Oh, junk food. It’s often hard to resist and once you start munching away at some, it’s even harder to stop. While indulging occasionally isn’t going to harm you, if you happen to find yourself eating quite a bit of junk food every day, you’re going to want to put down that bag of potato chips. See, while junk food may be tasty, there are plenty of downsides if you’re eating it every day.
So to help you avoid falling into this dangerous pattern, we’re uncovering some of the scariest side effects that can arise if you happen to eat junk food daily. (Instead, focus on 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time!)
This one should come as a no-brainer. If you happen to eat ultra-processed food every day, you’re going to pack on the pounds. One study compared body weight changes and calorie consumption for 10 men and 10 women who ate either an ultra-processed or a minimally processed diet for two weeks. Those who were on the ultra-processed diet ate about 500 calories more per day, ate faster, and gained 2 pounds on average. Big yikes.
That’s why you’ll want to avoid eating the unhealthiest snacks on the planet every chance you get!
It’s true—what you’re putting into your body every day does impact your mood. In fact, 90% of serotonin receptors are located in the gut, so you obviously want to make sure you’re feeding your gut properly. A diet that is filled with highly processed food and chemical additives isn’t going to help you maintain a healthy gut, though. Plus, there are studies that link eating a healthy, balanced diet such as the Mediterranean Diet, and avoiding inflammation-producing foods (like junk food) may help when it comes to fighting depression.
When it comes to junk food, there’s a good chance it’s going to be high in sugar or salt. And sometimes both for a true double-whammy! If you’re eating a high that is high in added sugar and sodium, you’re setting yourself up for major cardiovascular issues.
One study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those who get 25% or more of their from added sugar are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease compared to those who eat less than 10%. And it doesn’t stop there, as high sodium intake is associated with a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. So munching on those overly salty processed snacks over time can be setting yourself up to develop hypertension. Stroke, heart failure, stomach cancer, and kidney disease have all been linked to excessive sodium intake, too.
If you’re suffering some constant breakouts and you’re not quite sure what you can do to help calm your skin, you might want to take a long, hard look at the junk food you’re eating every day.
“Better skin is one of the major benefits of forgoing processed foods,” Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition told us in a previous story. “A lot of the preservatives and ingredients found in processed foods can often get in the way of clear, healthy skin.”
Find yourself eating a snack and then not too long after, you’re hungry again, reaching for more? Well, if you’re only treating yourself to foods that are high in sugar or salt, they will cause you to crave and end up eating more of these processed junk foods. These foods encourage overeating (it’s easy to eat an entire sleeve of cookies or big bag of chips!) without providing any nutritional substance. You won’t be full for very long, and soon enough, you’re hungry again. A vicious cycle!
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According to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition, if you consume too many calories from fat and simple sugars—which is abundant in junk food—this can mess with the proper functioning of the hormones leptin and ghrelin. The result? Your body’s ability to regulate weight and metabolism is no longer working at its peak.
One thing every type of junk food has in common? The lack of fiber. Fiber is an important nutrient for your body that is naturally found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. If you’re always reaching for the chips, cookies, or pretzels though, you’re missing out on fiber-packed foods that help keep you regular so you don’t have to suffer from the uncomfortableness that comes with constipation.