Some Negative Health Effects of Fast Food
Posted on January 17th, 2013

Dr Hector Perera       London

Fast food refers to food that can be prepared and served quickly. Fast food restaurants usually have a walk up counter and/or drive-thru window where you order and pick up your food without having to wait long. There is no such thing as a “bad” food, but these are some foods you should try not to have on a regular basis. Because fast food is high in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, it isn’t something you should eat often. The ill effect of fast food and the potential danger that it possesses by its regular consumption is shocking.  One of the things is obesity. Regular consumption leads to increase in cholesterol levels, nutritional deficiencies, cardiac disorders, loss of muscle mass, depression and even sexual dysfunction. Soaked in trans fat and loaded with calories, fast foods are labelled as “ƒ”¹…”health hazards’ by many leading medical professionals.

The processed meat used in fast food contain nitrates, nitrites, artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate which increase blood flow and can trigger a migraine attack. This monosodium glutamate is also known an “Ajina Mott” in most Asian grocery shops. This is a salt that gives a better taste to food a flavour enhancer.   I added this chemical to some fresh beef and left it over night and on the following day; I could comb it out strands of comb beef using a fork. The smell and taste was no difference to canned comb beef.

Some British news papers on 16.1.2013 mentioned about everyday Value Beef Burgers, horse meat accounted for approximately 29 per cent of the meat. The supermarket announced last night that it was removing all fresh and frozen burgers from sale immediately regardless if they had been found to contain horse meat. It is possible that this practice has been going on for a sometime that is eating horse meat with beef.

An investigation was carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. The Food Standards Agency, working with the Irish authorities, established that mainland Britain was part of the area affected. More than a third (37 per cent) of the products tested in Ireland contained horse DNA, while the vast majority (85 per cent) also contained pig DNA. Horse meat and pig DNA was found in 27 beef burger products. Another 31 foods, including cottage pies, beef curry pies and lasagnes, were analysed, with 21 testing positive for pig DNA.

 Pink slime – a mix of meat trimmings washed in ammonium hydroxide and used in fast food burger patties – churned consumer’s stomachs so much, McDonald’s banned the slop, according to news reports. Beef Products buys the cheapest, least desirable beef on offer””…”fatty sweepings from the slaughter house floor, which are notoriously rife with pathogens like E. coli 0157 and antibiotic-resistant salmonella. Red meat is really red?  That’s not blood (there’s no blood in the meat you buy) but muscle tissue.  (Technically, it’s myoglobin, which is a molecule related to the red component of blood, but it’s not blood.)
But red meat turns grey when exposed to oxygen due ariel oxidation.  So they wrap it tightly and fill the packages with nitrogen to keep the oxygen from getting to it.  They’re also allowed to use a little carbon monoxide, which does an even a better job. We carbon dioxide gas is poisonous to inhale.
Some unscrupulous butchers will use too much carbon monoxide, sulphites, nitrates, or dyes to keep it looking red longer, but that’s illegal and rare. Additives are used to keep the meat fresh and to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum the bacteria which causes food poisoning. When someone eats these kinds of chemical added meat products, the increased blood flow can cause excessive pressure to build up in the head and can lead to headaches or a feeling of a hangover.

The processed food used in the fast food industry is loaded with trans fat, which not only increases the “ƒ”¹…”bad cholesterol’ (Low Density Lipoprotein LDL) levels but also reduces the “ƒ”¹…”good cholesterol’ (High Density Lipoprotein HDL) levels. Processed meat used by fast food industries can sometimes have 45% more trans fat than their natural counterparts. Consuming fast foods leads to an increased intake of cholesterol which is highly dangerous for humans. The cholesterol molecules attach themselves to the arteries which lead to their thickening or clogging. This can cause obstructed blood flow which can lead to high blood pressure. If cholesterol accumulates in one of the main arteries it can lead to a blockage, when an artery is completely blocked it can lead to heart attacks or complete heart failure.

Artificial trans fats can be formed when oil goes through a process called hydrogenation, which hardens the oil. In simple terms, hydrogen is added across C=C bonds in oil molecules. This type of fat, known as hydrogenated fat, can be used for frying or as an ingredient in processed foods.

This is because the hydrogenated vegetable fats which provide most dietary trans fat are a mainstay of the food industry – a cheap bulking agent perfect for padding out expensive processed products, with a long shelf life and a luxurious ‘mouth feel’.

These trans fats are to be found, for example, in margarine, vegetable shortening, ice-cream, puddings & pudding mixes, ready-made pies, cakes & cake mixes, biscuits, pizza, potato chips, fritters, doughnuts, gravy & sauce mixes, artificial creamers, confectionery and other processed foods, including many foods marketed at children, including some sugary breakfast cereals.

They are also commonly found in restaurant food, especially – but not only – in fast food. You can also make your own trans fat (in small amounts) by repeatedly re-heating cooking oil. That is one of the reasons why one should not reuse the oil that is used for frying things such as bacon, sausages or “papadams, sprats etc”.
Fast food affects mental health

Depression is one of the many negative effects of fast food. This emotional condition has been linked to regular consumption of fast foods by a study done by the University College of London. According to the study, people who indulge in fast foods regularly are 58% more likely to suffer from depression. Fast foods do not contain antioxidants, foliate and omega -3s which is necessary for good mental health. As mentioned earlier, fast foods contain preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilizers and flavor enhancers which can affect the mental well being of the person and monosodium glutamate is just one of them.

Fast foods contain high amounts of sodium which can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure. Although small amounts of sodium is needed for bodily functions, consuming too much can lead to not just high blood pressure, but build up of fluids in people who are suffering from liver cirrhosis, congestive heart failures or kidney ailments. If you eat too much salt all at once you can risk disturbing the electrolyte balance in your body which can cause, severe, and sometimes fatal, neurological problems.
Long term, if you have too much salt in your diet you are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure which increases your chances of heart disease and strokes. I know it for fact Sri Lankans love to eat lime pickle, sprats, salt fish or dry fish and sometimes “Jardi” that are loaded with salt. Well the best thing is to know your limits when eating these special salty foods. Salt makes your body retain water. If you eat too much salt, the extra water stored in your body and raises your blood pressure.
Some studies also suggest excess salt intake has been linked to exercise induced Asthma and Osteoporosis.
In the UK the recommended salt intake is 4-6g per day that is about one tea spoonful, no more. Sodium is crucial to your health, as your body needs it to carry out normal bodily functions. Salt is responsible for balancing the amount of fluids in your body and ensuring your muscles contract the way they should. Sodium is also needed to assist with nerve functions. Therefore, you need to ingest salt on a daily basis, but you also need to know how much to consume, as a sodium overdose could be hazardous to your health. Your body needs at least 500 mg of salt a day, and you shouldn’t exceed 2,300 mg a day if you’re a healthy adult. However, if you suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease, the maximum daily consumption of sodium lowers to 1,500 mg a day. Remember 1000 mg is one gram so 1,500 mg is 1.5 grams that means just a pinch of salt.

What we eat affects our physical, mental, and sexual health. Fatty acids found in fast foods are a major contributor to sexual dysfunction, not only does it cause weight gain but can trigger biochemical changes which effect libido, sperm count and female ovulation.

The processed meat is many times contaminated with manure which contains Escherichia Coli and Salmonella that is possible if the vegetables are not properly washed. Would you think all the hotels and restaurants wash the vegetables carefully? This healthy green vegetable, “Mukunuwenna” that comes from areas near Kelani Bridge get adsorped [coated outside] with too many pollutants found in flood water. Be safe, wash them properly before use. E.Coli is considered very difficult to treat and sometimes referred to as the worst sort of food poisoning. Even after antibiotics kill the bacteria, the toxins released by it can produce harmful effects. This disease is usually spread through undercooked hamburgers and is a leading cause of renal failure among American kids. Have you noticed some so called British TV celebrity cooks hardly allow anytime for poultry, fish or beef to cook? Just add this and that so quickly then toss it up in the air to show off or turn around a few times on a hot fuming pan then serve. This makes only the surface of the meat get heated than cooked then the germs inside happily waiting to be consumed then come out causing food poisoning. Once you eat them, they come out and cause food poisoning. The TV presenter must say, “Yummy” to the camera even when the meat is red and under cooked.

 Addictive Nature of Fast Foods
According to the Science Daily, high levels of sugar and fat can cause blood sugar to spike and then crash suddenly. The patrons of fast food feel a sudden rush of euphoria when this happens making them dependent on the euphoric effects of insulin surges. Therefore one of the harmful effects of fast food consumption is the addiction or the incessant craving it causes among people. Some people are addicted to smoking, gambling or alcohols.

Hamburgers and French fries could be as addictive as heroin, scientists have claimed. Researchers in the United States have found evidence to suggest people can become overly dependent on the sugar and fat in fast food.

The controversial findings add weight to claims that over-eating is simply down to a lack of self-control. Just a few things that you can check whether you are addicted to fast food. Do you grab a quick bite during your lunch break? Do you pick up a meal on your way home from work because so you don’t have to go home and make dinner? Does your morning routine include a fast food stop for breakfast on your way to work? Do you experience late night cravings that prompt you to get in your car and drive to the closest fast food place? If there are “Yes” for then you need to think, “Am I addicted to fast food”? No one can break the addiction; just you need to think before you eat and drink too much of anything, know your limits. Please send your comments to [email protected]

4 Responses to “Some Negative Health Effects of Fast Food”

  1. callistus Says:

    Enough has been said about food and no one has ever made any comment on your articles. Does that mean no one is interested in them.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    We think that many people who suffer ill health or are anxious to avoid ill health, do read Dr Hector Perera’s articles. There are a number of reasons as to why people do not write in comments.

    One reason is the Food Market, Jobs & Money gained from various foods sold here, yet now widely recognised as ‘bad food’ in the developed west due to new diseases such as obesity, cancer & heart disease. e.g. widespread of use of margarine in baked goods in Sri Lanka, despite the fact that it is proven to be a ‘bad fat’ that the body cannot recognise and digest (marg is just one molecule away from plastic, and the human body does not recognise it as a food, thus allowing coatings in blood vessels etc leading to heart disease). There are many food additives to enhance flavors but bad for good health, such as Ajinomoto (monosodium glutamate) as Dr HP states.

    As we are in a Democracy (We, the People rule), it is up to Sri Lankans to form Consumer Unions, educate the public on the side effects of bad food, and let them decide. Are few moments of momentary pleasure with fast food worth a life time of poor health ?

    Indulging in a bit of fast food occasionally may not be harmful, but be warned that fast food can be addictive. Also, fast food can be truly made healthier with a bit of effort e.g. a whole wheat burgher with a soy burgher and veggies & sauces can make a healthy & delicious burgher !

    We thank Dr Perera for his continued efforts to educate the public of Lanka on food factors – a long overdue need.

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Dear Dr Hector Perera,

    Please do also address the dangers of so called ‘silver fillings’ in teeth, in one of your future articles. Silver fillings are really Mercury amalgams. Mercury is so poisonous to the human body (nervous system especially) that used batteries etc containing Mercury are not allowed even in a land fill. Why allow it in the human teeth fillings ?

    The ‘white fillings’ are much safer as teeth fillings.

  4. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    DNA structures that cap the ends of chromosomes known as telomere plays an important role in cell division, and in the aging process by preventing the DNA from unraveling and fusion with neighboring chromosomes. During cell division, enzymes that duplicate DNA cannot continue their duplication all the way to the end of chromosomes. If cells divided without telomeres, they would lose the ends of their chromosomes, and the necessary information they contain. The telomeres are disposable buffers blocking the ends of the chromosomes, are consumed during cell division, and an enzyme known as “telomerase” actively restores it. In life, there’s an ongoing battle between telomeric loss and telomerase-based restoration. If your telomeres degrade beyond a critical point, cell division is no longer possible.

    Average telomere length is individually variable, and is inherited. Not surprisingly, given a base rate of telomerase activity, the longer an individual’s telomeres, the more degradation can be hypothetically tolerated, and the greater their lifespan.

    If dad has long telomeres and mom has short ones, when their DNA combines in that egg that becomes you, are yours going to be long telomeres like dad since telomeric length will be correlated with your father’s, and not with your mother’s. For both females and males — look to your father for a prediction of your own longevity.The telomeres in a man’s sperm get longer the older he gets, and this means his offspring will have longer telomeres but it carries risk of genetic mutation..

    HOWEVER, you should know that telomere length does NOT predict the probability of the onset or progression of senility. This may be because the brain is less dependent on cell division across a lifetime than are other body organs. It strongly indicates that cellular senescence attributed to a long history of cell division is NOT a primary source of origin of Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s always cheering to know that you may be genetically set up for a long life. At the same time, you had better get to work on your brain fitness strategies, to insure that those extra years are spent fruitfully, because living long provides very little assurance that you’ll be living well!.

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