The good news, however, is that eating just one good meal will start to repair the damage.
This occurs because, when you eat, your body breaks down the food into glucose (sugar), lipids (fats) and amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
As soon as you polish off the last of your high-fat, high-sugar meal, the sugar causes a large spike in your blood-sugar levels called “post-prandial hyperglycemia.” In the long term this can lead to an increased risk of heart attack, but there are short-term effects as well, such as:
- Your tissue becomes inflamed (as occurs when it is infected)
- Your blood vessels constrict
- Damaging free radicals are generated
- Your blood pressure may rise higher than normal
- A surge and drop in insulin may leave you feeling hungry soon after your meal
Even a small amount of alcohol appears to help blood-sugar levels stay stable.
The desire to eat junk food is a vicious cycle, the researchers pointed out, as the more you eat it the more your body craves it. This occurs because junk food distorts your hormonal profile, stimulating your appetite and causing you to crave unhealthy foods -- while making you feel unsatisfied when you eat only healthy ones.
The risky blood sugar spikes that follow a junk food meal are most likely to occur in people who don’t exercise, or who carry weight around their abdomen. The old saying “you are what you eat” is probably never more apparent than shortly after you eat a convenient, good-tasting junk-food meal. My guess is that most of the time you begin to feel tired, your mood sinks, your brain feels foggy, and you may even feel hungry again, not to mention all the guilt you have for putting things into your body that you know will move you toward sickness and disease.
When I was younger I used to really enjoy eating sweet rolls. At the time I did not realize that they were loaded with trans fat. But every time after I ate them I could feel a strange sensation on the roof of my mouth, and I knew I was harming myself. The key is to pay attention to the signals and clues your body is giving you, especially after you eat unhealthy food.
The more that you eat a diet full of sugar, grains and bad fats -- like trans fats and those from vegetable oils -- the more you are clouding your brain’s ability to “hear” the biochemical signals that tell it to stop eating and storing fat.
These signals come from the hormones insulin and leptin, and their job is to, among other things, control your metabolism.
Insulin works mostly at the cellular level, telling the vast majority of your cells whether to burn or store fat and sugar, and whether to utilize that energy for maintenance, repair or reproduction.
Leptin, on the other hand, sends signals that reduce your hunger, increase fat burning and reduce fat storage.
However, when you regularly eat foods, such as sugar and grains, that cause your blood sugar to spike after you eat -- your body becomes resistant to these important messages.
The end result is a major miscommunication that tells your body to eat more and store more fat, instead of what it actually needs: to reduce hunger and burn fat. When your insulin and leptin levels are increased, it will become very difficult for you to use fat as a fuel as the enzymes required for doing this are significantly impaired.
Over time, this can lead to many chronic diseases, including:
It Takes Just One Good Meal to Start Healing Your Body
While it’s true that one bad meal will produce negative changes in your body, let’s not overlook the most important finding in this study: it takes just ONE good meal to start things moving in a positive direction.
Just imagine the power that gives you. If you have been eating poorly recently, you can start reversing the process with your very next meal -- and start to improve your health right now.
You see, your body was designed to be healthy. It wants to move toward health and away from disease, and it will do its best to stay that way, provided you give it the proper tools -- the proteins, the healthy fats and the good carbs (mostly from veggies) and micronutrients -- that it needs to thrive.
If you end up feeling hungry, irritable, sleepy or sluggish after you eat, these are all signs that you are likely not giving your body the fuel that it needs to do its job properly. This fuel is different for everybody, and you can find out which exact foods your body is TRULY craving by finding out your nutritional type.
This program, which is outlined in detail in my book Take Control of Your Health, fine-tunes your diet for your individual nutrient requirements.
Take, for instance, a salad. On the surface, this is a healthy meal. Yet, the same salad is not ideal for everyone. Your body may do best with some chicken, olive oil and onions on your salad, or you may feel better by adding on some grass-fed steak, and using spinach instead of lettuce.
Once you know which foods your body needs (and which it does better without), you will truly be on the road to increased energy, an upbeat mood, and less risk of chronic diseases. In short, you’ll be on your way to reaching optimal health.
And remember, this all starts one meal at a time.