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4 Reasons Why You Should NEVER Eat A Pack Of Instant Noodles Graphic © healthpowerboost.com. Photo – Pixabay (PD)
Here are 4 science-supported reasons why you might want to give those instant noodles a miss…
1. High Sodium
Instant noodles are a “taste bud food” that was created in order to make you crave eating them, but not to nourish your body. They typically contain very little in the way of actual nutrition – and depending on the brand, a pack may contain 700+ mg of sodium, which is almost half of the National Institute of Health’s daily recommended sodium intake for adults of 1500mg per day  – just from one snack! This means that your overall daily sodium intake is likely to be pushed way above the RDA just by eating one pack of instant noodles.
Salt is added to snacks for a number of reasons, none of which is related to health. It extends shelf life, masks poor flavor cause by low quality ingreients and of course makes you crave more. High sodium intake is well established to be linked to kidney disease, stroke, heart disease, hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure.
Note that some brands have now reduced the levels of sodium in the product, presumably in response to public pressure – and levels of 250mg are now sometimes seen. Check the label as the actual quantity of sodium should be listed. 250mg is much better, but as you will see below, the sodium isn’t the only problem and there are other reasons to skip the instant noodles.
TBHQ – aka tertiary butylhydroquinone – is a preservative; specifically it is a synthetic antioxidant which is added to foods in order to slow down the breakdown of the components responsible for flavor and other food qualities. Increased shelf life = increased profits for the manufacturers and that – not your health – is what runs the show. TBHQ is often seen in “unhealthy fats” and is listed on product labels.
TBHQ is commonly seen in packaged foods including crackers, microwave popcorn and frozen fish products, in which (it is claimed)  it can be seen at levels 5x the FDA limit. The amount of TBHQ is regulated by the FDA and a maximum level of 200 ppm is permitted. The FDA considers this safe, however other countries have declared a maximum of zero – yes, it should be noted that TBHQ has been banned in some countries, which ought to be a red flag! It has been found to be toxic at higher levels.
The “acceptable” daily intake (ADI) for tBHQ is currently rated at 0.7 mg/kg/day however studies have noted that daily intake in the USA and other countries often surpasses this number.  The study from which this data was reported is a research into the effects of tBHQ on human T cells, an important component of the healthy immune response. The study suggests that tBHQ negatively effects T cell activation, which may pose a risk of suppressing the immune system and even a raised cancer risk.
TBHQ is in a wide variety of foods and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has called TBHQ one of their “top food additives of concern”. . Their database reveals 1,208 food products that contain it. 
3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Now this one is well known and has been under fire for years due to its well established effect as an obesogen – a substance that induces obesity. MSG does this by intensifying flavor, which of course makes people crave and eat more of it. It also increases resistance to leptin, the hormone that gives you the feeling of being full. Scientists have found that MSG added to food makes lab rats consume an astonishing 40% more. 
However what is not so well known (and should be) is that the inclusion of MSG has been “masked” by the use of numerous other “sneaky” names for it. Most people are shocked when they realize that MSG is still present in a huge number of packaged foods despite the name MSG not appearing on the label!
Other names for MSG include Glutamic Acid / Glutamate (E 620), E 621, Monopotassium Glutamate (E 622), Calcium Glutamate (E 623), Monoammonium Glutamate (E 624), Magnesium Glutamate (E 625), Natrium Glutamate, Yeast Extract, Autolyzed Yeast, Hydrolysed protein, “hydrolysed anything”, Calcium Caseinate, Sodium Caseinate, Yeast Food, Yeast Extract, Yeast Nutrient, Gelatin, Textured Protein, Soy Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Vetsin, Ajinomoto.
It gets worse: Not only is MSG an obesogen, it is also an excitotoxin. It is able to cross the blood brain barrier and overstimulate brain cells, causing their damage or death. MSG has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and more. Add this to the diseases that obesity is strongly linked to – cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more – and you have a true “disaster ingredient” that you should in no way be unwittingly consuming because it was cleverly concealed using another name.
More on excitotoxins: Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills (Amazon) – this is a classic book explaining excitotoxins and warning consumers to avoid them for their mental health.
4. Sugar And/Or Artificial Sweeteners
Despite the fact that instant noodles are regarded as a “savory” food… you guessed it, they still have various sugars added to them. You may see sugar, dextrose, lactose, coconut sugar and various other sugars added to instant noodles. Often, the inclusion of sugars can be “masked” in the form of yet more “sneaky ingredients”, such as maltodextrin – a substance that has a name that “sounds savory”; as if it is full of malty goodness. Maltodextrin is technically not a sugar – however it behaves like one and has similar negative consequences: It acts in a similar manner in the body; it in fact has a higher glycemic index than sugar and causes blood sugar spikes! Repeated sudden and severe blood sugar spikes are considered a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
A pack of instant noodles may typically contain around 210 calories, some of which are due to the sugars; but bear in mind that these are “empty calories” without much in the way of actual nutritional value.
What to do instead?
So now that we have established that instant noodles are probably not among the best food choices, what should we do.
If you love noodles, you can have noodles. It’s the word “instant” that is really the problematic word here! You can either research your local Japanese noodle bars and request an ingredient list, or you can make your own healthy noodle recipes using good quality noodles (which should be pure pasta!) and fresh vegetables. You simply don’t need any of these additives, but to have absolute control over what you put in your body you have to accept the inconvenience of having to acquire and prepare the food yourself. Think of it as an investment in your future. 😉
 NIH – Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545442/table/appJ_tab3/
 Dr. Axe: tBHQ https://draxe.com/nutrition/tbhq/
 The Nrf2 activator tBHQ inhibits T cell activation of primary human CD4 T cells. Cytokine, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4297602/
 EWG Food Scores. https://www.ewg.org/foodscores/ingredients/24072-TBHQ/
 Other Names For MSG. Prevention.com https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/a20472934/other-names-for-msg/
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