I’m the owner of a group on Facebook, geared towards the in depth scientific discussion of all things related to the Paleo Diet, called “Paleo Geeks Anonymous”. We talk about a lot of things, some of which are worth mentioning here, while others are not. Yesterday, one of the members asked the group whether or not we believe microwave ovens to be “Paleo” or not.
Realistically, we’re talking about whether or not microwaves are conveniently disguised agents of death and disease, because we know for a fact that Paleolithic people didn’t have them…..obviously. So if we are to decide whether or not they are “Paleo” means determining whether or not their usage effects our health.
Paleolithic people would have used mainly fire to cook their food, but we know that cooking at high temperatures over fire, actually has it’s own set of potential health problems, mainly in the tendency for the production of Nitrosamines. So then, the question is, “are microwaves more or less dangerous than cooking over an open flame?”. Does Microwave radiation convert the molecules in our food into microscopic ninja assassins?
The Paleo Diet and Microwave Ovens
First, let’s look at the evidence that shows that Microwaves are “dangerous”:
Well……hmmm……this is embarrassing. I can’t seem to…….oh Wait, here’s one! No…..that’s no good either……
It appears that there IS NO scientific evidence to support any negative effects from heating food with a microwave oven.
Sure, some people don’t like the taste of microwaved food, and they certainly heat unevenly, but that’s about the thick of it.
Okay, so how about the evidence that shows microwaves are safe?:
Once again, any search for credible scholarly sources for this, basically comes up sorely lacking. The problem is that scientists actually don’t really know one hundred percent HOW microwaves work. Apparently, the cooking effect was stumbled-upon accidentally.
Here’s an interesting piece I found on the subject though:
“It’s a fact of life that any type of cooking changes the chemistry of food. It can reduce the levels of some nutrients, just as it can increase the levels of others (e.g. lycopenes), or make them more or less available to the body for use. (Raw food anyone?) The prevailing view is that microwaves do not alter foods in ways that are any more deleterious or harmful than other types of cooking. In fact, some have argued that the faster cooking time may actually preserve more nutrients versus other methods.
Still, we know sufficiently little about nutrition and the cumulative effects of food science that some aren’t so convinced (of course, there is also the threat of any harmful substances present getting released upon cooking, such as the diacetyl blamed for “popcorn lung.”) In a recent article E Magazine pointed out that popular holistic health expert Dr. Andrew Weil has written, “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.” According to the magazine, Dr. Fumio Watanabe of Japan’s Kochi Women’s University found that heating samples for six minutes degenerated 30 to 40% of the milk’s vitamin B12. This kind of breakdown took about 25 minutes
of boiling with conventional heat. In a 1992 Stanford Medical School study often cited by microwave opponents, researchers reported a “marked decrease” in immune-boosting factors in microwaved human breast milk. In the late 1980s Swiss scientists reported decreases in hemoglobin and white blood cells in rats that had eaten microwaved food.
It’s also much reported on the Internet that microwaving human blood renders it unsafe for transfusion — though medical professionals point out that rapidly heating blood via any method can have the same negative result.
The conclusion made by government agencies and mainstream organizations is that microwaved food is safe, as well as convenient. There’s a limited number of studies that may suggest otherwise, but given the lack of large-scale or compelling evidence it’s hard to feel that tossing our your microwave is a particularly smart step. Everyone interviewed for this piece pointed to other issues as more pressing, from ubiquitous exposure to cell phones to more serious threats from radon, or bigger energy users like heating and cooling. That doesn’t mean microwaves aren’t worth thinking about, however.” – The Daily Green
Well, I’m going to continue using my microwave, because it’s convenient for me to prepare my daily meals ahead of time, and heat them up at work. Heck, I’ve even joked with my wife that we
could use two microwaves in the kitchen! But, as per usual, it’s your choice. I think that the Paleo diet and microwave ovens, go together just fine.
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Barry Cripps is a Paleo-based, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, who operates out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
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