We all know that a poor diet isn’t good for us, but of course, it can be difficult to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, especially if you don’t have the time. The effects of a poor diet when you are pregnant can be even more noticeable and damaging, including mood swings, constipation and tiredness and of course, the unborn baby’s health can be affected too. But what exactly are the effects of not eating healthily for the rest of us?
One of the most obvious effects of a poor diet is your overall appearance. Around 65 million Americans are obese, and a diet of junk food, too much sugar, and starch can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Eating unhealthy foods regularly can affect the appearance of your skin and can increase the chances of developing acne. And of course, being overweight can then put you at increased risk of other conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight can affect your self-confidence, relationships with others and lead to depression and withdrawal.
A poor diet is also a leading cause of hypertension or high blood pressure. Too much caffeine, salty foods, sugar, and fried food can all increase your chances of developing hypertension, often known as the silent killer as it’s difficult to detect. And high blood pressure can, in turn, lead to other unwanted conditions, such as kidney failure, heart disease or stroke. Your chances of experiencing a stroke are a lot higher if your diet is rich in fat, salt or cholesterol. Consuming under 6 grams of salt per day is recommended; just this one step can decrease your chances of getting high blood pressure.
High cholesterol is a leading cause of heart disease, and it can be caused by a poor diet. In fact, heart disease kills about half a million Americans every year, many unaware that their diet isn’t what it should be. Cheese, butter, beef, and ice cream are all fat saturated foods that should be consumed in moderation, while turkey, chicken, and fish are all much healthier options.
But it isn’t just your physical appearance that can suffer if you have a consistently poor diet. Too much sugar in your diet can make it hard to focus, or you can feel irritable or tired, seemingly for no reason. Too much sugar on a regular basis can also adversely affect the body’s mineral content, and too much trans fats in the diet can make your brain age more quickly. A ‘sugar high’ is common after eating junk food; because the food doesn’t contain a lot of nutrients, your body uses the sugar as energy and consumes it quickly. Concentration and performance can suffer during this sugar high. Basically, a poor diet can leave you feeling listless, apathetic or tired, often for much of the day.
A prolonged poor diet can also lead to gout and increase the chances of getting cancer, two things not always associated with poor nutrition. Foods such as butter, red meat, cheese, ice cream, and some seafood contain a lot of uric acids which can cause painful swelling and permanent damage to the joints. And hot dogs, processed meats, bacon and other foods that contain nitrates, refined sugar, and hydrogenated oils can all mean you are more likely to develop certain types of cancer unless you limit your intake regularly.
It isn’t always easy to improve your diet. But increasing your daily intake of fruit and vegetables, drinking plenty of water and cutting back on some of those unhealthy items can make a huge difference to your physical and mental health.