A Single Meal Can Lead to Good (or Bad) Health

It takes just one “bad” meal — a cheeseburger, fries and a soda, fried chicken and biscuits, a slab of chocolate cake and ice cream — to do damage to your body, according to new research.

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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

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Eating healthy foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, and high-fiber items, will stave off post-prandial spikes and help to keep your blood-sugar levels even.

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.
Sources:
Time January 15, 2008
Journal of the American College of Cardiology January 22, 2008; 51:249-255

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