Junk food: the dopamine induced silenced killer.

With the winters approaching we all have that midnight hunger pang which needs to be fulfilled with eating the unhealthiest of foods. We usually resort to eating highly processed foods which are not only high in in calories but very low in any nutritional value.

These are typically foods such as burgers, pizzas, fries, ice cream chocolates etc. The reason why we are so attracted to fast food is that there is no time they take to prepare, are delicious and most importantly activate the dopamine receptors in our brains to make us feel good about ourselves.

 

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is a naturally occurring chemical in our bodies which is responsible for the happiness we feel. Most of the activities that give us happiness is basically a release of dopamine to the brain which activates the pleasure center of the body. In fact, the consumption of fast food and sugar leads to the pleasure center of the brain being flooded with excessive dopamine. They can also be called a super stimuli food.

 

Why is this bad for the system?

When the brain gets get flooded with dopamine which activates the reward center you feel good, elated, maybe even on top of the world; however, the real problem starts when this feeling starts to fade away. Junk food and sugar give you a dopamine which boost which lasts for a short time. When the dopamine leaves your system your equilibrium for getting a natural level of dopamine get skewed which leaves you wanting for more. This is where cravings start to kick in. Craving usually don’t have anything to do with hunger but more to do with getting that reward center of the brain activated to the same level it was before which results in the consumption of fast food and sugary foods. This basically puts you in a trap which leads to eating more and more of these unhealthy foods as the brain becomes more resistant the Dopamine hits it keeps on getting from the aforementioned food.

 

What is the affect on your physical health?

Eating sugary food increases the amount of fat in your body which makes you all in all an unhealthier person. Don’t get me wrong, fat is essential for the survival of the body; it is the natural way of storing energy for later uses. You could even call it a spare battery. The problem comes is when we consume excessive amount of fat. Sugary foods don’t go through the same process of giving any nutrients to the body, all they do is give an energy high and if they are not consumed in time the remainder turns into fat. Having an excess pf at leads to obesity which itself comes with a myriad of problems. Obesity has been termed as a silent killer according to the Indian express. According to the WHO obesity causes various diseases further on in life such as diabetes and various other cardiovascular diseases.

Being obese also affects your breathing and in all in a person does become lethargic due to inactivity caused by this. Not only this there is also the fact that it causes various musculoskeletal diseases as your body cannot physically hold the weight it has on it.

 

How do we avoid these foods and systems?

So now we come to the tough question; How do we avoid getting into this vicious cycle of dopamine highs and unhealthy foods. The answer is simpler than you think, eating healthy. But what is eating healthy? Through countless hours of searching, you will find out you tube channels, papers and blogs all telling the effects of different foods on your system and how they are good or bad for you. Let me ease this process for you.

 

We essentially want to have foods that are not only good for us but also make us feel good by triggering the pleasure centers of our brains.

 

1)fruits and vegetables- The more you eat this the better. Fruits such as apples and bananas are supposed to have a high level of dopamine inside them. What’s more is that they have natural sugars which don’t have a bad effect on your health either. these fruits are also high in essential vitamins and have low calories. Vegetables such as tomatoes and peas are also high in dopamine values. Furthermore, leafy vegetables are rich in calcium which strengths your bones and helps you burn fat faster.

 

2)Dark Chocolate-this is extremely healthy due to the less sugar content in it and its also releases dopamine in your brain. It also has a lot of minerals and nutrients as well as antioxidants which promote healthy living.

 

3)Chilies-These not only add spice to life but also increase your metabolic rate which is very good for burning fat. Who would have thought that our spicy cuisine would be a catalyst for losing weight?

 

4)Nuts- Nuts is a very broad category but if eaten in moderation they are a very good source of micro nutrients for the body. What’s more is that nuts that provide vitamin b6 such as walnuts help in the production of dopamine.

 

5)foods with omega 3- All you seafood lovers are in for a treat because not only does a pom fret taste good, but it is good as well for health. A lot of the fish and seafood eaten are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are capable of balancing the levels of dopamine which in turn will reduce anxiety related problems. What’s more is that they help in the reduction of cardiovascular diseases and promote better cognitive function. For all the vegetarians in the house, a great way of getting omega 3 is through the consumption of flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts. It is also found in all sort of plant oils which can be used to cook daily food!!

 

6)coffee-Coffee not only wakes you up but raises your mood by encouraging the production of dopamine. It is not only an antioxidant but also and antidepressant. Hats more is that black coffee is very healthy for you as it keeps you awake without consuming almost any calories!

 

The list above is not exhaustive, but it is a pretty good indicator to get you started on your way to a healthy living and away from the cycle of junk food and sugar.

You not only need to have a healthy diet but also some form of exercise to improve both your physical and mental health. I found this blog which will help you in your journey to get started.

Furthermore, I would advise to buy organic fruits and vegetables as they are free from lot of the pesticides and chemicals which are used in the traditional grocery store. Spending a little more on this will not only help you keep yourself healthy but also taste much better. Find out the benefits of organic living by clicking the link here.

 

 

P.S. I stumbled upon an article explaining the effects of junk food in detail. Check it out to get further tips and trick for healthy living

 

 

 

 

Sources for the blog post –

https://madongreen.com/can-eating-organic-food-help-lose-belly-fat/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-similarities-between-junk-foods-and-drugs#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5

https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/dopamine-foods/

https://anxiety-gone.com/top-10-foods-that-boost-dopamine-levels-naturally/

https://notsosugary.com/fast-food-and-its-impact/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/antioxidants-explained#what-they-are

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/

https://squaremyhealth.com/healthy-lifestyle-importance/

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight

https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/the-silent-killer-all-you-need-to-know-about-obesity/