Monday December 16, 2019

Stuff of death: Why fast foods should be avoided?

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By Nithin Sridhar

People across the world are rapidly moving away from the consumption of traditional food items and are moving towards fast food.

Fast foods are often processed foods that can be served very quickly. These fast foods are an integral part of the “Western diets” which are high on fats and oils.

A 2014 global study revealed that there is a global dietary transition owing to rising incomes and urbanization. People are abandoning consumption of their traditional foods and are adopting diets that are high in refined sugars, refined fats, oil and meats.

The study concludes that if these dietary trends are not countered and rectified, it could prove fatal to both environment and human health.

By 2050, the changing dietary patterns could become the main cause behind an estimated 80% increase in global emission of agricultural greenhouse gases.

On the health front, the dietary changes could lead to increased exposure to type II diabetes and coronary heart disease.

 

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The situation in India is no better. According to this 2012 paper, the fast food industry is growing by 40% a year in India. It quotes a 2005 survey conducted by National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), that revealed that Delhi people spent an average of Rs 371 on processed foods and beverages per month. But they spent only Rs 290 on vegetables and a third of it on fruits. The total value of the junk foods consumed in 2003 was Rs 41,000 crores.

These facts should raise an alarm among people towards the growing dietary transitions that will prove harmful if not mitigated.

Fast foods are harmful to human health because they lack nutritional value. They lack in essential proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some foods have very high-calorie content but absolutely no essential nutrients.

Consumption of these unhealthy foods result in exposure to various diseases and medical conditions.

A 2013 study in UK found that those who ate fried and sweet food, processed and red meat, white bread and butter and cream doubled their risk of premature death or ill health in old age.

 

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A recent study was carried on the diet intake of 926 men with non-metastatic prostate cancer. They completed diet questionnaires for a median of 5.1 years after diagnosis and they were further monitored for a median of another 9.9 years. It was found that people who followed western dietary pattern had significantly higher risk of dying from prostate as well as higher risk of dying from other causes. The people who consumed fruits, vegetables etc. in their diet, exhibited significantly lower risk of dying through prostate cancer or other causes.

Apart from this, high sugar intake may cause dental cavities and type II diabetes. The Kidneys may be affected due to excess salts. Excess fats and oils may lead to gastritis. High Cholesterol, Obesity, and increased blood pressure are other common conditions induced by excess fast food consumption.

Therefore, there is an immediate need to monitor our dietary patterns and reduce the consumption of fast and junk foods and replace it with healthier alternatives: home-made foods, fruits, and vegetables.

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Next Story

Healthy Diet May Reduce The Risk of Hearing Loss

Greater adherence to these dietary patterns has been associated with a number of important health outcomes

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Healthy Diet
The benefits of adherence to healthful dietary patterns have been associated with numerous positive health outcomes and eating a Healthy Diet may also help reduce the risk of hearing loss. Pixabay

Researchers have found that eating a Healthy Diet may reduce the risk of acquired hearing loss.

Using longitudinal data collected in the Nurses’ Health Study II Conservation of Hearing Study (CHEARS), researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in US, examined three-year changes in hearing sensitivities and found that women whose eating patterns adhered more closely to commonly recommended healthful dietary patterns have substantially lowered risk of decline in hearing sensitivity.

“A common perception is that hearing loss is an inevitable part of the aging process. However, our research focuses on identifying potentially modifiable risk factors – that is, things that we can change in our diet and lifestyle to prevent hearing loss or delay its progression,” said lead author Sharon Curhan.

“The benefits of adherence to healthful dietary patterns have been associated with numerous positive health outcomes and eating a healthy diet may also help reduce the risk of hearing loss,” Curhan added.

Previous studies have suggested that higher intake of specific nutrients and certain food, such as the carotenoids beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin (found in squash, carrots, oranges and other fruits and vegetables) were associated with lower risk of self-reported hearing loss.

For the study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers established 19 geographically diverse testing sites across the US and trained teams of licensed audiologists to follow standardised CHEARS methods.

Healthy Diet
Researchers have found that eating a Healthy Diet may reduce the risk of acquired hearing loss. Pixabay

The audiologists measured changes in pure-tone hearing thresholds, the lowest volume that a pitch can be detected by the participant in a given ear, over the course of three years.

An audiologist presented tones of different frequencies (0.5, 1 and 2 kHz as low-frequencies; at 3 kHz and 4 kHz as mid-frequencies; and at 6 kHz and 8 kHz as higher frequencies) at variable “loudness” levels and participants were asked to indicate when they could just barely hear the tone.

Using over 20 years of dietary intake information that was collected every four years beginning in 1991, the researchers investigated how closely participants’ long-term diets resembled some well-established and currently recommended dietary patterns, such as the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, and Alternate Healthy Index-2010 (AHEI-2010).

Greater adherence to these dietary patterns has been associated with a number of important health outcomes, including lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke and death as well as healthy aging.

Healthy Diet
Previous studies have suggested that higher intake of specific nutrients and certain Food in a Healthy Diet, such as the carotenoids beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin (found in squash, carrots, oranges and other fruits and vegetables) were associated with lower risk of self-reported hearing loss. Pixabay

The team found that the odds of a decline in mid-frequency hearing sensitivities were almost 30 per cent lower among those whose diets most closely resembled these healthful dietary patterns, compared with women whose diets least resembled the healthy diet. In the higher frequencies, the odds were up to 25 per cent lower.

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“The association between diet and hearing sensitivity decline encompassed frequencies that are critical for speech understanding,” said Curhan.

“We were surprised that so many women demonstrated hearing decline over such a relatively short period of time,” Curhan added. (IANS)