Maria Teresa De Donato, Ph.D., RDN, CHom

Maria Teresa De Donato, Ph.D., RND, CNC, CMH, CHom

For the past two decades, thanks to the flourishing of alternative medicines aiming at obtaining a state of optimum health and well-being through the return to nature, a more balanced and healthier diet and lifestyle, as Westerners, we have been overwhelmed by a wave of information – sometimes even contradictory – about what should be seen as the best foods: raw or cooked? And how about microwaves?

To correctly answer these questions and determine the best way to consume foods, we need to consider some key aspects beginning with the need to preserve the nutrients they contain and which are necessary for a healthy diet and hygiene. Let’s start with cooking: this method has its advantages and disadvantages. In the cases of meat and fish, for example, complete cooking eliminates several microorganisms through which the meat can come into contact with psychotropic bacteria that grow in them – including the Acinetabarater, Maraxella, and Pseudornanas. The latter alters them, thus causing a change in their smell and color, which turns into grayish hues, while a low level of moisture can encourage the development of molds that give the meat a greenish color. As stated, thanks to the high temperatures it reaches, cooking becomes an ideal tool to solve and even avoid all these problems.

In the case of vegetables, on the other hand, the opposite is true: once we have washed them is preferable that they are consumed after being lightly cooked, steamed, or eaten raw (which is also the best way to eat fruit) so that the body can absorb all the nutrients they contain, that is vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential oils and enzymes, which are all fundamental for proper nutrition, digestion and optimum health. For hygienic reasons, however, it is always recommended to consume raw foods at home and to opt for thoroughly cooked foods when having lunch or dinner out.

As for the microwave ovens, though they may be used to warm up food – better if only for a few seconds – in reality, they are not advisable for cooking. Why? The reason is simple: the microwaves that they produce are a type of electro-magnet energy, like radio waves, each containing a magnetron, which is a sort of tube in which the activities of electric and magnetic fields affect electrons. In plain English, this means that the radiation from microwaves interacts with food’s molecules and alters their structure through a radioactive process called ‘nuclear disintegration.’ Therefore, microwaves should never be used for cooking, but only, if necessary, to warm up food.

At this point, some might wonder how to preserve all the foods and nutrients required for a healthy diet and keep them in optimal condition until they are eaten.

In this regard buying a solar dryerfor foods – vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish – and for medicinal and aromatic plants may serve the needs of families and small and industrial productions. We may want to buy one which operates in full compliance with organic and biodynamic processes and requires no fuel nor produces harmful emissions for human health or the environment but instead uses exclusively solar energy.

Although they may sound revolutionary, some dryers utilize the oldest tradition of food preservation: drying. The latter, through the dehydration process, eliminates all the problems previously mentioned related to bacteria, molds, and microorganisms, which contaminate and alter foods and make them toxic and, consequently, harmful to human health. Furthermore, not using additives either allows excellent quality foods by preserving their natural state and, therefore, all the nutrients a healthy diet should include.

Thanks to modern and innovative technology, some dryers transform solar energy in hot air, which can dry the foods while maintaining their intrinsic qualities unchanged, which is also a fundamental factor in treating medicinal herbs. Drying occurs very quickly, away from atmospheric agents and from anything that could contaminate the purity of the product.

Other important technical aspects to consider when buying a dryer are, therefore, a temperature that never exceeds 50° (= 122 F.) and a resistant and durable shield to protect foods against UVA and which safeguards, this way, all their organoleptic (physical and chemical) properties.

I look forward to working with you!

Author: Copyright©2012-2015. Maria Teresa De Donato. All rights reserved 

Photos: Copyright©2012-2015. Paolo Trotta. All rights reserved 

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