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Are Microwaves Bad or Not?

I’m not talking about a normal microwave usage, which can be dangerous if you lack common sense: Health Canada’s Microwave Ovens and Food Safety. Also, don’t heat your baby in a microwave oven.

I’ll talk about my point of view regarding the “conspiracy” that microwaves are inherently bad for the health.

 

The story goes like this: In 1991, a woman is at the hospital for a hip surgery, and is killed by a blood transfusion which has been heated in a microwave. There was then a lawsuit by the family against the hospital and many doctors.

Would it be reasonable to conclude that microwaving something changes the molecular structure in a way that is harmful to us? Biologically, it’s more reasonable to say that the blood cells were killed by the microwaves, and that it’s the transfusion of dead blood that killed the patient, not the fact that a microwave was used. But I’m assuming that the blood was heated to the same temperature normal transfusions are heated to by traditional methods – why, then, did it kill the cells? Are microwaves only dangerous towards living things, and don’t change the molecular structure of others?

I’ll talk very briefly about Hans Hertel, and you can read more about his experiment. Basically, his experiment was to monitor blood before and after eating various meals. Some were raw, some were heated on the oven, and others were heated in a microwave. If we can trust the results, using a microwave is unhealthy (decrease of all cholesterols, short-term decrease of white blood cells followed by over-normal levels, …). All pointing towards the conclusion that the body fights microwaved food and shows cancer-like symptoms. Meh…

 

Normally, you have to take a study or research with a grain of salt, even if published in a prestigious journal. So much data can be tweaked to make it look favorable to the author’s goal, and this experiment is no exception.

But. I know enough about how big companies work, and the way they don’t want attention to some… things. The FEA (Swiss Association of Dealers for Electroapparatuses for Households and Industry, and couldn’t find a website) issued a gag order against Hertel, effectively telling him to stay quiet about this, or else. I didn’t find the gag order on the Internet, but it took him five years to revert the ruling at the European Court of Human Rights.

Now I think the FEA went a bit berserk. Companies usually counter with their own studies or experiments (whether they are true or false), or just continue as if nothing ever happened (like the government of the USA concerning 9/11, or NASA against conspiracy theorists saying that nobody ever went to the moon).

 

Let’s just assume that the FEA were just very angry. What do we actually know about microwaves (and please understand that my knowledge of microwaves is not very deep)? The microwave oven generates an alternating electromagnetic field, which causes the molecules inside the food to realign, if they can (if they are electric dipoles, like water molecules), to follow the field, absorbing energy as they do.

I wouldn’t want the water molecules inside my body to rotate and absorb energy, so it’s a bad idea for me to step into a microwave oven. But what about, say, a glass of water? What difference does it make if the molecules inside were wildly dancing before you put your tea bag in it? Maybe nothing. Maybe there is no difference, and heating, say, an apple will leave it’s molecular structure intact.

Then again, nobody knows. The only thing that microwave oven manufacturers have to do is to show that the microwaves do not leave the oven. There is no law, and there never was any, that required any company to publish a study that showed that food heated in a microwave is totally safe to eat. The government is doing the same thing they do with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, food preservers, etc…

 

Some will say that everything around us throws various photons of different wavelengths. Light, cellular phones, radios, IR remotes… With the amount of electromagnetic radiation we’re submitted to on a daily basis, 24/7, microwave heating would not change anything.

Actually, the key point here is that the microwave oven generates an “alternating electromagnetic field”. All these things around us are direct electromagnetic fields – light starts from the sun and hits you, then scatter away. Radio frequency starts from the top of the tower, and everything can catch the radio field. If you were inside a microwave oven, the microwaves would oscillate back and forth very quickly inside and around you.

It’s akin to direct and alternating current. For a house current voltage (110V), you need about 60mA of AC (alternating current) to cause fibrillation (unsynchronized contractions of the heart, usually leading to cardiac arrest if untreated), while 300-500mA of DC (direct current) is needed. 10,000V of AC is usually fatal, while you have a 1:4 odds of dying from a lightning strike (3,000,000V). Does alternating electromagnetic field do anything to the food that the body doesn’t like? Your bet is as good as mine.

 

Maybe it’s my pessimistic nature, but I know that people don’t like to change, especially if they lose convenience. They don’t care about their long-term health if they can have a dinner ready in 3 minutes instead of 30.

Also, according to an article in Pediatrics (vol. 89, no. 4, April 1992), heating breast milk, even at low power, destroys some disease-fighting properties of the milk (which is very important to the baby). And don’t get me started on cow milk, please.

 

So, is microwave ovens bad or not? No one knows (or do they?), but that’s enough to make me suspicious. After all, think about your microwaved apple – playing with the molecules inside really doesn’t seem natural!

I’ve used a microwave oven only about two or three times in the past five or six months, and I’ve learned something: I don’t really need it. I don’t know why, but eating cold leftovers doesn’t bother me anymore. It also seem like another kind of meal, and tastes different, than the first one that was hot. Also, taking the time to cook something the traditional way seems more appetizing now.

And that’s the person I’m evolving into: someone more natural. Until I have a reason not to, I’ll just live my life more naturally, without microwave ovens.

Categories: Health, Thinking

Are we really omnivores?

These interesting articles are pro-veganism:
http://www.tierversuchsgegner.org/wiki/index.php?title=Taxonomy
http://www.rense.com/general20/meant.htm
http://www.ocoy.org/2008/04/humans-are-we-carnivores-or-vegetarians-by-nature/
http://thethinkingvegan.com/rant/are-we-omnivores-or-herbivores/ 

These interesting articles are against veganism:
http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/carn_herb_comparison.html
http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/vegetarian.html (very long and comprehensive)

 

The first link in each category show a chart about the differences between a carnivore, an herbivore, and where we fit in. The pro-veganism chart shows us as 100% herbivore, while the con-veganism chart shows us as 100% carnivore.

 

Comparing the two charts, I see evidence of cherry-picking. That means that the author(s) included the line only if it fit with what message he or she wanted to convey.

For example, one article states that the stomach acidity with food in stomach has a low pH (closer to herbivores’), while the other states that the gastric acid has a high pH. There is a small difference between the two entries, and the data was specifically selected.

Both charts have mistakes, notably the human small intestine length (first link) at 10-11 times body length, which is closer to 2-5. It doesn’t say, though, if he used the entire body length, or just the torso, as an animal’s length would not normally include the limbs.

 

This post was supposed to be about that chart, but some research made me find some other links, the first link in the con-veganism section, in particular. This made me realize how much the two groups are just trying to attack each other as much as they can. They gather data and use only what they want to hurt the other group.

Who should we trust? Are we supposed to be meat-eaters or plant-eaters?

 

Honestly, both sides have interesting views.

 

Then why did we eat meat for so long?

In my current opinion, we just ate meat to survive. Eating meat gave us a lot of quick nutrients that made us grow faster in order to fight. This is no longer the case, and since we live longer that ever, maybe we are finally noticing the side-effects of eating meat.

The end of the first link talks about opportunistic feeding. In short, just because we eat meat doesn’t necessarily mean we are meat-eaters. This is spoken in a pro-veganism context, but still, one of the sentences have an interesting ring to it: “We ate meat to survive, now we eat it out of habit and not need.”

The fourth link mentions that it doesn’t matter, that we should go vegan for the future and Earth’s sustainability, and not linger on how we ate in the past. The point it makes would be that it is possible to be vegan today, while we couldn’t in the past.

 

I’m someone who has an open-mind. If you offer me convincing proof that not eating meat is bad for the health, I’ll easily consider switching back. Right now, most evidence I know is pro-veganism.

That being said, in the past, I’ve spoken to some friends about religion. When I was talking to people who had religion as part of their lives (ie someone who truly believed), it was as if their lives depended on it. They got angry, and denied everything I was saying. They took it personal when I talked about astrophysics, the big bang, and the cosmic background radiation.

Right now, I’m noticing the same thing when I talk about how I eat. I’m not even trying to convert them to veganism! They somehow feel threatened by my way of life. They tell me that they are willing to destroy five-ten years of their lives, in order to really “live”.

Why is that? Without talking about veganism, Isn’t that applicable with how everyone eats in North America? Why people are ready to shorten their lives in order to eat that fast-food burger and soft drink is beyond me. Oh yeah, it tastes so good, but damnit, it isn’t worth it.

 

Getting back to the subject, people get angry when I talk about my being vegan, and I wonder why. It’s a choice of lifestyle, and regardless of whether veganism turns out true or false, it’s something I currently believe in, and I will still listen you telling me how delicious a steak you are eating.

 

I think that’s the most important thing: to believe in something. Unless you really have a reason, let others believe what they want. And stay open-minded – we should always strive to evolve mentally.

Categories: Health, Thinking

Emotional Eating

I talked in a recent post about a particular Saturday evening. I wanted to watch two movies and eat some emotions – the worst kind.

I started cooking the spaghetti while eating a jalapeño & cheddar Doritos bag and browsing available movies on iTunes. I settled on watching Harry Potter 7a and 7b.

My plate of spaghetti was pretty large. I sat down, opened my bottle of red wine, and tried to rent the first movie. To my dismay, I couldn’t rent it (it was the only movie in the series that I couldn’t rent, which was weird). The actual download was 10$, so I bought the movie instead, but that started an hour-long download.

I looked at my plate and sighed, and spent the next hour eating and browsing reddit. When the download was ready, I watched it, and before the end credits were rolling, the bottle of wine and the Doritos bag were empty.

I already knew the second movie rental was accessible (the button was there, after all). So I rented it, but that also started an hour-long download. These two movies were my first experience with iTunes movies. I was pissed off that there was no possibility of streaming, and that I had to wait a total of two hours. I spent the next hour sulking on reddit, and eating a muffin bar.

When the movie was finally ready, I watched it by first opening a bag of jalapeño & cheddar Lays Kettle (I only ate half of it, though), and around the half-mark, opened and finished a Häagen-Dazs strawberry ice cream.

Why?
I ate emotions (junk food) because I wanted to think about something else (the cause of that evening). Just watching the movies would have been easily enough, but the act of eating is evolutionary satisfying, especially carbohydrates and fats. What better food to eat for a carbs and fats boost? Fast food. Most people are compelled to eat like that, and an evening of unrestrained eating can feel good at an emotional level, and also temporarily at a physical level.

I could have gone for a run. I could have started a drawing, visited my sister, baked anything, or created something by hands. I could have read a book, or browsed Wikipedia. I could have done a lot of things that would have helped my mind off.

Sometimes, I just don’t care. I figure if I eat like that 2 or 3 times a year, it can’t be that bad, can it? Turns out that yes, it can be very bad for your health, mental and physical, short-term and long-term. But it was one of these days when nothing matters, and you just want to sit down, watch a movie, and eat.

Categories: Health, Thinking

Running a Marathon

2011/11/08 10 comments
Pain is temporary; pride lasts forever.
Also, the wall is a really subtle bitch ;).
Categories: Comic, Health

My Workout Training

I started working regularly at the gym a few months ago (started at the end of april 2011). I bought the three most user-recommended books from amazon about bodybuilding, exercises, and how the body reacts to physical strain. I wanted to give myself the best chance that i could get to progress, and to stay healthy (though I injured myself a couple times while not being careful).

Right at the beginning, I knew (from experience and from one of the books) that the body takes about two weeks to get used to something. I based my workout on that, and, as the months flew by, adjusted and upgraded it. This is my current workout training, and a work in progress. It may look complicated, but you easily get used to the repetitive flow it has.

Notes:
– I train in the morning, before going to work. I managed to get a 4h45-waking-up schedule in my daily routine. Yes, I find it hard, especially because I have to get to sleep early. I skip gym (or running) once in a while…
– I do about five minutes of running on the treadmill as a warmup, then two additional sets of four reps with lower weights before the first set.
– In a session, I train for about an hour. I only do the last superset if I will have enough time.
– I don’t use weight for my back extensions. I noticed my back tended to be sore when I did.
– I don’t train my legs that much, because I also run. I didn’t want my muscle training to interfere with my half-marathon and marathon trainings. When I feel like it (and it’s not too cold in the winter), I do a long distance run on the weekend, usually between 10 – 20km.
– I usually don’t follow the rest timings. They tend to be around a minute when I’m not too distracted by the TVs.
– I know this training is not perfect, and some aspects may be frowned upon. Until I upgrade it again, I like it that way. I *know* I’m training my shoulders a lot.
– You can tell I’m a geek.

Strength: 8 sets of 4 repetitions, 32 seconds rest.
Hypertrophy: 4 sets of 8 repetitions, 64 seconds rest.
Endurance: 2 sets of 16 repetitions, 128 seconds rest.
Core exercises and Legs: I initially started at 20 of each, and add 1 every week. When I reach 40 reps, I go back to 25, but with a bit more weight using a medicine ball. I usually do these in order: Crunches, Back Extensions, Alternating Sit-ups, Squats, Sit-ups, Back extensions, Cycling Russian Twists, and Lunges.
Week 1 – Free Weights, Hypertrophy
Monday
Superset Chest – Triceps
Superset Shoulders – Shoulders
Core Exercises and Legs
Superset Chest – Triceps
Tuesday
Superset Back – Biceps
Superset Shoulders – Shoulders
Core Exercises and Legs
Superset Back – Biceps
Wednesday
1h – 1h15 run
Thursday
Same as monday, but slow repetitions
Friday
Same as tuesday, but slow repetitions

Week 2 – Machines, Hypertrophy
Monday
Superset Chest – Triceps
Superset Shoulders – Shoulders
Core Exercises and Legs
Superset Chest – Triceps
Tuesday
Superset Back – Biceps
Superset Shoulders – Shoulders
Core Exercises and Legs
Superset Back – Biceps
Wednesday
1h – 1h15 run
Thursday
Same as tuesday, but slow repetitions
Friday
Same as tuesday, but slow repetitions

Week 3 – Body Weight and TRX
Monday
Various types of Push-ups, Dips, TRX exercises (chest and triceps), and Core
Tuesday
Various types of Chin-ups, Inverted Row, TRX exercises (back and biceps), and Core
Wednesday
1h – 1h15 run
Thursday
Same as tuesday, but slow repetitions
Friday
Same as tuesday, but slow repetitions

Weeks 4, 5, 6
Same as week 1, 2 and 3, but Strength

Weeks 7, 8, 9
Same as week 1, 2 and 3

Weeks 10, 11, 12
Same as week 1, 2 and 3, but Endurance

I feel all this is keeping my body alert – I’m not giving it enough time to get used to anything.

I recently went to the gym with my sister on a sunday, and did some TRX with her. I was sore the next day, which prompted me to notice that maybe my body was getting too used to the same exercises over the months. That’s when I added the third weeks (I’m starting next monday, actually).

Categories: Health