A diet that leans more heavily toward unhealthy foods will carry too many calories from fat and sugar and not enough beneficial nutrients. While you can live for a long time on such a diet, it will have short-term and long-term effects on your health. Weight problems, dental problems and chronic diseases become more likely when you choose energy-dense foods, or those with higher calories than nutrition, over nutrient-dense foods, or those with fewer calories and more vitamins, minerals and other beneficial nutrients.
A diet that has too much fat or sugar crowds out the other nutrients that your body needs for metabolism. The USDA reports that most people don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and many do not consume enough dairy products, creating nutritional deficits. Some consequences include birth defects in pregnant women, as well as anemia from lack of iron or B-vitamins. Inadequate calcium can create a loss of bone density that results in fractures or tooth loss.
Food calories that exceed your activity needs are stored as fat in the body and cause weight gain. Frequently eating caloric fast foods such as tacos and cheeseburgers, for instance, instead of healthy fruits and vegetables, can tip the scales. If you don’t remove those pounds, you might become obese, acquiring a body mass index of 30 or more. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for serious chronic diseases such as cancer and also carry their own consequences. Among these, the Office of the Surgeon General says, are a greater incidence of arthritis, reproductive complications, gall bladder disease, incontinence and depression.
Obesity and nutritional imbalances are also primary risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which might result in heart attacks, strokes and premature death. Diets low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains are likely to be higher in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can clog your arteries. This condition, called atherosclerosis, might cause blood clots and progress to symptoms of coronary heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in America. The American Heart Association notes that eating healthy foods reduces this risk.
Type 2 Diabetes
Both an unhealthy diet and excess weight greatly increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, an incurable disease related to blood sugar imbalance. A varied diet regulates how your body processes the sugar in foods, while not eating healthy foods can trigger sharp spikes in your blood sugars that disrupt the body’s normal response to insulin. The American Diabetes Association notes that if diabetes medication does not control blood sugar levels, complications can include nerve damage and kidney disease