Instant noodles have long been a staple for struggling college students. Sure, we know they are processed and full of artificial flavors, but they’re cheap and easy to prepare, so many people who are short of money or time come to rely on them as a go-to meal or snack. One of the things people often mention is that these instant ramen noodles really fill you up. Now we know there is a reason for that.
In a study conducted through Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Braden Kuo used a pill-sized camera to follow the progress of instant ramen noodles through a subject’s stomach. He discovered that the noodles remained intact in the stomach a full two hours after ingestion!
Health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola says this is a concerning find. “When food remains in your digestive tract for such a long time, it will also impact nutrient absorption, but, in the case of processed ramen noodles, there isn’t much nutrition to be had,” he says. He pointed out this can put a strain on the digestive system, as well.
Mercola also pointed out that monosodium glutamate, one of the main additives in ramen noodles, is an excitotoxin that can cause brain dysfunction and even damage. MSG is known to trigger or exacerbate learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Instant noodles also contain a potentially toxic preservative called tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ). TBHQ prevents oxidation of fats, thus extending shelf life. It is a petroleum byproduct that is also found in processed foods like Reese’s peanut butter cups, Red Baron frozen pizza, and McDonald’s chicken nuggets. But this very same chemical is used as a stabilizing agent in the production of lacquers, varnishes, perfumes, and pesticides.
The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives issued a report saying TBHQ was safe for human consumption at levels of 0 to 0.5 mg/kg of body weight. However, the Codex commission determined that TBHQ’s maximum allowable limits should be between 100 to as much as 400 mg/kg, depending upon the kind of food to which it is added.
This is quite a discrepancy, and aware consumers will be careful to keep their intake of TBHQ to a minimum. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives says exposure to just one gram of TBHQ can cause:
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Nausea and vomiting
Feeling of suffocation
TBHQ is eliminated by the body, and does not bioaccumulate. But if you make instant ramen noodles a regular part of your diet, you may be sustaining prolonged exposure to this dangerous chemical.
The bottom line, of course, is to build your diet around living, whole foods. Convenience comes with a big price tag, and in fact, it is possible to save money and time by simply planning ahead. Plan your meals a week in advance, and shop for healthy foods at your local farmer’s market, where prices are usually reasonable. If you are a regular consumer of instant noodles, or any other processed food, remove those one by one from your diet, and replace them with organic vegetables, fruits, whole grains and clean protein.