Mamahood & Me

Nutrition: Glossary of terms

Glossary of terms 

Carbohydrates -  any of a large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues and including sugars, starch, and cellulose. They contain hydrogen and oxygen in the same ratio as water (2:1) and typically can be broken down to release energy in the animal body.

Fats - any of a group of natural esters of glycerol and various fatty acids, which are solid at room temperature and are the main constituents of animal and vegetable fat.

Protein - nitrogenous organic compounds which have large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids and are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.

Omnivore - a person who eats both plants and animals 

Vegetarian - a person who does not eat meat or fish, or sometimes other animal products 

Vegan - a person who does not eat any animal products of any sort.

Fertilisation - the action or process of fertilising an egg or a female animal or plant, involving the fusion of male and female gametes to form a zygote.

Oestrogen - any of a group of steroid hormones which promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body. Such hormones are also produced artificially for use in oral contraceptives or to treat menopausal and menstrual disorders

Progesterone - a steroid hormone released by the corpus luteum that stimulates the uterus to prepare for pregnancy.

Ovulation - discharge of ova or ovules from the ovary.

Omega 3 essential fatty acids - an unsaturated fatty acid of a kind occurring chiefly in fish oils, with double bonds between the carbon atoms that are third and second from the end of the hydrocarbon chain. Anti inflammatory. 

Omega 6 essential fatty acids - an unsaturated fatty acid whose carbon chain has more than one double or triple valence bond per molecule; found chiefly in fish and corn and soybean oil and safflower oil. Pro- inflammatory. 

DHA -  an omega-3, polyunsaturated, 22-carbon fatty acid. It is present in abundance in certain fish (such as tuna and bluefish) and marine animal oils

EPA - an omega-3 fatty acid present in fish oils.

ALA -  alpha-linolenic acid is found in flaxseed oil, canola oil or walnuts. The body has a limited ability to manufacture EPA and DHA by converting this essential fatty acid. 

Prostaglandins - any of a group of compounds with varying hormone-like effects, notably the promotion of uterine contractions. They are cyclic fatty acids.

Gut microbiota - Gut flora, gut microbiota or gastrointestinal microbiota is the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals, including insects

Cytokines - any of a number of substances, such as interferon, interleukin, and growth factors, which are secreted by certain cells of the immune system and have an effect on other cells.

Malabsorption - imperfect absorption of food material by the small intestine.

Leaky gut -  or "intestinal permeability," is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to "leak" through the intestines and flood the blood stream.

Metabolism - the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.

Insulin -a hormone produced in the pancreas by the islets of Langerhans, which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. The lack of insulin causes a form of diabetes.

Glucose - a simple sugar which is an important energy source in living organisms and is a component of many carbohydrates.

Anovulation - the ovaries do not release an oocyte during a menstrual cycle. Therefore, ovulation does not take place. 

Neurodevelopment - relating to or involving the development of the nervous system.

DNA synthesis - the natural or artificial creation of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules. 

Antioxidant - a substance that inhibits oxidation, especially one used to counteract the deterioration of stored food products. a substance such as vitamin C or E that removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organisms

Anaemia - a condition in which there is a deficiency of red cells or of haemoglobin in the blood, resulting in pallor and weariness.

Fermented foods - Fermentation in food processing is the process of converting carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms—yeasts or bacteria—under anaerobic conditions.

Organic foods - the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation.

Free range - (of livestock, especially poultry) kept in natural conditions, with freedom of movement. (of eggs) produced by free-range poultry.

Enzyme inhibitors - An enzyme inhibitor is a molecule that binds to an enzyme and decreases its activity 

Phytates - Phytic acid can bind minerals in the gut before they are absorbed and influence digestive enzymes.  Phytates also reduce the digestibility of starches, proteins, and fats. Some experts even suggest that it’s the phytic acid in whole grains and beans that lends them their apparent protective properties against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Oxalates - occurring in plants, especially spinach, rhubarb, and certain other vegetables and nuts. Capable of forming an insoluble salt with calcium and interfering with its absorption in the body. 

Placenta - a flattened circular organ in the uterus of pregnant mammals, nourishing and maintaining the fetus through the umbilical cord.

Free radicals - an especially reactive atom that has one or more unpaired electrons. Either produced by the body though natural biological processes or introduced from an outside source (such as tobacco smoke) and that can damage cells, proteins, and DNA by altering their chemical structure. 

Oxidative stress - Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralisation by antioxidants.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids - From a chemical standpoint, polyunsaturated fats are simply fat molecules that have more than one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule, this is also called a double bond. Oils that contain polyunsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled. Olive oil is an example of a type of oil that contains polyunsaturated fats. Can help reduce bad cholesterol which can reduce risk of heart disease and stroke. 

Relaxin - a hormone secreted by the placenta that causes the cervix to dilate and prepares the uterus for the action of oxytocin during labour.

Ketosis - a metabolic state characterised by raised levels of ketone bodies in the body tissues, which is typically pathological in conditions such as diabetes, or may be the consequence of a diet that is very low in carbohydrates.

Catabolic phase - the set of metabolic pathways that breaks down molecules into smaller units that are either oxidized to release energy, or used in other anabolic reactions.

Oxytocin - a hormone released by the pituitary gland that causes increased contraction of the uterus during labour and stimulates the ejection of milk into the ducts of the breasts.