By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
Throughout the last two years, the pandemic has heightened awareness and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. A critical part of that healthy lifestyle is to eat a healthy diet and consume adequate vitamins and minerals via food and if needed, take vitamins and minerals as a supplement, which help to ward off disease and infection of all kinds.
However, less attention has been given to articulating the devastation a poor diet can have on your immune system. More specifically, diets that are rich in processed carbohydrates and high-fat content from fast food restaurants.
Fast food alters your mood and mental health
Aside from fast food wreaking havoc on your health and immune system, it can significantly alter your mood and mental health. The exact biological mechanisms that cause our bodies to react poorly to diets rich in processed carbohydrates and high saturated fats are not well understood. While the mechanisms are not well understood, the negative outcomes are rather clear.
A self-assessment of recent dietary intake may be necessary to better understand if you are feeling down in the dumps. Additionally, if you know someone suffering from depression, it may be useful for that person to eliminate fast food and begin the process of incorporating healthier dietary strategies.
Fast food in children leads to unhealthy outcomes overtime
Another caution should be given when children eat a diet consisting of fast food eaten multiple times every week. While it may seem that children, for lack of a better term, are unbreakable when it comes to fast food and negative health effects, that idea or concept is simply not true.
While children can absorb unhealthy foods without immediate noticeable and outward consequences, over time fast food diets can hurt their body composition and alter their minds, literally. Children will gain weight and become more dependent on fast food because there is plenty of sugar in fast food which is thought to create an addiction to the food. The cravings they may have will lead to more consumption and could lead to childhood depression and other issues.
Replace fast food with healthier alternatives
On the bright side, elimination and avoidance is a quick and easy start that can quickly help people out of the fast food trap. Simply avoid going to the fast food restaurant and over time, you will work yourself out of the habit of stopping. The second challenge, which is more difficult, is replacing fast food with healthier alternatives that may seem less convenient. In the end, everyone must know that it is possible to eat conveniently and healthy! You just need to explore your options!
Kris-Etherton, Penny M., et al. “Nutrition and behavioral health disorders: depression and anxiety.” Nutrition reviews 79.3 (2021): 247-260.
Sánchez-Villegas, Almudena, et al. “Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption and the risk of depression.” Public health nutrition 15.3 (2012): 424-432.
AlAmmar, Welayah A., Fatima H. Albeesh, and Rabie Y. Khattab. “Food and mood: the corresponsive effect.” Current Nutrition Reports 9.3 (2020): 296-308.
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