You should think twice before picking up fast food for dinner. According to a new study, the health effects of junk food is comparable to a life-threatening disease. As explained by Body and Soul, German researchers have linked diets high in fat, sugar and sodium to chronic inflammation in the body.
Normally, the body’s immune system works by attacking infections, which causes inflammation. In this study, though, researchers discovered this same inflammatory response was triggered by junk food. Participants who consumed pizza, French fries and other high junk foods experienced the same chronic inflammation as triggered by bacterial infections.
Inflammation isn’t necessarily bad. On the contrary, it’s used by the immune system to fight infection. However, too much inflammation can harm the gut and contribute to diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Additionally, chronic inflammation can damage your heart, lungs and brain.
Researchers cite three specific ingredients as causing this inflammation: fat, sugar and sodium. It’s important to not that not all sugars are the same. Fruit sugars, for instance, aren’t as bad as regular table sugars. Known as fructose, fruit sugars are broken down more slowly by the body; thus, preventing sudden blood sugar spikes. Because of this, it’s recommended that you eat a piece of fruit the next time you crave something sweet instead of an artificially sweetened snack that could otherwise contribute to bodily inflammation.
Furthermore, not all fats are bad. Saturated fats contribute to high cholesterol, but unsaturated fats actually lower cholesterol levels. Whether polyunsaturated or monounsaturated, these “good” fats promote a healthy heart by lowering cholesterol levels. Sources of unsaturated fats include fish, nuts, olive oil and canola oil.
The bottom line is that eating junk can take a toll on your health. As revealed in this study, people who consume diets in high in fat, sugar and sodium are more likely to experience chronic bodily inflammation than their counterparts who eat nutritious foods.