Happy Healthy YOU

Article content

Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU


(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)

Magnetron is not a character in the movie “Transformers” however it is a powerful transformer just the same.

The first form of the magnetron tube was invented by Albert Hull in 1920. Many scientists expanded on the original discoveries and it played a key role in radar capacities in the WWII.

The magnetron tube is also the high-powered vacuum tube in microwaves, generating radioactivity and using the interaction of a stream of electrons with a magnetic field to very quickly heat our food and drink.

Most studies agree that microwave ovens don’t make foods radioactive, they just heat food by producing radiation which is absorbed by water molecules in the food. This makes the water molecules vibrate and produce heat, which cooks the food very quickly.

Most households, restaurants and cafeterias use microwaves, but are they safe and do they affect us and our food?

Health Canada confirms that "some microwave energy may leak from your oven while you are using it” however they feel “this would pose no known health risks, as long as the oven is properly maintained." So why are there so many people (common folk and scientists) researching and worried that this handy device might be dark and dangerous, much like the main villain Megatron from the Transformers movie series?

Brian Clark Howard, writer for Good Housekeeping states the safest course of action is to avoid putting any plastics in the microwave. Howard reported that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tested plastics labeled microwave-safe and advertised for infants, even those were found to release "toxic doses" of Bisphenol A (BPA) when heated in a microwave. "The amounts detected were at levels that scientists have found cause neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals," the paper reports.

In fact, the term "microwave safe" is not regulated by the government, so it has no verifiable meaning. According to the Journal Sentinel's testing, BPA "is present in frozen food trays, microwaveable soup containers and plastic baby food packaging." It is often found in plastics marked No. 7, but may also be present in some plastics labeled with Nos. 1, 2 and 5 as well, according to the report. To like our water drinking containers, it may be better to stick to glass or ceramics and avoid plastic.

Many researchers have claimed that microwaves don't always heat food evenly, sometimes leaving cold pockets next to hot pockets. If you're working with raw meat, this can be dangerous, since it could leave harmful bacteria.

Most government agencies and mainstream organizations believe that microwaved food is safe, as well as convenient. But there are a number of studies that may suggest otherwise.

A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli "zapped" or “nuked” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact.

A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating turned 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk into an inert (dead) form. This study has been cited by Dr. Andrew Weil as evidence supporting his concerns about the effects of microwaving.

Dr. Weil wrote "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."

Some data that has emerged show that people are suffering, to various degrees, with symptoms from living next to cell phone towers and other high-frequency radiation emitting antennas, which emit microwaves around the clock. Symptoms reported from high exposure to these energy towers include insomnia, night sweats, and various sleep disturbances, headaches and dizziness, swollen lymph nodes and a weakened immune system, impaired cognition, impaired vision and depression and irritability among others.

According to Professor Franz Adelkofer, a leading scientist in the area of biological effects of EMF fields: "There is real evidence that hyperfrequency electromagnetic fields can have geno-toxic effects. And this damaged DNA is always the cause of cancer. We've found these damaging effects on the genes at levels well below the safety limits."

On the other side of the fence, Harvard Medical School publications stated “Some nutrients break down when they’re exposed to heat, whether it is from a microwave or a regular oven. Vitamin C is perhaps the clearest example. But because microwave cooking times are shorter, cooking with a microwave does a better job of preserving vitamin C and other nutrients that break down when heated.”

Dr. Andrew Weil has suggested that reheating rather than cooking foods in a microwave oven may not be harmful. However, according to the American Journal of Epidemiology, an outbreak of Salmonella typhimurium in Alaska was traced to food taken home from restaurants. While 30 people had taken home “doggie bags” only ten became sick; they had reheated their food in a microwave oven, while those who used a conventional oven or frying pan did not get sick.

So is radiating our nutrition healthy for us?

It is an interesting oddity that we use word “nuke” to cook food in a microwave given the word is often synonymously used with weapons of mass destruction. Like all topics, you can find research supporting both sides of the coin. What I did find in my research are many advocates of radiating food in a microwave also recommend standing at least one foot away from the microwave, use glass not plastic and maintain a updated well-operating, well-sealed device. I personally would recommend getting away from “cooking” your food in a microwave, reheat on the stove top and save the convenient”zapping” machine for a quick heat up, if needed.

(If you would like to see an article on a specific topic, please email



Article content

Latest National Stories


Story continues below

News Near Tillsonburg

This Week in Flyers