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5 Things You Should Never Microwave But You Didn’t Know

5 Things You Should Never Microwave But You Didn’t Know

You might want to think twice before going to heat up that plastic covered stew from last night.

Along with a fridge, stove and TV, I am pretty willing to bet you have a microwave in your home. That is a pretty safe bet as 95% of Americans own a microwave oven.

An Accidental Invention

Many things around us today have come about as a pure fluke such as post it notes, the Slinky, and Kim Kardashian’s career.

The Microwave falls under this category as well.

Percy L. Spencer was an electronics genius who served during World War II. On a tour, one of his laboratories he stopped for a moment in front of a magnetron, not the villain from Transformers but a large tube that drives radars. The tube’s ability to heat was noticed from a melting chocolate bar that was in his pocket.

To see if it was genuine heat, Spencer tested a bag of popcorn kernels that ended up popping all over over the room.

Seeing an Opportunity

This phenomenon might have just been regarded as an amusing experiment to Percy, similar to people dropping Mentos into bottles of Diet Coke; however he had over 150 patents to his name and saw a possibility.

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The first microwave oven stood five foot six inches tall and weight 750 pounds.

The microwave found a place early on in restaurants, rail cars and ocean liners as a means to cook large quantities of food.

It would take decades though before the microwave oven was developed as beneficial and affordable for the average family.

Cooking With a Radar Box

Make no mistake, a radar box is exactly what a microwave oven is. A microwave cooks food with oscillating electromagnetic energy that are very similar to radio waves but move back and forth at a much greater speed.

Where a normal oven’s heat slowly penetrates through food, microwave oven heat immediately reaches molecules around an inch below the surface of the food.

Microwaves produce non-ionizing radiation and there are studies that show that this can affect changes in your blood and heart rate along with microwaved food causing certain type of intestinal and stomach cancers

What specific things can be compromised by using a microwave?

Microwave ovens have to go through much more extensive testing and safety procedures these days so manufacturers will say the health risks are greatly reduced. Convenience is paramount and people will understandably try to save time when possible, but here are 5 things you are better off never putting in a microwave oven.

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1. Breast Milk

A key benefit of providing a newborn breast milk is being able to introduce the baby to powerful bacteria-fighting agents that are contained within the milk.

The Journal of Pediatrics ran tests on 22 samples of frozen breast milk heated in a microwave on either low or high heat and found that breast milk heated on high heat showed greater E-coli growth. This was 18 times higher than the milk heated without a microwave.

The samples microwaved at lower temperatures dramatically decreased isozyme activity as well as promoted the growth of harmful bacteria for babies

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is no stranger to the microwave as it is one of the most common quick heated vegetables around.

Any form of cooking is going to destroy some nutrients in food. Steaming is the most gentle and still causes a loss of around 11% of the antioxidant content of broccoli.

Cooking broccoli in a microwave with a bit of water lost up to 97% of its beneficial antioxidants.

3. Frozen Fruit

This has always been a big time saver. Buying frozen foods is actually not a bad idea as the flash freezing process can help preserve the nutrients of the fruit. Fruit immediately starts losing nutrients the moment it is picked. This is why frozen fruit or veg from the other side of the country can have a higher nutrient profile than local organic produce that might have spent more than a week in storage, transit and then on shelves.

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Russian studies in the late 70’s revealed that defrosting frozen fruit in a microwave ended up converting beneficial glucoside and galactaside into carcinogenic substances.

The Russians also continued studies into the early 90s that showed immunological effects of microwaves.

Frozen fruit is best thawed in a fridge or simply on a counter top at room temperature.

4. Defrosted Meat

Some microwaves rotate and some do not, which can lead to uneven distributions of cooking and thawing.

Frozen meat is a tough thing to have to defrost in a microwave, as it can take so long that it becomes very easy to start cooking it. Edges of meats can start to cook and turn brown while the inside remains frozen.

When that meat gets to the 40-140 degrees fahrenheit level bacteria begins to grow and multiply. If the meat is not immediately cooked you are looking at a pretty contaminated piece of meat.

Japanese researches found that meats cooked longer than 6 minutes in a microwave also lost half of its vitamin B-12 content.

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The best thawing tips are to let it defrost in a fridge overnight or thaw under cold, running water.

5. Dishes Covered in Plastic Wrap or in Plastic Containers

There are a lot of takeaways from this, but a very key one is to not microwave anything with any form of plastic around it. When you heat foods covered in plastic you can create carcinogens.

Heating these plastic wraps or containers can release harmful toxic chemicals directly into your foods. Some of the chemicals that can be derived from plastics are:

  • BPA
  • polyethylene terpthalate (PET)
  • benzene
  • toluene
  • xylene

Related to the breast milk issue above, it seems smart to not heat up any form of plastic baby bottle in a microwave.

Wrapping It All Up

Big changes in safety and design have definitely taken place in the manufacturing of microwave ovens. The companies that sell these products will be quick to point out the safety measures that were taken in their product’s creation.

Of course these companies will say that though, they really do not have a choice when sales and revenue are the bottom line.

The point is to try and prepare foods as traditionally as possible and eliminate or at least drastically reduce the use of microwave cooking.

Our time saving measures can actually end up causing us more problems in the long run.

Featured photo credit: Ethan via flic.kr

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Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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