Eating of junk has been related with a lot of health issues. Adages for kids to teens, junk is the ultimate unhealthy. However, research shows that junk food can also lead to early ageing. According to a European and International Conference on Obesity report by scientists, junk can lead to shortening of telomeres, strands of DNA and proteins found at the end of chromosomes. On a cellular level, shortened telomeres are a mark of biological ageing. Telomeres are not carriers of genetic information but are important for preserving the stability and integrity of chromosomes and, hence, the DNA that the cells of the body depend upon for functioning.
As we get older, our telomeres shorten naturally because, for every time a cell divides, part of the telomere is lost. Hence shortened telomeres are considered a biological indicator of age. This result has been correlated with consumption of ultra-processed foods, or what we commonly refer to as junk food.
Now let us narrow down on the definition of ultra-processed. Anything industrially manufactured that is composed of some mixed oils, fats, sugars, starch, and proteins that contain little to none whole or natural foods, often including artificial flavourings, colourings, emulsifiers, preservatives, and other additives for lengthening shelf-life and letting in the flow of profits qualify as “ultra-processed”. These properties also make these food items nutritionally poor compared to less processed alternatives.
Previously these food items have been linked with diseases and conditions like hypertension, obesity, depression, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. These diseases also trace their cause often to oxidative stress and inflammation believed to influence telomere length. Hence they are also considered age-related. Deep-fried foods, processed sugar, biscuits, even potatoes, alcohol, processed meat, artificial sweeteners, caffeinated products, even milk products for some are linked with increasing skin ageing. Basically all those treats for the taste buds and all things one loves to eat in millennial life.
Junk consumption deprives the body of most essential nutrients, causes dehydration thus much impairing metabolism and immunity. Artificial preservatives might contain chemicals or even hidden toxins causing unaccounted and slow damage. Trans fat, excess sugars may even accelerate the stress hormones, cause obesity, inflammation and various other health disorders. Junk, hence, goes in for the slow kill.
Eating junk is perhaps the easiest way of welcoming fast ageing. We recommend curbing down on the artifices of food, not only to live longer but to live better and healthier. For at the end of the day, health truly is wealth!