Amino Acids: Also known as ‘the building blocks’ of proteins, humans need 21 different amino acids to function properly. Some amino acids are made by the body while others, known as essential amino acids, must be obtained from foods.
Anthocyanin: Water-soluble pigments found in plants. They may appear red, purple or blue, depending on the pH, and are responsible for giving the likes of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries their colour.
Anti-inflammatory: That which possesses anti-inflammatory properties and helps to reduce the symptoms of inflammation, such as swelling, tenderness and pain.
Antioxidants: Substances that protect your body from free radical damage. Vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene are high in antioxidant properties.
Bacteria: Tiny single-celled organisms. Most types of bacteria are harmless, though some can cause disease.
Beta carotene: A brightly coloured pigment found in orange, yellow and red plants, fruits, and vegetables. The body can convert beta carotene into vitamin A when needed.
Bioavailability: A term used to explain how quickly the body can absorb a nutrient, and how much.
Blood pressure (BP): The pressure of blood in the arteries. Optimum blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg.
Bone mass density: A term used to describe the weight of the bones. Ideally, the ‘heavier’ the bones, the stronger the skeleton.
Bone mineral density: The strength of bones reflected by the amount of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals present.
Carotenoids: The name given to pigments such as lycopene and beta carotene that give red, yellow, and orange colours to certain plants.
Cartilage: Connective tissue that helps support some parts of the body (e.g. the tip of the nose) and cushions the ends of bones in moveable joints.
Cholesterol: A waxy, fat-like substance produced by the liver that is found in all animal-sourced food. It is an essential part of cells and the foundation of bile and some hormones.
Clinical trial: A study that uses human volunteers, rather than cell cultures or laboratory animals.
Coenzyme: A small molecule that helps enzymes to function properly.
Collagen: The main protein found in the skin and other connective tissues.
Detoxify: To remove or flush out harmful or toxic, substances from the body.
Dietary fibre: Also known as roughage, this is the indigestible part of foods derived from plants.
Dietary supplements: Vitamins, minerals and herbs taken to improve health and nutrition. Available in many forms, including tablets, capsules, pills, liquids, sprays and functional foods.
Endorphins: A group of brain chemicals that reduce pain and create a feeling of happiness.
Enzyme: A substance that speeds up another chemical reaction. For example, digestive enzymes help speed up the digestion of food.
Essential fats: Two fatty acids, an omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and an omega 6 (linoleic acid), are essential for good health but can’t be made by the human body. Ergo, they must come from food and/or supplement sources.
Fatty acids: Fats that are used by cells in the body to make energy.
Fat Soluble: Fat soluble vitamins – such as vitamins A, D, E and K – dissolve in fat. Excess amounts of fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your liver and body fat until they are needed. Because of this, it is important to monitor your intake carefully.
Flavonoids: Antioxidant plant pigments found in fruits, vegetables, wine, and tea that may protect cells from damage.
FODMAP: A group of short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found naturally in foods. They are thought to contribute to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as they are not easily absorbed by the small intestine.
Fortify: To strengthen a food or drink’s nutritional value by adding vitamins, minerals, or other substances. For example, B vitamins are often added to cereals.
Free Radicals: An unstable and reactive atom or molecule. When free radicals react with other chemicals in the body, they can stop cells working normally. Antioxidants can neutralise free radicals.
Fructose: A simple sugar found naturally in honey and sweet fruits. It is used by cells for energy.
Glucose: A simple sugar found in carbohydrates. It is the body’s main source of carbohydrate-based energy.
Glycaemic index (GI): A list which ranks foods between 1 – 100, depending how quickly, and by how much, they raise blood sugar levels.
Glycaemic load (GL): Based on GI. A ranking between 1 – 60 of how much a serving of a food will raise blood sugar.
Genetically modified organism (GMO): A GMO is an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there.
Good manufacturing practice (GMP): GMP is a standards system to ensure that products are produced consistently to the highest quality standards, across all areas of production including: raw materials, factory location and equipment, to the training and personal hygiene of staff.
Haemoglobin: An iron-containing protein which carries oxygen within the blood. It is responsible for giving red blood cells their colour.
Herb: Herbs are plants used as flavourings and spices in cooking or supplements for health or medicinal reasons.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL): The ‘good’ carrier for cholesterol. Lipoproteins are substances made of fat and protein. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) helps to remove ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from the arteries.
Homocysteine: A harmful amino acid formed during the breakdown of protein.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): The use of medications to boost a lack of hormones or to substitute other hormones for naturally occurring hormones.
Hyaluronic acid: A hydrating substance that is found naturally in cells. It is essential for the maintenance of fluid within the eyes and joint, and acts as a lubricant.
Immunity: The body’s ability to resist infection and disease.
Inflammation: The body’s physical reaction to injury or infection. It is categorised by swelling, heat, redness pain, and loss of function.
Joint: A junction in the body where bones are linked together in the skeleton.
Keratin: A fibrous protein that makes up the main structure of the skin cuticle, hair and nails.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): The ‘bad’ carrier for cholesterol. Lipoproteins are substances made of fat and protein. Too much LDL-cholesterol in the blood can cause a build-up in the artery walls, so they narrow and increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Lipids: Fats, oils, waxes and cholesterol that act as building blocks for cells. Excess lipids can collect in the artery walls to form plaque.
Lipoprotein: A combination of lipids and soluble protein that carry cholesterol and other insoluble substances within the blood.
Lutein: A deep yellow pigment found naturally in green leafy vegetables and egg yolk.
Macronutrient: A type of food that provides energy and is needed by the body for growth. The macronutrients found in foods are fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
Melatonin: A hormone that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Membrane: A thin layer of tissue that surrounds or lines organs or cavities.
Microgram: A unit of mass, equal to one-thousandth of a milligram. Abbreviated as mcg.
Micronutrients: Vitamins and minerals needed to maintain normal body functions and prevent certain illnesses.
Milligram: A metric unit of weight equivalent to one-thousandth of a gram. Abbreviated as mg.
Minerals: Elements found in the earth or water and are absorbed by plants and animals. Some minerals are essential for good health. Minerals are the main component of teeth and bones, help build cells and support nerve impulses, among other things.
Multivitamin: A combination of vitamins and minerals that may be presented in tablet, capsule, pill, beverage or functional food form.
Natural killer cells: A type of white blood cell that is an important part of the immune system. Natural killer cells destroy other cells that fail to display the right chemical flags signalling that they are normal cells.
Non-HDL cholesterol: The tern given to all cholesterol types, other than high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
NRV: The abbreviated term for Nutrient Reference Values. The recommended intake of certain nutrients based on scientific studies to prevent nutritional deficiency diseases.
NSAID: The abbreviated term for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. A drug that reduces swelling and pain, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
Nutrients: A substance that provides nourishment essential for the human body to survive.
Oestrogen: A female sex hormone produced mainly in the ovaries and the placenta.
Omega 3 fatty acids: Polyunsaturated, beneficial fats, also known as n-3 fatty acids. They are predominantly found in oily fish, such as sardines, mackerel and salmon, and in some nuts and seeds such as flax seeds. They are essential for good health, but one omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid, cannot be made by the human body.
Omega 6 fatty acids: Pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory fatty acids found in vegetable oils. Also known as n-6 fatty acids. They are essential for good health, but one omega-6, linoleic acid, cannot be made by the human body.
Oxidation: A chemical reaction in which oxygen combines with a substance, changing or destroying its normal function. Oxidation can damage cell membranes and interfere with a cell’s regulatory systems, but oxidation is also an important tactic for a normal-functioning immune system.
Oxidative stress: The term used when more free radicals are produced, or are produced quicker than the body can neutralise them using detoxification and antioxidant processes.
Phytochemicals: Also known as phytonutrients. Active compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and other plants, include beta carotene, lycopene, and resveratrol.
Phytoestrogen: A naturally occurring plant oestrogen found in legumes that mimics the effects of oestrogen hormones in the body.
Placebo: A harmless, fake or inactive treatment that may still offer relief despite being inactive. In clinical trials, the effectiveness of a new drug is usually tested against a placebo.
Plant compounds: The collective term given to phytosterols, lipids, amino acids and other substances naturally found in plants.
Plaque: 1) A sticky layer of bacteria that forms on the surface of a tooth. 2) A fatty deposit in or on the walls of an artery caused by LDL cholesterol and excess lipid production.
Prenatal supplements: Specially formulated multivitamins to be taken before and during pregnancy to ensure both mother and child get enough essential micronutrients. Prenatal supplements generally contain more folic acid, iron, and calcium than standard adult supplements.
Probiotic: Live microorganisms, including bacteria and yeasts, that benefit health. Strains of ‘good’ bacteria (such as Lactobacillus) can be found in fermented foods, such as yoghurt, and supplements, and help maintain a neutral gut microflora.
Protein: One of the three major nutrients (macronutrients, alongside carbohydrates and fats). Protein is used by the body to build and repair tissue. It is mainly found in milk, meat and eggs, but can also be obtained from nuts and seed, some grains, and other plant sources.
Recommended Daily Amount (RDA): The estimated amount of a nutrient considered necessary per day to maintain good health.
Supplements: Vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other substances taken orally and meant to correct deficiencies in the diet.
Saturated fat: A type of fat found in animal products, such as meat, poultry skin, butter, and whole-milk dairy products, as well in as palm and coconut oils. A diet high in saturated fat can raise blood levels of unhealthy low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and is traditionally considered unhealthy.
Serotonin: Also known as 5-HT. A neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, improve mood and reduce pain.
Side effect: An unwanted, sometimes dangerous, reaction caused by medication or other treatment.
Statins: A type of drug that reduces works by reducing the production of cholesterol in the liver so that circulating blood cholesterol levels fall.
Stimulant: A substance that speeds up chemical reactions inside cells and provides a boost of energy, such as caffeine.
Synovial fluid: A thick liquid that lubricates the joints and tendons and prevents friction between them.
Tendon: A flexible but inelastic cord of fibres that connect a muscle to a bone. Made from collagen.
Testosterone: A male sex hormone. It stimulates bone and muscle growth, as well as sexual development in men. Testosterone is also produced in lesser amounts in women, promoting sex drive and muscle growth.
Thyroid: A large gland in the front of the neck which produces hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism and calcium balance.
Tissue: A group of cells that join to form a body structure, such as muscle or an organ, such as a kidney.
Toxin: A poison – usually produced by a living organism – that can cause disease or illness.
Trace mineral: A mineral that is required in small amounts in the diet to maintain health, including chromium, copper, selenium, sulphur, and zinc.
Trans fatty acid: Commonly shortened to trans fat. An unsaturated fatty acid found in some margarines, prepared baked goods and fried foods. Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol levels, reduce HLD cholesterol levels, and promote blood clotting and inflammation.
Triglyceride: The main type of fat in the body, too much of which can raise the risk of heart disease.
Unsaturated fat: A type of fat considered to be ‘healthy’ which is derived from plant sources such as vegetable oils, nuts, and whole grains, as well as from fatty fish. Includes monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.
Visceral: The internal organs, especially those found in the abdomen.
Visceral fat: Fat that lies beneath the abdominal wall, surrounding the liver, intestines, and other organs. Sometimes called belly fat or abdominal adiposity.
Vitamins: Naturally found in plant and animal products, vitamins are vital for growth, energy, and nerve function. There are two types of vitamins used by the body to support health: fat-soluble and water-soluble.
Water Soluble: Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed by the body but most are not stored. Your body uses the vitamins it needs, then excretes excess water-soluble vitamins in urine. Examples include: vitamins B-6, C, and folic acid. Although vitamin B12 is water soluble, it is stored in the liver.