Wat is nu gezond?
Wat is nu gezond? – Martijn Katan
Summary: good book that takes a no-frills approach to food science and advice. Less militant than How Not To Die
A good nuance that we don’t know everything.
(update January 2020, re-reading it)
There are only few experimental studies in food science. Most is epidemiological, some are biomarker studies. The effect of food on our body is seldom very straightforward.
There is a lot of (bad) influence by the industry. I’m also reminded of a talk by Dr Greger about why breakfast isn’t that important (for adults), but the bacon industry wants us to believe it is.
To conclude (chapter 1), ‘scientifically studied’ isn’t a guarantee that something is true/well-researched.
Chapter 2 – What is the effect of food on health?
Basic info about carbs, energy, kcal, etc.
Don’t eat too many carbs/sugars at different moments, can be bad for teeth.
Alcohol is bad.
Some talk about sustainability, very true and something that between 2008 (publication) and now, sadly, hasn’t changed.
Chapter 3 – Breakfast
Whole-grain bread is better than white bread – which doesn’t have bran and germs. Whole-grain bread (or bran particularly) is good against constipation.
If you eat 4 pieces of bread, you should get enough iodine (which is mixed into the salt). Some biological bakers don’t use iodine in their salt, so check this.
Cheese is damn tasty, but not so good (saturated fats, not nice for the cows).
Bread with jam is probably lighter in calories than peanut butter or ‘hagelslag’.
Margarine has (added) vitamin D. 15 minutes in the sun should give you enough. But I will probably supplement it a bit.
There is no added vitamin D in milk in The Netherlands.
Breakfast drinks (not the ones like Queal of course), are fruit juice, water, sugar (not so good, not terrible).
Some eggs are ok.
Chapter 4 – The kids go to school
Kids should move. And kids from rich parents eat less, and move more.
Let them drink water.
Fruit is good for them (fibres, potassium).
Don’t put them on a diet, unless a dietician is involved (but then still…)
Chapter 5 – Coffee (Tea Time)
Coffee isn’t that bad, don’t get addicted.
Tea could have some positive effects, don’t drink it with sugar.
Pure chocolate still consists of 50% sugar. The polyphenols might have positive effects, not studied well enough.
- A quick search online also doesn’t show any other good benefits from eating cacao/chocolate
Glycyrrhizin in liquorice (drop) can increase blood pressure (bad).
Chapter 6 – Lunch
Somehow the chapter starts with French fries.
A ‘broodje gezond’ (healthy sandwich) is mostly cheese, not so healthy.
Chapter 7 – Fruit
It’s not too bad to miss fruit.
There aren’t many vitamins in fruit.
The antioxidants (and their effects) also aren’t well studied.
Overall, not too much a fan of fruit, but very neutral about it.
Chapter 8 – Snacks
You need to drink 1,5 litres of water, more is nice but doesn’t really help much. But, don’t drink 20 litres per day.
“8-10% of the population older than 15 years of age has problems with or because of alcohol.”
In epidemiological studies, cancer has been causally? linked to cancer.
The chance or breast cancer is raised, at 1 glass per day (from 8,8% to 10,1% at 2 drinks, and 11,6% at 4 drinks per day).
Alcohol does raise the HDL-cholesterol (the good one).
Chapter 9 – Dinner
Meat is not sustainable (for the planet).
Red meat is linked to colon cancer.
Meat is an important source of iron. So vegans/vegetarians should see that they get enough from other sources. Tempeh is rich in iron.
Zinc can be found in whole grain products, beans, nuts, seeds.
Calcium can be found in soy milk, Chinese cabbage, orange juice.
There are less nutrients per calorie of fruits & veggies as before. But we ate much worse 150 years ago (at least, what was available, most people do eat worse for other reasons).
Biological food isn’t really better, and possibly worse for the environment.
Chapter 10 – Bedtime, vitamins, eroticism
Vitamin supplements may be good for some populations, under some circumstances. E.g. b12 for vegans.
Probiotics haven’t really shown to be advantageous.
In contradiction to Dr Greger, he states that eating late at night doesn’t matter. But I think he is mostly commenting on that it really isn’t used (your body uses calories the whole time). And the effect of meal timing (morning vs evening) is probably overstated.
There are no foods that really help with getting it up. Of course, if you eat and live healthier, that will help.
Chapter 11 – Sports
Sports/moving is good. It has many benefits. It mostly prevents disease in the elderly.
Intensive sports seems to lead to more problems (in people below 45) than benefits.
So, do less intensive sports for longer.
Drink enough water if you do sports.
Caffeine is one of the few known good supplements, creatine might also be good.
Chapter 12 – The fight for our waist
Eat less than you use, lose weight.
Your resting metabolism is about 1500, or more if you are larger and have more muscle.
We use about 1/3rd for moving around (the rest for basic functions).
In The Netherlands, over half of the population is overweight (2008). Seems to be the same in 2018 (link).
Next to discrimination, overweight leads to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, impotence. This is the main reason why the average expected age is not climbing (pff).
Your environment (the people you see) are important for losing weight.
Chapter 13 – Unwanted substances
Almost anything can be poison (even water), it depends on how much you consume of it.
If something is ‘natural’, it might still contain poisons.
There are ‘chemicals’ in everything (it’s called chemistry dummy).
E-numbers are well-researched and approved. And even if some are bad in large quantities, the effects of saturated fats, too much salt, etc are much worse.
Sweeteners (e.g. sucralose) are not harmful in the current quantities.
GMO foods are not bad (and F Greenpeace – golden rice 🙁 – only just approved in the Philippines).
Detoxing won’t fix your problem. And toxins don’t ‘build-up’ in your body.
Chapter 14 – Where to find good info about healthy eating?
Ingredients are listed in order of volume (on food labels).
Some good websites listed on pages 189-190.