Capetown Student Accomodation

Fast Food at Varsity – What is it Doing to Your Body?

When we talk about cramming in university, we’re not always talking about late-night study sessions. No, this time we’re talking about fast food!

Fast food tends to be a staple once you’ve settled into the rhythm of varsity life because, really, who has time to cook? Studying, sports, that second or third job and weekend partying have an uncanny way of pushing your nutritional needs to the back of the queue. 

So we grab a burger, fries, some dodgy late-night kebab arrangement from the side of the road, and then we wonder why our clothes don’t fit and we are struggling to stay awake in the afternoons. 

What Fast Food Does To Our Bodies

We’re going to lump both fast food and junk food together in this article for the sake of brevity, despite them being slightly different. (Junk food is highly processed, high in calories and very low in nutrients with added sugars, fats and other things you may not be able to pronounce. Fast food is just that, food prepared and eaten in a hurry – most of it is, in fact, junk.)

An article in The Oakland Press makes this statement: “Long-term effects of eating junk food: Eating a poor quality diet high in junk food is linked to a higher risk of obesity, depression, digestive issues, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and early death. Frequency matters when it comes to its impact on your health.”

But, what if we’re not eating junk food every day? Perhaps we indulge two or three times a week, is that still a problem?

Just one junk food meal results in body-wide inflammation, an increase in blood pressure, a spike in blood sugar and a surge of insulin. The flip side of this once-off meal is plunging blood sugar levels leaving you tired and cranky, and a lack of nutrients which leaves you feeling just as hungry as you started. 

A few days of eating fast food can actually change the way your body processes food and energy. One study mentioned in the article quoted above shows that just five days of junk food in healthy young men resulted in a reduction of their body’s ability to change glucose to energy. These frighteningly quick consequences mean a creeping risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. 

Many students say that they simply don’t have the time to prepare healthy meals, and besides, fast food is cheaper. Be that as it may, perhaps you need to consider setting aside time now for fatigue, chronic illness and doctor’s visits in the very near future. 

Or, you can make a salad.