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To continue the learning process about how to transition to a nourishing foods diet, I would be ashamed if I didn’t warn you about microwave oven dangers. I would be missing a crucial step in the process! Simply put, if you put a nourishing, whole food into the microwave, it will come out rendered nearly nutrition-less.
I have not used a microwave in over three years. This means that just before having our first child, we switched over to using only the oven or range to re-heat or cook food. Two kids later, I am still doing this and not once have I wished I still had use of a microwave. I was absolutely committed to it from the beginning, and all it required was a little advance planning. I have not felt that it has made things more difficult. Instead, I work confidently knowing that this is the best for the health of my family. When I began learning about microwave oven dangers, it made sense, and I was ready to toss ours.
Stick with me to find out why and to learn of the health dangers of microwaves. This will be lengthy and I will cite numerous articles. Take your time to read through it, and please consider ceasing the use of your microwave. It really can be done and it doesn’t have to be a painful transition. And remember, we aren’t necessarily going for convenience. We are working toward a nourishing lifestyle, and that sometimes means more time and preparation. And, we are doing so in order to be more healthy. This knowledge and commitment oftentimes helps gird your arms with strength to forge ahead.
First, let’s learn a little history about the microwave. It was developed by the Germans during World War II “to provide mobile food support for their invasion of the Soviet Union.” It wasn’t until after the war that research began taking place, in large part by Russian scientists.
Hans Hertel, a Swiss food scientist, conducted probably the most in-depth research to date about how microwaves affect our health. He was fired from his job for questioning certain methods in food processing, claiming that they denatured food:
“The world needs our help. We, the scientists, carry the main responsibility for the present unacceptable conditions. It is therefore our job to correct the situation and bring the remedy to the world. I am striving to bring man and techniques back into harmony with nature. We can have wonderful technologies without violating nature.”
Hans Hertel, working with Bernard H. Blanc of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University Institute for Biochemistry, conceived of and carried out “a quality study on the effects of microwaved nutrients on the blood and physiology of human beings. This small but well-controlled study pointed the firm finger at a degenerative force of microwave ovens and the food produced in them.”
The conclusion was clear: microwave cooking changed the nutrients so that changes took place in the participants’ blood. These were not healthy changes but were changes that could cause deterioration in the human systems. Hertel not only conceived of the study and carried it out, he was also one of eight participants. “To control as many variables as possible, we selected eight individuals who were strict macrobiotic diet participants from the Macrobiotic Institute at Kientel, Switzerland,” Hertel explained. “We were all housed in the same hotel environment for eight weeks. There was no smoking, no alcohol and no sex.” One can readily see that this protocol makes sense.
After all, how could you tell about subtle changes in a human’s blood from eating microwaved food if smoking, booze, junk food, pollution, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and everything else in the common environment were also present? “We had one American, one Canadian and six Europeans in the group. I was the oldest at 64 years, the others were in their 20s and 30s,” Hertel added.
In intervals of two to five days, the volunteers in the study received one of the food variants on an empty stomach. The food variants were:
- raw milk from a biofarm
- the same milk conventionally cooked
- pasteurized milk from Intermilk Berne
- the same raw milk cooked in a microwave oven
- raw vegetables from an organic farm
- the same vegetables cooked conventionally
- the same vegetables frozen and defrosted in the microwave oven
- and the same vegetables cooked in the microwave oven
The overall experiment had some of the earmarks of the Pottenger cat studies, except that now human beings were test objects, the experiment’s time-frame was shorter, and a new heat form was tested. Once the volunteers were isolated at the resort hotel, the test began. Blood samples were taken from every volunteer immediately before eating.
Then blood samples were taken at defined intervals after eating from the above-numbered milk or vegetable preparations. Significant changes were discovered in the blood of the volunteers who consumed foods cooked in the microwave oven. These changes included a decrease in all hemoglobin values and cholesterol values, especially the HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) values and ratio.
Lymphocytes (white blood cells) showed a more distinct short-term decrease following the intake of microwaved food than after the intake of all the other variants. Each of these indicators point in a direction away from robust health and toward degeneration. Additionally, there was a highly significant association between the amount of microwave energy in the test foods and the luminous power of luminescent bacteria exposed to serum from test persons who ate that food.”
(to read about further conclusions made, click here)
So how does a microwave actually work?
“Microwaves heat food by causing water molecules in it to resonate at very high frequencies and eventually turn to steam which heats your food. While this can rapidly heat your food, what most people fail to realize is that it also causes a change in your food’s chemical structure.”
In 1989, the Minnesota Extension Service of the University of Minnesota began broadcasting radio commercials warning against heating baby bottles in the microwave:
“Although microwaves heat food quickly, they are not recommended for heating a baby’s bottle. Heating the bottle in a microwave can cause slight changes in the milk. In infant formulas, there may be a loss of some vitamins. In expressed breast milk, some protective properties may be destroyed. Warming a bottle by holding it under tap water or by setting it in a bowl of warm water, then testing it on your wrist before feeding, may take a few minutes longer, but it is much safer.”
Hmm. Why is it that warnings are often issued for small children, but to the rest of the general population they are not? True, small bodies are still developing and are more susceptible to illness or disease, but if slight changes in milk occur when heated in the microwave, wouldn’t you think that changes are made in any food put into a microwave? And that with habitual use this could cause health problems??
In a very interesting article, numerous studies are cited about other health effects from microwave use, including:
- 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
- Blood is normally warmed before being transfused into a person. Now we know that microwaving blood products damages the blood components. In fact, one woman died after receiving a transfusion of microwaved blood in 1991 , which resulted in a well-publicized lawsuit.
- A recent study examining the effects 2.4 GHz radiation (which is the frequency of radiation emitted by Wifi routers and microwave ovens) on the heart was just completed. The study found “unequivocal evidence” that microwave frequency radiation affects the heart at non-thermal levels that are well below federal safety guidelines, according to Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University. (article to come out summer 2010 in a peer review journal)
- There is also evidence that this same frequency of radiation causes blood sugar to spike in susceptible individuals and may actually be the cause of one type of diabetes.
- 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, 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.
Apparently (I can’t find hard evidence, but lots of claims), in 1976, the Russian government banned microwaves due to the dangers posed. It is said that the ban was overturned in 1986.
According to one source, studies as far back as 1942 have indicated that there are dangers in cooking food with microwave ovens. The Russians and Germans have conducted the majority of research surrounding the use and effects of microwave ovens and the results very clearly make a strong case that the safety of microwave ovens is a farce.
Here are some of the findings of the Russian research:
- Russian investigators found that carcinogens were formed from the microwaving of nearly all foods tested.
- The microwaving of milk and grains converted some of the amino acids into carcinogenic substances.
- Microwaving prepared meats caused the formation of the cancer-causing agents d-Nitrosodienthanolamines.
- Thawing frozen fruits by microwave converted their glucoside and galactoside fractions into carcinogenic substances.
- Extremely short exposure of raw, cooked or frozen vegetables converted their plant alkaloids into carcinogens.
- Carcinogenic free radicals were formed in microwaved plants—especially root vegetables.
- Structural degradation leading to decreased food value was found to be 60 to 90 percent overall for all foods tested, with significant decreases in bioavailability of B complex vitamins, vitamins C and E, essential minerals, and lipotropics (substances that prevent abnormal accumulation of fat).
Okay, I think I’ve probably worn you out with research about the dangers of microwaves and how microwaves affect our health. I hope that you’ll take it to heart and consider ditching the microwave!