Tag Archives: Vitamin

Thriving Thursday: What’s in Your Microwave?

I’m not sure when or how the thought entered my head. I don’t know if my super health conscience Momma put it there or if it was the stirrings of the health community in general, but it’s time to make a change. A big one. I’m going to throw away our microwave. *GASP!*

Microwave

I did a lot of research for this post. I checked out articles from Harvard Med, GreenMed, New York Times, and Dr. Mercola, among others. People are divided. These very smart, highly informed sets of people can’t agree: are microwaves bad for you or not?

This is how it is now, though. Our current system doesn’t work. People are sick and more people are dying prematurely than ever before. I don’t believe we can implicitly trust the medical model for anything other than emergency care, but then who can we trust? How the heck do you figure out who’s right?

I know this sounds a little wonky but I tend to trust my instinct. If you put your face too close to a microwave, you will absorb small amounts of radiation, this is known. But your food is in there! Your food is being heated up in that box full of radiation. Then you’re gonna eat it! Doesn’t that seem a little backwards? However, I know most people don’t make their judgements based on my own personal judgement so here are the facts as well as I can decipher them (with a few opinions thrown in):

How it Works:

Microwave ovens heat food with oscillating electromagnetic waves. The waves energize the water molecules in your food. The polarized water molecules bounce off each other causing friction. That friction heats up the food. Microwaved water heats much more quickly than conventional methods resulting in shorter cooking times.

This form of cooking heats the food from the inside out. But wait a minute. I mean from the inside of the molecules on the outside of the food. It break and reforms the water molecules on the outside of the food in the heating process. Sometimes the distribution of water molecules is uneven which is why you sometimes get microwaved “hot spots.” Conventional cooking heats differently, from the outside of the molecules in.

Part of the opposition’s argument is that less heating time means higher nutrition retention. In general, I agree, but it’s not the length of the heating with microwave ovens, it’s the type of heating that’s the problem. If these electromagnetic waves can reach the interior of the food molecules, what else are they changing other than just the energy of the water?

Radiation:

When I was little I LOVED to stare into the microwave and watch the food spin around in circles, ever so slowly. Every time an adult caught me they slapped my hand and told me to back away, this crazy stuff called radiation leaked from that thing and you didn’t want it getting into your brain!

Since they were invented, the FDA and other regulatory organizations have closely monitored the manufacturing of microwave ovens. There have been major improvements in the level of radiation emitted from the ovens. This is good. However, radiation doesn’t die, it accumulates. So depending on how frequently you use your oven and how old it is, your kitchen is very likely full of microwave radiation. This is bad. Also, the adults were right, the radiation increases exponentially as you move closer to the source and it’s more easily absorbed by your eyes. Don’t sit and watch that plate spin!

Also, a recent study by Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University tested the effects of certain frequencies of radiation on the heart. She concluded that 2.4 GHz of radiation (which is emitted by microwave ovens AND wi-fi routers) changes the heart rate and heart rate variability. Scary.

Nutrients:

As mentioned before, my common sense tells me that if microwaves can break apart and alter water molecules, what are they doing to the very delicate nutrients and minerals in our food? It is now well known that our food has lost a significant percentage of nutrients compared to food produced in the early 20th century. Crappy soil, terrible manufacturing methods, and tons of pesticides definitely play a part in this decline, but how big a role do microwaves play?

  • A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli “zapped” 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 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamin C.
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer.
  • A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating killed 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk .
  • A recent Australian study showed that microwaves cause a higher degree of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating.
  • Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria.

While many of these studies were done using older microwaves, the evidence is clear. Microwave ovens ARE NOT a healthy way to heat your food. If you want to retain the precious nutrients still left in modern produce, eat it raw or heat it from the outside in.

* Word to the wise: If you continue to use your microwave, NEVER heat anything in a plastic container. It is undisputed that the toxic chemicals from the plastic heat and leach into your food not only killing nutrients but filling you up with lots of really terrible chemicals.

GAH! What do I do with all this information? I’m just going to cite Dr. Mercola on this one:

“Am I asking you to toss your microwave oven into the nearest dumpster? Not necessarily. It can be a useful tool for cleaning. But if real estate in your kitchen is at a premium, it should probably be the first thing to go.

You really CAN survive sans microwave—people are living quite happily without one, believe it or not. You just have to make a few small lifestyle adjustments, such as:

  • Plan ahead. Take your dinner out of the freezer that morning or the night before so you don’t end up having to scramble to defrost a 5-pound chunk of beef two hours before dinnertime.
  • Make soups and stews in bulk, and then freeze them in gallon-sized freezer bags or other containers. An hour before meal time, just take one out and defrost it in a sink of water until it’s thawed enough to slip into a pot, then reheat it on the stove.
  • A toaster oven makes a GREAT faux-microwave for heating up leftovers! Keep it at a low temperature — like 200-250 degrees F — and gently warm a plate of food over the course of 20-30 minutes. Another great alternative is a convection oven. They can be built in or purchased as a relatively inexpensive and quick safe way to heat foods
  • Prepare your meals in advance so that you always have a good meal available on those days when you’re too busy or too tired to cook.
  • Try eating more organic raw foods. This is the best way to and improve your health over the long run.”

I hope you’re all having fantastic days! Just let me know if you have any questions. Love and hugs – Ash

Sources (articles):
Why Did the Russians Ban An Appliance Found in 90% of American Homes? – Mercola.com
Studies Show Microwaves Drastically Reduce Nutrients in Food – GreenMedInfo.com
The Claim: Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients In Food – New York Times
Do Microwave Ovens Destroy Nutrients? – Livestrong.com
Microwave Cooking and Nutrition – Harvard Medical School

Sources (studies):
Vallejo F, Tomas-Barberan F A, and Garcia-Viguera C. “Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking”
Kidmose U and Kaack K. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica B 1999:49(2):110-117
Song K and Milner J A. “The influence of heating on the anticancer properties of garlic,” Journal of Nutrition 2001;131(3S):1054S-57S
Watanabe F, Takenaka S, Abe K, Tamura Y, and Nakano Y. J. Agric. Food Chem. Feb 26 1998;46(4):1433-1436
George D F, Bilek M M, and McKenzie D R. “Non-thermal effects in the microwave induced unfolding of proteins observed by chaperone binding,”
Quan R (et al) “Effects of microwave radiation on anti-infective factors in human milk,” Pediatrics 89(4 part I):667-669

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Thriving Thursday: Magic Water

Every morning I wake up and have a warm glass of this Magic Water. It boosts my immune system, detoxifies my digestive tract, balances my alkaline, and starts me on the track towards a hydrated day. It was recommended to me by my naturopath last year and I didn’t bring it into my normal routine until last month.

Ok, ok, I know you’re itching to hear it what it is … LEMON WATER! Believe it or not, lemon water provides all of the following benefits:

photo 1

1. Balances your pH. Most modern humans are horribly acidic. They absorb all the toxins in the air and food and it provides the perfect environment for diseases and other problems to grow. An acidic body is ripe breeding ground for inflammation, allergies, arthritis, skin problems, depression, digestive problems, stress, and chronic disease. Although the lemon is acidic, when metabolized by your body, it has an alkaline effect. For more info on the value of an alkaline body, check this site.

2. Detoxifies your digestive tract. Lemon is a natural diurectic meaning it make you pee! More urination clears toxins and unwanted material from your body. Warm water stimulates your digestive muscles and helps the solids flow more freely (if you know what I mean).

3. Detoxifies your blood (and skin). Lemon juice promotes the function of your liver, the organ that cleans your body. In the long run, this means cleaner blood. Happy, clean blood makes it harder for diseases to spread and helps the skin and hair stay healthier and clearer.

4. Boosts your immune system and other intangibles. Lemons are full of Vitamin C (anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, immune system booster), potassium (stimulates brain and nerve function), Vitamin B (energy production, tissue repair, growth, and development) and important minerals that help build strong bones and teeth. STOP. wait. read this paragraph again…

5. Keeps your mouth busy.  Lemon juice is full of pectin fiber and will keep you full for a few hours. This means I can start my day off with lemon water and Grainless Granola and don’t get hungry until about 5 hours later. Pretty incredible. Also, as mentioned above, the lemon juice stimulates your liver. A slow running liver makes for slow metabolism but a quick and healthy liver means move over Beyonce, I’m slimming down!

6. Keeps you off the bad stuff. Throughout the morning many of us need a pick-me-up. When I drink the Magic Water, I no longer need a coffee or even a cup of tea. For those of us drinking coffee (or energy drinks) laden with sugar and dairy, Magic Water can be a great option.

There’s no way you’re not convinced by now, so here’s what you do.

Instructions

  1. Fill an 8oz glass with warm water. I do 1/2 cold water then 1/2 boiling water because the water in Peoria is no good.
  2. Squeeze 1/2 a (real) lemon into the water. Fake lemon can have sulfites.
  3. Stir and drink up!

photo 2

You can bring it to work, you can drink it while you’re getting ready, just factor it into your routine!

Sources
My Naturopath – Dr. Kelly Austin of California Natural Health
http://factslist.net/2013/01/why-you-should-drink-lemon-water-in-the-morning/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/215380-drinking-hot-water-lemon-in-the-morning/
http://lajollamom.com/2011/01/drink-warm-lemon-water-in-the-morning/

 

Thriving Thursday: Chia Seeds?

There has been a buzz about chia seeds lately. It started in the nutrition/health world and is now spreading mainstream. It became more than a buzz, for me, when a patient recently asked, “so, chia seeds, are they worth the time?” I had to reply that although I’d cooked with them a couple of times, I honestly had no concrete idea of the benefits. So began my research…

ChiaMrT

Background: Chia seeds were a staple in Aztec diets. To quote the bottle I have in my cabinet “Aztec Warriors subsisted on chia seeds during their battles and hunting expeditions, eating as little as a small handful in 24 hours.” What?? They also promote saliva production and were fed to thirsty nomads. Then they came to the US and were used to grow plants that looked like hair on terra-cotta forms like the one seen above. What a downgrade (except for the Mr. T one, that’s just awesome).

It turns out that, because it’s so new to the nutrition world (it’s been around for decades in the form of chia pets) there have been very few studies to test it’s benefits. There was one study done on women which I will share with you later.

ChiaNutrition

Without lots of research done on human absorption, all we can really do is look at the nutrition profile of chia seeds. According to this label and some of my other reading, chia seeds are:

  • Source of healthy fats which very few people get from the Standard Westernized Diet.
  • Perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega 3 and 6 which helps protect the liver and heart.
  • High in fiber which promotes healthy digestion.
  • Relatively high in protein which is necessary for properly functioning and rebuilding muscles.
  • Zero sugar so it doesn’t spike your insulin levels.
  • Absorbs water like a sponge so, when mixed with liquid and consumed, it slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream and further hinders sugar spikes.
  • Because they absorb liquid, when eaten dry, they expand in your stomach and give you the feeling of being full.
  • High in IRON, CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM, and ZINC – essential nutrients for a healthy body.

There was a study done on a small selection postmenopausal women to see if it would increase the production of the essential fatty acids, ALA (omega 3) and EPA. It did, but because scientists know very little about absorption of the fatty acids after they are produced, it is unknown if they increase heart, liver, and neuro protection.

Although the results of the few studies done are pretty much inconclusive, I’m going to call chia seeds a win. I’m a proponent of getting all the nutrients you can from your food and only taking supplements when absolutely necessary (like in the case of Vitamin D and a few other vitamins and minerals). If I can get extra healthy fat, omegas, fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc just from a sprinkling of the tasteless chia seeds, count me in!

The fad: Obviously everything that becomes universally popular is a huge fad somewhere. Apparently, Wall Streeters have started to tout chia seeds as the natural energy booster. A Bloomberg article compared it to coffee, cocaine, and 5-hour Energy Drink. “Natural” food producers have started making chia bars and juices, among other things.

How to eat it: Be careful. As with any health fad, not all chia seeds or products are made equal. Be sure to avoid anything with added sugar. Also, stick to organic or NSRI approved. Now that they’ve gotten big, farmers will start doing anything to produce them in huge quantities. You can eat them milled or whole. Sprinkled on top of granola, in your smoothie, on a salad, or just with water. They’re pretty much tasteless so they go with anything.

Well, on that note, I’m going to go make myself a Green Machine smoothie with chia seeds and protein!

Any questions? Just comment and ask. I’ll be happy to answer. I hope you’re having a happy Thursday 🙂

Sources: