This is probably one of the most debated topics, since we all like to eat healthy things so we can live longer or live without decease, but also there are interests of food producers and pharmaceutical companies involved, either directly in the sales to the consumers or via grants to scientists researching the field.
Often we like to simplify complex issues and focus on only one aspect, while ignoring others. Moreover, it is so difficult to conclude from the scientific literature what is good and what is perhaps not so good to eat for your health. For example, cheese does contain more saturated fats, that are sometimes looked down upon by dietary specialists, but at the same time they contain whey proteins, which are considered very good for health. An oncologist may warn against drinking any alcohol, whereas a cardiologist may encourage to drink a glass of red wine each day.
In general, eating and drinking in moderation and eating a variety of food is the best summary or advise on eating and drinking healthy.
If you are interested in much more detail, please continue to read. There may be some chemical terms that you are not familiar with, but my goal is to provide objective information, based on mostly scientific literature, and such that you can make more educated choices of what you think is good.
Our food consists of water, fats, carbohydrates (including fibres, that cannot be broken down to sugars), proteins, minerals, vitamins and some other tiny amounts of (important) materials and so it makes sense to look at all these categories.
In order to keep food longer usable, preservatives are added to many manufactured foods, which we will also briefly review. While some may look down upon any artificial additives to keep the food longer usable, we would waste a lot more food or become more often ill if these were not added. If you do not like them, make the food yourself or shop for very special (and expensive) food items!
Although not technically a nutrient, almost all bodily processes require a watery environment. Water hydrates and helps the body absorb food in the intestines, as well as helps to excrete excess nutrients or toxins. Household water quality highly varies among the regions in the world. When you are using your own well (many households in North America, Asia and Africa), have it checked on (natural) pollutants and treat it to ensure that harmful bacteria and parasites are absent. If you are connected to tap water or use your own storage tank that is supplied by municipal water, ensure that the water you use for cooking is free from chlorine or chloramine and also free from heavy metals, agricultural pesticides and other harmful contaminants. In many countries, your municipal water supplier can provide this information. If there is no reliable information, in some cases a carbon based filter can be sufficient, in others a reverse osmosis system is best, with in both cases a UV disinfection system optional. In general, when these filters are absent, boiling the water is necessary, but it will only minimize the chance of bacterial contamination, keeping all other contaminants in, with the exception of chlorine, which decomposes quickly in very hot water. We consume 3 litres of water based fluids daily, and we use water to steam or cook our vegetables in, so it pays off to spend attention to the water quality that we use for cooking and drinking (and actually there are indications that water for bathing and showering should also be of good quality as water contaminants may travel through the skin).
I have documented substantial information about fat and the actual state of the art. You ‘ll find it here.
Carbohydrates: starch, sugar and fibres
Relevant information on carbohydrates is also documented. Carbohydrates: starch, sugar and fibres. You will find it here.
Proteins and amino acids
Some information on proteins and amino acids. you will find it here.
Minerals and Vitamins
Minerals and vitamins also influence your health and welbeing. Informatie about that you’ll find it here.
Preservatives and additives in processed food and water