Junk Food : Just how bad for you is it?
Updated: Jan 3
In the second of the three part series on weight loss, management and health, this post takes a look at junk food.
A recently published study in journal Nature Communication, reported findings from a two week diet swap.
Americans in the study were fed a high-fibre, low-fat African-style diet whilst rural Africans in the study were fed a ‘junk food’ style diet, i.e. high-fat, low-fibre western-style diet. The groups were monitored under close supervision.
Although the diet swap was only over a two week period, the researchers found that the changes to diet resulted in remarkable changes in markers associated with risk of cancer and in particular, bowel cancer.
As reported by the BBC, the Americans in the study had improvements to their bowel health with less bowel inflammation, while the African participants bowel health deteriorated.
The findings point to diets rich in junk food, high in fat and sugar but low in fibre, having a negative impact on health and particularly bowel health and risk of bowel cancer. The study authors advise however that it is not possible to make generalised conclusions based a small scale study.
This suggests that making positive changes to your diet could have a significant impact on your health.
Cancer Research UK advise that many studies have considered the link between diet and cancer, with experts concluding that the food we eat can affect our risk of cancer. In fact, scientists estimate that less healthy diets cause nearly one in ten (9%) of all cancer cases in the UK.
A balanced diet can also help to maintain a healthy body weight, which can itself reduce the risk of many cancers.
For most people in the UK, this means increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables and high fibre foods whilst reducing consumption of red and processed meats and salt.
Research cited by Cancer Research UK shows the risks from the following food types:
Fruit and Vegetables
Eating fruit and vegetables can reduce risks of various cancers and that people eating the most fruit and vegetables reduce their cancer risk by around 10% compared to those who eat the least.
Red and Processed Meat
Red meat includes all fresh, minced and frozen beef, pork and lamb. Processed meat includes ham, bacon, salami and sausages.
Eating lots of red or processed meat increases the risk of bowel cancer.
About a quarter of bowel cancer cases in men and a sixth in women are linked to eating red or processed meat. Bowel cancer risk increases 28% for every 120g of red meat eaten per day, and by 9% for every 30g of processed meat eaten per day. Processed meat is more strongly linked to cancer risk than red meat.
There is also evidence linking consumption of red meat with pancreatic cancer and stomach cancer.
Research has not found links between eating white meat, such as chicken, and cancer.
The Government advises that people who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat a day should cut down to 70g or less.
There is some evidence that eating fish daily can reduce bowel cancer risk, however the evidence is inconsistent.
About 12% of bowel cancers may be linked to a low fibre diet. Eating 10g of fibre per day can reduce the risk of bowel cancer by around 10% with cereal fibre and whole grains appearing to have the most effect on reducing bowel cancer risk.
It is believed that about 25% of stomach cancer cases in the UK are linked to eating more than 6g of salt daily. People who regularly eat high amounts of salt each day have two-thirds higher risk of stomach cancer compared with those who eat low amounts.
You can donate to Cancer Research UK and find out about other ways to donate and help by clicking the following link:
Clinical Hypnotherapy at Positive Change Hypnotherapy could help you to lose weight and maintain your new healthy body weight. As part of this, it can also help you to make positive choices about the food you eat, healthier choices you want to make.
For all research citations supporting the above statements, please see:
BBC (2015) [online] Diet Swap Experiment Reveals Junk Food's Harm To Gut. [online] Available at: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-32494846> [Accessed: 14/05/15].
Cancer Research UK (2015) Diet Facts and Evidence. [online] Available at: <http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/diet-and-cancer/diet-facts-and-evidence#diet_facts0> [Accessed 21/05/15].
World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (2007) Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity And The Prevention Of Cancer: A Global Perspective, Washington DC: AICR.
Boyle P. et al. (2003) European Code Against Cancer And Scientific Justification: Third Version. Ann Oncol. 2003, July, 14(7). pp. 973-1005.
Parkin, M., et al. (2011) The Fraction Of Cancer Attributable To Lifestyle And Environmental Factors In The Uk In 2010. BJC 2011. 105, Supp. 2, 6 December 2011.
O/'Keefe, S. J. D., Li, J. V., Lahti, L. Ou., Junhai, C., Franck, M., Khaled, P., Joram M., Kinross, J., Wahl, E., Ruder, E., Vipperla, K., Naidoo, V., Mtshali, L., Tims, S., Puylaert, P. G. B., DeLany, J., Krasinskas, A., Benefiel, A. C., Kaseb, H. O., Newton, K., Nicholson, J. K., de Vos, W. M., Gaskins, H. R., Zoetendal, E. G. (2015) Fat, Fibre and Cancer Risk In African Americans and Rural Africans. Nature Communication. 2015/04/28/online. 6. Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. [online] Available at: <http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150428/ncomms7342/full/ncomms7342.html> [Accessed 14/05/15].