Chaat, chhole-bhature, poha-jalebi, litti-choka, dabeli – if your mouth isn’t watering right now, you’re not an Indian! The western world has limited options of junk food, but we Indians have such a wide variety of cuisines across our nation, which also means that we have an astounding array of junk food. Unlike western junk food that consists of processed foods, our street food is made on the spot. Obviously, there have been concerns over hygiene issues, but now science shows that eating street food could actually help and not hamper your health.
How Junk Food Can Be Good For You
“Junk food increases your immunity to the bacteria you ingest & helps your body fight off future infections”
Your overseas colleague comes down and you go out for dinner together; the next morning you stroll in, but he doesn’t because he’s in his hotel room still retching up his dinner! Almost every foreigner who comes to India gets tummy troubles right away; it’s so common that there’s even a term for it – Delhi belly! But why does this happen? The answer is pretty simple: immunity. Your colleague has never been exposed to the kind of bacteria we have and so he fell victim instantly, but you’ve lived here all your life and have a gut of steel!
You might relish street food, but if you could look at it under a microscope, you’d probably feel very sick! Yes, our junk food has the most delicious blend of flavors and aromas, but it comes with plenty of bacteria too. But this is not necessarily a bad thing; when you ingest these bacteria, your body is forced to produce antibodies to destroy them. Cells that have fought off these bacteria then become “memory” cells which “remember” the bacteria, so that the next time you ingest these bacteria your immune system responds rapidly and destroys them much faster than before.
How Eating Junk Food Can Prevent Autoimmune Diseases
“The immune system is built to ward off dangerous pathogens & when there are none around, it attacks healthy cells instead”
When the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ was first proposed, it caused quite a stir, as it showed that being “too clean” can result in a variety of autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease is a disease where your immune system attacks the healthy cells in your body. Although we do not know what causes autoimmune diseases, there has been a steady rise in the incidence of these diseases throughout most of the western world.
According to the hygiene hypothesis, the immune system is built to ward off dangerous pathogens and when there are none around, it attacks healthy cells instead and findings from preliminary studies back these results. Eating junk food every once in a while will give your immune system something to attack and this can prevent conditions such as asthma, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Have junk food from time to time, but don’t replace your regular meals with junk foods, as this will weaken your immune system after a while. As with most things in life, the important thing is to find a balance – have healthy nutritious food on a daily basis and have junk food just as a treat on the weekends or if you’ve had a particularly rough day at work and just want some comfort food.
August 28, 2018