By Dr Joe
Junk food is bad for you, but there is a very strange yet liberating reason why junk food appeals to you and your “food brain”.
It’s because junk food’s appeal is BIGGER and STRONGER than your resistance can put up with.
Junk food runs your food brain rather than the other way around.
Your resistance is infinitely INFERIOR to its pulling power. Your resistance is miniscule whilst junk food appeal is a well-oiled machine ready to bulldoze you in a flash.
You only need to faintly imagine junk food in your mind and your appetite begins to rev up.
But before you go celebrating your blamelessness in this whole business of junk food allure, there is one hidden danger that’s just been published recently in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics.
This danger is a new reason why junk food is bad for you.
What’s this danger of junk food?
That danger is the new-found relationship of junk food to some cancers.
We have known for a while that some cancers may have their roots in our choice of diet. What we eat may actually contribute to our risk of developing cancer.
We also know that about 30% of cancers can be prevented by changing the way you eat and what you eat. It’s a simple equation really. If diet can cause cancer, altering your diet can reduce your cancer risk.
What we didn’t know until now is that the energy density of food can also contribute to our cancer risk.
Yes, you read that right. The Dietary Energy Density (DED) of the food you eat can actually increase your risk of developing cancer according to that research paper.
> The dietary energy density of food is a barometer of the quality of that food as it tells us the relationship between calories and nutrients per gram of that food.
How does this relate to junk food:
Junk foods are calorie-high low-nutrient foods typically.
In case you are wondering what types of foods are junk foods, here are a few examples for you.
Foods like pretzels, chips (crisps), pizza, cheeseburgers, crackers, a lot of dressings, candy bars and other sweets are examples of junk food.
Those foods are calorie-high foods and their nutritional value is pretty much very low.
What does that mean?
It means you have to consume lots more of that food to get the same nutritional value as you would from a calorie-low high-nutrient food like vegetables.
That’s the main reason those junk foods can end in obesity because you need to consume large quantities of them to feel full.
You know how you can eat a large pack of potato chips (crisps) in a sitting and probably another before achieving that feeling of satiety. That’s exactly what I am talking about. It’s very easily done and the worst part being you get minimal nutritional benefits from that munching exercise.
Having these junk foods one-time is not a problem but when these foods are part of your staple diet, then obesity may come calling later on. It’s only a question of time!
> And obesity is known to be associated with cancers of the womb, ovary, breast, colon and kidneys.
Want to know about the study?
92,295 women aged between 50 and 79 were entered into the study that spanned over 15 years.
The women enlisted in the study volunteered detailed information about their diet and from this information, the researchers headed by Professor Cynthia Thomson of the University of Arizona deduced the calorie density of each woman’s diet.
In the study close to 9,600 cancers were reported in the study group over the 15-year period. The most reported cancers were those of the breast and colon.
Confounding factors like age, exercise habits, drinking and smoking habits were factored into the final analysis and what they found somewhat surprising.
What they found:
Cancers were more common the group of women who preferred junk foods. Women in the higher 40% bracket of high-calorie food lovers had a higher incidence of cancers.
What was even more surprising was the fact that normal weight women were 12 – 18% more likely to develop those cancers in the study group.
What does this tell us:
It tells us that having a normal weight does not entirely protect you from the risk of developing cancer if you engage in a love of junk food eating.
Normal weight individuals are usually under the impression that all is well and “I can eat what I like”.
Not so fast.
The main reason being the metabolic havoc that these high-calorie foods can cause you.
Readers of this blog will know that I always talk about metabolic competence.
> Metabolic competence being a measure of how your body is able to deal with blood glucose load, deal with triglycerides and other fatty acids and lastly deal with cholesterol.
You could be thin and be metabolically incompetent. This puts you at risk of developing the same life-threatening diseases that obese people are at risk of.
Another possible explanation for this cancer risk finding in the study is that of substitution. If you excel in eating junk foods, you will be missing out on the healthy options of fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Such substitution of healthy foods for unhealthy energy dense foods can prove costly as demonstrated in this research.
The conclusion from Cynthia Thomson and her colleagues is that high-calorie foods are contributory factors to obesity-related cancers independent of weight.
What’s more important is that consumption of high-calorie or energy dense foods is a behaviour that can be altered by you.
You certainly can change the way you eat. Avoiding junk foods for more healthy options. It is clear from this research that a new reason junk food is bad for you is the cancer risk it presents over time.
Even if you are normal weight now, there’s a good chance that if you don’t avoid junk high calorie foods, you will gain weight over time, exponentially increasing your risk of developing cancer.
Primarily, weight gain is the number one reason junk food is bad for you. Other follow-up consequences are the direct result of that.
This research is however warning you that even without weight gain, you still need to be very careful with your junk food addiction.
Suggested further reading:
The #1 WORST food for your skin, joints & blood sugar?