Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why I Stopped Using the Microwave

Yesterday, I was cleaning out my microwave and decided to run it-without anything inside-to help kill the chemical fumes. Since this is what you do after cleaning an oven, I figured it would be no different.  

But instead of killing the fumes, I killed my microwave. WTF!!!???

The magnetron, which produces the energy and radiation to heat your food,  was completely fried and no longer heating anything up. 

So.. Let's get a little scientific here for a second. 

Microwave ovens uses microwaves to heat food. Microwaves are a type of wave that are sandwiched between radio waves and infrared radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum. In the case of microwave ovens, the commonly used wave frequency is roughly 2,450 megahertz (2.45 gigahertz).

Waves in this frequency range have an interesting property: They're absorbed by water, fats and sugars. Once absorbed, they're converted directly into atomic motion- heat. These waves boast another interesting, related property, too: They're not absorbed by most plastics, glass or ceramics. Metal reflects microwaves, which is why metal pans don't work well in a microwave oven. It's also why the devices have metal walls  for reflection.
So, if nothing was inside of my microwave when it zapped itself, this got me thinking... 
What the hell really happens when we microwave our food? 
What does it do to the actual food itself? 

In a microwave oven, alternating current forces atoms reverse polarity at a startlingly high rate. This creates such violent friction that the water inside the food molecules begin to vibrate and heat up. Unfortunately, this action also deforms, impairs and tears molecules apart.

Not only does it damage your food-it can damage your health. According to a Russian study published by the Atlantis Raising Educational Center in Portland Oregon, Carcinogens were formed in virtually all foods tested. No test food was subjected to more microwaving than necessary to accomplish the purpose, i.e., cooking, thawing, or heating to insure sanitary ingestion. 
Here's a summary of some of the results:

  • Microwaving prepared meats sufficiently to insure sanitary ingestion caused formation of d-Nitrosodienthanolamines, a well-known carcinogen.
  • Microwaving milk and cereal grains converted some of their amino acids into carcinogens.
  • Thawing frozen fruits converted their glucoside and galactoside containing 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. Decrease in nutritional value.
  • Russian researchers also reported a marked acceleration of structural degradation leading to a decreased food value of 60 to 90% in all foods tested. Among the changes observed were:
  • Deceased bio-availability of vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, essential minerals and lipotropics factors in all food tested.
  • Various kinds of damaged to many plant substances, such as alkaloids, glucosides, galactosides and nitrilosides.
  • The degradation of nucleo-proteins in meats.

Even the FDA warns against the potential health hazards formed by microwave oven use:
"It is known that microwave radiation can heat body tissue the same way it heats food. Exposure to high levels of microwaves can cause a painful burn. The lens of the eye is particularly sensitive to intense heat, and exposure to high levels of microwaves can cause cataracts."
I guess that is why they tell you to not stare at your food while it is microwaving. Hmmmm....
And according to the World Health Organization:
"Microwave energy can be absorbed by the body and produce heat in exposed tissues. Organs with a poor blood supply and temperature control, such as the eye, or temperature-sensitive tissue like the testes, have a higher risk of heat damage. However, thermal damage would only occur from long exposures to very high power levels, well in excess of those measured around microwave ovens. "
Ickkkkkk! Sounds a bit frightening to me. My husband, who works in nutrition at a local hospital, stated that the staff were not really allowed to use the microwaves unless they really HAD to. I can see why!
I used the microwave just about every morning-not only for my food, but for my son's. Becoming a mother has really opened up my eyes to a more natural and safer approach to things. Sure, I might be a granola these days, but I would rather be safer than sorry.

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