‘Instant Noodles’ are popular no matter where you go. It’s the first choice when you need a quick, easy, and cheap lunch, dinner, or even breakfast. But, another well-known fact about noodles is that they are really bad for your health.
Besides containing the ingredient MSG (monosodium glutamate) which damages the stomach, noodles have recently been associated with digestive system damage for reasons you probably don’t know.
Noodles are Not Good for Your Stomach
Dr. Braden Kuo reveals what happens to these so-called ‘instant ramen’ (as called in Korea and Japan) or instant noodles once they get into your stomach and travel through your digestive system.
Using a tiny pill-sized camera, Dr. Braden Kuo conducted a unique experiment to see what happens inside the stomach of several volunteers who consumed fresh homemade ramen noodles and instant noodles every other day.
The pill camera recorded for 32 hours and discovered that the fresh ramen noodles were thoroughly digested upon one to two hours of digestion, whereas the processed or instant noodles were hardly digested.
Dr. Kuo noted that the fresh homemade noodles were broken down in the stomach properly, as oppose to the instant noodles which cause difficulties in the stomach contractions when trying to break them down.
If the stomach has to put too much effort to break down the foods, it won’t absorb their important nutrients. This, in turn, enables the harmful preservatives to stay for longer than normal.
The Real Content of Instant Noodles
TBHQ or tertiary-butyl hydroquinone is the main preservative in instant noodles, as stated by the FDA. This food additive is used in many cheap processed foods like microwave popcorn, wheat thins, and even sweet pop-tarts.
Even though the FDA allows TBHQ in amounts not higher than 0.02%, even smallest amounts of this food additive can make you feel sick in an instant, weaken your organs over time, and significantly raise your risk of tumors or cancers.
Here’s the right content of instant noodles:
TBHQ is the ingredient which keeps wheat, flour, vegetable oil, and salt mixed together and stable. You can also found this ingredient in perfumes, resins, biodiesels, and lacquers.
Although this ingredient is usually listed as an “antioxidant,” it is actually a synthetic chemical which shows antioxidant properties. JECFA reported that this ingredient is safe for consumption at levels of 0-0.5 mg/kg of body weight. But, the safe limits of TBHQ vary from 100 up to 400 mg/kg according to the Codex commission.
So, the variation of TBHQ’s “safe limits” suggests we should better stay away from this ingredient. Exposure to just 5 g of TBHQ can cause death, and 1 g can result in the following health problems: ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, sense of suffocation, delirium, and collapse.
Even though the human’s body is able to eliminate this toxicant, consuming instant noodles will result in prolonged exposure to TBHQ.
The Environmental Working Group conducted several animal studies which show the link between TBHQ and reproductive effects, biochemical changes, positive mutation, and liver effects.
Other ingredients include:
- Propylene Glycol is an organic alcohol which keeps the instant noodle’s texture until boiled. This ingredient is also used in tobacco products and as an antifreeze chemical.
- BPA or Bisphenol A is a synthetic compound also found in Styrofoam. Once you pour hot water over your noodles, this chemical will enter your system and start destroying your endocrine system.
- One packet of instant noodles contains a lot more than the recommended daily amount of sodium (1500 mg), or 1875 mg.
- MSG or monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancer added to most salty foods and snacks. It is a strain of sodium salts with a glutamic acid, which when ingested in large amounts can cause rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, nausea, and headaches. Researchers say it can even cause brain dysfunction and damage, and possibly even trigger or worsen Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and learning disabilities.
- Corn syrup is one of the most harmful artificial sweeteners, and it’s included in your instant noodles. It keeps the noodles’ texture firm, but it’s detrimental to your body’s fat balance and metabolic rate.
- Instant noodles contain vegetable oils like canola, palm, and cottonseed to keep them slippery when eaten. Palm oil contains an extremely high concentration of fats, unlike linseed and canola oils, thus increasing the unhealthy fat storage in your body.
Instant Noodles Related to Metabolic Syndrome
The Journal of Nutrition published a study which discovered that women who ate more instant noodles had 68% greater risk of metabolic syndrome than those who consumed less, not considering their exercise habit or overall diet.
Metabolic syndrome includes symptoms like increased levels of fasting triglycerides and blood pressure, central obesity, and low levels of good, HDL cholesterol. Experiencing at least 3 of these symptoms means higher chances of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Why Avoid Noodles?
Since Dr. Kuo’s experiment was done on a small-scale, it may not be enough to convince or combat the multi-million market-scale levels of instant noodle producers and consumers out there. The damaging effects of processed foods are known mostly as a whisper or the little voice in the back of people’s minds.
Unfortunately, the small experiment of Dr. Kuo is not enough to convince or beat the huge multi-million instant noodle industry. More investigation and large-scale experiments are needed to show the precise side effects of this processed food on human’s long term health.