As tempting as it can be especially if keeping a busy schedule there is no longer any doubt that fast food is some of the worst possible to consume. It has been linked in study after study to weight gain, cardiac disease and diabetes. Why, then, do so many people have problems breaking the habit of eating in fast food restaurants? The answer may lie in the addictive additives that increase the body’s craving for more.
Sugar, Fat and Salt
Many nutritionists believe one of the reasons that fast food can be so addictive is the enormous amounts of fat, salt and sugar it contains. While small to moderate servings of these additives is okay, the high levels contained in fast food make it way too much of a “good thing”. What makes it worse is the forms that these additives come in, highly concentrated and industrially manufactured ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils, both of which are linked to obesity and a greater risk for heart attacks and strokes. The excessive amount of salt can raise blood pressure levels, and hypertension is another risk factor for these conditions.
The problem also lies in the fact that these additives are flavor enhancers that make the food taste good and stimulate the body to crave more of the same. That is why many people will eat fast food every day or close to it. And while an occasional hamburger, for instance, is not going to do serious damage, daily doses of this food certainly will, so the frequency with which it is consumed is danger in and of itself.
This additive, better known simply as “MSG” is a highly concentrated form of salt used throughout the processed food and restaurant industry to enhance flavor. It is suspected of interfering with appetite suppression and causes the body to feel hungry even after a large amount of food has been consumed. This interference can easily lead to overeating. The feeling of constant hunger which MSG can induce is an excellent reason for avoiding it altogether. The best way to do this is to make meals at home from fresh ingredients and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
Casein is a protein compound found in milk and dairy products naturally, but the fast food industry has processed it by adding a chemical called calcium hydrogen phosphate. The result is a highly concentrated, chemically altered form of casein that can be highly addictive, so much so that is has come to be known as “the nicotine of fast food”. Fast-food items to watch out for are French fries, hamburger buns and baked goods, and milk shakes, as they all contain high amounts of this additive.
In summary, it is not just the high amounts of salt, fat, sugar and other additives that make the fast food so damaging to the health. It is also the fact that this ingredients can stimulate cravings and cause people not only to overeat but to want their “fast food fix” on daily basis. It is little wonder, then, why so many in the nutrition and health sectors blame fast food in part for America’s epidemic of obesity and for the chronic health conditions which can accompany it.
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