How Eating Fast Food Regularly Changes The Body For The Worse

More than a third of adults in the United States eat fast food on any given day — this was the estimation presented in a 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Eating fast food at such a frequency is hard to justify. While weight gain is one of the first and most obvious ill effects that come to mind, there are other possible ways regular consumption could affect our health.

Though these foods are high in calories, they provide little to no nutrients. The lack of fiber could mean low satiety, making you more likely to overeat and go over your recommended daily allowance.

"Your body is temporarily full with empty foods that don’t provide nourishment, so even though you may have eaten a lot of calories, you won’t be satisfied for long," Amy Shapiro, a nutritionist based in New York, told VICE.

Studies have linked regular fast food consumption with an elevated risk of colorectal, stomach, and respiratory tract cancers. While factors like smoking and sedentary behavior can contribute to this, researchers do suspect that dietary pattern could play a prominent role.

For example, deep frying at high temperatures could produce chemicals with potential cancer-causing properties. Anything prepared at fast food outlets could expose you to phthalates, a harmful group of chemicals used in packaging, gloves, take-out boxes and processing materials.

While researchers are still examining their exact impact on our health, high levels of phthalates have been linked to a higher risk of fertility problems, pregnancy complications to name a few.

Last year, a study from the United Kingdom revealed how a processed diet, high in fat or sugar leads to systemic inflammation. Dr. Camille Lassale of the University College London noted that this likely has a direct effect by increasing the risk of depression.

"Chronic inflammation can affect mental health by transporting pro-inflammatory molecules into the brain, it can also affect the molecules — neurotransmitters — responsible for mood regulation," Dr. Lassale told the Guardian.

Fat and sugar aside, fast food also contains high levels of sodium — probably six times more than your best guess according to one study. It is not only used to enhance the flavor of the food but also as a preservative to help extend shelf life.

Eating too much salt, as you may know, could increase the risk of hypertension over time. It also increases water retention, causing your skin to appear puffy and bloated. Some people may even experience breakouts as a result of eating too much of these foods.

Nutrition experts recommend getting essential nutrients by including healthier components in your diet such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, etc. And for the occasions when you have no choice but to eat at a fast food outlet, stick to the (relatively) healthier options on the menu