I've been intending to write a good thread about it for him, but since it's been a few days, I feel at fault with my friend and I'll just start this thread with a lot less information than I'd like to provide, hoping to come back and complete it later.
Information about nutrition is pretty poor, and lots of research give conflicting results. I have a very strong scientific background and I know methodology is responsible for most of the contradiction. But there is also the fact what gets published is the result of statistics, and we're individuals. So, I encourage everyone to research on things that may help you, and don't be discouraged by "conflicting results". An intelligent and careful reader can always conclude that something may be good for him/her.
One first thing to note is that one should be cautious with the taking of substances in pill form (I'm thinking of vitamin pills, as well as omega-3 pills, and the like). I'm not saying it isn't good for you. I'm just saying that for some substances there is scientific evidence they're good for you, but also a lack of scientific evidence that consuming than as a medicine pill (so, out of their "natural" context) is effective. Perhaps the whole problem is what I've put between parenthesis: if you just take a pill, they're out of context. Like taking growth hormone, but not associated with proteins...
If you "eat" instead of just taking a pill, the substance will be ingested together with other things that will make it effective. Or effective at all. An example would be buying glue that's good to keep two pieces of wood together, then opening the glue recipient, but you don't have the wood ready. Than the glue may dry before you have time to assemble the wood and it won't serve its purpose.
Another thing is that since research is sometimes inconclusive, mostly one can say something might be good for this, or that public, but one can't come up with details such as the quantity public should ingest. And it's understandable, since we're so complex and diverse. If you take pills, you might end up taking too much. Even water, so good for us, if ingested in too big volumes, may harm you. Eat three kgs of carrots at once and you'll be ill. And yet, carrots are good for you... you get the message. If you're eating food, instead of taking pills, the probability you'll overeat something to the point of it making you ill is negligeable. The exception being fat, salt and sugar, which many people consume in amounts that make them ill.
An information that may be useful to some is that if you eat fast sugar things (high glycemic index), like white bread, rice, sugar... your blood sugar will jump high and the presence of it in your blood will make it easier for storing fat where it shouldn't be. It's also not good for your pancreas, and there are structures of your pancreas that if you mess up with them, you may develop diabetes and heart disease, for instance. I encourage you to read about pluri metabolic syndrome.
This is the basis of all these dissociation diets, like Atkins. I don't subscribe to any of them. They're all bad. But the idea that it could be beneficial to many people to dissociate, this is supported by scientific research. If for nothing else, dissociating makes meals potentially boring (but still tasty) and one'd eat less, anyway.
What is dissociating meals? Avoiding mixing proteins with carbohydrates, for instance. I can tell you how my father eats. He has carbs in the morning, carbs at noon, then only proteins in the evening. He's 73, very healthy and sportive, perfect health. But I'm giving him as only one example: one person isn't statistics and even if it works for him, it doesn't mean it'll do you good.
But there is something worth to know about his choice of proteins in the evening (dinner). When we're sleeping, our body secretes growth hormones. Even for us, adults. This hormone is good for fixing things in our bodies, like muscle, bone... it's the worker. The working material are proteins. If you give your body proteins before going to bed, when your body comes up with the growth hormones, the proteins will be there, waiting to be put to good use. I'm simplifying things a lot here, of course (this is a long thread, imagine how long it'd be if I'd give all the details!). But I repeat what I said in the beginning: research on nutrition gives often conflicting results and one should be careful and vigilant.
Well, now I'll move to foods that may be good for us. My list isn't exhaustive. I encourage everybody to search for it on the net to get more information and make up your mind if it could be good for you.
There is evidence to suggest omega-3 fatty accids are good for you. They'd help lower cholesteral, help keep your arteries, veins, capilaries clean of fat, etc. If you wanna give them a try, you could eat fish like salmon and mackerel, or/and flax seed (I'm translating from the Dutch word: lijnzaad... could someone check if the translation is correct? I don't know the word in English). If you do consume flax seed, don't buy it in powder form, because it oxydates very quickly and if you buy the powder, chances are it won't be effective. Buy the grain (the seed) and powder it with the help of a food processor. And don't keep the powder: make powder when you intend to eat it. You can then sprinkle it on any food. I use it even on sorbet.
There is evidence suggesting selennium is good for you: Brazil nuts are rich in selenium. It doesn't mean other foods aren't.
There is very strong evidence to suggest sesame seeds are good for health. There is so much goodness in sesame seeds, I really wish you'd all make a search on the net and read about its benefits.
I've learned with my father to put all three together. He takes two Brazilian nuts, one spoon of flax seed, one spoon of sesame seeds, and he makes a powder of it with a food processor. Than he sprinkles the lot on his lunch. It's delicious.
Sesame seeds don't oxydate (like the flax seed powdered), so, you could make the powder and keep it ready to eat whenever you want it. Why to powder these things? Because your stomach can't break the seeds. If you eat the seed, very little will be metabolized.
There is strong evidence Brussel sprouts (I hate them, but I try to eat two everyday... and fail ). Almost as good in the combat of inflammations are garlic and onions. Broccoli is also very good. And these last three ones are so tasty!
Why is combating inflammation good for you? Because we all have cancer cells traveling in our bodies. Luckily, they don't harm us, because they need an inflammation to "stick", to grow (read "multiply", as grow isn't really correct). Foods that fight inflammations will help you avoid cancer, for instance. Of course, there are many factors, like genetic disposition that will perhaps work against you. But if you think you should try helping your body with the odds, you may wanna try these foods.
There is a super food that costs very little and its good virtues are supported by a lot of scientific research: oatmeal. It's very good against cholesterol. Very good. I eat it with yogurts, or as porridge. I also sprinkle it on my carb meals. The fibers in it will only do you good.
If anyone tells you a food is good for you, you should do your own research to check the claim. Check the things I say, for instance, and see for yourself. And share your knowledge with us. When you do your research, and you'll probably do it on the net, be careful with the sources. There is lots of misinformation. Trust scientific periodicals and be very skeptical of magazine sites, or science vulgarization sites. If you find conflicting information, dig to the bottom of it. Who financed that particular research? And where are you reading it? Who pays the people who wrote it?
edit: about the fatty accids, it's been suggested it's the balance omega-3/omega-6 that's important. The "problem" is that lots of foods give us omega-6, but omega-3 is less easy to get. Therefore the suggested importance of increasing one's intake of omega-3.
This post has been edited by alien2: Sun Sep 02, 2012 04:05 AM