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A Healthy Approach To Microwaving
Did you know...
...That it's important to make your microwave usage as safe as possible? Now, I know that some of you reading this probably feel as if I've asked if you knew the sky was blue. But, I’ve actually found that many people are completely unaware of the potential negatives of using microwaves; both on how they affect the food we heat up and the potential effects they pose on our bodies while in use standing near them!
Is it Safe to Reheat with Radiation?
Since microwave use is so widespread in America and they can feel so convenient, it’s possible to just pop a plate in there and come back to hot food without ever really thinking much about how exactly that stuff is getting cooked and why we might want to be careful. Microwaves make things hot using electromagnetic energy, specifically, man-made radio frequency non-ionizing radiation. Did you know that heating food in a microwave actually changes molecular makeup of that food? Here’s Larry Gust, a building biology expert, explaining how they work:
“Microwave ovens use electromagnetic energy that vibrates 2.4 billion times per second. This energy acts on the molecules in food, particularly water molecules causing them to rapidly vibrate. This rapid movement generates friction, thus heat. Vibration is so violent that molecules are often torn apart or distorted, thereby changing the chemical makeup of the food. Additionally, this appliance leaks microwaves into the environment around it.”
Pretty wild stuff! And, did you catch that last part? Electromagnetic energy that’s cooking our food doesn’t stay contained in the microwave. As you can see in the video above, there’s significant radiation leaking out of a running microwave oven *even with* a shield designed to block it. Eeek! I think most of us would prefer not to have that kind of radiation in our bodies, right?! Radiation levels as low as 2 micro-watts per centimeter have been linked to cancer and your microwave is emitting a lot more than that!
What Food Science Research Tell Us About What Microwaves Do To Our Food
There's new research coming out from Food Science Journal in March 2021 that will detail the effects of microwave energy on food components.
Meanwhile, here's research done in 2017 which summarizes and reviews many different studies that look at how exposing food to microwaves changes it. Sometimes they see increases in the proteins, fats, carbohydrates, lipids and other food components and sometimes they find a decrease or other changes to the food. The KEY takeaway is that it's very clear that exposing our food to microwave energy does in fact change it.
“So What Should I Do If I Want a Safe Microwave Oven Experience?”
We’re not telling you this to scare you. As you know, here at Tech Wellness we aren’t about doom and gloom—we’re not just trying to create awareness about something you can’t do anything about! We’re about simple, practical solutions to minimize hazards and create a fear-free, Tech Toxin-free environment that your body can thrive in!
Due to my personal research and experiences, I’ve opted to take the microwaves out of my home and our office (one employee quit when we did!) Yes, the microwave is super important to some people and others can't wait to get rid of theirs... But that doesn’t have to be your choice! Here are some tips to keep in mind if giving up microwaving cold turkey (ha!) isn’t for you:
Want to Make the Microwave Cooking Safe? STEP AWAY!
Never stand in front of the microwave when it’s running, and especially don’t let kids do it! We know, there’s a strange temptation to put your face up against the door and watch the food turn—but that’s where the most radiation is and kids are the most vulnerable! Teach them to always step back, and do the same yourself—simple as that :) If you want to understand exactly how much radiation your microwave is emitting, invest in any of the meters we offer on Tech Wellness. They provide accurate readings, are good quality, and worth it.
This very accurate and easy to read radiation meter is great to make sure your microwave isn't leaking- And to measure EMF radiation around your home.
- GO THE DISTANCE. This is both the easiest and most effective method to protect yourself from unwanted radiation. Our measurements show that the energy dissipates with distance, so put some between yourself and a running microwave— I like to stand 10-15 feet away to be safe. Limit your exposure by walking away.
- GET CLASSIC. When possible, consider other methods for reheating such as the conventional oven or stove-top. It might take a few extra minutes, but most of the time I bet the improved taste and quality of the food alone makes it worth it!
- …BUT NOT OLD. Beware of older microwaves. As time passes, the seal on the door wears out not only decreasing their effectiveness but increasing the amount of radiation that flows through.
SEE FOR YOURSELF. Want to to know see if the seal or shield on your microwave is leaking? You can see from our Microwave Shield video that the microwave oven is leaking. Want to see IF the door seal is leaking from the your oven? PUT your phone in the microwave oven. Yep - You heard me right (just don't turn the microwave on!) Now call the phone. Did it ring? Well then, it's very clear the cellphone signal is getting IN so it could get OUT too. Also, as Physics Girl demonstrated in a detailed video on microwave ovens and how and why they leak, there's a difference in the length of the WiFi wave and the cellular wave, so try a WiFi call too. She notes that microwaves and WiFi typically operate at around 2.4 GHZ whilst cellular signals tend to be around 1.9 Gigahertz or 850 megahertz.
Tech Wellness NOTE: These are both non-ionizing RF radio frequency radiation and we hope, really hope, you'll avoid being exposed to that whenever possible. See our EMF Wellness Guide for lots of details!
Here's another favorite meter: This one detects all types of Electromagnetic Fields or EMF
*A special note to new parents: please don’t heat breast milk in the microwave. Research shows that it increases bacteria and alters the proteins. Stick to the stove!
This concludes today’s PSA on microwave ovens! We hope you feel more equipped and empowered to make simple choices that will help you thrive. See below for links to some additional research, and as always, feel free to reach out with any thoughts, questions, or comments— we’d love to hear them!
Here's the research