You already know that unhealthy foods full of sugar and saturated fats do rotten things to you on a physical level. But do you know about the effect it has on your brain? Today’s guest post from Kevin Jones breaks down the effect that unhealthy foods have on your entire body. Kevin is a freelance writer, researcher and fitness instructor/consultant who has helped hundreds of people find ways to become more fit and healthy through a balanced life focusing on an individualized approach to their nutrition and fitness. He’s also written extensively in the fitness and health industries for companies such as NordicTrack.
You’ve been told since you were a kid that sugar and fat are bad for you, but that probably didn’t stop you from indulging a lot more than you should. I still have to fight the urge to grab a milkshake on a daily basis! Perhaps one reason for your overindulgence is a lack of information. Sugary, fat-filled foods do more to your body than rot your teeth and make you gain weight. In fact, if you’re a glutton for these unhealthy foods, the health world has some bad news for you: you’re actually slowly killing yourself both mentally and physically.
Loss of Cognitive Function
Unfortunately, one of the first things to go is your brain. A study at Oregon State University shows a very distinct correlation between cognitive function and the foods you eat. The study’s findings revealed that excess fat and sugar in a person’s diet could lead to bacterial changes that relate to a significant loss in areas such as early learning, long-term memory and short-term memory. Have you noticed this? If not, pay attention in your daily tasks. You may find it’s much easier to forget things at work or lose your keys when you’ve eaten fast food for lunch.
Unfortunately, the damage done through simply eating too much of the wrong foods doesn’t stop there. “The impairment of cognitive flexibility in this study was pretty strong,” Kathy Magnusson, a professor at the University and principal investigator for the study, said. “Think about driving home on a route that’s very familiar to you, something you’re used to doing. Then one day that road is closed and you suddenly have to find a new way home.”
Magnusson admits that there’s more research to be done in this area to see the exact extent of the cognitive changes, but Alzheimer’s disease and IQ reduction were among the findings.
Can you imagine how much better life would be if you took down those roadblocks? When you consider the effects this has on a growing mind, it’s downright scary. How much better would our kids do in school and in their social lives if they weren’t impaired by excessive amounts of fats and sugars?
Late-Blooming Health Risks
Next on the list is your body. The physical ramifications of excess sugar and fat are shocking. Many people limit intake to avoid oral health problems and weight gain. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem lies in future illnesses that can develop with an unhealthy diet.
Principal among these health concerns is heart disease and diabetes. Typically, these health issues don’t appear until patients are much older, after a virtual lifetime of eating fat-filled and sugar-loaded foods. Starting early with these unhealthy diet habits sets the body up for physical failure as it expands to your organs, increases fat storage and inflammation, taints the blood, and clogs arteries.
What to Do?
Ignoring these mental and physical health conditions is dangerous! We see it in study after study.
If you’re filling your body with less than healthy foods, now is the time to take action. When we started making changes in our household, we started small and worked all the junk out, one food item at a time. As the peanut butter ran out, it was replaced with almond butter that had zero added sugars and less fat. When cold cereal ran low, it was replaced with hot cereals made with honey, fruit and nuts. The first few weeks are the hardest, but then a light switch goes on and it gets easier and easier to avoid the junk. If you limit your consumption of excessive fats and sugars, you can kiss many of these dangerous long-term and short-term health effects goodbye!
What unhealthy foods are toughest for you to give up? Got any tips that have worked for limiting them in your house? —Kevin