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Hectic lifestyles, stress, and worries often lead to finding comfort in food. In some cases, in fact, there is nothing we can’t face after a nice piece of creamy cake or a tasty burger. But how much does this temptation cost to our health? Sandwiches, burgers and the like, chips, sweets, snacks and carbonated drinks are just some of the so-called junk foods, but the list is much longer and includes unsuspected foods which abuse in the diet can prove fatal to health.  Junk food is the main responsible for overweight and diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disorders.

Junk foods are all those foods with a high caloric content but a very low nutritional intake.  Rich in sugars, carbohydrates and saturated and hydrogenated fats, they are often obtained from poor quality raw materials, enriched with dyes, thickeners, preservatives and other chemicals that make them very attractive, up to become addictive. Junk food has a low satiating power because it is low in fiber and rich in fats and sugars that are quickly absorbed by the body; that lead to demand more and more of it. For this reason, the risk is to ingest large quantities and feel that we can never get enough of it. In addition to common fast foods such as French fries, burgers, sweets, candies and industrial snacks, all packaged foods, sweet or salty and mainly composed of sugars, preservatives and dyes, fall into the category of junk food. Hard to believe, but even foods peddled as healthy can hide in the category of junk food.

Breakfast cereals for example, rich in thickeners, palm oil or glucose syrup.  Then again, fruit juices or fruit yoghurt, which actually have a very small percentage of fruit, or panned and frozen foods such as fish sticks, spinach cutlets and chicken nuggets that all children love. Effects and consequences on health.

Junk food causes not only physical problems; It also affect our mental health. In addition to the well-known effects on weight and fitness, it should be stressed that taking important amounts of these foods, at the expense of a healthy and balanced diet, can lead to very serious cardiovascular diseases, the development of diabetes and, in the most serious cases, cancer. Equally devastating are the psychological effects of addiction to junk food, which is sometimes compared to that caused by drugs.

Scientifically, it has been shown that the fatty and sugary substances present in these foods stimulate the production of dopamine, which results in a sense of contentment and happiness the moment we ingest them.  Once the effect is over, which occurs relatively quickly, the sense of euphoria leaves room for exhaustion, loss of energy and irritability.

Stop eating junk food is difficult but not impossible. Let’s be clear, treating ourself every now and then to a fast- food restaurant or a high-calorie dessert in company is not the end of the world, especially when we consciously choose it. The problem, however, is that there are many foods on the market that seem healthy but actually fall into the junk food category. To avoid finding ourself the pantry full of these false friends, it is important to always read the labels and select only foods that contain healthy, nutritious ingredients and that are free of additional chemicals. It is always advisable to opt for natural and fresh products such as fruits and vegetables and cook dishes at home.

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