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How Junk Food Affects Our Digestion

  By posted Mar 7th 2012
Healthy Living
Good digestion is very crucial for maintaining healthy immune function.  A healthy digestive system depends on a healthy diet.  Modern-day life can be extremely busy and hectic. Parents have full-time jobs and a number of other personal commitments, leaving them with no time to pay attention to their and their children’s diet. Today, Dr. SK Thakur tells us about exactly how the junk food, we are so addicted to, affects our digestion. Over to Dr. Thakur.

Dr. S K Thakur is a Consultant for Gastroenterology with Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi. 

Eating an abundance of junk seems normal to today’s generation.  Over the past few years, in urban metropolitan cities, the tradition of eating home cooked Indian food is swapped by quick fix snacks, chips and biscuits etc.  Easy availability and low cost are a major cause for the growing fad for junk food among kids.  Recently a pediatric-based large study among private school-going children was conducted in Delhi and NCR. This study showed that the risk of hypertension, obesity and high blood sugar in these children was as high as 25 percent. 

In other words, one out of every four kids among the urban affluent population is suffering from the above three diseases. 

Junk food is a classic example of unbalanced diet usually characterized by high proportion of carbohydrates, refined sugar, salt, fats and low nutritional value, which can raise various health concerns like obesity, cardiac disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure etc. These food are processed and refined in such a way that they lose most of the key nutrients, have low fiber and poor water content. 
Effects of junk food on our digestive system: Junk food is unhealthy for digestive system as they slowdown the digestion process making the stomach bloated.   In order to digest food, stomach needs enzymes and fast food does not have them. When food is absorbed by the intestine it requires fiber and water to excrete but they don't have such nutrients which leads to poor digestion and irritable bowels. 
  
Ways to keep healthy digestion
  • Keep a count on calories intake. One should not have food just for the purpose of satisfying taste buds, but should be aware of the nutritional value it provides.
  • Cut down on refined sugar. Don’t have sweets and chocolates on an empty stomach as it sharply affects the body's biochemistry.
  • Cut down caffeine. Caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee etc dehydrate the body; thus look out for alternatives such as juices, green tea etc as a healthier way out.
  • Exercise regularly. Make exercise part of your daily routine. 
  • Increase intake of seasonal fruits and vegetables. One can have fruits like apple or any other seasonal fruit as part of mid-day snacks. 
  • Take time to enjoy food. Eat slowly and allow yourself to focus on the task of eating, letting the body concentrate on the job of digestion.  A meal that's not completely digested can stress and overload the body.
  • Adequate sleep. It is advisable to sleep for at least seven to eight hours a day as an exhausted body leads to poor health.
  • Eat small meals. It is always better to take small frequent meals rather than larger infrequent meals. 

A word of advice for parents:
Banning junk food never works. Parents should find out a way to keep the balance by combining junk food along with nutritious food. Include a healthy regime in your lifestyle as children always look up to their parents. Encourage cycling/walking to the school if possible. Accompany your kid in outdoor games. Recreational activities are very essential in the otherwise busy academic schedule of your children.

*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images    

 

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