The Microwave: Friend or Foe?
Since the last two blogs were about CrossFit addicts, I guess I should start by saying, Hi my name is Kelly C. and I am a CrossFit-oholic. I’ve been coming for 6 1/2 months now and I can’t stop. I eat, drink and sleep CrossFit. My friends think I’m nuts (they did before too). I would like to say thanks for having me, encouraging my addiction, and putting up with my nuttiness. So I am also known as The Food Nazi (the people at the school I work at call me this), a hippie, organic girl or granola girl and nature lady. I obviously have passions in life that I must share. I am a teacher, heart and soul. So this entry I want to tell you what I know about the evil microwave.
In 1984 my family got our first microwave. My dad said it was the WAVE of the future. My mom was super excited because now left- overs could be zapped in a minute and dinner would be served. Funny though, my parents made my brother and I run clear across the room while it was on. They said the radiation wasn’t good for us. But the food that came out was?! We started calling it “The Nuker”. I was stoked because I could put a marshmallow in it for 30 seconds and watch it almost explode. It would burn to a crisp on the inside and be slightly soft on the outside. And the hotdogs, talk about explosion!!
What a convenience the microwave has become. No more prep work for cooking. We have a Hot Pocket that has it all and the commercials prove that they taste good (sarcasm)! But that food is another tangent. The microwave has cut heating up food by 3/4’s of the time of using a stove top. However convince has a price. Our society has become slaves to convince to the point that people don’t want to hear how bad the long term effects are. The list of hazards is a long one. One hazard to consider when using a microwave is what kind of container are you using to heat up the food.
The January/February 1990 issue of Nutrition Action Newsletter reported the leakage of numerous toxic chemicals from the packaging of common microwavable foods, including pizzas, chips and popcorn. Chemicals included polyethylene terpthalate (PET), benzene, toluene, and xylene. Microwaving fatty foods in plastic containers leads to the release of dioxins (known carcinogens) and other toxins into your food. One of the worst contaminants is BPA, or bisphenol A, an estrogen-like compound used widely in plastic products. In fact, dishes made specifically for the microwave often contain BPA, but many other plastic products contain it as well.
Microwaves also deplete your food of it’s nutrients. This list is from Dr. Mercola’s website:
- A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact.
- A 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamin C .
- In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase (enzymology), garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer .
- A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating turned 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk into an inert (dead) form . This study has been cited by Dr. Andrew Weil as evidence supporting his concerns about the effects of microwaving. Dr. Weil wrote: “There may be dangers associated with microwaving food… there is a question as to whether microwaving alters protein chemistry in ways that might be harmful.”
- A recent Australian study showed that microwaves cause a higher degree of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating.
- Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria .
Another interesting fact I found was that the Microwave was first invented by the Nazis (this really doesn’t surprise me). I know the microwave is like a cell phone, “What did I ever do without this thing?!” It’s like the thneed in the Lorax, it’s something that everyone needs. But honestly for people like us, people who want to be in the best shape and health, using a microwave depleats all the nutrients in your food. Research shows that food cooked in a microwave suffers molecular damage. When eaten, it causes abnormal changes in human blood, and in the immune system. But we aren’t told these things because the microwave is big business. Just look at all the microwavable food you can buy and have a family meal cooked in minutes. Look at the ingredients of these foods. Can you read or even know what any of them are?!
A Swiss food scientist named Dr. Hans Hertel was the first scientist to study the effects of microwaved foods on the blood and physiology of human beings. Hertel wrote: “There are no atoms, molecules, or cells of any organic system able to withstand such a violent, destructive power for any period of time. This will happen even given the microwave oven’s low power range of milliwatts.” He also stated that microwaving food increased cholesterol levels, decreased numbers of leukocytes (white blood cells) which can suggest poisoning, decreased numbers of red blood cells, created production of radiolytic compounds and decreased hemoglobin levels, which could indicate anemia. Unfortunately in 1992 a Swiss trade organization filed a gag order against Hertel. Because their were only 8 participates in his study, including him, his observations did not have a leg to stand on against the scientific big guns in his field. However, his study does raise red flags about what this form of radiation is doing to our food and should be a stepping stone to more studies done on this cooking thneed, which everyone doesn’t need.
So I guess my point to this blog entry is what we think is helping us at the present time (breakfast, lunch and dinner) can be actually causing a lot of health problems in the future. As a society we have been taught to hurry and do it now, and don’t worry about the consequences later, we’ll create a band-aid for it. I’m not telling you to get rid of your microwave and change your lifestyle. I am a single mom myself, I rush to work in the morning, workout in the evening, and rush home to prepare a wholesome meal. It’s crazy. Yet I schedule my time around cooking food, in my cast iron pans, so I know my child and I have 3 nutritious meals a day, i.e. The Food Nazi. It’s interesting to visit other countries who revolve their lives around food and family. They actually have time to do this. And these countries do not tolerate all the food chemicals that the FDA allows in our food here in the US of A. But that’s a whole other tangent as I stated earlier.
Other soap boxes I have include: Monsanto The Evil Empire, Organic/ Superfood Eating and most recent the Paleo Lifestyle, Montessori Education; Prepare your Children for Life, Protect Mother Earth and all it’s creatures, and why all who want to be fit and healthy should try CrossFit.
Thanks for reading. I hope it wasn’t too much…I have those tendencies.
 Quan R (et al) “Effects of microwave radiation on anti-infective factors in human milk,” Pediatrics 89(4 part I):667-669.
~ Kelly Crabtree
Posted on: April 17, 2012admin