It’s interesting what people notice sometimes. In my last video blog, I posted a clip of me in the kitchen whipping up some REAL mayonnaise (http://thehealthyhomeeconomist.blogspot.com/2010/03/real-people-making-real-food-in-real.html. One of the comments I received by email about the video asked me if I used my microwave, as this appliance features so prominently behind me as I am mixing up the mayo.
Well, I’m here to set the record straight. I NEVER use my microwave for cooking or defrosting my family’s food. And I NEVER even use it to heat up water for a cup of herbal tea (I’ll get to the reasons in a minute). Why then do I have one in my kitchen, you might ask? For one, my kitchen was built 12 years ago before I really knew of the dangers of cooking food with a microwave and if I pulled it out now, I’d have a big gaping hole in my wall and would have to redo all my kitchen cabinets. Not a project I’m up for at the moment. Also, when we use a babysitter for evenings out, she sometimes likes to heat up her dinner with it. The first time this happened, you could hear the audible gasps of horror from me and the kids as she turned it on! We were shocked speechless. I declined to lecture her about the dangers of the microwave at the time, however. It didn’t seem appropriate given the circumstances. Maybe another time!
Ok, let me come completely clean. I do occasionally use the microwave to heat up a fabric bag filled with wheat kernels when any of my kids have a tummy ache. Since the bag is used externally only, this is considered a safe usage of this appliance in your home.
Let me now briefly cover the reasons why you don’t want to use a microwave to cook your food – EVER. First of all, the manner in which the food or water is heated is completely unnatural and not found anywhere in nature. How this most dangerous appliance has received such widespread acceptance throughout the Western world without much research beforehand into the risks is beyond me. I guess it’s kind of like cell phones – folks who use microwaves have unwittingly allowed themselves to be guinea pigs in the interest of science. If being a lab rat is not your thing, then read on.
Unlike conventional heating which warms the food from without to within, microwave ovens heat internally by creating violent friction in the water molecules within the food. The force of the friction deforms the structures of the water molecules and they are literally torn apart. This process is called “structural isomerism”. This is why even heating a cup of water for tea with a microwave is not a good idea! You may have seen the pictures of two plants – one watered with microwave heated/then cooled water and the other watered with conventionally heated/then cooled water. The difference in growth and robustness between the two plants is astonishing. You can check these pictures out at this link:
With the water molecules significantly impaired in quality, the molecular damage continues to expand to the food particles themselves as the heating continues. What has been discovered so far is that microwave heating has unfavorable effects on fats and proteins causing assimilation issues for the person who consumes the food. Microwaves are powerful enough to rupture the cell walls in the food; there is no doubt that fragile proteins are altered in the process. In addition, Swiss studies have shown that microwave heating causes unfavorable changes in vitamin content and the availability of these nutrients for absorption in the gut.
Microwave radiation destroys and deforms the food molecules and creates new compounds completely unknown in nature. Irradiation creates the exact same type of compounds in food as does microwaving – radiolytic compounds. With the majority of people seemingly against irradiation of food, why on earth are they then using a microwave at home?
Most troubling is the small, yet tightly controlled study by Dr. Hans Hertel of Switzerland. He discovered abnormal blood profiles in people who ate microwaved food as compared with people who ate the exact same food heated up conventionally. Dr. Hertel’s study is described in Tom Valentine’s book “Search for Health”. Since this book is pretty difficult to get hold of (last time I checked it out of the libary a few years ago, there was only one copy available in the entire state of FL and I had to wait six weeks for that copy to be couriered to my local library!), here is a link to an extensive description of Dr. Hertel’s study and the results:
Of course, who could forget the tragic story of Norma Levitt who in 1991 died from a blood transfusion during routine hip replacement surgery. The blood used in the transfusion was heated in a microwave, which was not standard practice. Blood is routinely warmed for transfusions, but never in a microwave! Clearly, microwaving the blood altered it into a state that proved to be deadly for Ms. Levitt. Imagine what microwaving your food does! Do you really think eating food heated in this way could be anything but dangerous and, at the very least, unhealthy?
One additional point to ponder as I close. Be very aware that microwaves are extensively used in the restaurant industry. Nearly every time you eat out, some, if not all, your food has been heated in a microwave. Just another reason for limiting your trips to eat out and spending that invaluable time in the kitchen preparing your own meals!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist