Junk food makes you intolerant of physical exertion and lazy

Phosphates are ubiquitous additives in industrial food products, especially soft drinks and frozen foods. According to a recent study, the high consumption of these phosphates is associated with a disturbance of muscle function which decreases the ability to perform physical activity. At the same time, physical activity representing an unpleasant feeling, laziness and a sedentary lifestyle set in.

The food industry frequently uses phosphate-based additives to improve preservation or to give a particular color or flavor to processed foods. It is found in quantity in: soft drinks, frozen products, dehydrated mixes, deli meats or fast food products.

Since these foods currently represent the main sources of calories in industrialized countries, the average amount of phosphate ingested has doubled since the 1990s, rising from 500 to 1000 mg per day. And even much more among people who consume a lot of these industrial products.

This excess is all the greater since these inorganic phosphates are more easily assimilated by the intestine than the organic phosphates which are naturally present in foods (dairy products, meat and whole grains, among others).

Phosphates in the diet: Osteoporosis, heart disease and premature death

There are several consequences to this excess: on the one hand, the increased presence of phosphate in the blood leads to the release of calcium from the bone mass to neutralize the high levels of phosphate and this loss of calcium can, in the long run , make the bones more fragile and increase the risk of osteoporosis.

The rise in blood calcium in response to hyperphosphatemia is also associated with calcification of blood vessels, which accelerates the development of heart disease. Overall, these effects are very harmful to health since it has been observed that people who consume a quantity of phosphate greater than 1400 mg per day have up to twice the risk of dying prematurely.

Exercise intolerance: physical activity decreases

A recent study suggests that excess dietary phosphate is also associated with a drop in the level of physical activity. By measuring the physical activity levels of the 1603 participants in the Dallas Heart Study-2 using an accelerometer, the researchers observed that the people who had the highest blood phosphate levels were those who did the least exercise. physical activity of moderate or vigorous intensity and were the most sedentary.

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This greater physical inactivity is not linked to a heart problem, because the measurement of the left ventricular function of the heart using magnetic resonance imaging shows no variation according to the different levels of blood phosphates.

Laziness sets in only 12 weeks

The results obtained suggest that it is rather the muscles that are targeted by excess dietary phosphate. Using mice as models, the researchers compared the physical activity levels of animals fed normally with those of animals fed a surplus of phosphate, similar to that to which people who eat a lot of industrial products are exposed.

They observed that after 12 weeks, mice fed excess phosphate spent less time on the treadmill provided to them and were also less physically fit.

Further biochemical analysis of their muscle tissue shows major changes in more than 5,000 genes involved in muscle metabolism, including a reduction in the availability of fatty acids, one of the main sources of energy during exercise. This deficiency therefore causes exercise intolerance and makes animals less inclined to be spontaneously active.

Junk food leads to a sedentary lifestyle

According to the authors, it is therefore possible that the lower levels of physical activity measured in people who had high levels of blood phosphates are caused by muscle dysfunction that discourages these people from exercising.

In other words, eating too many phosphates would make us lazy! We can therefore wonder whether the diet very rich in phosphates in industrialized countries contributes to the strong sedentary lifestyle of the inhabitants of these countries with no less than 80% of the population who do not do the recommended minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week. One more proof of the evils of industrial food!

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  • Kalantar-Zadeh K et al. Understanding sources of dietary phosphorus in the treatment of patients with chronic kidney disease. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 5:519-30.
  • Chang AR et al. High dietary phosphorus intake is associated with all-cause mortality: results from NHANES III. Am J Clin Nutr.; 99: 320-7.
  • Peri-Okonny PA et al. High-phosphate diet induces exercise intolerance and impairs fatty acid metabolism in mice. Traffic


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