A Little Junk Food is Enough to Trigger Metabolic Diseases

Nov 03, 2015 07:00 AM EST | By Danilyn Miravalles

Junk food is considered something that tastes good but is high in calories, but having little nutritional value. Not only are those foods extremely unhealthy, they also impact various aspects of your life. Most of us are already aware of the health problems a human body can acquire by eating junk food. But if it's so bad for us, why do keep on indulging to these unhealthy stuffs?

As published in Science Daily, a new study in the Nov. 2015 issue of The FASEB Journal suggests that people with unhealthy food addiction has a high chance of having metabolic diseases. Since junk food don't include adequate measures of protein and good carbohydrates, the blood sugar levels will drop all of a sudden after eating, leaving you feeling irritable, exhausted and longing for more sugar. Just a tall cup of Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino was enough to make people with metabolic disease worse, while in others; relatively short periods of overeating set off the start of metabolic diseases. This data could be especially helpful for health care providers, nutritionists, and other individuals that give counseling on disease prevention and dietary patterns.

"Acute effects of diet are mostly small, but may have large consequences in the long run," said Suzan Wopereis, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from TNO, Microbiology and Systems Biology Group in Zeist, The Netherlands. "Our novel approach allows detection of small but relevant effects, thereby contributing to the urgently needed switch from disease-care to health-care, aiming for a life-long optimal health and disease prevention."

Two groups of male volunteers were used by Wopereis and colleagues for this research. Ten healthy males included the first group while the second team is made up of nine volunteers with metabolic syndrome and who had a combination of two or more risk factors for heart disease, such as unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high blood lipids, and abdominal fat. Just before and after the volunteers consumed a high-fat milk-shake, blood samples were extracted from them. In these blood samples, the researchers measured 61 biomarkers, such as cholesterol and blood sugar. Those with metabolic syndrome, abnormalities in biochemical processes related to sugar metabolism, fat metabolism and inflammation were discovered. For one month, sweets and savory products such as candy bars, tarts, peanuts and crisps were given to the ten healthy male volunteers consisting of an additional 1300 kcal per day. The result of the same 61 biomarkers to the test was assessed.  Signaling molecules such as hormones that influence the control of sugar and fat metabolism system and inflammation were altered, resembling the very subtle start of negative health effects similar to that influencing those with metabolic illness.

"Eating junk food is one of those situations where our brains say 'yes' and our bodies say 'no,'" said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Unfortunately for us, this report shows that we need to use our brains and listen to our bodies. Even one unhealthy snack has negative consequences that extend far beyond any pleasure it brings."

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