Fast food is just that, a quick fix when you are hungry and you don’t have anything else available or are too tired to cook.  It always seems like a good thing at the time, however there is a definite downside.  Sadly, the focus on fast food is not quality of food but process and efficiency. Although the occasional fast food hit isn’t a big deal, health problems can arise if your normal routine incudes fast food on a regular basis. Unhealthy diets can lead to depression, cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many other chronic conditions.

Fast food is highly processed, mass-produced food that is prepared quickly (usually on a grill, in a fryer, or microwave).  Of course everyone is different, and how various foods or preparation of foods impact of your body will vary as well.  Here are some ways that fast food can impact on your body.

Raise Blood Pressure:

Many fast food items are loaded with sodium which increases blood pressure stressing your cardiovascular system.  Over time, high blood pressure can stiffen or narrow the blood vessels becoming a major risk for heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.  Ideally an adult should limit their sodium to 1500 mg per day.  In Canada, a McDonalds Big Mac has 950 mg of sodium, the Chicken and Bacon McWrap with Crispy Chicken has 1320 mg and a medium fry has 260 mg.

Feel Boated:

Eating foods that are high in sodium, fat, or refined carbohydrates (buns, bread, or breading) can leave you feeling bloated. It will get worse if you add a carbonated soda to your meal.

Increase Cholesterol:

Foods that are high in saturated fats can drive up your bad cholesterol (LDL) which can put you at greater risk of heart disease.  It is recommended that adults eat no more than 13 grams of saturated fat per day.  Both the Canadian Big Mac and the Chicken Bacon McWrap have 10 grams each, and those medium fries will add another 2 grams of saturated fat.

Cause Digestive Problems:

Bagels, muffins, and anything breaded are all processed carbohydrates that lack fibre.   Fibre is key to keep the digestive system flowing.  Eating too much fast food, limits your fibre intake which could result in constipation, hemorrhoids, hernias, and poor gut health.

Lead to Weight Gain:

Chances are if you go through a drive through and grab a value meal, you’ll be eating more calories than you need.  Do this on a regular basis and all those calories will add up and result in weight gain.  As well, eating food that is highly processed with limited fibre will result in you feeling hungry again within a few hours.  That will lead to you eating even more.

Drain Your Energy:

A quick hit of processed carbs and sugar will cause a spike in your blood sugar.  This causes a surge in insulin production to bring the sugar levels down.  This results in the sugar spike-crash cycle that can leave you feeling tired and cranky.

Affect Your Mood:

Eating fast food can deprive your body of key nutrients it needs such as fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  These are needed to keep your body healthy and functioning properly but they also are important for mental health and improving your mood.  Eating too much processed foods may increase the risk of depression.