make the feeling worse, the expert said.

High cholesterol from fast food

Food fried in oil is high in fat, including saturated fat. Eating too much saturated fat can raise your LDL cholesterol (the unhealthy cholesterol), which increases your risk of heart disease, warns Geib.

Fast food promotes digestive problems

Bagels, muffins, and anything breaded may taste delicious, but these foods contain processed carbohydrates that are lacking in fiber. Eating a sufficient amount of fiber (25 to 35 grams per day) ensures that your digestion is stimulated. This will reduce your risk of diverticulitis and other conditions that cause congestion or constipation, such as hemorrhoids and hernias, Geib continues. Fiber also helps your healthy gut bacteria thrive and makes you feel full.

If you consume a lot of fast food, you will find it difficult to get the recommended amount of fiber, which can lead to increased indigestion, according to the nutritionist.

Weight problems from fast food

If you buy yourself fast food, there is a good chance you will end up eating a larger serving (and higher calorie foods) than if you were cooking at home, explains Geib. And if most of those calories are coming from highly processed carbohydrates, you could find yourself feeling hungry again in a matter of hours, resulting in even more calories being ingested. In the end, all of these calories can cause significant weight gain.

Tired and in a bad mood

In addition, fast food usually contains a lot of sugar - as do the drinks and sauces on offer. Due to the combined consumption, it is possible that far too much sugar is absorbed in a short time, warns the expert. The refined carbohydrates and sugars cause your blood sugar levels to skyrocket, causing your body to produce a surge of insulin to bring it down quickly, explains Geib. This cycle can make you feel tired and in a bad mood.

Benefits of a Balanced Meal

A balanced meal with protein, healthy fats and high-fiber carbohydrates, on the other hand, takes longer to be digested and absorbed by the body. This will slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream so you can get sustained energy without a sudden slump.

Depressed from fast food

If you eat a diet high in saturated fat, sodium, sugar, and refined carbohydrates, it will result in your ingestion of many other important nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are important for your body while improving your mood. Conversely, consuming many processed foods can actually increase your risk of depression, reports Geib.

Popular types of fast food

Below are some examples of particularly popular types of fast food and their ingredients.

How unhealthy is pizza?

An average pepperoni pizza slice contains around 680 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of fat (including 5 grams of saturated fat) and 300 calories, explains the expert. But who only eats one piece?

What's in a double cheeseburger?

A typical double cheeseburger and large pot of french fries provide around 1,200 calories and up to 1,700 milligrams of sodium. In combination with a large lemonade, there are even over 1,500 calories, according to Geib.

Ingredients of hot dogs

A typical no-season hot dog sausage contains more than half the daily recommended amount of saturated fat and 33 percent of the sodium intake. According to the expert, eating two hot dogs is almost the same as your daily requirement for saturated fat and sodium.

What to look for in fast food

It is actually possible to eat fast food without completely giving up your healthy diet. Look for meals with lean sources of protein, vegetables, and fiber, and avoid oversized portion sizes, recommends the nutritionist.

Find out about the nutritional content

Additionally, “You can make a more informed choice by researching the nutritional content of a particular fast food product. This information should be available online for all large restaurants, or you can simply ask about the nutritional content of the dishes in the restaurant, ”explains the expert. (as)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.

  • Cleveland Clinic: Here’s How Fast Food Can Affect Your Body (published January 28, 2021), Cleveland Clinic

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.