American diet, comes with American diseases

KFC, Subway, Galitos, Pizza Inn, Kenchic, Dominos, Pizza hut, Burger King and Big Square, just to name a few, are undoubtedly some of the famous fast-food outlets in Kenya. They are convenient and irresistibly taste good. 

However, when it comes to nutritional value, we can argue until cows come home. A 2015 study revealed that fast foods contain various substances that tend to be generally unhealthy. They are high in sugar, salt, saturated fat and many processed preservatives. It also lacks some beneficial nutrients (Huzar, 2021). 

It should be noted, however, that it is the quantity and how regular one indulges in these fast foods that the health effects start to kick in. Long term effect of consuming fast foods are lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes. 

When it comes to this obesity, America has an alarming 71 percent of overweight or obese population, according to the National Library of Medicine. This percentage when translated into numbers comes to 100 million Americans.

Eating processed food kills more that people prematurely in America more than even cigarette smoking.

One of the leading causes of death associated with food is heart attacks. There is considerable evidence today that heart disease is not only promoted by saturated fat and but also by refined carbohydrates. These refined carbohydrates are found in white bread, and sugar.

Another killer diabetes has been on a sharp rise in the west due to lack of nutritious rich diet consisting of phytochemicals and antioxidants. The standard American diet lacks sufficient antioxidants and phytochemicals leading to an increase in glycoproteins in our tissues and a spike in glucose levels which results in production of abnormally high insulin levels. Thus, one becomes predisposed to diabetes.

Alternatively, we can look at the white bread that is a staple in these fast foods. Just white bread carrying 200 calories will be metabolized into simple sugars (glucose) which enters the bloodstream in 5 to 10 minutes. This requires a rapid increase in insulin; and the rapid insulin response will remain for hours.

The American diet has also come with cancer. Food fried in oil may create carcinogenic and mutagenic aldehydes. Food that is fried such as in a fast-food restaurant is usually cooked in oil that has been heated and used multiple times. One serving of French fries or fried chicken that is cooked in a fast-food restaurant has 100 times the level of aldehydes designated as safe by the World Health Organization. Even the fumes are so toxic they increase the risk of cancer. People working in restaurants that fry the food have a heighted risk of lung and other cancers, even if they don’t eat any of the fried foods.

Another way how fast foods can be linked to cancer is when we look at the production of IGF-1 hormone [Insulin Growth Factor]. It should moderately range between 100 and 175. Stimulation of excessive amounts of IGF-1, increase the risk of cancer. The average American’s IGF-1 level is around 225, which is a level which has been linked to cancer promotion. 

Fast food can also have a mental health impact with currently, one in five Americans suffering from a psychiatric disorder. Many people do not realize the harm that processed foods have on Americans living in urban areas where they do not have easy access to whole, fresh foods. So much so that we can say they live in food deserts where they there is no availability of fresh fruits and vegetables only access to unhealthy fast foods. 

Unhealthy food has created a culture of binge eating as an eating disorder that is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating copious amounts of food often very quickly. One research shows that the more nutrient and fibre dense your diet becomes the lower your drive to overeat. When you have enough micronutrients and fibre in your diet, you do not feel driven to overeat. But when you do not have enough micronutrients and fibre in your diet, you become a food-craving, overeating machine.

And since, fast food has no nutritive value, an individual who eats fast food regularly lessens their body’s ability to absorb required nutrients.

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