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20 Disturbing Fast Food Facts that Will Change Your Diet Forever

20 Disturbing Fast Food Facts that Will Change Your Diet Forever

Quickly made, quickly served, quickly eaten. That’s fast food in six simple words, although in reality, perhaps badly made, poorly served, quickly eaten is a more appropriate summary.

It’s been well documented that junk food is exactly what it says on the tin: junk. Still, it doesn’t seem to stop us from lining up in droves and flinging our hard-earned cash into fast food chains’ tills.

McDonald’s continue to sell an astounding 75 hamburgers per second, and you can never go more than just over one hundred miles in the US without seeing those famous golden arches luring hungry clientele inside.

Indeed, most people are willing to occasionally gorge on the kind of food that isn’t exactly great for them. An understandable mind-set of course, given that a couple of solid gym sessions will work off the high calorie count that came inside that Big Mac box.

But there’s more concerning aspects to fast food than the prospect of putting on a few extra pounds, and recent research across the board has revealed several horror stories that hide behind the glossy menus and vibrant packaging. Listed here are some of these stories: disturbing fast food facts that will change your diet forever.

1. Draining the Brain          

This is perhaps the most alarming information available about fast food in the modern day. Everyone is familiar with the fatty contents and high sugar levels present in burgers, chips and soda in these environments, but what people may be less aware of is the fact that fast food items may also actually have detrimental effects on the human mind.

Chowing down on junk food on a regular basis disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, and after a certain amount of time can make you appear like a member of the walking dead. Unless we begin to actively cut back on our fast food consumption, a world of shuffling zombies might not be such an implausible possibility after all.

2. Fecal Fizz

Some people may claim that they do not necessarily mind where their food comes from as long as it tastes good. However, there’s an exception to every rule, and the fact that thousands of drink dispensers in fast food restaurants have displayed traces of fecal bacteria is surely that exception in this case.

In low doses, the particular form of bacteria found on these drink dispensers (known as coliform bacteria) won’t kill you, but the fact that this strand is commonly found in feces is revolting enough to make even the most unhygienic person want to kick the fizzy drinks forever.

Whilst this substance might not necessarily make you sick, another form of bacteria found in these drink dispensers certainly will: a nasty little strand called e.coli. This bacteria can cause severe food poisoning symptoms, and in rare cases has even caused death.

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The message here couldn’t be clearer: stay away from fast food drink dispensers.

3. Sickly Syrup

Ever notice that you still feel thirsty after guzzling down a jumbo-sized fizzy drink from your local fast food restaurant? Well, there’s a reason for that.

To give these beverages a succinct, sickly-sweet taste, many fast food chains gleefully load their fizzy drinks with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – a highly processed substance that performs as a sugar substitute.

Whilst high levels of HFCS allow a sweet flavor to dance on your tongue, they also tear away at the enamel on your teeth, stretch out your stomach lining, and attack your vital organs. Bizarrely, gobbling right out of a sugar bowl might actually be healthier for you.

4. Bad Eggs

You might want to start taking a pass on any egg-based fast food breakfasts when hunger hits you in the morning time.

In an attempt to cut back on production costs, a wide variety of fast food chains often use an egg substitute for their breakfast dishes known as “Premium Egg Blend” – which has been proven to contain a troubling substance named glycerine. You might not be too familiar with the name of this material, but chances are you will have come into contact with it whilst taking a shower or having a shave.

Yup, this solvent is regularly apparent in shaving foam and soap, and whilst consuming either of these products in small doses probably wouldn’t kill you, that’s hardly an endorsement for a breakfast meal is it?

5. Stretchy Bread

You might be surprised to learn that Subway is actually the largest fast food supplier in the world, even ahead of those inescapable giant golden arches that seem to follow you around to every single street corner wherever you go.

But this is perhaps only the second most surprising fact about the Subway sandwich chain, with the “winner” being a little a fact that’s a little more unsettling.

Until recently, the bread used for sandwiches in this fast food establishment contained a chemical called azodicarbonamide – a substance that’s previously been used to create yoga mats.

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Subway has since declared that this chemical has been wiped away from their bread recipe, but it’s still enough to turn your stomach if you’ve ever munched down on an Italian BMT before.

6. Fly Egg Sauce

Some disturbing news for you Americans out there. Regulations sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration of the USA actually allow for 30 or more fly eggs per 100 grams and 1 or more maggot per 100 grams to be present in tomato-based sauces.

Admittedly, these guys are the ones who know their stuff when it comes bacteria, but the thought of scoffing down fly eggs as part of your dish is enough to turn you off fast-food pasta dishes forever.

7. Cows and Cows and Cows

If you ever felt a little guilty about eating an animal after licking your fingers clean and binning your Big Mac box, the following little tidbit may be enough to guilt-trip you into never buying a hamburger ever again. Taking one bite of a big, fat juicy fast food burger might mean that you’re actually chomping into bits and pieces extracted from over one hundred different cows.

After cattle are slaughtered, the “cheaper” bits and pieces are all tossed together for processing, where these gristly cuts of meat are mushed up into circular shapes and given a pump of fat for good measure. The result is the typical, cheaply made fast food hamburger, which is subsequently shipped off to a variety of fast food chains around the world and then flies off the shelves into the hands of antsy customers.

Perhaps if more of them knew what they were eating, they might begin to ration their burger buying habits, and switch to grilling in their own backyards instead.

8. Cheese That Won’t Please

Nothing makes a burger better than a thick slice of succulent cheddar cheese sizzling nicely between the meat and bun. Problem is, at fast food restaurants this cheese isn’t cheddar. Heck, half the time it’s barely even cheese.

Research has revealed that around half the contents of most processed cheese in fast food restaurants is chemicals, additives and fat – leaving a final slice that’s less than 50% of what it claims to be. Isn’t that some barely-food for thought?

9. Beach Food

There’s an ingredient called silicon dioxide that’s often found in spicier fast food items such as chili and buffalo wings. You’re probably more familiar with its other name: sand. Nobody asked for their food to be sprinkled with bits from the beach, but fast food restaurants have gone ahead and done it anyway. Urgh.

10. Chemical Shakes

Fast food joints really know how to jazz up a milkshake, but if you knew exactly what went into these drinks, it’d be enough to make you hurl your milk-based beverage at the wall in disgust. Indeed, junk shakes contain all kinds of dodgy ingredients that spice that are pumped in to spice up their image, and in some cases contain even more chemicals than a typical garden fertiliser.

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11. Immortal Burger

It’s a haunting sight when you accidentally stumble across expired food that’s been hidden away in the deep recesses of the fridge for weeks. At times like these, when you’re forced to pinch your nose and tentatively pluck the moldy monstrosity and tip-toe to your bin, it’s tempting to think “why do foods have to look so gross when they go off?”

Well as it so happens, McDonald’s burgers can last for 14 years and barely change in appearance. Great, right? Wrong. Foods are supposed to look revolting when they’ve expired – it’s a natural process and the warning sign that we humans need to realize that it’s no longer fit for consumption.

So when a burger barely changes after an entire decade, there’s only one real conclusion to be made: it isn’t really a burger at all. Whilst it will crust and harden when left to its own devices for years, a typical fast food burger contains so little water and so few naturally produced ingredients it’ll simply sit there looking pretty much exactly how it did when it was first made. A bit like plastic. Which is essentially what many takeaway burgers are.

12. Fries Forever

Unfortunately, McDonald’s fries display the same kind of ardent resistance to rot that a typical fast food burger does. An experiment conducted several years ago showed a batch of fries from the famous fast food chain looking exactly the same despite having sat in a pot for three long years. If ruthless bacteria isn’t prepared to nibble at these chips, then you sure as hell shouldn’t either.

13. The Sweet Taste of Beavers

Now might be the time to stop slurping on the vanilla and raspberry shakes that are available for selection on so many different fast food menus.

For added sweetness, the production process for these flavored drinks involves intermingling a head-slapping horrid ingredient into the mix called castoreum – which actually comes from the anal gland of the beaver. Shudder.

14. Not Really Nuggets

Golden, crispy chicken nuggets are a treat for the tongue when they’re cooked right. At fast food restaurants, however, the way that they’re produced is all wrong. Studies have shown that junk nuggets contain barely any chicken at all, instead being mainly comprised of fats, bone, nerve and tissue. Yuck.

15. Duck Feather Pie

Apple pie isn’t quite as appetizing as it might appear, at least not in fast food restaurants. These establishments add a bunch of strange chemicals to these juicy pies during the production phase in order to allow them to feed easily through the machines and speed up processing, and one of these unsavory additions is often an extract called L-cysteine.

Unfortunately, this ingredient is plucked from the most gag-inducing areas – including hog hair, human hair, and most incredibly, duck feathers. Take a pass on the apple pie in future.

16. Salads That Increase Your Size

Ordering a salad at a fast food restaurant is a bit like puffing on an e-cig inside a cigar bar. Sure, you’re being good and going for the healthy option, but you’re in an environment where harmful substances are being produced at a rapid rate, and whichever way you look at it, you’re still going be heading out the door in a worse state than you were before you came in.

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Alarmingly, many typical fast food salads are stuffed with lots of saturated fats and sodium, and in some cases are even more detrimental to your health than a good old Big Mac burger.

17. Pictures Tell A Thousand Lies

Those posters you see of fast food burgers dripping with deliciousness are never real burgers. You probably already knew this one, but you might not realize the sheer effort that the fast food companies put in to shaping and shading their pictures to make their food look mouth-watering.

Every junk food restaurant has staff solely dedicated to making their food look absolutely sensational in print form – stopping at nothing to enhance its appearance. See, it’s not just celebs who use Photoshop after all.

18. Crazy Kids

Many of the more colorful foods served up at fast food chains contain food dyes that attempt to make the finalized product resemble something close to those glossy posters slapped on the restaurant’s interior windows.

If you frequently take your kids to eat at fast food restaurants, the presence of this ingredient ought to be enough to make you change your habits. Food dyes have been proven to actively alter the behavior of children, making them more hyperactive, intense, bad-tempered and irritable, and having even more severe symptoms for kids suffering from ADHD.

19. Beetle Juice, Beetle Juice, Beetle Juice

Oh, and those food dyes that have the potential to send your kids into hyperactive overdrive have another unsettling element to them. Some of them contain the red cochineal beetle – an insect that’s frequently captured, dried and crushed to produce an “artificial coloring” that will jazz up the look of your fast food milkshake or meal.

Consumed in low doses, this particular food dye made out of crunched-up insects isn’t going to have a nasty effect on your health, but be honest, do you want to eat something that’s come from a battered up beetle?

20. Walk It Off

If none of the above facts managed to put you off purchasing fast food, consider this as a final thought: If you went into McDonald’s right now, and purchased a small burger, small fries, and a small coke, the amount of calories, salt and saturated fat present in this moderate meal means that it woulds still take you over four hours to walk it all off.

And let’s be honest, the last thing you ever feel like doing after scoffing down a MacDonald’s burger is going for a tiring 240 minute-long walk.

Featured photo credit: Flickr, ciron810 via flickr.com

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Gareth Lloyd

Freelance Writer

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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