If you live in the United States, it’s statistically likely you’ll eat around 6000 slices of pizza over the course of your life and 94 percent of Americans eat pizza regularly. The word “pizza” dates back over a thousand years when it was first mentioned in a Latin text written in southern Italy in 997, but the first pizza place in America was Lombardi’s in New York City. Originally a grocery store, Lombardi’s started selling pizza in 1905.
For those interested in nutritional facts, and most pizza eaters probably aren't, depending on the type of crust, the amount of cheese and the toppings used, pizza can rank anywhere from decent to a disaster.
Pizza purveyors like to point out that their product offers calcium from cheese and disease-fighting lycopene from tomatoes, but, even healthy pizzas deliver a good amount of sodium from tomato sauce and cheese. Of course a lot also depends on the size of the slice and the number of slices you stuff in your face. Throw in toppings such pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese and saturated fat, sodium and calories pile up. A large slice of Pizza Hut's Thin 'N Crispy Veggie Lovers pizza has 240 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat and 710 milligrams of sodium. But a large slice of the chain's Meat Lovers pan pizza with pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, pork and beef has twice the calories, 2-1/2 times the saturated fat and 1,180 milligrams of sodium. Frozen pizzas can be even worse, especially when it comes to sodium. If you're concern about these issues and don't care what it tastes like, dairy-free and gluten-free pizzas are available.
So, what happens when you eat pizza? It's not pretty. First you start salivating in anticipation; that's normal. But as with any food, the more pizza you eat, the less pleasure you derive. Then, within 10-15 minutes the fat from the cheese and pepperoni slows the absorption of sugar as the body takes its time to digest fats. These fats can help reap more sustainable energy though. But, if one has gobbled up the pizza too quickly belly bloating can be a problem.
Within 10-20 minutes most of the carbs are getting all up in your blood stream, your pancreas secretes insulin to help your cells sop up the sugar and put it to use as fuel. By the time you've eaten that third or fourth slice, your cells are full up with sugar and they may reject the additional sugar. The problem is that keeps your blood sugar levels high for a longer period of time and over time high blood sugar can lead to inflammation. That can cause problems from cardiovascular disease to nerve damage, poor circulation and infections. Eventually, the that sugar ends up in the liver where it is turned into...FAT.
At the same time, a hormone secreted by fat cells designed to suppress the appetite and prevent overeating are getting pumped out. Assuming you were actually hungry and not eating for the fun of it, if you stop you'll feel fueled up and ready to go, but if you've pigged out, you will feel sluggish.
Stomach acids are working hard to digest all that fat and once it is broken down, it's ready to be absorbed into the bloodstream where it will races to your liver and get sent to muscles to be used for fuel...all good so far. But, if your muscles have enough fuel then it's converted into fat cells and stored for future use in case you get lost in the woods and can't eat for couple of weeks or something similar. This whole process only raises your level of fat in your blood, but only temporarily. If fat levels stay high, which they can if the diet is heavy with sugar, alcohol, or unhealthy fats (e.g. pepperoni), those fats can displace your blood's good cholesterol, clogging up and hardening your arteries. The really, really, really bad news is that if you're overweight or have a family history of circulatory disease, your triglyceride levels will stay higher for longer and eating just one slice of pizza can increase your risk of conditions like a stroke and heart attack.
|If you look like this, no problem!|
It takes about six hours for fat levels should taper off. That is assuming you only ate one slice, but who does that?! All that fat can make it harder for blood vessels to expand, leaving less room for blood to flow and and there will be an increase in blood pressure. Because a high-fat diet can also promote blood clotting, those with existing heart disease risk factors are increased.
Within about an hour the sluggishness should start to subside and 3-4 hours later blood sugar should return to normal as the pizza has left your stomach, but not because triglyceride levels are still high. Triglycerides are the main constituents of natural fats and oils and high concentrations in the blood indicate an elevated risk of stroke.