Are Microwaves Safe or Are Microwaves Dangerous?

Are microwaves safe or are microwaves dangerous? Good question! Years ago, I was making significant lifestyle changes and came across two articles written by my friend and mentor, Erleen Tilton. I have featured much of that information in my blog article here, with Erleen’s permission.  Check out her blog at erleentilton.com.  Another excellent source (with it’s own list of sources) is “Microwaving Your Food Isn’t Safe” by Larry Cook.

flowers sitting on a kitchen countertop with a microwave and stove in the background
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Microwaves Create Pig Slop

Microwave ovens were first introduced to consumers nearly 70 years ago. A staple in most homes, they have made cooking and heating food easier than ever before! While they are exceedingly convenient…have you ever noticed that food warmed by your microwave doesn’t stay warm for very long? Or that your once-crispy, spry little pizza slice takes on a soggy, limp, depressed state after its tragic encounter with the appliance? Additionally, the appearance of microwaved edibles is often more reminiscent of pig slop than food fit for human consumption. HA!

pigs walking around in pig slop and mud
Photo by Dan Renco on Unsplash

There’s a scientific, technical explanation for all of this, which I will get into later.  But is the convenience of owning and using a microwave oven really worth the cost?  Are microwaves safe or are microwaves dangerous? Much of this question can be answered by understanding exactly how microwaves work. 

With some research, I learned that:

  • Microwaves destroy the life-force that gives food its vitality and nourishment.
  • They alter food chemistry, causing structural disintegration of the foods, which results in loss of 60-90% of its vital nutrients.
  • Microwaves create cancer-causing agents within foods.
  • Microwave-cooked foods lower the body’s ability to utilize essential vitamins and minerals. This can lead to digestive disorders and the degeneration of the body’s ability to protect itself against disease.

In a nutshell, microwaved food is not safe to eat .

Yes; those are some hefty statements…and worthy of backup. 

microwaved food is not safe to eat
Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

But seriously…are microwaves safe…or not?  The answer is…kinda.  Er…no…not really. 

Are Microwaves Safe Or Not?

Surprisingly, microwave heat is actually not real heat. Rather, when a microwave is cooking food, short radio waves force the atoms, molecules, and cells within the food to vibrate rapidly – billions of times per second. This friction moves the molecules — which creates the heat — and deforms and distorts the molecular structure of the foods in the process.  Blood is no exception.  While blood is normally warmed before being transfused, one woman died after receiving a transfusion of microwaved blood in 1991, which resulted in a well-publicized lawsuit.

Manufacturers of microwave ovens understand the dangers of microwaves, and will provide “warning” information in their consumer manuals, admitting to potential leaks in microwave door seals. They don’t, however, warn about the damaged foods caused by the ovens themselves, nor the damage that will come from ingesting these radiated foods.  Furthermore, once food is microwaved, the body cannot even recognize the nutrients in the once-food anymore.  

Can you Microwave Breast Milk

The first thing you may notice in microwaved foods is how uneven the heating is. “Hot spots” can be hot enough to cause burns, or build up to a “steam explosion.” For this reason, new mothers are warned NOT to use microwaves to heat up their baby’s bottles.  Furthermore, microwaving infant formula causes changes in the milk chemically. Some ask: “Can you microwave breast milk?” Well…I wouldn’t. Research has shown that even on low settings, microwaves can destroy the immunity-building capabilities and nutritional properties of mother’s breast milk.

Another problem with microwave ovens is that carcinogenic toxins can leach out of plastic and paper containers and into your food. Chemicals may include polyethylene terpthalate (PET), benzene, toluene, and xylene. One of the worst contaminants is BPA, or bisphenol A, an estrogen-like compound used widely in plastic products, including packaging for foods made specifically for the microwave often.  Additionally, microwaving fatty foods in plastic containers leads to the release of dioxins (known carcinogens) and other toxins.

Still not convinced? Here’s the science on how microwaves work.

flowers sitting on a kitchen countertop with a microwave and stove in the background
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Radiation Machine : Microwave

Understanding how microwaves work can help us understand why they are so harmful.  Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic energy, like light waves or radio waves, and occupy a part of the electromagnetic spectrum of power, or energy. Microwaves are very short waves of electromagnetic energy that travel at the speed of light (186,282 miles per second). In our modern technological age, microwaves are used to relay long distance telephone signals, television programs, and computer information across the earth, or to satellites in space. But microwaves are most familiar to us as an energy source for cooking food.

Every microwave oven contains a magnetron, or a tube in which electrons are affected by magnetic and electric fields, causing them to produce micro-wavelength radiation at about 2450 Mega Hertz (MHz) or 2.45 Giga Hertz (GHz). This microwave radiation interacts with the molecules in the food it is heating. 

teal and pink neon dots on a black backdrop
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Structural Isomerism and Deformed Molecules

All wave energy changes polarity from positive to negative with each wave cycle. In microwaves, these polarity changes occur millions of times per second. Food molecules — especially the molecules of water — have a positive and negative end, in the same way that a magnet has a north and a south polarity.

In commercial models, the microwave oven has a power input of about 1000 watts of alternating current. As these microwaves generated from the magnetron bombard the food, they cause the polar molecules to rotate at the same frequency (millions of times per second). All this agitation creates molecular friction, which heats up the food. However, this friction also causes substantial damage to the surrounding molecules, often tearing them apart or forcefully deforming them. The scientific name for this deformation is “structural isomerism.”  Is this really how we want microwaves working for us?  

Sun Microwaves Are Safe

By comparison, microwaves from the sun are based on principles of pulsed direct current (DC) that don’t create frictional heat. Alternatively, microwave ovens use alternating current (AC), creating frictional heat. The “spiked” wavelength of energy caused by AC causes an intense amount of power to flood into a very narrow frequency of the energy spectrum. Energy from the sun, however, operates in a very wide frequency spectrum.

human hand with sun microwaves peeking through with clouds in the sky and a desert background
Photo by Daoudi Aissa on Unsplash

It is helpful to understand the terms used in describing electromagnetic waves:

  • Wavelength determines the type of radiation, i.e. radio, X-ray, ultraviolet, visible, infrared, etc.
  • Amplitude determines the extent of movement measured from the starting point.
  • Cycle determines the unit of frequency, such as cycles per second, or Hertz, Hz.
  • Frequency determines the number of occurrences within a given time period (usually 1 second) or the number of occurrences of a recurring process per unit of time, i.e. the number of repetitions of cycles per second.
  • Radiation is the spreading of energy by electromagnetic waves.

Bravo! Now that you have an understanding of these fancy vocabulary words, you’re ready for the mouthful….

Had the manufacturers [of microwave ovens] accurately called them “radiation ovens,” it’s doubtful they ever would have sold one, but that’s exactly what a microwave oven is.

Microwave Ovens Use Electromagnetic Radiation

Radiation, as defined by physics terminology, is “the electromagnetic waves emitted by the atoms and molecules of a radioactive substance as a result of nuclear decay.” It causes ionization, which is what occurs when a neutral atom gains or loses electrons. In simpler terms, a microwave oven decays and changes the molecular structure of the food by the process of radiation. Had the manufacturers accurately called them “radiation ovens” (which gives the impression that microwaves are dangerous), it’s doubtful they ever would have sold one, but that’s exactly what a microwave oven is.

Is Microwaved Food Dangerous? You Decide.

We’ve all been told that microwaves are safe, and that microwaving is not the same as irradiating (radiation “treatment”). Supposedly, the two processes use completely different waves of energy at two totally different intensities. Fair enough. Not surprisingly, no FDA or officially-released government study has proven current microwaving usage to be harmful.  Yet, we all know that the validity of studies can be — and are sometimes deliberately — limiting. Over the years, I have read about many “conclusive” studies, later to be proven wholly inaccurate. 

“As consumers, we must learn to use a certain degree of intuition paired with common sense.”

So according to science, are microwaves safe or are microwaves dangerous? If you ask a scientist, the answer may be “yes” today, and “no” tomorrow. It almost seems like anyone can “prove” whatever they want under the right conditions or controls. For example, in the 1960’s, eggs were “proven” to be harmful to our health.  Naturally, this led to imitation egg products and big profits for the manufacturers creating them, while egg farms went broke. Now, recent government-sponsored studies are saying that eggs are not so bad for us after all. So…whom should we believe?  And what criteria should we use to decide matters concerning our health? As consumers, we must learn to use a certain degree of intuition paired with common sense.

The scientific name for this deformation is “structural isomerism.”  Is this really how we want microwaves working for us?

Since it’s currently published that microwaves — purportedly — don’t leak into the environment when properly used, the decision lies within each consumer as to whether or not we choose to eat food heated by microwave ovens, or whether we want to even purchase one in the first place.

We must thus ask ourselves and decide: are microwaves safe or are microwaves dangerous? If they are, what can we do instead?

The Best Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Beats the Best Microwave Oven, Every Time

  1. Throw your microwave away and never use it again. Sadly, mine is permanently mounted above the stove (bummer). So rather than tear it out, I unplugged it and converted it into a micro-cupboard. I love the additional storage space 😉
  2. Use a countertop convection oven for cooking and reheating foods (I love mine!) It is significantly smaller than my conventional oven and provides nearly-instant heat, so I celebrate the energy savings AND the time I save ‘not-waiting’ for it to warm up.  
  3. Stovetop-heating in a small skillet or saucepan is a great way to go. Super easy.
  4. Acquire and use an Instant Pot. Meals from Instant Pots are tastier, tenderer, and have excellent texture — something you’ll never experience after nuking dinner with a microwave.
  5. When simplicity and time counts, I eat foods that don’t need to be cooked or heated up.  Because sometimes simpler is just…better. 

But what does avoiding microwaves have to do with overcoming depression?

When we show love to our body by giving it proper nourishment, we provide for our mind and spirit a safe place to thrive and an optimal environment to heal.

**If you’re interested in trying Juice Plus vitamins yourself, support my amazing friend and purchase from Indigo Mountain Health and Wellness.

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5 thoughts on “Are Microwaves Safe or Are Microwaves Dangerous?”

  1. For years I didn’t even OWN a microwave. I’ve caught myself “nuking” things more and more in the past few months. Seriously, we call it “nuking” for a reason. Holistic nutrition was my major and I let myself slip into that convenience rut. Thanks for the reminder to break this habit again!

    Reply
    • I totally need these kinds of reminders too! I think we all try to “cheat” and then push the boundaries, thinking we can get away with it. I started using a microwave at work a couple years back, rationalizing that it would be “fine” because it saved me time (I had to eat fast when I had a chance!) and the stress of bringing lunches that didn’t need to be heated. Over the next few weeks, my energy plummeted, and I finally realized it was the microwaved food from work. Once I stopped nuking my food, my energy perked up again!

      Reply
  2. Jennifer, Thank you for the informative article my friend, I can tell that you put quite a bit of thought and study into this. Thank you for sharing, definitely made me think more before using a microwave.

    Reply
  3. Yeah … our daughter uses and loves her Instant Pot! She just came over to make us two meals with it this week (both were very good). And it is fun that you use your microwave oven as a storage container of sorts … that’s what we use our built-in dishwasher for! (mostly for snacks)

    Reply

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