By Dr. Mercola
By now, you probably know that what you eat has a profound impact on your health. The mantra, "You are what you eat" is really true.
But you need to consider not only what you buy, but how you cook it. Eating most of your food raw is ideal. But most of us are not going to be able to accomplish a completely raw diet, and we'll end up cooking some percentage of our food.
Smart food preparation starts with high quality whole (preferably organic and/or locally grown) foods and food preparation from scratch, and that means saying sayonara to your microwave oven. Need to sterilize a dishcloth? Use your microwave. But zapping your casserole is a bad idea if you are interested in preparing healthy food.
Why the no nukes policy? When it comes to microwave ovens, the price for convenience is to compromise your health.
Microwave ovens are so widely used that you'd be hard-pressed to find a gas station or office building without one. But there's a reason why I haven't had a microwave in my kitchen for over 25 years and--much to the distress of my employees--pulled it out of the office more than 10 years ago.
This is something that you likely already intrinsically suspect but don't want to acknowledge due to the convenience factor--microwaves are bad for your food, and they're even worse for you.
Convenience Comes at Significant Cost to You and Your Family
There are many concerns with microwave ovens, among them:
- Microwave radiation leakage—microwave ovens vary in the amount of radiation that escapes while in use. But even if there's nothing wrong with your microwave, keep in mind that standing a foot away from it while it's running can expose you to upwards of 400 milliGauss, and a mere 4 milliGauss has been firmly linked to leukemia.
- Carcinogenic toxins can be leached from plastic or paper plates or covers and mix with your food.
- The food temperature may become extremely hot, at temperatures high enough to cause burns or steam buildup that could explode--this is especially problematic for baby bottles, and is one of the reasons why baby bottles should never be heated in the microwave (microwaving can also break down the disease-fighting ability of breast milk).
- Vegetables and other foods lose valuable, cancer-fighting nutrients when cooked in the microwave.
- The chemical structure of foods changes when microwaved, with unknown consequences.
There have been very few studies done to determine what kinds of changes occur in foods that are microwaved, but rest assured, the changes are significant. Consider the 1991 lawsuit involving a woman who had hip surgery and died because the blood used in her blood transfusion was warmed in a microwave. Blood is routinely warmed before transfusions, but not by microwave. The microwave altered the blood and it killed the woman.
Microwave cooking vibrates the molecules in your food to levels they were never designed to experience. This tends to damage the highly perishable nutrients so they are unable to nourish you the way they were designed to.
Microwaving Zaps the Nutrients Right Out of Your Food
The majority of studies on microwaves and nutrition were conducted prior to 2000, I suspect because the focus of radiation research of late has shifted toward a more ominous threat: environmental radiation from electromagnetic devices, such as cell phones and computers, which has mushroomed into a gigantic cloud of electrosmog worldwide over the past decade.
Nevertheless, some excellent scientific data has been gathered regarding the detrimental effects of microwaves on the nutrients in your food:
- A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture1found 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 cancer3.
- 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) form4. 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 2008 Australian study5 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 bacteria6.
Besides the loss of nutrients, microwaving forms new compounds (radiolytic compounds) that are unknown to humans and nature. It's not yet known exactly what these compounds do in the human body. It will likely be a difficult thing to sort out, especially when there are previously unknown compounds being introduced to humans from a variety of sources such as "fake food" products (i.e., olestra) and genetically modified foods.
Perhaps the most concrete evidence of the dangers of microwaves comes from Dr. Hans Hertel, a Swiss food scientist, who carried out a small but high-quality study on the effects of microwaved food on humans. His conclusions were clear and alarming: microwave cooking significantly altered the food's nutrients enough so that changes occurred in the participants' blood--changes that suggested deterioration. The changes included:
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Decreased numbers of leukocytes (white blood cells), suggestive of poisoning
- Decreased numbers of red blood cells
- Production of radiolytic compounds (compounds unknown in nature)
- Decreased hemoglobin levels, which could indicate anemic tendencies
Dr. Hertel and his team published the results in 1992, but a Swiss trade organization, the Swiss Association of Dealers for Electro-apparatuses for Households and Industry, had a gag order issued, which prohibited Dr. Hertel from declaring that microwaves were dangerous to health. The gag order was later removed in 1998, after the Swiss court ruled that the gag order violated the right to freedom of expression. Switzerland was ordered to pay Dr. Hertel compensation as well.
The Turbo Oven Cooks Your Food Fast -- and Healthy
When I cook or heat up my food, I use the Turbo Oven -- it's a healthy, economical alternative to an ordinary microwave. With the Turbo Oven you can:.
Broil, bake, fry, roast, boil, grill and steam your favorite foods to perfection.
Cook your food in 25-30% less time than a conventional oven.
Save big on electricity -- the Turbo Oven uses 80 percent less energy than your conventional oven.
Spare the valuable nutrients in your food.
Possible Microwave Effects on Your Biophotons
Biophotonics is the study, research, and applications of photons in their interactions within and on biological systems. Much of the work in the area of biophotons was done in Germany. Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt discusses biophotons in our 2008 interview.
Biophotons are the smallest physical units of light that are stored in and used by all biological organisms—including you. Vital sun energy finds its way into your cells via the food you eat, in the form of these biophotons. Biophotons contain important bio-information and are very important to many vital processes in your body. They are partly responsible for your feeling of vitality and well-being. You gain biophotons by eating foods rich in them, such as naturally grown fresh vegetables and sun-ripened fruits, which are rich in light energy.
The more light energy a food is able to store, the more nutritious it is.
There is a good deal of evidence for a "microwave effect," a phenomenon whereby microwaves destroy biophotons in the same way they alter other structures, rendering your food dead and lifeless.If this effect does indeed exist, it seems quite plausible microwaves could disrupt or destroy biophotons, since they are capable of breaking apart DNA bonds!
As far as I can find, there haven't been any studies of the direct effects of microwave radiation on biophotons, but it seems like an important angle of investigation for the future.
Breaking Free of Your Microwave: A Few Basic Tips
So, what can you do to avoid microwaves? My first suggestion is to not buy one. If you already own one, then reserve its operation only for cleaning dishrags and sponges by first wetting them and them heating them for two minutes on high, which will effectively sterilize this common source of kitchen contamination.
Here are a few meal preparation tipsfor minimizing the pain of your transition into a microwave-free lifestyle:
- Try consuming the majority of your foods raw.Raw foodsgive you maximum nutritional value. A quick and easy way to consume a large amount of raw vegetablesis by juicing.
- Plan ahead. Prepare your meals in advance so that you always have a good meal available on those days when you're too busy or too tired to cook. Make soups and stews in bulk, and then freeze them in gallon-sized freezer bags or glass mason jars. Before mealtime, just take one out and defrost it in a sink of water,then reheat your meal on the stovetop.
- Try a Turbo Oven. This little workhorse is a more economical and healthful alternative to the microwave oven whenyou want to cook a meal or just reheat leftovers. The Turbo Oven allows you to prepare delicious and nutritious meals in half the time of traditional ovens.
- Consider a toaster oven or a convection oven. These make heating up leftovers easy. Use them at a low temperature — like 200-250 degrees F — to gently warm a plate of food over the course of 20-30 minutes.
It may seem time-consuming at first to always take 20-30 minutes to warm up your meals (as opposed to the 5-minute microwave ZAP), but you'll soon adjust.You may actually start to enjoy thistime, because you can use it to relax with your family, read, write, listen to music or do anything that will help you to slow down and prepare for the meal you're about to enjoy.
You may notice that taking more time to prepare your food will transcend to other aspects of your life as well, and you'll enjoy a slower, more relaxed lifestyle than the majority of those around you. And if you are more relaxed, your stress will be lower. And lowering your stress actually improves your digestion!