December 18th 2017

Society / Health & Science

Why you should be wary of instant noodles

It is probably your go to food, the food item that sits in abundance on your pantry shelves. But does consuming instant noodles aid you nutrition-wise, or are you just ingesting empty calories?

By Sandra Onindosonindo@kenyafreepress.comSunday, 19 Jun 2016 12:11 EAT

noodules in a store

Traditional delicacies in Kenya like cassava, arrow roots, sweet potatoes have been replaced by fast moving and readily available processed foods such as instant noodles.

Such foodstuffs have caught up fast with the masses due to their easy and stress-free mode of preparation. Instant noodles have been perfect due to their affordability, fitting in the limited time and busy schedules that often characterize the average Kenyan.

Health experts have, however, warned about consumption of processed foods which has led to  escalation in lifestyle diseases among Kenyans with diabetes among the leading in lifestyle diseases.

One of the ingredients in instant noodles is tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), a petroleum based anti-oxidant that is commonly used to increase the shelf life of food. This chemical preservative is a synthetic anti-oxidant also found in cosmetic products, perfume and pesticides. Exposure to one gram of TBHQ can bring about side effects such as nausea and vomiting, delirium, ringing in the ears, fainting and a feeling of suffocation. Exposure to five grams of TBHQ can prove fatal.

Excessive consumption of sodium is harmful to your health, as sodium is linked to a variety of ailments such as hypertension, stroke, kidney damage and heart disease. A typical serving of instant noodles contains between 830 mg to  1000 mg  of sodium. This is half of the daily recommended sodium intake. An additional serving would have the consumer going overboard on sodium consumption and this is when health concerns kick in.

Several studies also reveal that instant noodles are highly fattening and that too much consumption of these triggers metabolic syndrome, consequently increasing one’s chances of developing obesity. The key ingredient of instant noodles is flour. Most noodle brands use the highly refined form of wheat flour that has undergone the bleaching process. This form of wheat may be rich in flavor but certainly lacks in nutrition. Sedentary lifestyle coupled with noodle consumption easily makes one overweight.

It wouldn’t be surprising if one developed type 2 Diabetes as a result of a rise in cholesterol levels in the blood. Instant noodles also take hours to digest due to their composition, exposing the body to toxins for a longer period. One such toxin is the wax used to prevent the noodles from sticking together when cooked. It is a well-known fact that exposure to toxins could lead to cancer.

Detrimental eating habits are burdening Kenyans with huge health bills arising from lifestyle diseases. According to the World Health Organization, these diseases can be avoided by adopting a healthy diet. When shopping for foodstuff, it is prudent to adopt the habit of reading ingredients. Avoid processed foods whose ingredients you find challenging to pronounce. Chemicals masquerading as food products could cut your life short.

Sandra is a staff writer at the Kenya Free Press specializing in news, health and lifestyle coverage.

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