Sunday, November 2, 2008

Microwave Ovens - Boon or Bane?

During a visit with some friends about a week ago the conversation steered towards the use of microwave ovens. Their microwave oven had been sent for repair and in the course of the event they were told by those at the fixit shop how to use the microwave oven safely.

They were advised that food cooked or heated up in a microwave oven should not be eaten immediately but left for about ten minutes before being consumed. They were also warned that when the beep of the microwave goes off it is advisable to wait for several minutes before opening the oven door in order to avoid ourselves being exposed to an unnecessary amount of microwaves.

This reminded me and confirmed that my refrainment from getting that oh-so-convenient microwave oven at all was the wisest thing I have done in my entire life. Very few other decisions can compare in wisdom, if there are any at all.

There have been reports of the dangers of consuming food cooked or heated up in a microwave oven for years but apparently the convenience that a microwave oven provides especially for working or single mothers far outshines the danger that it poses and as a result most who can afford do and will own one.

In all forms of cooking whether it be stir frying, steaming boiling or baking and so on, heat is applied to food. This heat comes from an external source. It is generated by some sort of fuel, firewood, charcoal, gas or electricity.

Microwave ovens however don't produce heat. Microwave ovens cook food by producing waves of energy, that is the microwaves, which is a high energy radiation that excite certain molecules within your food such as water and fat. Atoms, molecules and cells within the food are forced to reverse polarity, causing fricton which in turn produces the heat.

In other words the heat is produced in the food itself which in turn explains why the food that is microwaved is always hotter than the container that holds it. This oscillation tears and deforms the molecular structure of food and new compounds, called radiolytic compounds, which are not found in nature are formed. This deformation impairs the quality of the nutrients and the damamged cells also become easy prey to viruses, fungi and other microorganisms.

This 'tearing apart' of the food molecules sometimes rearranges them into toxic substances that cause many allergic responses.

Dr Hans Ulrich-Hertal, a Swiss biologist, in his study proved for the first time that microwave energy(retained in food) which promoted cancer could be transmitted to humans through the consumption of this food, and not by just being near the oven as has long been known.

Other studies done in the US and elsewhere lend support to Hertels findings

Russia banned microwave ovens in 1976 because of the negative health consequences.

Tests in Russia conducted on microwaved food showed that carcinogens were found in virtually all foods tested. We all know that carcinogen is a cancer causing substance.

Some of the other findings are:

1. Microwave alters food substances causing digestive disorders

2. It alters the food chemistry and can lead to malfunction in the lymphatic system and degeneration of the body's immune system's capacity to protect itself against cancerous growth.

3. Microwave foods lead to a higher percentage of cancerous cells in the blood stream.

4. Microwaving milk and cereal grains converted some of their amino acids into carcinogens

According to Russian studies one need not eat microwaved foods to suffer from its side effects. Exposure to the energy field itself when one uses it or is close to the oven can be detrimental to health.

This is because all microwave ovens leak.

In 1990, during a microwave oven testing programme conducted by the Berlin Foundation for Product Tests, it was found that all of the ovens emitted microwaves while in operation.

Slamming the oven door, basic wear and tear, broken or missing door glass, manufacturing defects and food particle build up around door seals can also cause microwave leakage.

While gas leak is easily detected,with microwave ovens there is no easy way to detect leakages. Leaked microwave can damage your health. They can cook the protein in your eye lens causing cataracts.

Parts of the body that can be affected by microwave radiation are those that cannot dissipate heat quickly like the lens of the eye, stomach, intestine and the bladder.

In 1991 Norma Levitt of Oklahoma had hip surgery only to be killed by a sample blood transfusion when a nurse warmed the blood for transfusion by microwaving it. Although blood for transfusion are normally warmed they are however not warmed in the microwave. It was reported that the microwaving altered the blood.

Other tests have shown that the practice of reheating leftover food in the micrwave is potentially dangerous.

In 1995, the UK Consumer's association reheated food in 14 microwave ovens, tested them and found temperature differences of up to 40 degrees C between the hottest and the coldest parts of the food. The presence of cold spots means that some bacteria in the food will survive and can cause ill health.

Heating up food is always a chore as I have to either heat up food in a pan over the stove or in the oven. It takes longer and is certainly not as convenient as heating up food in a microwave oven. Inspite of that I am still adamant about getting a microwave oven because I know that if there is one in the home the temptation of using it on a daily basis is very great.

However, after reading many articles on the dangers of microwave ovens I have opted very willingly to make my life somewhat miserable if just to go to sleep at the end of the day with a guilt free conscience and for the sake of my family's health.

Health before convenience.

The information above have been obtained from various sources, that is, an article that appeared in a paper by the Consumers'Asociation of Penang and here and here and here.


Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

i am happy tt i've found smone who shares the same stubborn refusal to use a microwave! the microwave my in-laws gave me 12 years ago still sits in my store. smtimes when i visit my friends n see how convenient the microwave is, i am tempted to drag the microwave out.

i am also an opponent of plastics,i use green bags n ratten baskets as far as possible when i shop, so i can't understand bento boxes craze (my boys would die than eat fancy-cut fruits from cute bento boxes). i think there's a carcinogenic connection bet those waves n plastics...

i comfort myself by thinking i'm lucky to have help here n the pace of life is slow so i really don't need the convenience of a microwave.

Zurin said...

Im glad Ive found you too. I was beginning to think that I'm a little odd.And yes I do use green grocer bags too when I rmember to bring it along and I go for organic veggies too.I dnt know about bento boxes but i wish instead of styrofoams people wld use tiffin carriers like in my mother's day and I wish someone wld make basket trolleys instead of metal ones. They look good too.

O yes I know kk. I lived there 4 16 years and I went back recently 4 a week and I love the life liesurely and nothing like the the sight of the sea everywhere u turn. Ur lucky!

Nadia said...

ok i'm seriously considering doing wo microwave when we move...sigh....oh double triple should always listen to your mother...

Nadia said...

what's tiffin carriers, mummy?

Zurin said...

tiffin carrier is the.. probably havent seen one yet...orang dulu dulu use it but its coming back...u know the one...ehh dififcult to
describe..wait................ok go click on dapur tanpa sempadan on my blog and you will see whta a tiffin carrier looks like..but that is porcelain and is for decoration...normal ones are stainless steel

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

oh tiffins r great. the only kid tt wld let me pack lunch was my girl n i used a stainless steel tiffin, never a plastic one.i only have 1 plastic plate in my hse, n a few small ones for covering leftover food. i don't cover leftover food with cling wrap (unless there's lots of liquid then i do) bc a chemist told me tt there's harmful chemical tt leaches onto food when in contact. the chemical makes the plastic cling. so pls minimise use of cling wrap, n make sure it doesn't touch ur food if u do use it :)) have a good day.

oh, 16 yrs in KK??

Zurin said...

Wow thanks for the info....must pass it on...I use cling wrap rarely ..didnt know bout the chemical thing as a fact but I guessed that all plastic is BAD...sigh... life is getting tougher inspite of all the progress....our poor kids...but on the other hand one cant have the good without the bad..yes my husband is a sabahan and all our kids were born there at Dr. Kana's kids love kk and the older ones miss it...wish i could go there more often...those townhouses just opposite sutera harbour are sooo lovely and quaint...visited an aunt(but about my age n married to a sabahan too) and loved her town house! she says life in kk is like a life long vacation!(inspite of the fact that shes working.. envy a good day Terri!

Nadia said...

oh i just posed a comment aboutplastic on another post...ahh i thought cling wrap checmical only leach out when heated containers with containers with lid...getting those...


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