The dark side of junk foods is not an unknown fact. Several research studies have shown that fast and processed foods have increased childhood obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Not only does fast food add inches to your waistline, but scientists and researchers have also indicated through various studies that junk food can actually cause serious damage to your brain. The worrying bit is that it’s not just years of poor eating, but regular consumption of junk food even for few days can lead to a mental meltdown.
Diets that are high in sugar and fat can suppress the activity of a brain peptide called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) that helps with learning and memory formation. Furthermore, the brain contains synapses which are responsible for learning and memory. Eating too many calories can interfere with the healthy production and functioning of these synapses.
This has been one of the scariest discoveries associated with the consumption of junk food. You may know that insulin is produced in the pancreas and helps in the transportation of glucose to fuel the body. Insulin is also produced in the brain where it helps in carrying signals between nerve cells and forming memories. Just like in the case of Type 2 Diabetes, with higher levels of insulin, the brain stops responding to this hormone and becomes resistant to it. This can restrict our ability to think, recall or create memories, thus increasing the risk of dementia.
Excess consumption of trans fats found in fried and processed foods can send mixed signals to the brain which makes it difficult to process what you have eaten and how hungry are. This is probably why you end up overeating.
Healthy brain functions require a daily dose of essential fatty acids like omega-6 and omega-3. Deficiency of these two elements increases the risk of attention deficit disorder, dementia and bipolar disorder and other brain-related problems.
Over consumption of junk food may displace these with trans fats which are harder to digest. Trans fats may cause inflammation in hypothalamus, the part of brain that containing neurons to control body weight. In worst scenarios, the habit of overeating can be similar to drug addiction! Relying on junk foods may activate the pleasure centers of the brain greater than receiving drugs.
Fast foods are specially designed to be addictive in nature with high levels of salts, sugars and fats that make you crave them. The addictive nature of fast food can make your brain crave them even when you are not hungry.
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