Whether you give into greasy French fries, cheesy pizza or crunchy chips, you’re probably aware that it’s not super simple to look the other way when it comes to junk food. In a 2010 study conducted by Scripps Research Associate Professor Paul J. Kenny and graduate student Paul M. Johnson, published in the March 2010 online edition of Nature Neuroscience, the duo found that the same molecular mechanisms prone to drive people to drug addictions play a similar role in overeating. Similarly, many believe that junk food has addictive properties.
We all know that fast food wreaks havoc on the body, but fewer people are aware of the side effects it has on our oral health. Bad breath, canker sores and gum disease can all arise over time in individuals who find themselves constantly consuming junk food. Since most junk and fast food lack the proper vitamins and minerals the mouth and body need to stay functioning properly, bacteria and germs are able to prosper and cause issues.
Bad breath symptoms are the most common side effect of junk food consumption – these foods are often hard to digest and cause a buildup of gas. This gas is released through the mouth, causing a pungent smell that can only be masked by gum and mints. Similarly, oral health issues such as canker sores are caused by a diet that is lacking vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid and iron. If you are consuming a large amount of junk and fast food, your body isn’t receiving enough of these vitamins to stay healthy.
But it may be difficult to just give up junk food all together, even if you’re aware of the health concerns it causes. Scripps Research performed a study on rats that completely lost control over eating habits overtime.
“They always went for the worst types of food, and as a result, they took in twice the calories as the control rats,” Kenny said. “When we removed the junk food and tried to put them on a nutritious diet – what we called the ‘salad bar option’ – they simply refused to eat. The change in their diet preference was so great that they basically starved themselves for two weeks after they were cut off from junk food.”
While it’s not necessary to give up all junk food, it is important to maintain a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins for a healthy mouth and body.