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Examining the impacts of junk food

April 9, 2014

Diet is key to a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Consuming the proper amount of fruits, grains and vegetables, while shying away from sweets, fats and oils, is essential for maintaining proper mental and physical health. A number of recently released studies have found that foods high in unhealthy content may not only lead to higher obesity rates and heart disease, but could also cause several other negative side effects.

Junk food can make people lazy, but simple switches can improve health
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles discovered that consuming too much junk food can lead to laziness, Medical News Today reported. The study, which examined the effect of processed foods on functioning in rats, revealed that animals that had eaten junk food and were tasked to press a lever had to take nearly twice as many breaks as those that ate natural foods. Aaron Blaisdell, the lead researcher of the study, explained that while most people commonly attribute laziness to overweight individuals, the findings show that the connection may be inverted from what people commonly believe.

"Overweight people often get stigmatized as lazy and lacking discipline," Blaisdell said, as quoted by the source. "We interpret our results as suggesting that the idea commonly portrayed in the media that people become fat because they are lazy is wrong. Our data suggest that diet-induced obesity is a cause, rather than an effect, of laziness."

Seniors looking for alternatives to their sweets should consider trading chips for cashews, or any other of legumes, as they have been proven to bolster memory and provide heart-healthy benefits to older adults. Freshly cooked popcorn is another great alternative, as the product can quell the desire for junk food while providing a tasty and healthy option.

People with inhalers should search for healthier options
Australian researchers recently discovered that eating too much junk food may be especially problematic for people with asthma. According to The New Zealand Herald, a study examined the effects that junk food may have on respiration. Scientists discovered that those who consumed more junk food had a higher Dietary Inflammatory Index score. High DII scores lead to greater respiratory problems, decreased lung functioning and higher chances for getting asthma.

Lisa Wood, a professor and head of the nutrition program at the Center for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, led the study. She told the source that high fat intake may alter the way inhalers interact with the body. Ventolin, which is commonly used to fight asthma, may not work properly with too much dietary fat in the body. To combat this, seniors should seek low-fat alternatives to their favorite sweet products. Alternatively, seniors with asthma could cut their daily intake of junk food products, only indulging every once in a while.