Give me 10 Minutes, I’ll Give You the Truth about Brain Health Hazards of Junk Food on Fascinated Teenagers

Introduction

Junk foods have changed the eating behavior of teenagers. Youngsters are very much fascinated by junk foods because they spend a lot of time on television and internet full of junk advertisements by food manufacturers.

Junk foods contains ingredients that may make the teenagers addicted on such foods like pizza, burger, chips, and cookies. In this communication I will discuss about introduction, facts, people priority, nutritional facts, health hazards and remedies to take the control over the bad habit of eating fast foods frequently.

This is very important for good health of teenagers who are the future of any nation. Let us hope for the best to maintain good health of youngsters.

What are Junk Foods?

Junk foods are the foods that contain negligible nutritional value and very high calories due to which they are very hazardous for health especially brain health of teenagers.

Young generation between ages of 10 to 19 years are highly fond of consuming fast foods such as pizza, burger, french fries, chips, ice-cream, cookies, cake, beverages containing sugar sweeteners etc.

Why are People Preferring Junk Food Over Healthy Food?

Now a days home delivery of these junk foods is being done to almost any destination making it easily accessible for youngsters. We can see many fast food selling companies advertise massively on television and internet in very fascinating manner attracting teenagers towards these eatables.

It has become a fashion that people are preferring junk foods over healthy foods because of its taste and easy availability. In this fast moving life, people do not find sufficient time to cook and eat healthy food so they prefer fast/junk foods as well as packed food which they can eat as per their convenience.

But this a serious matter of concern as it is posing various health related problems. There is need to think about the eating behavior especially of teenagers as they are more attracted towards the junk food than adult folks.

What are Nutritional Facts about Junk Foods?

Nutritional facts of some of the junk foods are presented here to highlight about how much high calorie they contain which is posing health problems for teenagers.

Junk FoodCaloriesFats (g)Sugar (g)
Hamburger26610.15.2
Pizza28510.43.8
French fries365170.3
Ice cream140714
Potato chips1499.50.1
Cake2621228
Nutritional facts of various fast foods

It is extremely important to look into these nutritional facts so that next time when we think of eating these junk foods, we remain aware about how much calories, fats and sugar we are taking.  This will help us to stay away from these high-fat and high-sugar foods.

Why Junk Foods are Hazardous for Teenager’s Brain?

It is a well-known fact that teenagers love to eat junk foods, but eating too much of junk food can severely harm their brain as well as body health. Junk food disrupts thinking abilities, learning capabilities and memory to great extent.

 It can also change the behavior pattern of teenagers, they may become more impulsive in behavior and there is a high risk for the symptoms of depression or anxiety in them.

Teenagers are more prone to be badly affected by junk food than any other age groups because their brain is under construction and not fully developed.

Why Teenagers have Strong Urge to Eat Junk Foods?

Scientific studies have shown that prefrontal cortex region of brain is not fully developed and mature in case of teenagers.

This region has great importance because it helps to understand which food is good or bad for our brain health. It also helps to take control over the urge to eat the junk food by deciding that it can badly affect the brain health.

What is the Connection Between Eating Junk Food and Neurotransmitters?

Dopamine is considered to be the most commonly found feel good neurotransmitter in brain. Dopamine boosts our mood and teenagers feels pleasure whenever they eat junk food as, junk foods may cause release of happiness neurotransmitter dopamine in brain.

This type of response is more active in case of teenagers. Also, it is proved by various studies that teen brains have more of dopamine receptors than adult brains. Due to this, teenagers are more inclined to high-fat and high-sugar junk foods as compared to healthy foods.

According to research published in journal “Birth Defects Research”, scientists Reichelt et al. advocate that diet can have a great impact on an adolescent brain functioning. Junk foods can alter the responses of excitatory neurotransmitter dopamine as well as inhibitory neurotransmitter of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) in brain.

These are the two main neurotransmitters which are controlling the cognition and behavior but this system is not completely matured in teenagers. It is highlighted in the study that poor dietary choice of teenagers and preference towards junk food is based on these neurotransmitters levels in brain.

What is the Role of Neuroplasticity for Vulnerability of Teenager Brains towards Junk Foods?

Neuroplasticity is related to the change in the structural organization and functioning of the brain as per the experience. It helps brain to learn and adapt in different situations of life.

Neuroplasticity of brain can significantly change the food behavior in teenagers as teenagers can learn and adapt faster than the adult people.

Therefore, teenagers are more vulnerable towards junk food eating habits as compared to older ones due to high levels of neuroplasticity in them.

What are Bad Effects of Junk Foods on Teenager Brains?

Dr. Amy Reichelt is a world famous neuroscientist working at RIMT University, Australia. He has done extensive research on various ways by which junk foods can change teenager’s brain. Some of the highlighting points of his research are presented here for your better understanding

Junk foods create craving for sweet and fatty foods:

Eating junk foods can trigger teenager brain to release more amount of pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine and also directs brain to produce extra dopamine receptors. After some time, more junk food is required by the body to get the same response which increase craving for junk food.

Rash behaviour of teenagers is correlated with junk food:

Temptation for high fat and high sugar foods increases with time so teenagers are always in search of junk foods to satisfy their hunger. They stay away from healthy food due to this temptation for junk foods. When they do not get the junk food they become impulsive and angry.

Junk foods can cause neuro-inflammation in brain:

Junk foods may contain some ingredients which may provoke allergic reactions resulting into inflammation of nerves in brain damaging the vital neurons. Dr. Reichelt further says that high intake of sugary drinks, cakes and cookies even for a period of five days can result into inflammation of hippocampus part of brain which is very dangerous.

Eating too much junk food can reduce thinking and learning abilities

As per researchers, hippocampus is the main part of brain linked to memory system. Teenagers eating high diet of junk foods are destroying their hippocampus, that can lead to poor memory and thinking abilities. Such teenagers are not able to even pass the simple memory tests.

Decrease in neurogenesis due to high intake of junk foods

 Neurogenesis is the formation of new and healthy neurons, a continuous process taking place in hippocampus part of brain. New neurons helps in maintaining the neuroplasticity of brain also for good memory system.

Decrease in young neuron density in brain can cause mental disorders like depression that can take place because of eating junk foods.

Eating junk food can increase risk of depression in teenagers

According to a study published in journal “Public Health Nutr.”, scientists Snchez-Villegas et al., consumption of fast foods like hamburger, pizza, sausages and processed pastries for example muffins, doughnuts resulted in the high incidences of depression in the youngsters.

Consumption of fast foods by the young and physically inactive participants resulted in the 40% higher risk of depression condition. In the conclusion, there were 493 cases of depression reported by the scientists in the study.

What Does Create Craving for Junk Foods?

There are various ways by which food industries make junk food so addictive by adding some ingredients which are difficult to resist and teenagers just love to eat such junk foods.

According to food scientist Steven Witherly, junk food addiction amongst teenagers may be due to following factors:

Combination of different sensations in the junk food: Which is also called dynamic contrast. For example caramelized top of a crème brulee, pizza slice and Oreo cookie. Teenager brain finds such combination sensational and thrilling.

Junk foods enhance salivary response: Excess of salivary response throughout the mouth by junk foods entirely covers the taste buds with goodness. For example butter, chocolate, ice-cream, mayonnaise tastes better and teenager brain enjoys such junk foods.

Junk foods instantly melt in the mouth: Junk foods have the tendency to melt down rapidly in mouth and makes it so easy to eat that overeating of junk foods takes place having a lot of calories.

Junk foods create tasteful past memories if eat regularly: Whenever we eat junk foods, it creates a memory in the brain that it is very tasty like in case of flavored potato chips and brain stores such memories. Next time when we see such junk foods again, it can result into mouth-watering craving for them.

What are the Ways for Teenagers to Control Eating of Junk Foods?

There are various methods by which teenagers may take control over junk food eating habits, some of which are compiled here.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment: It is studied by the scientists that magnetic fields are very useful in the improvement of brain functioning by stimulating the nerve cells present in the brain.

This technique has a great potential for mood elevations to get relief from symptoms of depression. This treatment is recommended by medical practitioners in order to alter the activity of brain in prefrontal cortex region which can control overeating as wells as junk food eating behavior.

Physical exercise can improve brain power and healthy food habitsPhysical exercises like brisk walking, running, playing games, gym workout enhance and improve neuroplasticity.

It also increases decision making capacity of brain towards selection of better healthy foods. Habit of daily physical exercise is very good for physical and mental health and quality life.

Choose restaurants which provide healthier choices of food: You can visit the restaurants where you can get healthier alternative to junk foods. Like freshly squeezed orange juice, pizza topped with fresh vegetables than processed cheese sauce.

You can also avoid taking French fries and sweetened beverages as these are having very high calories.

You can prefer low sugar products: High fructose corn syrup can be ordered. Also we can select product containing 100% whole wheat made with canola oil instead of asking for cheese puffs.

Avoid watching of television for long hours: According to research published in Journal of Adolescent Health, scientist Kent et al., teenagers of age 10-17 years view on an average more than 14.4 million food products related advertisements on various platforms like television and websites.

This ultimately attracts them towards junk foods. Therefore, we should not allow youngsters to watch television for long sitting hours as it may develop sedentary lifestyle in them.

Also overexposure to the fast food advertisements can trigger their craving for junk foods which can make the situation worst for the teenagers.

Conclusions

It is clearly understood that junk foods are tasty foods but high on calorie, frequently available everywhere at affordable price attracting people specially teenagers to consume.

Junk foods are rapidly eliminating the healthy foods from the diet chart of youngsters as these are inducing craving in them just like addiction.

Various facts and figures have been shared here which indicate that brain becomes more inclined to junk food on repeated eating which makes it difficult to resist. Junk foods have serious health hazards on including lack of memory, thinking abilities and brain inflammation.

All these facts are shared in this article with objective to make people aware so that they can say no to the junk foods and yes to healthy foods.

By reading this article, teenagers will be able to wisely select healthy food so that they can enjoy good brain health and make their future bright.

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