When I work with my clients, we talk about the utensils they use for cooking and I always end up discussing the use of the microwave. Yes, it has been hailed as one the greatest helpers in the kitchen, but I have never used it and I do not recommend it. Why?
Starting several years ago and still today, the things I hear and read about the dangers of cooking in microwave ovens concerns me, from cancer-causing chemicals seeping into food to painful burns. Chief among these are:
- It is not a good idea to microwave foods or drinks in plastic containers, even if the container labels say they are microwave safe. Heat from microwave cooking can break down plastics and release various chemicals into your food and drink. Microwaves heat unevenly, which creates hotspots where the plastic is more likely to break down. So, if you must use the microwave for warming or cooking, skip the plastic containers and use glass, like Pyrex. Glass is much safer.
- BPA, which has been linked to many cancers including breast and prostate, is one of the chemicals used in the plastic containers of many microwaveable frozen foods as well as plastic containers in general. When heating a frozen meal in the microwave, the electromagnetic radiation causes the food to superheat and the BPA to leach into the food. While the use of BPA in some packaging and containers has decreased, it continues to be a major problem with the plastics in our country.
- Standing in front of a microwave can also be harmful. Microwave radiation can harm body tissue, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The agency found that exposure to high levels of microwaves can cause a painful burn. The eyes and testes are particularly vulnerable to radiofrequency radiation from microwaves, because there is relatively little blood flow to carry away excess heat. In some instances, high levels of microwaves can cause cataracts, because the lens of the eye is particularly sensitive to intense heat. The agency notes that burns and cataracts are only be caused by exposure to large amounts of microwave radiation.
These concerns and others led me to suggest to my clients that they not cook in a microwave oven or eat microwaveable frozen foods, especially as many of my clients are nutrient deficient and suffer chronic inflammatory illnesses.
The Nutritional Downside of Microwave Cooking
Did you know that B12 is partially destroyed when cooking in a microwave oven? Why is this important? Because reduced Vitamin B12 in food can lead to anemia. That is why it is frequently added to foods that are not fresh.
In addition, the ingredients in quick, frozen meals that people put in the microwave are not always healthy. These processed meals tend to contain too much sodium and sugar, along with starches and carbohydrates that convert into sugar. All that sugar can lead to insulin resistance and/or diabetes.
I tell my clients to read the ingredients on every can or container of food that is not fresh. If a frozen food or canned food contains more than two lines of ingredients that my client cannot say, or has ingredients they have never heard of, I tell them it is best to pass that food by. I do not want my clients eating unnecessary chemicals.
Focus on Fresh, Whole Foods
I also recommend that my clients shop the outside perimeter of the supermarket, where healthy, fresh food choices are found. I want my clients is to eat whole, fresh food and not foods that I consider dead. If It is processed, it frequently contains fewer vitamins and minerals than we need to thrive and survive.
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is to start cooking fresh and supporting your body with food that provides the optimal nutrition. Organic foods and ingredients, as well as supplements, will support our immune systems. Last March I wrote a blog series called “COVID-19 is a Nutritional Crisis.” I believe that is just as true today, if not more so, than it was when I first wrote the pieces a year ago.
So, when looking at the radiation dangers, chemical seepage from plastic containers, and decline in nutrition when cooking with a microwave, you can see why I don’t use one myself and discourage my clients from doing so. If you’d like to discuss ways to work healthier foods and supplements into your diet or to help prevent COVID-19, please contact me.
Finally, and always: If you are not preventing disease, you are preventing health!