Instant Noodles have been a staple for people who are cash-strapped and need a quick lunch alternative. Some instant noodles websites defend and claim that their brand of instant noodles give essential carbohydrates, protein and many other things that sound wonderful and make you feel that this must be a miracle of the food industry. Cheap, healthy and delicious food, on the go? Who could deny that? Only recent studies and research are not so favourable and are increasing giving a negative rep for instant noodles.
According to the Codex Standards (FAO standards) for instant noodles, acid regulators, flavour enhancers, thickeners, humectants, colours, stabilizers, anti-oxidants, emulsifiers, flour treatment agents, preservatives and anti-caking agents are allowed to use in the making of instant noodles. Another health concern of the instant cup noodles is the reported leaching of dioxin and other hormone-like substances from the plastic container of the cup noodle, as hot water is added.
How Instant Noodles Wreak Havoc On Your Metabolism
Researchers at the Baylor University looked at dietary information from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey IV from 2007 to 2009. They identified two major eating patterns.
.The traditional dietary pattern (TP), high in rice, fish, veggies, fruit, and potatoes
.The meat and fast-food pattern (MP), high in meat, soda, fried food, and convenience foods like instant noodles and ramen.
Not surprisingly, the (MP) was associated with higher obesity rates and bad cholesterol levels, while the (TP) was associated with better blood-pressure readings and a lower risk of obesity—but neither showed a clear link to the risk of developing cardiometabolic syndrome.
However, when researchers examined the numbers for instant noodle consumption in particular, they found that consuming the noodles atleast twice per week was associated with a 68 percent higher incidence of metabolic syndrome among women, even after adjusting for other factors like sodium intake, estrogen use, and waist circumference.
Consuming noodles once a week was associated with a 26 percent higher prevalence of the condition. This relationship didn’t exist with men. Metabolic syndrome is set of conditions – including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat and abnormal cholesterol — which combined increase the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Why Are Women At Risk?
Researchers think the increased risk for women is likely the result of the high calories, refined carbs, saturated fat, and sodium content typically found in instant noodles. Women in particular might be susceptible to these negative health effects because of hormones that affect women disproportionately and metabolic differences. For instance, the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), a known hormone disruptor found in the styrofoam containers frequently used to package instant noodles, messes with the way hormones signal messages within the body, particularly estrogen.
In the study, women in South Korea who consumed more of the precooked blocks of dried noodles were more likely to have “metabolic syndrome” regardless of what else they ate, or how much they exercised. The study’s lead investigator, Dr. Hyun Joon Shin, said the observed differences between the women and men in the study are likely attributable to biological differences between the sexes, including sex hormones and metabolism. Shin also said that a chemical found in the instant noodle packaging may be another factor affecting the gender difference.
Why Is It Relevant For Everyone?
The study focused on individuals in South Korea, Shin said, as the country has the highest per-capita number of instant noodle consumers in the world, and because, in recent years, health problems there, including heart disease and obesity, have been on the rise. But the findings appear to be quite relevant to consumers stateside too, as the United States ranked sixth globally in instant noodle sales, according to the World Instant Noodles Association, which found that the United States accounted for 4,300 billion units sold in 2013 (coming in just behind China, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, and India — and one spot above South Korea).
Instant Noodles Are Difficult To Digest
A stomach-churning 2011 video showed for the first time how our bodies differently digest instant noodles compared to homemade noodles. Using tiny cameras that can be ingested, participants in a small trial ate processed instant noodles and homemade noodles. They then swallowed the camera, which transmitted video footage from inside their gastrointestinal tract.
Video footage from inside the digestive tract showed stark differences. The digestive tracts are seen contracting and convulsing to break down the noodles. More than two hours after consumption, the instant noodles aren’t broken down, and their shape and colour are still largely recognizable. By comparison, the homemade noodles are nearly completely broken down.
TBHQ: The Toxic Chemical In Instant Noodles
In the video, which was featured by TEDxManhattan, the ingredient tertiary-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is named as a possible culprit. TBHQ, a byproduct of the petroleum industry, is often listed as an antioxidant, but it’s important to realize it is a synthetic chemical with antioxidant properties– not a natural antioxidant. The chemical prevents oxidation of fats and oils, thereby extending the shelf life of processed foods. It’s a commonly used ingredient in processed foods of all kinds (including McDonald’s chicken nuggets, Kellogg’s CHEEZ-IT crackers, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Wheat Thins crackers, Teddy Grahams, Red Baron frozen pizza, Taco Bell beans, and much more. But you can also find it in varnishes, lacquers, and pesticide products, as well as cosmetics and perfumes to reduce the evaporation rate and improve stability.
How Instant Noodles Are Toxic To Your System
1. Damages Your Digestion
Instant noodles will damage your digestive system when you eat it more than once a day. You may feel an uncomfortable sense of fullness, feeling constipated, abdominal pain, heartburn, bloating or even diarrhea.
2. High Sodium
Instant noodles have a high content of sodium. If you eat it regularly, it can cause hypertension, heart stroke and kidney damage. The average amount of sodium in instant noodle cups is above 800 mg while according to the US RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance), the maximum sodium intake per day should only be 2,400 mg. If you consume one cup of instant noodles, you are already consuming almost half of your daily intake of sodium. 24 of the 136 listed additives in the Codex Standards are sodium salts. Sodium additives is the main reason why instant noodles are high in sodium.Consumption of instant noodles can easily cause excessive sodium intake as sodium is commonly used in our other daily foods especially from processed and hawker foods.
3. Slows Metabolism
In the long run, instant noodle consumption will affect the metabolism of the body. This is due to the accumulation of toxic substances on instant noodles such as food coloring, addictive substances and preservatives.
4. High MSG
A cup of instant noodles is high in MSG or monosodium glutamate. There are people who are allergic to MSG or who get a burning sensation, headache, or chest pain after consuming instant noodles. MSG consumption is also link to other diseases including cancer. MSG is a flavour enhancer used by instant noodle makers to make their shrimp flavours shrimpier and beef flavours beefier. MSG can trigger an allergic reaction in 1 to 2 % of the population.
Instant noodles are coated with wax to prevent the noodles from sticking together. You can see this when hot water is added to the noodles and after some time the wax will be floating on the top layer of the water.
7. Propylene Glycol (Anti-freeze)
Instant noodles also contain anti-freeze such as propylene glycol as humectants which help prevent noodles from drying. The Codex Standards also allow the use of 10,000 mg/kg of the chemical propylene glycol, an anti-freeze ingredient as humectants (help to retain moisture to prevent noodles from drying) in instant noodles. Propylene glycol is readily absorbed and it accumulates in the heart, liver and kidneys causing abnormalities and damage. The chemical is also capable of weakening the immune system.
8. Cancer-Causing Substances
If you eat instant noodles in styrofoam packaging, then there is a possibility of cancer. Styrofoam is known as one of the cancer-causing agents. Instant noodles are packed with preservatives, anti-freeze and other ingredients that may cause cancer. Additionally, they are also packaged in cups which contain plasticizers and dioxin which are cancer-causing substances that may leach to the noodles once hot water is poured in them. Some of the chemicals found in instant noodles are also capable of causing cancer.