Whoever coined the term "junk food" was very honest about what lies in those colorful boxes, yet people worldwide are still willing to buy and eat something labeled "junk"! What are the devastating effects of this food choice?
Here are the shocking facts to help you make a better decision next time you crave eating junk or serving it to your family.
Over the years, I've learnt to cook healthy food and banish junk food and soft drinks from the daily diet of my family, and I'd like to share the reasons with you.
As Muslim spouses and parents, we have an obligation to offer the most care for the health of our families, to eat of the good and clean bounty God has given us on earth, as we are instructed in the Quran, and to cause no harm by the food we choose to eat and to offer others.
There are three main areas of our lives that are negatively affected by the junk food trend: our health, our economy, and our social habit
Let's take a closer look at each of those areas, starting with the adverse effects onyour health.
1) Junk Health
The first area affected by the quality of food is the health of those who consume it.
Here are some alarming facts that we should be aware of before we line up for a soda and sandwich at a local fast-food joint:
2)Preservatives, additives, artificial colors, and flavors.
All those chemical substances are integral ingredients of junk food. Most of the fast food you eat had lost all its smell and taste in the industrial processing. It only tastes and smells the way it does not because of how it was cooked, but because chemicals were added to it.
That char-grilled taste of your burger for example doesn't come from smoldering coals on an outdoor grill, but it comes from a bottle filled with a chemical manufactured in a lab and mixed with the meat you're eating.
In a recently published experiment, an American nutritionist left a Macdonald's Happy Meal uncovered on a shelf in her kitchen for a whole year, and it still hadn't decomposed due to the enormous amount of preservatives.
She was quoted saying that if microbes and insects weren't interested in this food for a whole year, then definitely you shouldn't be serving it to your children.
3)Processed and refined foods are totally useless, if not outright harmful.
When food is processed (e.g., sausages and cold cuts) or refined (e.g., white sugar or flour), it looses much of the nutritional value present in whole foods. It also oxidizes, and oxidized food is unhealthy.
4)Allergies are linked to preservatives and additives, sometimes to a seriously damaging or even fatal degree.
Mothers can testify to the extreme increase in the kinds and intensity of allergies kids are now experiencing.
5)Antidepressants, growth hormones, and sex hormones.
All these are mixed in the animal feed to increase their growth and meat turnout.
Industrial farm animals and birds are forced to grow at an abnormal rate to maximize profit; they're also mostly depressed due to the terrible crowded conditions of industrial feedlots and farms, so they're also given psychiatric medications (antidepressants) to force them to eat and breed.
All those harmful substances are communicated to the humans who eat their flesh.
6)Severe body deterioration.
In his outstanding documentary Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock proves beyond any doubt that eating junk food causes severe deterioration to the body.
He actually experimented on himself by attempting to have only burgers, fries, and soda everyday for a month and documenting the effects on camera.
The results were shocking. Obesity, liver and kidney dysfunction, mood swings, and lowered sex drive are just a few of the damages his medical tests showed after only a few days of his unhealthy diet.
His doctors had to stop him because he was literally killing himself.
You might argue that he ate an extreme amount of junk food in a short time.
Well, ask yourself: How many weekends do you take your family to eat at a junk food restaurant? And how many times a week do you order take-out at work and then at home when you return from work too tired to cook?
The UK is the country most attached to fast food, closely followed by the US, according to a 2008 survey.
In the UK, last year, the number of people admitted to hospital for obesity shot up 60 percent, while the number having weight-loss surgery rose by 55 percent.
7)Junk food may cause criminal behavior.
A recent research with British and US offenders has shown that food deficiency — especially in Omga3 and fatty acids — could result in criminal violence.
British prisons have already reached their maximum capacity, which might indicate that the pandemic of violence in Western societies, documented in police records and numerous studies, may be related to the extreme increase in the consumption of unhealthy and junk food.
In other words, junk food may not only be making us sick and fat, but mad and bad too.
8)Soft drinks increase risk of cancer.
A new study at the University of Minnesota found that soft drinks can double the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Although relatively rare, it remains one of the most deadly cancers. only 5 percent of people who are diagnosed are alive five years later.
Those who consumed two or more soft drinks a week (averaging five per week) had an 87 percent increased risk, compared with individuals who did not.
9)Junk food is as addictive as heroin.
Recent studies have found that fast food is almost as addictive as heroin, and just as difficult to quit!
Your brain is a very complex chemical lab, so the reactions that take place there in relation to your food result in either enhancing or destroying your wellbeing.
A diet of burgers, chips, sausages, and cake will program your brain into craving even more foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat, according to research. Over the years, these foods will become a substitute for happiness (i.e., they will literally control your mood and induce powerful cravings), and that's what causes people to get seriously addicted and causes eating binge.
10)Schools should be junk-free.
In a recent visit to one of Cairo's expensive private schools, I was sad to see a copy of the same health-damaging eating habits infesting US public schools:
There was a junk food stand and soda fountain at the school's cafeteria, and that was the only food choice offered to the kids, whose parents were paying close to 40 thousand pounds a year per child to give them the best schooling conditions money can buy.
I believe that schools should be soda- and junk-food-free zones, just as they're free from other health-damaging, addictive substances such as cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol, especially since junk food is severely addictive as proved by research.
We need to realize that what the schools are doing when selling those foods to our kids is actually facilitating and enforcing child addiction — because it's good for business!
11)Junk food interferes with learning.
It becomes even more alarming when such foods result in interfering not only with the kids' physical health, but also with their learning process, even on simple everyday skills such as recognizing fruits and vegetables!
In a recent speech at TED conference, famous British chef and health activist Jaime Oliver showed a shocking video of 5-year-olds in a US school who were unable to name common fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, melons, potatoes, and cabbages because they had never seen them before!
They only ate pizza, fries, sausages, and burgers at home, and their parents never took them to the fresh foods section at a supermarket, let alone a local market selling fresh produce.
What's in a healthy lunch box?
Some psychologists argue that your subconscious mind doesn't understand negation, so if I tell you, "don't eat junk," you will have to think of eating junk first to be able to understand what you shouldn't be doing.
If you're addicted, you'll probably just ignore the warning and crave the substance.
So, if you find yourself craving a burger even after reading this article, you need to recognize that you're hooked and that quitting is a conscious decision.
Think of the good things that you and your family can and will get by choosing proper healthy food.
Here's a nice reminder of what to pack for lunch at school or work: What's in a healthy lunchbox?
In the next article, we'll discuss the effects of junk food on our family relations as well as home and general economics.
http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html (Dec,6,2010)09 December 2010 , On Islam.net