There’s a reason junk food is called junk. It isn’t good for you.
A new small scale study in Sweden, a study with only fifteen experimental subjects, shows something intriguing. When you eat a high fat/high sugar diet, a junk food diet, a strange thing happens to your sleep.
You sleep just as long as you would if you were eating healthy food. But you don’t get the sleep you really need. You don’t get what researchers call “restorative sleep.”
You don’t get the sleep that one of the researchers behind the new study, Dr. Jonathan Cedernaes of Sweden’s Uppsala University, says “regulates hormonal release.” The sleep that can banish chronic pain and lead you to take better care of yourself. The sleep that promotes your bone and muscle growth, strengthens your immune system, and prevents dementia.
But you do get restorative sleep if you adopt a “healthy diet.” A diet low in sugar, low in saturated fat, and low in processed food.
As the Journal of Drug Delivery and Therapeutics points out, 51 years ago, in 1972, Michael Jacobson, the founder of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the man NPR calls a “pioneer of food activism,” coined “the phrase junk food…as slang for foods of useless or low nutritional value.”
Today there are over 100,000 studies on why junk food is bad for you. One, in South Korea, finds that heavy energy drink consumption is associated with “sleep dissatisfaction,” high levels of stress, depression, and suicidal thinking or even suicidal planning.
Another study in Pakistan showed that females whose consumption of soft drinks was high and whose consumption of fresh fruits was low had low exam scores.
Yet another study, this one in Iran, showed a relationship between junk food and obesity.
And a classic study in the United States showed that if you’re eating junk foods, your chances of being obese and having type 2 diabetes fifteen years from now go up. What’s worse, you are likely to pass your junk food habit down to your kids.
An Indian researcher sums up the impact of junk food as “lack of energy, high cholesterol… poor concentration, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and various types of skin cancers.”
Dr. Jonathan Cedernaes, one of three researchers behind the new study on junk food and sleep, is a physician and associate professor in Medical Cell Biology at Sweden’s Uppsala University. Dr. Cedernaes points out that the difference in sleep between folks who eat a junk food diet and those who eat a healthy diet is subtle.
Both groups have the same amount of deep sleep. But the sugar, fat, and salt eaters lack what Dr. Cedernaes calls “slow-wave activity, a measure that can reflect how restorative deep sleep is.” In other words, the junk foody’s deep sleep is shallow.
One of the most unique things about the new study is that the electromagnetic waves of the sleepers were analyzed “using machine-learning-based algorithms.”
In other words, this study was a product of the collaboration between researchers and the new force that we are told could doom humanity, artificial intelligence.
May the human-artificial-intelligence partnership continue to produce results for a long time to come.
Brandão LEM, Popa A, Cedernaes E, et al. Exposure to a more unhealthy diet impacts sleep microstructure during normal sleep and recovery sleep: A randomized trial. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). 2023 May. DOI: 10.1002/oby.23787. PMID: 37245331.
John Anderer, Sleep and snacks: Junk food may prevent you from getting quality rest, StudyFinds, 05-31-2023, https://studyfinds.org/snacks-junk-food-quality-sleep/
K. A. Davies and others, Restorative sleep predicts the resolution of chronic widespread pain: results from the EPIFUND study, Rheumatology, Volume 47, Issue 12, December 2008, Pages 1809–1813, https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/ken389
Röttger, S., Maier, J. Krex-Brinkmann, L. et al. The benefits of sleep coaching in workplace health promotion. J Public Health 25, 685–691 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10389-017-0826-z
Rajveer Bhaskar, North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India, Junk Food: Impact On Health, Journal of Drug Delivery and Therapeutics, Vol 2 No 3 (2012): Volume 2, Issue 3, May-June 2012, DOI https://doi.org/10.22270/jddt.v2i3.132
Park, S., Lee, Y. & Lee, J.H. Association between energy drink intake, sleep, stress, and suicidality in Korean adolescents: energy drink use in isolation or in combination with junk food consumption. Nutrition Journal, 15, 87 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-016-0204-7
Saba Tariq, University Medical and Dental College, Faisalabad; Sundus Tariq, University Medical & Dental College, Faisalabad, Pakistan; Saffee Tariq, Rawalpindi Medical University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Rehana Rehman, Aga Khan University, Relationship of BMI with Junk Food, sleep pattern, exam performance and awareness about its ill health effects in healthy teenagers, https://ecommons.aku.edu/pakistan_fhs_mc_bbs/900/
Mohsen Maddah, Arash Rashidi, Behnoush Mohammadpour, Reza Vafa, Majid Karandish, In-school Snacking, Breakfast Consumption, and Sleeping Patterns of Normal and Overweight Iranian High School Girls: A Study in Urban and Rural Areas in Guilan, Iran, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 41, Issue 1, 2009, pages 27-31, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2008.03.115. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1499404608002029)
Mark A Pereira, Alex I Kartashov, Cara B Ebbeling, Prof Linda Van Horn, Prof Martha L Slattery, Prof David R Jacobs Jr, et al. Fast-food habits, weight gain, and insulin resistance (the CARDIA study): 15-year prospective analysis. The Lancet, Volume 365, Issue 9453, p. 36-42, January 01, 2005, Published: January 01, 2005, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(04)17663-0
Dan Charles, A Pioneer of Food Activism Steps Down, Looks Back, NPR, 9-07-2017, https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/09/07/548715416/a-pioneer-of-food-activism-steps-down-looks-back
Ruby Valley Medical Center, The Benefits of Restorative Sleep,https://www.rvmc.org/single-post/the-benefits-of-restorative-sleep
Howard Bloom of the Howard Bloom Institute has been called the Einstein, Newton, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV. One of his seven books–Global Brain—was the subject of a symposium thrown by the Office of the Secretary of Defense including representatives from the State Department, the Energy Department, DARPA, IBM, and MIT. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Psychology Today, and the Scientific American. He does news commentary at 1:06 am Eastern Time every Wednesday night on 545 radio stations on Coast to Coast AM. For more, see http://howardbloom.institute.