Should You Dump Your Microwave?
Updated: May 27
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Eating nourishing foods is extremely important to one’s overall wellness. While the nutrient content of the food is important, just as vital is how the food is prepared. Cooking food properly has a great deal to do with how nutritious the food is. We are all at different stages of our health journey, and I am well aware that it can take some time to get to the point where we are dealing with food preparation and not just the ingredients themselves!
About seven years ago, I was led to the seemingly dramatic decision to throw out our microwave. I had heard whispers about the health concerns surrounding microwave use for some time, but had not taken the time to thoroughly research the matter on my own and come up with a conclusion. When I finally did read about it, it became clear to me that we could not continue using our microwave oven.
Why Microwaves are Dangerous
Exposure to the radiation in microwaves changes the chemical structure of food. The molecules move rapidly within the food causing steam which in turn heats the food. While consumers have long been warned about heating food in plastic containers in the microwave because of the leaching of carcinogenic chemicals, what many people still do not know is that the molecules left in the food bear little resemblance to their original state. They are badly deformed and the structure is changed to such a degree that it may potentially be harmful to the body.
Unintended Death Through Microwave Use
One story that was most compelling to me while I was learning about microwave use was about a woman from Oklahoma back in 1991 who went into the hospital to have hip surgery. During the course of her surgery, she required a blood transfusion. It is routine procedure to warm blood prior to a transfusion, (albeit not in a microwave).
The nurse attending her treatment decided she would save time and microwave the blood intended for the woman’s transfusion. The blood had been altered to such a degree during the microwaving process that her body rejected it and she subsequently died.
Well-Known Study by Swiss Scientist
Hans Hertel is an agronomist and food scientist who was conducting a study on the effects of microwaved food on the blood in the 1980s. The sample study was small but his findings were quite compelling. He discovered that the participants who had ingested microwaved food had
Fewer white blood cells
Fewer red blood cells
Lower levels of hemoglobin (indicating possible anemia)
Higher levels of cholesterol
When compared with the other subjects. Despite problems with the methodology of his study, he was still issued a gag order by the Swiss Trade Organization which was later lifted. It makes one wonder what they were so concerned about and wanted to keep from the public. Hertel’s findings were eventually published.
What's Good For Baby
We are frequently warned against heating baby formula and breast milk in the microwave. If the medical establishment and institutions of higher learning are concerned about the loss of nutrients and the destruction of protective properties in the case of breast milk, then how is this different from the everyday food that we eat?
I happen to believe it is not any different.
Alternative Ways to Heat Your Food
Take heart! There are other ways to quickly and easily heat up your food. I am primarily talking about re-heating because I rarely if ever used a microwave to cook food. Re-heating food on the stove or oven may take a few minutes longer but it will taste infinitely better and will also retain the heat more efficiently, unlike microwaved food.
I especially love my cast iron skillet because it heats very quickly and evenly. If I want something heated quickly, I throw it on my cast iron skillet and stick it in the oven. In a few minutes, my meal is ready.
I also like using pyrex dishes and regular sauce pans to re-heat.
Err on the Side of Caution
The jury is definitely still out on the ultimate safety of microwave ovens, with experts on both sides stating opposing views. I have decided that for me and my family I would rather be safe than sorry. As it turns out, it is not that difficult to throw something on the stove or in the oven to re-heat. While it does create a few more dishes, I don’t mind being more cautious just in case. Believe it or not, it is possible to survive without a microwave!