It should not be hard to eat well but time, money and convenience factors often cause us to take the easy path to eating. When you are eating on the run, it is so much easier to buy over the counter foods.

Just one ‘bad’ meal that is high fat, high sugar or heavily processed (chips, hamburgers, fried meats, fizzy drinks or sodas, chocolate cake and ice cream) can damage your body. New research shows that even a single intake of a junk food meal ‘can trigger a biochemical cascade, causing inflammation of blood vessels and immediate, detrimental changes to the nervous system’, according to a paper, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2008:51-249-255.

The desire to eat junk food is a vicious cycle, the researchers pointed out, as the more you eat it the more your body craves it. This occurs because junk food distorts your hormonal profile, stimulating your appetite and causing you to crave unhealthy foods — while making you feel unsatisfied when you eat only healthy ones.

But surely just one time won’t hurt? We all say that but it is important to know what happens both short term and long term.

Whenever you eat, the body breaks the food into a flow of nutrients, including glucose (sugar), lipids (fats), and amino acids (the building blocks of protein). But with junk food the high load of glucose and fats leads to a big spike in blood sugar levels (post prandial hyperglycaemia).

Immediately 5 things happen:

  • Your tissue becomes inflamed, just as it does when infected.
  • Your blood vessels constrict.
  • You generate free radicals, unstable molecules that cause cell damage and are thought to contribute to chronic disease and aging.
  • Your blood pressure increases as a result of the body’s stress response.

You may notice you feel crummy or even hungry a few hours after eating junk food. The sudden surge and then drop in insulin — the hormone that spurs your body to store energy — leaves you feeling hungry again soon after eating, despite having had plenty of calories.

So, if you end up feeling hungry, irritable, sleepy or sluggish after you eat, you are showing the classic signs that your body NEEDS more fuel to do its job properly.

But even important for our general health and aging is the long term story. With poor food choices your brain starts to lose its ability to ‘hear’ the biochemical signals that tell it to stop eating and and it starts to store fat.

Over time this leads to some nasty problems and diseases

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoporosis

 

Now for the good news: it takes just one healthy meal to start healing your body.

You now have the power to make a difference to your health just by starting to change your diet one meal at a time. Providing you give your body the right foods (proteins, healthy fats and good carbs – more from veggies than grains), it will start to move away from disease.

Eating fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, and high-fibre items will stave off those after meal ‘I’m still hungry’ spikes and help to keep your blood-sugar levels even.

Interestingly enough a small amount of alcohol appears to help blood-sugar levels stay stable but of course more than that 1 glass of wine or alcohol does the opposite and sends them up and down.

Healthy eating will greatly improve and even reverse type 2 “insulin resistant” diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, many other chronic diseases of aging and even aging itself.

A good eating plan that shows what are good fats and good high fibre carbohydrates is outlined in GutMatters Optimal Digestive Health diet. Following these guidelines will truly let “food be your medicine” as suggested by Hippocrates.

Remember – Eating healthy fresh unprocessed foods should not be just a fad or a phase in your life — it should be an essential part of your everyday lifestyle.