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I grew up without a microwave in the 1960s. Shocking, I know. How on earth did my mother cook for a family of six? Vegetables were boiled, meat was grilled or baked and food was fresh.
If you came home late from rugby, your dinner was sitting on a plate over a pot of hot water, with a saucepan lid on top to keep it warm.
Now microwaves heat food in 30 seconds by bombarding them with electromagnetic radiation.
But how much do we actually know about how they change our food or what effect this has on our health? Not much.
History of the microwave
The first microwave was invented by accident. After World War II, American engineer Percy Spencer was working on radar technology when he noticed that the microwaves from an active radar set he was working on melted the chocolate bar in his pocket.
The first food he deliberately cooked with a microwave was popcorn, and the second was an egg, which exploded in the face of one of the experimenters.
It wasn’t until 1967 that microwaves became affordable for the general public, which when you think about it, makes them relatively new technology in the history of gathering and preparing food.
My problem with microwaves
In my opinion, there hasn’t been enough studies done, or enough time passed, to determine the long-term effects of eating microwaved food.
From what is known, here are a few of the issues I have with microwaves:
1. Microwaving your food creates URPs (Unique Radio-lytic Products) – which are compounds with an unknown but potentially dangerous effect once consumed. URPs increase oxidative damage in the body, which has been linked to both cancer and cardiovascular disease.
2. Microwaving zaps the nutrients from your food – a number of studies have shown that microwaving negatively impacts the nutrient levels in food, so if you’ve spent money on fresh, organic produce, you may be throwing it out the window. For example, one minute of microwave cooking was enough to deactivate its allinase, garlic’s principal active ingredient. Another study found broccoli cooked in the microwave lost up to 97% of its antioxidants compared to 11% when steamed. Microwaving can also destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby, as found in this 1992 study.
3. Microwaves are unsafe for breast milk – as well as damaging the milk, microwaving also creates hot spots which can potentially burn your baby if they go unnoticed. The Australian Breast Feeding Association does not recommend the use of microwaves for warming breast milk or formula.
4. Plastic + microwave = dangerous toxins – microwaving your food in some plastics causes the leaching of numerous toxic chemicals from the packaging into your food. One to be particularly wary of is BPA (bisphenol A), which is known to disrupt your hormonal balance and has been linked with cancer, behaviour problems, cardiovascular problems and obesity.
Cooking has changed a lot over the years as we’ve become time poor and accustomed to convenience. But I can tell you from experience that it’s both possible and preferable to cook without using a microwave. A few changes in the kitchen will have tremendous results for your health, and you can start by pulling the plug on your microwave.
As always, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below. And if you want more information or would like to book an appointment, please call us during business hours on (02) 4961 4075.
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