Why We Won’t Use Microwave Ovens
Science Sheds Light Why Heating Your Food with Microwave Radiation Might Be a Bad Idea
by Arjun Walia
A few decades from now, will it be common knowledge that using microwave radiation to heat food is harmful to human health? It’s certainly a possibility, and information is already emerging which shows cause for concern. Microwaves work by causing water molecules to resonate at very high frequencies, converting them into steam and thereby heating your food. While this might be a convenient way to prepare your food, using microwave radiation in this way actually changes the chemical structure of that food.
The fact that they are approved as safe doesn’t mean much these days, as we’ve seen with several other examples from Tobacco, PCBs and Asbestos and Glyphosate. Just because a government agency, like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or a government health agency approves something as safe, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe.
You might be wondering how this is any different from heating your food on the stove or steaming it, and that’s a fair question. The difference is that microwaves deform and distort the molecules in food, while conventional heating methods do not.
This is problematic in the medical field as well. We know, for example, that during blood transfusions, microwaves are often used to heat the blood before it is transferred to the patient. But using microwave radiation to this actually damages components found in blood. In fact, one woman even died after receiving a blood transfusion of microwaved blood. (source)
It is starting to look like microwaving can completely rid your food of most essential nutrients, but more research on this phenomenon needs to be done. That being said, there are some publications we can refer to if you’d like to find out more information regarding the harmful effects of microwaves on nutrients.
One example comes from 2003. A study published in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture examined what microwaves do to broccoli, finding that broccoli, after being microwaved, lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, when researchers steamed broccoli, they discovered that it only lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. (source)
A study out of Australia showed that microwaves cause a greater level of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating. It found that “microwaves cause a significantly higher degree of unfolding then conventional thermal stress for protein solutions heating to the same maximum temperature.” (source)
A study using garlic found that just 60 seconds in a microwave can render its principle active ingredient (alliinase) as useless. Microwaves have also been found to destroy immune-boosting agents that are found in breast milk. These are disease fighting nutrients which are essential to the health and development of the child. For example, one study found that microwaving breast milk caused a decrease in lysozyme activity and antibodies, and aided the growth of more pathogenic bacteria. (source) The interesting thing about this study is that the researchers found that more damage was done to the milk from microwaving compared to any other method of heating.
“Microwaving appears to be contraindicated at high-temperatures, and questions regarding its safety even exist at low temperatures.” (source)
A Japanese study found that only 6 minutes of microwave heating turned approximately 40 percent of the B12 found in milk dead and completely void of any nutritional value. (source)
Three recent studies of historical food composition have shown up to 40 percent declines in some of the minerals commonly found in fresh produce, and another one found the same thing for their protein source. (source)
A Scandinavian study conducted in 1999 also found that cooking asparagus in the microwave results in a reduction in vitamins. (Kidmose U and Kaack K. Acta. Agriculturae Scandinavica B1999:49(2).110-117.)
What Type of Container Are You Using To Microwave Your Food?
Not heating your food in plastic containers should be a no brainer at this point. This is precisely why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that any plastic containers should be labelled for microwave use, but even if they are labeled as safe, it’s still probably not a good idea. For more more information on what happens when you microwave your food in plastic containers, you can check out this article.
Many studies have shown that multiple plastic products contain various hormone disrupting chemicals, and heat is the worst culprit when it comes to increasing the rate of chemical transfer from the container to your food.
As written in the journal Toxicology Letters:
Using a sensitive and quantitative competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, BPA was found to migrate from polycarbonate water bottle at rates ranging from 0.20 ng/h to 0.79/h. . . . At room temperature the migration of BPA was independent of whether or not the bottle had been previously used. Exposure to boiling water increased the rate of BPA migration by up to 55-fold.
Again, heat increases chemical leaching, so be cautious of what you use to heat your food. Even plastic containers which are labelled as microwave safe (or even BPA free, which does not account for other worrisome chemicals) are still dangerous. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “what the term ‘microwave-safe’ basically means is that any chemicals leaching from the container into food do so at levels far below those shown to have any health effects. There is cause to be wary of this claim, however. In particular, #7 polycarbonate plastic should not be used in a microwave, even if it is labeled ‘microwave-safe,’ because it leaches hormone-disrupting bisphenol A (BPA), especially when heated.” (source)
This may be frightening to consider, but examining the products we choose to use on a daily basis is important. We have seen many examples in recent human history of information coming to light about a product or drug which completely changes our understanding and attitude towards it. We only have to look at cigarettes to see the proof of that.
Why You Shouldn’t Be A Part Of The 90% Of Americans Who Still Use Microwaves
They’re fast, convenient, and easy to use. Manufacturers even produce packaged foods specifically for their use. What I’m referring to are of course, microwave ovens, the household appliance that is still regularly used as a part of meal preparation and re-heating in approximately 90% of American homes.
I say “still” in the previous statement because the dangers associated with microwave use have been documented for quite some time, dangers that I will once again outline in this article. Ultimately, arguments can always be made for the use of anything harmful if done in moderation, but given the hectic nature of most of our lives, the convenience the device offers makes little to moderate use seem very unlikely to be practiced.
Microwaves Alter Your Food’s Chemical Structure
Microwaves heat food by causing the water molecules contained within to vibrate at very high frequencies, eventually turning those molecules into steam. It is this reaction which increases the temperature of your food. The type of heating microwaves produce is known as dielectric heating, which bounces around the device and is absorbed by the food that you put into it.
Heating your food in general is known to deprive it of at least a portion of its nutrients, but many believe that opting to heat food via a microwave also subjects it to what is referred to as the “microwave effect.” Many still argue that the microwave effect is a myth, but a number of studies have come out suggesting otherwise. Most notably, a study released by Penn State University in 2001 stated that conventional and microwave heating appear the same at the macro level but are very different at the molecular level. The study also referenced a 1995 study in which a scientist successfully demonstrated that microwaves – unlike other heating devices – are capable of destroying viral DNA.(1)
Another study conducted in 2003 examined broccoli prepared in the microwave and found that the vegetable had lost 97% of its valuable antioxidant content through the cooking process. Given that we live in a world dominated by processed food, and much of the fresh produce we do eat is grown in soil heavily depleted of its naturally occurring nutrients, the idea of losing even more nutrition seems almost like a knockout punch to our health. To most of us, myself included, eating completely raw is definitely not overly enticing, so opting for the best possible cooking method certainly does seem important.
The best possible cooking method also extends into the oil you choose to prepare your food with, since many oils are found to turn rancid when heated past a certain point. You can find out more about that HERE and see one better alternative HERE.
Container Chemicals & Food Fats Leak Into Your Food
We’re all familiar with the “Microwave Safe” label found on a number of food containers, but this label is entirely misleading. Despite what many people think, it only refers to the container’s ability to be used in a microwave safely without melting or starting a fire. What it doesn’t refer to is the container’s safety in terms of the numerous toxic chemicals it can leak into your food when heated – chemicals which you then ingest.
Chemicals such as polyethylene terpthalate (PET), benzene, toluene, xylene, the now well-known BPA, and even it’s so-called safer alternative BPS. Many of these chemicals have been linked to the impairment of female reproductive elements and brain development, along with diabetes, prostate disease, and more. The microwaving of fatty foods in “microwave safe” plastic containers has also been found to lead to the release of the known carcinogen dioxins.(1)
Oven-safe glass is widely recognized as one of the best alternatives when it comes to heating your food, and even though glassware can often be more expensive than many of its counterparts, it seems to be a worthy investment.
Even A New & Safety Inspected Microwave Can Leak Radiation
Microwave manufacturers do deserve a lot of credit for the heightened safety standards they’ve put into practice when developing the newest microwave ovens. Thanks to their hard work, a number of previous concerns have been rectified, however there still seems to be some exposure, especially when within a certain radius of the appliance when in use.
Even a brand new, perfectly functioning and locking microwave can expose us to up to 400 milliGauss of unwanted radiation. To put that into perspective, a mere 4 milliGauss has been linked to leukemia.(1) Steering clear of microwaves when in use is certainly advisable for all but is particularly critical for both pregnant women and children. Given that microwaves are most often used in the midst of the cooking process, steering clear of them can often be quite difficult, further exemplifying why they should be avoided altogether if possible.
How To Move On Without A Microwave
There are certainly no shortage of alternatives when it comes to heating food. The one key difference between microwaves and the other available options, however, is time. As with so many other worthy changes we feel inspired to make in our lives, they take a level of commitment in order to be implemented properly.
A simple step such as planning ahead can go a long way towards avoiding the need for a microwave. Taking frozen ingredients out of the freezer well in advance of meal preparation time will give them the opportunity to naturally thaw out in time for when they need to be cooked.
I believe that the more we become consciously present with the meals we prepare, the more likely we are to naturally steer away from the need for a quick prep option. Both a toaster oven and conventional oven may take substantially longer to prepare a meal, but the health concerns that they successfully avoid is certainly worth the wait.
I personally haven’t had a microwave in any of the houses I’ve lived in since the age of 12 and I can’t say that I miss it. What are your thoughts on the health concerns related to microwaves? Do you still use one regularly? And if so, why? We’d love to know via the comment section below.
For an even more in-depth analysis on the concerns related to microwave ovens, I strongly suggest you check out the Mercola article referenced throughout the article and as (1) below.
From Collective Evolution @ http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/01/20/science-sheds-light-why-heating-your-food-with-microwave-radiation-might-be-a-bad-idea/ and http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/04/06/why-you-shouldnt-be-a-part-of-the-90-of-americans-that-still-use-microwaves/
For more information about microwave ovens see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/microwave%20ovens
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