Whether you like fast food or not, you cannot ignore the inviting fatty and salty aroma that flows through the air as you drive by a fast-food restaurant. Something is triggered in your brain that makes you crave foods that contain salt, sugar, and fats, but don’t fall victim to these foods and their addictive ingredients!
Fast food items are cheap and mass-produced, so they are pumped full of flavor enhancers and colorings to make this cheap food appealing and edible to consumers. Below is a brief guide to help you better understand what these addictive ingredients are and the effects they have on your body.
Sugar, Fat, and Salt
Many advocates for better health in America, and the world, believe that fast food is addictive due to the immense amount of sugar, fat, and salt packed into each greasy serving. Although standards are higher in restaurant and home cooking, these ingredients often come highly processed in fast food in the form of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. Both high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils contribute to weight gain and leads to increased bad cholesterol.
Depending on where you are getting fast food, the calorie count in a regular to super-size meal is going to be way too high, and the sugar, salt, and fat levels more than likely exceeds what your body needs to sustain. These three ingredients are known as trigger substances meaning when all three are combined into food, they keep you coming back for more until your body becomes addicted to a food, such as fast food. This addiction spikes when other flavor enhancers are added into the mix.
Since your body does need a certain healthy amount each day, don’t completely cut out sugar, fat, and salt from your diet, but do consume in moderation and in a healthy way. Also, do consider cutting out fast food and other processed foods as your meal choice.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is a flavoring agent. It is a form of concentrated salt added to foods to enhance the flavor that is present in a variety of fast food and convenience food items. There has been much debate over the years about this food additive, and even though MSG is “generally recognized as safe” by the Food and Drug Administration, there has been numerous reports of skin rashes, itching, hives, vomiting, asthma, heart irregularities, depression, seizures, headache, migraines, chest pain, nausea, and weakness – these reactions may occur because MSG in fast food is highly processed.
Due to the fact that MSG is super cheap, the food industry can use low-quality foods and add MSG as a flavor enhancer to mask the cheapness. This flavoring agent may also interfere with appetite suppression and cause you to feel hungry even after you’ve eaten a large amount of food, which may explain why you can finish all five à la carte items from that Chinese take-out in a single night! This constant hungry feeling is a good reason to avoid MSG altogether. To be sure you are not ingesting MSG, make your own meals at home from scratch and add your favorite natural spices like fresh or dried herbs and spices, sea salt, garlic, and ginger.
Casein is often referred to as the “nicotine of fast food.” Although this protein compound naturally occurs in milk (80% of the proteins in cow milk), in fast food it is transformed to a refined and concentrated form created by adding calcium hydrogen phosphate – big scientific words! – to concentrated milk solids. Do you know that Casein is the addictive property in cheese? Many people have become addicted to cheese without even knowing it, feeling the craving for real or faux cheese on a daily basis. Common fast food items that contain casein are French fries that contain milk-derived ingredients, buns, milkshakes, drive-thru-window baked goods, other types of desserts, creamy salad dressings, whipped toppings, sausages, and more.
The problem with addictive foods like cheese is that they are acidic, and acidic foods tend to be fatty and sugary. These two food characteristics, fatty and sugary, when consumed in excess can have negative effects on you health by promoting problems such as weight gain.