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Is Microwaving Paleo?

Jeremy Hendon | August 26

Cavemen clearly didn’t have microwaves but that isn’t necessarily a reason for us not to use microwaves.
Is Microwaving Paleo?

Below, I judge microwaves using the same basic standards I judge foods: toxicity vs. nutrients.

Is Microwaving Toxic?

There are 2 main concerns here:

1. Is Microwave Radiation from a Microwave Oven Dangerous?

No.

Microwaves are a form of radio waves and are naturally occurring (it’s a part of the electromagnetic spectrum).

Unlike some other forms of radiation (like x-rays and gamma rays), microwaves are not ionizing and have not been linked to cancer in the same way that high doses of x-rays and gamma rays have been.

In addition, very tiny amounts of microwave radiation ever escape from your modern microwave oven.

The oven is made of metal, which reflects the microwaves rather than letting it pass through its walls (hence why it’s bad to put anything metal into microwave oven). Even if there are small gaps in the seal around the microwave oven door, microwaves are of such long wavelengths that it’s highly improbable any microwaves will escape through those tiny gaps.

2. Does microwaving introduce radiation into my food?

No.

Microwaves work by jiggling the water molecules in the food you’re heating. That’s why you shouldn’t ever microwave dry food (e.g., something that’s been dehydrated).

Once the microwave is switched off, there’s no residual radiation in the oven or in your food.

Does Microwaving Cause My Food to Lose Nutrients?

Cooking any food using any method will cause the nutrients available in the food to change. As I explained in this YouTube video:

cooking your food does decrease the amount of nutrients in your food a bit but also often makes the existing nutrients more bioavailable (i.e., it’s in a more available form) for your body than before you cooked it.

So, now that we’ve established that cooking food doesn’t necessarily make it less nutritious at all, how does microwaving compare with other forms of cooking in terms of decreasing nutrients in the food?

Actually, microwaving is pretty good for keeping nutrients in your food!

The studies are not conclusive on this yet, but this 1982 review concludes that: “no significant nutritional differences exist between foods prepared by conventional and microwave methods.”

Both Mark Sisson and Chris Kresser agree with this conclusion.

As for why microwaving is so good at retaining nutrients in the food, both Mark and Chris point to the short cooking time and the fact that you typically don’t add any additional water to the food (which often carries away any water-soluble vitamins and minerals).

Is Microwaving Paleo?

Although not something used by our ancestors, there’s nothing to suggest that microwaving would be that bad for us.

And if microwaving helps you to stick to Paleo, then it’s probably very good for you!

How do you feel about cooking with the microwave? Is it healthy or toxic? Let us know in the comments below.

Image: jmv

Tyrhone Tubbs - August 31

Great article which solidifies my less articulated beliefs. The fact that it is based around evidence and not bloated with crap like some of the “microwaves are bad mkay” articles out there made it an informative read. Thanks.

    Jeremy Hendon - September 10

    Thanks for the comment Tyrhone. We try to be both scientific and also practical about everything, and the evidence against microwaves just isn’t there.

Vasily - April 28

Wow, this is not what I expected to see on a site dedicated to health. In any case I hope you are familiar with how GMO is produced, one of the processes includes weaking the cell membranes in order to inject a gene and for further cell manipulation. This is done by exposing it to microvawe radiation.

By weaking cell membranes it destroys the food, creating nonfood. Meaning your body does not understand what is that substance.

I can link some studies and videos but what is the point. Please understand that unless the study is done by independant researcher and NOT funded by microvawe oven producer it bears no meaning. Also a lot of very famous health practitioners like Paul Chek and David Getoff, with almost 30 years of practice each, recongnized the change in health through their own observation of themselves and their patients.

Some hospitals in US banned microvawes, because heating breast milk and then feeding that substance to little kids created a lot of complaints and problems

    Jeremy Hendon - April 28

    Thanks for the comment! I’d love to see more studies (rather than videos).

    Microwaves may produce a slight weakening in cell membranes because they lead to the loss of calcium ions from cell membranes. In particular, most of the research in this area has been on microwaves emitted by cell phones and cell phone towers and the effects on cells in the human body.

    However, I’ve never seen any studies that found that heating food with microwaves created “nonfood” as you say or that our bodies couldn’t recognize it. (And I’ve looked a LOT for studies like that, but I certainly could have missed them.)

    Not to sound dismissive, but the rest of the points you make are pretty irrelevant. I like Paul Chek and David Getoff, but they’d both tell you that their personal observations have zero research value outside of their own lives. Also, the fact that hospitals responded to complaints is a simple business practice, rather than evidence of microwaves leading to health issues.

    I’d love to discuss it more (and I could totally be persuaded on this point), but I have yet to see a single peer-reviewed study that shows any harm, and microwaves have been studies a lot.

      Vasily - April 28

      I understand your approach. However I don’t really go well with it.

      Doing my research on food on health and trying to restore my gut and digestion, I found so much horrendous stuff that I don’t really trust any scientific research, unless it is back by clinical experience of a well known expert in holistic medicine, who has about 10 years of successful practice or more. The reason is simple, science nowadays is like prostitution. Scientists sell themselves to corporations or corporations use them as their ghost authors(I hope you know what does this mean) Take psychotropic drugs and how many people died or were harmed by them. They ALL were scientifically proven to be good for you, untll their license expired and truth were revealed which is like 15 years. I know people with clinical depression who are better without them. I also know those who are eat them as sleeping pills. I’ve consulted one of my friends who is a clinical psychiatrist, he said that those commercials should be outlawed, because all psychotropics damage braincells and this is a man who has 18 years of practice.

      Back to microwaves. In this I trust holistic experts and my gut. To me eating microwave food tastes like garbage and I don’t do well on it.

      I can dig something but I see no point. Like okay, I’ll find a scientific study that proves that it is harmful, but there are dozens and dozens of other studies that proves otherwise.

      If you look at soy researches, you’ll see that the same things that are proven wrong are also proven to be right. I read diametrically opposed conclusions and studies on soy. Yet experts who actually interract and heal patients see not very good tendencies in their patients when they consume soy. That’s why I don’t do well with scientific studies. I hope you understand my point 🙂

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