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Noodle Me This!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Forget the pseudo-bureaucratic hullabaloo over Maggi noodles. What happens to instant noodles in your stomach? Anindra Siqueira & Katha Nauriyal find out

This bears no connection to the recent controversy over Maggi noodles, although we have to admit, we’re as disappointed as you are that they’re off the shelves! We’re not talking about heavy metals or taste-makers either. While Maggi noodles may not be available in stores at the moment, instant noodles still make a wonderful, quick-fix meal and are popular among those who don’t have the time to prepare a proper Indian meal, or those who are simply too lazy to wait for an egg to boil. Either way, instant noodles from other brands are still available, but here’s why they may not be a good idea to consume anyway.

There are some claims that the preservatives used to make instant noodles are harmful, while others that say it’s the process of making them that is unhealthy. At the other end of the spectrum, there are people who relish eating instant noodles raw, with just a little sauce, oil or masala added in for flavour; they argue that these are safe to consume because they have been flash-fried.

What happens to instant noodles in your stomach?
Dr. Braden Kuo, of Massachusetts General Hospital, conducted an experiment to see what happens in your stomach when you eat instant noodles. He used a pill-sized camera, which showed that even two hours after eating them, processed instant noodles were hardly broken down inside your stomach. This is in stark contrast to fresh, homemade noodles, which were also studied at as a comparison. Moreover, because they remain pretty much intact in your stomach, these noodles make your digestive system work very hard to break them down. What’s funny, is that most processed foods don’t contain enough fibre, if they contain any at all that is! So, they are easily broken down during digestion.

While the study is too small to conclude that processed food is harmful, instant noodles could put a strain on your digestive system and interfere with the absorption process. 

TBHQ
No, this isn’t a new abbreviation that all the cool kids are using! It’s the short (and much easier) way to refer to a chemical called tertiary butylhydroquinone, which is used as an antioxidant in beauty products and as a preservative in foods. However, it’s not a natural antioxidant (it’s a by-product of petroleum processing) and is also used in varnishes, resins and lacquers. While it’s dangerous in very high concentrations, you have to eat tons of instant noodles every day for anything bad to happen. However, it’s still best to cut down on your consumption of this instant treat.

Link to metabolic syndrome
A Korean study that was published in the Journal of Nutrition, found a link between instant noodles and metabolic syndrome in women.

Dr. Behram Pardiwala, consultant for internal medicines at Wockhardt Hospital, tells us that the condition is characterised by abdominal fat, insulin resistance, an increase in your waist-hip ratio and an abnormal glucose tolerance. Surprisingly, the study found that eating instant noodles more than twice a week led to women developing a greater risk of suffering from metabolic syndrome, but did not affect men. It also found that women who ate instant noodles were at a higher risk of metabolic syndrome than women who didn’t eat instant noodles, regardless of their overall diet and exercise routine. And, eating instant noodles more than twice a week was associated with a 68% increase in the risk of developing the condition, whose symptoms include an increase in blood pressure, sugar levels and obesity along with poor levels of HDL cholesterol. The danger is that if you suffer from three or more of these symptoms, your risk of suffering from diabetes and cardiovascular disease increases.

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