Fast Food: 25 Risks and Benefits

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Fast food has become one of the most famous and common terms among people, especially young people and adolescents. Due to our rapid lifestyle, we don’t have time to prepare healthy food. Fast is an adjective for food that is usually prepared quickly and in a few minutes without much effort. This type of meal has become a profitable business for many food companies and fast food restaurants that are usually spread in the markets, on the roads and in the commercial markets.

Fast food includes several options, such as shawarma, burgers, sausages and frozen potatoes, which are characterised by having been subjected to half a cooking process at the time of manufacture. It is easy to complete the cooking process in restaurants or homes.

In addition to their quick preparation, doctors and nutritionists have discovered that the meals’ high fat, sugar, calorie, and sodium content is their most crucial component. Due to their low vitamin, mineral, salt, and fibre content, they also have poor nutritional value.

Fast food is food that is prepared in less time than regular meals prepared at home, and it is easy to prepare and delicious in taste, such as burgers, pizza and sandwiches of various kinds, as these meals that we mentioned and others prepared by international restaurants. The famous is rich in fats, preservatives, sugars, and calories, which would cause damage that we will mention later in detail.

Fast food is food that can be cooked and served quickly. It is very well-liked since it is inexpensive and has a great flavour. Despite this, fast food is frequently made with inexpensive ingredients rather than nutritious ones like lean meats, whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. These ingredients often include high-fat meats, refined grains, sugars, and fats, as well as a lot of sodium, which serves as a preservative and gives fast food a delicious taste.

It must be emphasised that anyone with diabetes, hypertension or heart disease should avoid fast food. Some places utilise these oils for frying despite the fact that they contain trans fats, which increase the risk of heart disease.

It is worth noting that knowing the number of calories, fats, and salt in fast foods has become available in some restaurants, and this information is very similar to food labels and through knowing this information, healthy meals can be chosen.

For example, you can choose healthy sandwiches that contain fat-free meat or burgers without cheese and sauce. Also, you can choose a grilled piece of meat, chicken, and fish that are well prepared at an appropriate time. In addition to that, it is recommended to choose low-fat desserts and eat them in moderate quantities.

The History of Fast Food

The first appearance of fast food was in the Roman era in Britain, as in 1762 John Montagu wrapped pieces of dried meat in bread so as not to delay or interrupt his work, and this was the first form of the sandwich, and the United Kingdom took some Recipes from the civilisations of other countries, such as Italian pizza, which was initially a quick meal prepared by Italian mothers for their children.

An Italian man opened a small restaurant to sell pizza, so Italy spread and became famous for pizza, and the Chinese were famous in the past for the well-known “noodles” meal. Each of the foods that we eat these days has a historical origin.

The most famous of them

  1. Hamburger: The origin of this word goes back to the German city of Hamburg, where the Germans used to put smoked minced meat with crumbled bread and onions.
  2. Sandwiches: originate from the United Kingdom, as we mentioned earlier.
  3. Pizza: Italian.
  4. Noodles: Chinese noodles.
  5. Koshari: a dish originally from India.

The components of fast food

  1. Meat fried in oil: such as shredded chicken and fish covered with a layer of flour, eggs, and crumbled bread, the problem lies in the oil used, which contains different types of hydrogenated oils, in which the percentage of fat and calories is high.
  2. Processed meats: such as sausages, mortadella, and smoked meat. These items are also highly rich in fat and sodium. Smoked meat contains a high percentage of carbon dioxide.
  3. Grilled meat: such as grilled burger meat and shawarma, as these items are among the most foods that contain a high percentage of animal and vegetable fats compared to other items, not to mention that some of the mixtures used in these foods contain chemicals and artificial flavourings.
  4. Fried white meat: the process of frying fish, chicken wings, and chicken pieces in various forms after immersing them in a layer of oats, flour, or ground bread with seasonings and spices; This increases the attractiveness of its taste, which is harmful to the heart and arteries due to the high percentage of fats and oils resulting from the frying process.
  5. Fried potatoes: They are usually cut and frozen, but they are also often semi-fried, as the cook fries them again until they reach the point of full maturity. This type of potato contains high levels of sodium, fat, and calories.
  6. Appetisers: These are usually added to sandwiches and meals or placed next to them for dipping. They consist of mayonnaise, which is made up of lots of oils, and sauces that contain sodium, spices and seasonings, which might cause particular harm to the heart. Mayonnaise and other dressings and salads prepared with the addition of mayonnaise and sugar increase the risk of diabetes, cholesterol, and clogged arteries.
  7. Soft drinks: these are usually served as a drink added to the meal, consisting mainly of carbon dioxide, sugars and colouring materials. It damages the heart muscle and affects the bones and joints.
  8. Sugar: included in industrial juices, and some sweet dishes contain high levels of sugar, preservatives, and chemicals. Sauces, mayonnaise, and whatever is spread on sandwiches are all high in oils and sodium.

The benefits of fast food

Fast food has some benefits, and it can be eaten sometimes as part of a healthy diet. Here are some of the benefits:

  1. Convenient: Some foods and healthy options can be chosen from fast food restaurants, thus obtaining healthy foods with the least possible time and effort. Healthy fast foods include oatmeal made from milk, salad containing vegetables and nuts, and grilled chicken.
  2. Satisfaction: People who eat quickly tend to classify their meals as less enjoyable, and eating slower may help increase the feeling of satiety and reduce the consumption of calories in meals, in addition to increasing the feeling of satisfaction as well, compared to cases of fast eating that showed fewer signs of satiety and a sense of satisfaction.
  3. Offers a variety of options: Fast food restaurants offer many different options that allow people to try foods from different cultures without spending a lot of money.
  4. Its cost is low: some fast food has a low cost and helps a person eat healthy food on a limited budget, such as tuna, peanut butter, dried beans, brown rice, and whole pasta.
  5. Calorie control: Some restaurants write the number of calories, which enables a person to use this information and eat low-calorie foods when eating fast food.

The disadvantages of fast food

The following details describe the harmful consequences of eating fast food on the majority of the body’s systems and organs:

  1. Fast food has an impact on the digestive system: It has many carbohydrates, and when you eat it, your body breaks down those carbohydrates to become glucose, which raises your blood sugar levels.
  2. Fast food affects the hormone of insulin: which is produced by the pancreas as a result of the increase in glucose, as this hormone works In transporting sugar to cells that need energy, where the body uses sugar or stores it until its level in the blood returns to normal. Consuming a lot of carbohydrates causes frequent blood sugar spikes, which can impair the body’s response to insulin over time. This raises the risk of weight gain and has been linked to type 2 diabetes.
  3. Fast food affects blood pressure: The combination of fats, carbohydrates, and salt in fast food makes it tastier, but the high sodium content may promote water retention, raise blood pressure, put more strain on the heart and blood vessels, and increase the consumption of trans fats in food. The risk of heart disease is increased by the possibility that fast food will drop good cholesterol while raising bad cholesterol.
  4. Fast food has an impact on the respiratory system: because it contains too many calories, which can lead to weight gain and obesity. Obesity increases the chance of developing respiratory conditions, including asthma and shortness of breath. Children who eat fast food at least three times per week are more likely to develop asthma.
  5. An impact of fast food on the central nervous system: Up to 51% more people may get depression if they consume fast food.
  6. Fast food has an impact on reproductive health: Fast food may influence fertility, and one study discovered that processed meals contain phthalates, which are chemicals that may interfere with the way hormones work in the body when exposed in high doses, childbearing, including birth defects.
  7. Fast food has an impact on the skin, hair, and nails: It has been established that diets heavy in carbohydrates can raise blood sugar levels and that these abrupt spikes in sugar levels can result in acne. Children and teenagers who consume fast food at least three times per week have a higher risk of developing eczema, a skin condition that makes irritated skin areas look inflamed and itching.
  8. Fast food affects bones and teeth: Obesity resulting from frequent consumption of fast food can affect bone density and muscle mass. Tooth enamel breaks down, which may lead to bacteria entrenching and cavities in the teeth.
  9. Fast food has an impact on the immune system is impacted by fast food because of the large number of saturated fats in these foods, which may trigger the immune system to produce more inflammatory cells. Chronic inflammation can then disrupt the airways and result in allergy disorders.
  10. Fast food has an impact on weight gain: because it has high levels of fats, proteins, and sugars that the body stores, which results in a noticeable rise in weight. These meals also negatively affect the body’s genes responsible for obesity and sometimes lead to death.
  11. Fast food may contribute to diabetes: Due to the body’s increased resistance to insulin in the blood and the body’s accumulation of fat, fast food may contribute to diabetes. This is because fast food contains a significant amount of unhealthy oils.
  12. Fast food causes addiction to eat junk food: This leads the addict to stay away from eating healthy meals, which causes the body to lose many of the elements necessary for its nutrition, and thus the occurrence of many health problems.
  13. Fast food increases blood sugar: Artificial sweeteners are added at a high rate too fast food to give it a delicious taste. Carbonated water is also added to many of them, increasing the sugar level in it, thus increasing blood sugar. Stomach ulcers are when large quantities of spices are added to fast food, especially hot spices, which increases the possibility of stomach ulcers.
  14. Fast food manipulates your mood: it can make him happy or depressed, as many studies have shown that these meals cause depression due to their lack of nutrients necessary for the body, such as vitamin B and omega-3 acids.
  15. Fast food increases inflammation: plastic foods and drinks are coated with phthalates, a type of chemical toxin that causes endocrine disruption, as a study found that eating fast food increases levels of phthalate metabolites by 35%, as these phthalates cause inflammation, which increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, thus increasing levels of inflammation.
  16. Fast food causes temporary satisfaction: People who eat quickly tend to classify their meals as less enjoyable, and eating slower may help increase the feeling of satiety and reduce the consumption of calories in meals, in addition to increasing the feeling of satisfaction as well, compared to cases of fast eating that showed fewer signs of satiety and a sense of satisfaction.
  17. Fast food causes an increased risk of insulin resistance: Fast food is highly associated with insulin resistance and can raise the likelihood of becoming insulin resistant in middle-aged men and women.

How does fast food affect children?

Youngsters frequently lack awareness of the harmful effects of this kind of food on their health, which may contribute to their addiction to it. While one fast food meal can add 160 calories to the daily calorie intake for teenagers and an additional 310 calories for children, it may result in numerous health issues for them. The following points explain the harm of fast food to children:

  1. Atopy: Atopic diseases such as asthma, eczema, and rhinitis are more common in people who consume fast food several times a week.
  2. Constipation: Excess amounts of calories, fats, and sugars found in fast food change the child’s food desires, so his intake of fibre, fruits, milk, and vegetables decreases, which increases his exposure to constipation.
  3. Poor academic performance: Children who consume fast food four to six times per week experience lower reading and math skills than kids who do not consume as much of it. This can result in poor academic performance.
  4. Mood swings: Sugar levels can suddenly affect your mood and cause distraction.
  5. Low physical energy: Fast food does not provide enough nutrients for physical activity, which may affect children’s physical and mental health.
  6. Depression: Obesity may contribute to low self-esteem and depression, and some children who eat fast food are at risk of depression even though they are not obese. Depression, in turn, may have an impact on social interactions, academic performance, and growth standards, as well as raise the chance of suicide.
  7. Sleep disorders: Soft drinks contain caffeine, which affects the ability to sleep.

What is the appropriate time to finish a meal?

The recommended time for eating should not be less than (20-30) minutes in order for the neurological system to detect a feeling of fullness in the stomach. The brain receives hunger signals when the eating process starts from the stomach and intestines, and it takes the brain roughly 20 minutes to suppress the urge to eat.

As a result, more food will be consumed in 20 minutes when eating rapid meals than when eating slowly. Fast eating leads to overeating and uncomfortable fullness because the fast eater does not receive satiety signals until it is too late.

How to improve your eating habits?

You can easily improve your eating experience by trying the following:

  1. Eat healthy and slowly, and here are some tips that help you start eating more slowly.
  2. Create conditions for sitting down to eat; so that it is far from any things that can cause a distraction, and makes it easy to devour food without paying attention, like eating in the car or in front of the TV or computer.
  3. It is advised to sit at the table and try to eat attentively, as this will not only contribute to slowing down eating but may also increase the feeling of satisfaction.
  4. Leave the tool used to eat while chewing food, and put it on the table until the bite is finished swallowing. This helps to avoid taking more bites continuously.
  5. Eating in the presence of a group of friends or family members to enjoy while eating with them contributes to extending the meal time.
  6. Playing soft music while eating may improve the mood while eating the meal, thus spending more time.
  7. Avoid extreme hunger because of its effect on losing the ability to eat slowly, and in order to avoid this, it is necessary to keep some healthy snacks on hand.
  8. Consume chewy meals by concentrating on dietary fibre-rich foods that call for a lot of chewing, such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
  9. Increase your intake of fibre because it can help you lose weight.
  10. Continued deep breathing exercises might help you focus when eating, especially when you start eating quickly.
  11. Practice mindful, conscious eating to help you pay closer attention to what you’re eating and manage your appetite.
  12. Have patience as you gradually alter your eating habits; it may take your body 66 days to get used to any new behaviour.
  13. Set a timer or alarm to help you make your meal last 30 minutes.
  14. Increase the number of times you chew food by trying to chew each bite 15-30 times, which varies depending on the type of food.
  15. Drink sips of water while eating, as this can help increase the feeling of satiety.

How does fast food affect society?

Despite raising awareness and attempting to improve their diets, people’s preoccupation causes them to eat outside the home frequently, increasing the harm and detrimental effects on the healthcare system. Fast food is now inevitable and popular, and as a result, more people are eating it and becoming obese and overweight, which raises the risk of developing major ailments.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like these articles as well: Food to Help You Study, Food Culture in Japan, and Ecosystems and Food Chains.

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