The world’s first instant noodles were called “Chicken Ramen,” which were made in Japan in 1958, according to the World Instant Noodles Association. Since then, instant noodles have become a “global food” with as many as 270 million servings consumed every day. Recently, its effects on health have been in the spotlight after an 18-year-old student died from stomach cancer after eating instant noodles every night for a number of years.
So the question is “Is it bad for your health or not?” We will examine five things that can happen to your body when you eat instant noodles, and you can decide for yourself:
1. Do Not Break Down After Hours of Digestion
Dr. Braden Kuo of Massachusetts General Hospital used a pill-sized camera to find out what happens inside your stomach and digestive tract after you eat instant noodles. Due to preservatives, the instant noodles remained remarkably intact after two hours, much longer than the homemade ramen noodles that were used as a comparison. As a result, it puts a strain on your digestive system, which is forced to work for hours to break down this highly processed food.
2. Prolonged Exposure to Toxic Additives
As the instant noodles are kept in the body for a long time due to the slow digestion process, it will prolong the exposure of your body to its toxic additives like Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and t-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). BHA and TBHQ are used in the instant noodles as preservatives to give the products a longer shelf life.
Research has found TBHQ and BHA have numerous possible health problems. According to the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a well-designed government study found that TBHQ increased the incidence of tumors in rats. In research studies according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), cases of vision disturbances have been reported when humans consume TBHQ. They also cite studies that have found TBHQ to cause liver enlargement and neurotoxic effects like convulsions and paralysis in TBHQ-fed lab rats.
3. Increase Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes
In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, it was found that women who consumed more instant noodles (twice a week) had a significantly greater risk of metabolic syndrome (68 percent more likely) than those who ate less, regardless of overall diet or exercise habits.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, central obesity (excess body fat around the waist), and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
This is because of the unhealthy fats formed in instant noodles from the deep-frying manufacturing process that allows them to be cooked and ready in a couple of minutes. Another reason is the high sodium level—a single serving of instant noodles contains 861 mg of sodium. However, if you eat the entire package (two servings), the sodium level doubles to 1,722 mg. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.