When you look around and see the what people are eating, you can visibly see the impact. There are links between fast foods and health problems. Usually the people eating fast food are overweight a look unhealthy.
Clever marketing has led us to believe that fast food is okay. We’re enticed by the accessibility of quick, cheap meal options available everywhere we go. The reality is that by choosing the processed fast food option, you’re compromising your health.
Isn’t it obvious? Excess carbohydrates, processed foods, meats, salts and sugars etc. The Western / American diet is killing us.
The compounding effect of consuming junk food and doing little to no exercise equates to some dismal results. However, you probably won’t see the results straight away. The excess weight and stress on the organs happen gradually over time.
Not only do these unhealthy habits affect your waistline. They also affect your organs, immune system and gut health. Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of the impact that something small like this can have on their quality of life.
What Makes Fast Food So Bad?
Fast foods are generally bad because they have been ultra-processed. The manufacturers use ingredients that have been cooked up in a lab with who knows how many other unnatural substances. Resulting in their products being loaded with additives and fillers which usually contain chemicals that our bodies don’t know how to process. Here are some of the ingredients found in fast food:
- Hydrogenated Fat
- Flavor enhancers
Are There Really Links Between Fast Foods and Health Problems?
There are several great documentaries available that show the effects of eating too much junk food. They clearly show the impact of fast foods and health. Here are a few films to get you started.
Supersize Me (2004)
Fat Head (2009)
Forks Over Knives (2011)
Hungry for Change (2012)
Soul-food Junkies (2013)
Overfed and Undernourished (2014)
That Sugar Film (2015)
But it’s Vegan (2017)
And the list goes on…
Each of these documentaries address the side effects of consuming junk food. These films communicate the toxic effects of consuming large amounts of processed foods, carbohydrates, meats, fats, preservatives and chemicals.
Each study and scenario explores the weight gain, damage to organs and addictive symptoms experienced by the individual. Even key disease indicators start to appear for those in these films, like Morgan Spurlock in Super Size Me.
If you have watched any of these films, you will understand that there is a clear link between abusing, and over consuming fast foods and health problems. Turning to fast foods as a staple in our diet is causing, if not contributing to disease at an alarming rate.
If we want to be healthy, as individuals, we need to take responsibility and take the necessary steps towards prevention, and reversal of disease. Nutrition is the key.
It Affects Your Gut Health
There are trillions of microorganisms that live in your digestive system, called microbes. Also known as good bacteria. They are responsible for digesting the foods we consume. They help with breaking what we eat down to the absorbable minerals and nutrients that the body needs.
When overindulging in fast foods full of sugar, salt and fats, this affects the health of the microbes and they start getting sick and dying. Ongoing poor health choices start to affect the immune system and cause inflammation.
Your immune system relies on these microbes to produce the chemicals that keep the immune system strong and healthy. If the good bacteria aren’t healthy, this starts a chain of events, which could be detrimental to your health. The immune system becomes compromised because it’s not getting all the nutrients it needs to function properly.
The next thing to eventuate in this chain of events is that the metabolism is negatively impacted because the microbes are unable to draw energy from the food. Unhealthy microbe numbers start to increase. This then causes the body to start storing more fats because the microbes don’t know how to deal with them properly.
Did you know that processed and fast foods are also known as inflammation-producing foods?
When there is an imbalance of bad and good bacteria in the gut, and number of good microbes reduce, the inflammation markers start to increase. The good gut microbes are responsible for managing inflammation. This is when people start experiencing health issues. Here are a few examples which are being linked back to a bad diet of highly processed and fatty fast foods.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Cognitive Problems
- Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Leaky Gut
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Mood Disorders like depression and anxiety, and
- Skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, and various other unpleasant rashes.
At the time of writing, Tim Spector was working on a Gut Project. To learn more about this and to find out how diet affects the gut, you can go to British Gut Project to find out more.
Fast Food Affects Your Mood
Have you ever felt hangry? Hangry is a term that has become a part of the modern lexicon, and is an irritable mood brought on due low sugar levels or feeling hungry. So angry and hungry mashed together become hangry; hungry angry. Hangry may sometimes be brought on by withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This is just one of the many moods that we may get from our food, or lack thereof.
There is a known connection between the gut and the brain. Nutritional Psychiatrists educate their patients to understand which foods will have a negative or positive effect on their mood. There are serotonin receptors, which affect your mood in the gut. The brain and the gut use a two-way communication system called the vagus nerve.
This is why it is recommended that you avoid eating inflammation-producing foods. Over indulging in fast foods upset the delicate balance of microbes in the gut. Eating a fast food diet has been associated to anxiety, depression and mood disorders.
When consuming a healthy diet with a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, the gut health supports a healthy mood. Consuming a Mediterranean diet or a Whole Food Plant Based (W.F.P.B.) has been found to have a positive effect on the mood of the subject. A well-balanced diet with a wide variety of food (fruit and vegetable) colors and flavors is best.
I’m not suggesting that eating a Whole Food Plant Based (W.F.P.B.) will solve all your problems, but it will help improve your general well-being.
Foods to eat less of and/or avoid all together
- Fast Foods and Takeaways
- Processed Foods
- Pre-packaged foods
- Food additives
- Sugary snacks and beverages, and
- Added Salts
Foods to consume in small proportions
- Fruit juices
- Dried fruit
- Animal products
- Lean meats
- Yogurt, and
Some people may also choose to avoid animal products all together. There have been studies that suggest that animal products have a negative impact to health.
If you are concerned about what fast food is doing to your gut. You can take steps to reduce some of the negative side effects by doing a colon cleanse. It’s not as scary as it sounds. All you need to do is follow some basic colon cleansing protocols. This can take time to work for some people, and is largely dependent upon how extensive the history of damage from poor diet is.
Start by eliminating processed and fast foods and health benefits can start to become apparent quite quickly. Colon Cleansing is part of the detoxification process. It is highly likely that you may experience some withdrawal symptoms.
Here are a few of things I apply when it comes to colon cleansing.
Colon cleanse mixture
Consuming a colon cleanse mixture. Here are two options that I would normally choose form.
- Bentonite Clay. A colon cleanse mixture that contains bentonite clay and psyllium husk. Mix about a tablespoon of the colon cleanse mixture with some water and honey and consume on an empty stomach. First thing in the morning is best. This works particularly well when following a fasting protocol or on an alkaline diet.
Function: cleanse the internal walls of the bowel system.
Some people may experience constipation during this process. The bentonite clay will draw out any toxins that have built up in the gut. The psyllium husk will help the body with the elimination process and work to dislodge any faecal matter that has become stuck to the gut lining.
- Magnesium Oxide. Place one teaspoon of magnesium oxide directly into your mouth and wash down with a glass of water. Must follow with juice of half a lemon or 1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or ascorbic acid powder. The acid activates the bonding of the oxygen to the magnesium oxide. Take on an empty stomach before bed for 5 nights.
Function: cleanse the internal walls of the bowel system.
It is common for the stools to be loose when taking Magnesium oxide. On the first day your bowel motions can be very loose. Prepare to be close to the toilet as the frequency in which you need to use the toilet may be much more regular than normal.
Using an enema kit can help to dislodge faecal matter that has become stuck in the gut lining. A necessary consideration with fast foods and health is the body’s ability to purge the junk. Processed foods don’t make this easy.
Let’s face it, we wash the outside of our bodies with water, so why not wash the inside with water too. Believe me when I say that it’s not as scary as it sounds. After an enema you can feel quite energized.
Fasting from all processed foods
Fasting will help to reset the system and reduce cravings. You can do this in conjunction with taking the colon cleansing mixture.
The fasting process will give your body a chance to rest and heal. Think about it, the gut is always digesting something or another. A day of fasting gives the gut a chance to rejuvenate.
Probiotics and prebiotics
As mentioned above, there trillions of microbes in the gut. When consuming too much junk food, the microbes become sick and start to die. It’s a very delicate ecosystem. So, by adding some probiotics and prebiotics to your diet will improve the ecology of the gut microbes.
Some suggestions on what you can feed the microbes in your gut include some of the things that they love. These are fermented foods, and Irish Sea Moss (a type of dried seaweed).
Following these four easy steps can kick start the healing process. Going forward, you need to keep looking after your gut and your health.
- Fresh fruits
- Fresh vegetables
- Whole grains
- Herbs and Spices, and
- Fermented foods such as:
- Sauerkraut, and
Tip: Fermented foods help support gut health, so consider consuming more of them.
It’s a Game Changer
Swapping out a diet containing processed foods, bad fats, and meat with a Whole Food Plant Based (W.F.P.B.) diet is a game changer. This simple change can make a significant difference for some people in as little as two weeks.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn M.D. is an American physician that has been promoting a W.F.P.B. diet for over 12-year. He has helped his patients reversed and eliminated several diseases.
You can read more in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (2007). Dr. Esselstyn’s research showed a reduction in the individuals disease risk indicators.
During a 12-weeks study Researchers found that where they fed mice a high-fat and carbohydrate rich diet the gut bacteria ecosystem in the mice was disrupted. This high fat diet experiment affected their metabolism, production of bile acid and hormones.
While there is a marked difference between humans and mice, this study shows that junk food has negative side effects on the body.
Sadly, it’s unlikely that some people will stop eating processed foods any time soon. However, the long-term health effects could be mitigated if we reduce our intake of fast foods and increase our intake of whole plant-based foods. These choices are small, but their impacts are compounding.
The Diet Swap Study
So, what happens when you swap an average American diet with and average Rural South African diet? In April 2015, the results of a study by the University of Pittsburgh were published in the Central Telegraph News.
The Americans swapped their average diet with the South Africans. After only two-weeks of consuming a high-fibre, and low-fat diet the benefits were noticeable. The tests indicated that the Americans had reduced their risk of getting cancer, It’s never too late to change your diet.
Unfortunately, the South Africans that ate the American diet of high-fats and low-fibre experienced the opposite results. Their risk of getting cancer increased and their gut health had reduced.
The change is as simple as swapping fast foods for health foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. It won’t take long before the effects of these dietary change starts to become noticeable. Just by increasing the amount of fibre in your diet can help you lose weight, and show improvements in your general health.
Effects of a Fast Food Diet
A few years back I went to Scotland on vacation. I found that plant-based food options available to me while travelling were rather limited. Usually I would eat lots of fruits and vegetables, but given that I was in a foreign environment my choices were limited. After a few days I found myself craving fruits and vegetables.
From where I stand, I can’t imagine how somebody who eats junk food all the time must feel. People who eat excessive amounts of junk food tend to complain about feeling lethargic, foggy brained and generally unwell in my experience. Their appearance also becomes dull, and sometime their skin begins to shows signs of acne and rashes.
With all this external stuff going on, I can’t help but wonder ‘what’s happening on the inside?’ for these people. As discussed earlier, when there are fewer microbes in the gut, the entire body system, from the metabolism to the immune system, suffers as a consequence.
Medical research has provided enough insight for us to understand that there are dire impacts that arise as a result of an unhealthy diet. Fast foods and good health don’t tend to go hand in hand.
Wrapping It All Up
It’s not ideal, but many of us have come to enjoy a bit of unhealthy food from time to time. This isn’t an end of the world situation, as long as we don’t let it become a key part of our lifestyle. Remember that your gut microbiome is very sensitive and will respond poorly to consuming too much junk food.
So, it has been conclusively established that there is a link between fast foods and health problems. The solution, if you want to be healthy, study health. Focus on eating a Whole Food Plant Based (W.F.P.B.) diet. If you feel that you need to, and you’re ready to make a change, start by making small changes every day. Your body and gut will love you for it.