July 21 is National Junk Food Day. Did you know that the US actually has a day dedicated to the consumption of junk food, a leading cause of our nation’s high incidence of chronic diseases and dental decay? It almost seems appropriate.
Now, we don’t want to point fingers if you’re secretly (or not so secretly!) a junk food junkie.
We would like to give you the facts and a few suggestions on alternatives to your run-of-the-mill junk food.
To start off, it’s important to understand the full scope of the situation. Did you know that 90% of Americans’ spending on food is on junk food? More than half of the food that Americans eat– a whopping 60%, is ULTRA- processed food.
This means that about half of the food consumed by the average Joe are equivalent to convenience foods from the local gas station.
When you break down junk food into its simplest element, what remains is typically sugar. When consumed in high quantities, sugar begins to supplant your body’s natural processes and develops disease.
Research shows that as much as 40% of health care expenditures in the US are related to diseases directly associated with excessive sugar consumption.
People who constantly eat junk on a very regular basis during their day aren’t getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy. As a result, they may feel chronically fatigued, experience headaches from sugar withdrawal, and lack the energy they need to complete their daily tasks.
The #1 leading childhood disease is also caused by putting sugar into the body–tooth decay. Snacking on sweets and sugary drinks increases risk for tooth decay. Extra sugars in the mouth are food for bacteria to feed on. This process creates acids that erode your teeth’s enamel. If these sugars aren’t brushed off, the acid continues to eat away at the teeth. The end result is worn down teeth that are very vulnerable to tooth decay.
The average American adult has 3.28 decayed or missing permanent teeth and 13.65 decayed and missing permanent surfaces. Consumption of junk food is a big reason for all this tooth weakness!
We know, it’s unlikely that most people will give up junk food completely, but the good news is that cutting down on frequency to get used to non-junk alternatives and preferring certain junk foods over others can give your overall health a huge advantage!
Sodas and other sugary drinks often contain the most sugars and can significantly add to the negative impact of junk food when you decide to indulge.
Seek to incorporate the major food categories anytime you eat and that you always get a good serving of each every day: protein, vegetables, and fruits, before the carbohydrates and sugars.
Dark chocolate is well known for its antioxidant properties, so the darker you go, the better it is for you! Sugarless candies or gum are a good alternative for people looking for small ways to cut back without sacrificing the experience of eating candies. Last, we’ve found that plain yogurt with frozen fruit added (blueberries for an antioxidant explosion!) is a delicious dessert to replace ice cream that families absolutely love!
This July 21st, whether or not you like to celebrate National Junk Food Day, we hope you’ll enjoy these new ideas for fun food!
Penn Dental Family Practice provides comprehensive dental care and treatment to individuals and families. Call 215-898-7337 today for an appointment for you and your family members.