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Term Description
Absorption A process by which food molecules enter cells after digestion.
Acesulfame potassium Acesulfame K, sold commercially as Sunette® or Sweet One®, was approved by the FDA in 1988 as a sugar substitute in packet or tablet form, in chewing gum, dry mixes for beverages, instant coffee and tea, gelatin desserts, puddings and nondairy creamers.
Acid indigestion Abdominal discomfort, such as bloating or a sense of uncomfortable fullness, burping or heartburn.
Acidophilus A bacterium that helps restore a positive balance in the intestine. Imbalance can be caused by disease or antibiotics, which may cause an overgrowth of yeast. Acidophilus is found in live-culture yogurt or as a supplement.
Acidosis A medical condition in which the blood and other body fluids have a higher than normal acidity level.
Acupuncture A therapy for easing pain that has been common for thousands of years in China, but in recent years has also become a mainstream therapy in the West. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently acknowledged that the use of acupuncture needles is no more "experimental" than that of surgical scalpels or hypodermic syringes. Acupuncture employs needles to unblock a path of "vital energy" (known as "qi"-pronounced "chee"-in Chinese) that practitioners believe flows through the whole body. When this flow gets blocked or unbalanced, illness occurs. To ascertain where to place needles, acupuncturists rely on a "map" of invisible channels - or meridians - through which the qi flows. By stimulating any of the roughly 365 dots, called acupuncture points, on this map, acupuncturists rebalance the flow of qi. It can boost standard therapies for many other conditions, including those for addiction, Stroke rehabilitation, headache, facial and neck pain, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, pain and Inflammation from osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and sports injuries as well as kidney pain and menstrual cramps.
Adaptations Special characteristics that make an organism well suited for a particular environment.
Additives Substances, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), intentionally added to foods to improve taste, color, texture or shelf life.
Adrenal glands Two glands, each lying atop a kidney, that regulate the removal of water from the body and the body's response to stress. The glands' outer layer, or cortex, produces steroid hormones such as cortisol (the stress hormone); the inner core, or medulla, produces the hormones epinephrine (or adrenaline) and norepinephrine.
Adrenaline More commonly known as epinephrine, this hormone is secreted by the medulla or inner core of the adrenal glands, and is known as the "fear hormone." As a part of the "flight-or-fight response," the adrenals release epinephrine and norepinephrine, which in turn trigger a series of body changes. Hearing and vision become more acute, bronchi dilate to allow more air into the lungs, heart rate accelerates to pump more oxygen throughout the body, digestion halts and perspiration increases to cool the skin. In addition, endorphins are released to relieve pain in case of injury and blood cell production increases. These almost instantaneous changes provide the heightened reflexes and strength necessary in a crisis situation.
Allergic reaction (allergy) A condition caused by a reaction of the body's Immune system to what it identifies as a foreign substance.
Allopurinol A drug that is used to treat gout.
Amino acids A large group of organic compounds that are the end product of protein metabolism, in turn used by the body to rebuild protein. Many amino acids are necessary to maintain life.
Amylase An enzyme that hydrolyzes amylose (a form of starch), amylase breaks down carbohdrates in the bloodstream into smaller molecules of sugar that can be absorbed and used by the body's cells.
Androgens Male sex hormones produced by the testes in men and by the adrenal glands in both men and women.
Anemia Literally defined as "too little blood," anemia is any condition in which too few red blood cells are present, or the red blood cells are immature, too small or contain too little hemoglobin to carry the normal amount of oxygen to the tissues. Anemia is not a disease itself but can be a symptom of many different diseases.
Angina pectoris A pain in the center of the chest, which may also travel into the neck, jaw and arms (especially the left arm). Angina, as it is more commonly known, is usually described as a crushing, heavy or gripping pain and is sometimes associated with breathlessness. It usually follows exercise, but may also be triggered by emotion, digestion of a heavy meal or going out in a cold wind. Angina is similar to a muscle cramp experienced during vigorous exercise and is caused by the heart muscles being deprived of adequate oxygen necessary for the task. One reason may be narrowing of the blood vessels, which supply the heart muscles with oxygen. Age is the primary cause for narrowing of blood vessels, but cigarette smoking accelerates this process.
Angioplasty Corrective surgery performed on arteries or veins to improve blood flow.
Anorexia nervosa An eating disorder characterized by a refusal to maintain a minimally normal body weight as a result of a distorted perception of body shape and weight. It is most common in teenage girls and young women.
Antibodies Molecules produced by the body as a defense against foreign objects. Antibodies bind to specific antigens.
Antigens Proteins on a foreign object such as food or a chemical that stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies. They, in turn, neutralize the impact of the foreign substance, protecting the body against illness.
Antihistamine A pharmaceutical, over-the-counter drug or natural agent that opposes the action of histamine, which is released by the body in response to an allergic reaction, causing dilated capillaries, decreased blood pressure, increased gastric secretion and constriction of bronchial tubes.
Antioxidant A chemical or other agent that inhibits or retards oxidation, whose by-products can cause premature aging, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and other diseases. Antioxidants are known to reverse, prevent or limit free-radical damage.
Antioxidant capacity The amount of antioxidant contained in a given food, measured by the antioxidant score.
Antioxidant score The measurement of a food's ability to deactivate free-radical damage. To ascertain this, a sample of a food or a supplement (such as Vitamin C) is put in a test tube to measure how well and for how long it neutralizes Free radicals.
Arrhythmia A disturbance in the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat, arrhythmia can be symptomatic of a serious disorder. However, it is usually of no medical significance except in the presence of additional symptoms. The heart's rhythm is controlled by an electrical impulse generated by the sinoatrial node, often referred to as the heart's natural pacemaker, which then travels to the atrioventricular node and then to the ventricles. An arrhythmia may be abnormally fast (tachycardia) or abnormally slow (bradycardia); some, such as ventricular fibrillation, make the heart Flutter.
Artery A blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart.
Arthritis An Inflammatory joint condition characterized by pain, swelling, heat, and redness and restricted movement. There are various types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Approximately 350 million people worldwide have arthritis.
Ascorbic acid Also known as Vitamin C, this water-soluble vitamin is an antioxidant that has been shown to play a role in boosting the immune system. The recommended daily allowance (RDA is 60-75mg per day, but Linus Pauling and other complementary practitioners recommend considerably higher doses for preventing the common cold). Sources of vitamin C include strawberries, peaches, plums, tomatoes, celery, onions and cabbage.
Aspartame An artificial sweetener composed of two amino acids (phenylalanine and aspartic acid) that tastes 160 to 220 times sweeter than sugar. Aspartame, made from genetically modified bacteria waste, is marketed as NutraSweet® and Equal®. Aspartame has been linked to a number of diseases, can impair the immune system, and is even known to cause cancer.
Asthma A Respiratory disorder characterized by difficulty breathing due to Inflammation and swelling of the airways. Other symptoms include coughing and excessive bronchial mucous. Examples of irritants include allergens, cold air, tobacco, pollution or smoke, as well as emotional stress or vigorous exercise (dehydration).
Atherosclerosis The slow, progressive buildup of hardened deposits called plaques on the inner walls of arteries, cutting down on the flow of oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the heart. It is a major cause of coronary artery (heart) disease. Plaques are deposits of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other cellular sludge carried in the blood. Atherosclerosis is also typically a byproduct of poor health habits. When the level of cholesterol in the blood is high, there's a greater chance that it will be deposited on artery walls. High blood pressure, high Insulin levels, smoking, obesity and physical inactivity also contribute to the risk of atherosclerosis, and thus, coronary artery disease. Some research also suggests that certain types of bacteria, such as Chlamydia pneumoniae, may play a role in narrowing coronary arteries. Atherosclerosis can also occur in the arteries that carry blood to the brain, increasing the risk of a stroke.
Atrial fibrillation A form of sustained Irregular heartbeat that affects about two million Americans every year. The atria (the heart's upper chambers) send rapidly firing electrical signals that cause them to quiver, rather than contract normally, resulting in an abnormally fast and irregular heartbeat. Blood may pool in the atria, increasing the risk of blood clot formation, which in turn can cause a stroke.
Autoimmune disease A condition in which an individual's Immune system mistakenly attacks itself, targeting the body's own cells, tissues and organs. (The word "auto" is Greek for self.) The immune system is a complicated network of cells and cell components or molecules that normally work to defend the body and eliminate infections caused by bacteria, viruses and other invading microbes. When the immune system is constantly challenged, it may become "trigger happy" and cannot distinguish between invading organisms and its own tissues. Autoimmune diseases include Multiple Sclerosis, in which the autoimmune reaction is directed against the brain; Crohn's Disease, where it is the gut; and Thyroiditis, where it is the thyroid. In other autoimmune diseases such as systemic Lupus Erythematosus (lupus), affected tissues and organs may vary among individuals. One person with lupus may have affected skin and joints; another may have affected skin, kidneys and lungs. Ultimately, damage to certain tissues by the immune system may be permanent. Autoimmune disease has also been linked to vaccinations.
Ayurveda A traditional Hindu system of using certain foods and herbs, as well as meditation, massage and yoga to stimulate the body to heal itself.
Ayurvedic medicine A holistic, integrated, physiotherapeutic medical system that originated in India and is based upon balancing the elements (air, fire, water and earth). It is believed that when one or more of these elements is out of balance because of improper diet or lifestyle, various diseases and mental disturbances occur.
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) The rate of oxygen consumption by the body at complete rest and long after a meal.
Beet sugar See Sugar.
Benign A state that causes no bodily damage.
Beta-blockers A large group of drugs that tend to slow the heart rate and the force of heart contractions and lower blood pressure.
Beta-carotene Also known as pro-vitamin A, beta-carotene is a reddish-orange pigment found in fruits, vegetables, and other plants. Beta-carotene has two roles in the body. It can be converted into vitamin A (retinol) if the body needs more vitamin A. If the body has enough of this nutrient, instead of being converted, beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant, which protects cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Beta-sitosterol A plant sterol found in rice bran, wheat germ, corn oils and soybeans. It is known for its ability to break down cholesterol deposits.
Betaine A naturally occurring pro-vitamin found in a wide variety of plant and animal species, betaine accumulates in plant and animal cells where it attracts water, protecting them from dehydration. Betaine is widely used in many industries, such as food, animal feed and pharmaceuticals.
Bile A fluid produced by the liver, bile is released into the small intestine and stored in the gallbladder to help digest fats.
Biliary stasis A condition that occurs when the normal flow of bile is impaired, resulting in a backup in the liver. Jaundice is a symptom of biliary stasis.
Bioflavonoids A category of antioxidants, this group of 4,000 pigments colors the flowers, leaves and stems of plants. In supplement formulas, bioflavonoids work best with vitamin C, which protects them from metabolic destruction in the body. Examples of bioflavonoids include quercetin and grape seed extract.
Biotin A vitamin that functions as a coenzyme in the metabolism of amino acids and fats, biotin is found in the liver, kidneys, egg yolk, yeast, cauliflower, nuts and legumes.
Blood chemistry A measure of various substances, including electrolytes, protein and glucose, and the number of red and white blood cells per cubic millimeter of blood. A complete blood count is one of the most routinely performed tests in a clinical laboratory, as well as one of the most valuable screening and diagnostic techniques to help evaluate health status.
Blood lipid profile Results of blood tests that reveal a person's total cholesterol, triglycerides and various lipoproteins. This test must be done with an overnight fast for accurate results. Also called a lipoprotein profile.
Blood pressure The amount of force against the blood vessels to push blood to and from the heart. Every time the heart contracts or beats (systolic), blood pressure increases. When the heart relaxes between beats (diastolic), the pressure decreases. Blood pressure can fluctuate considerably, depending on factors such as diet and stress. Generally, healthy systolic values are under 130 and diastolic values are below 85, expressed as 130 over 85.
Blood sugar The level of glucose detected in the bloodstream as determined by blood tests. Typically, normal blood glucose levels are between 70 and 110 mg/dL.
Body mass index (BMI) A measurement of a person's weight in relation to his or her height. The value is associated with body fat and health risks. The formula for calculating your BMI is BMI = [Weight in pounds / Height in inches] x 703. Fractions and ounces must be entered as decimal values. The metric formula is BMI= Body Weight(kg)/height(m)2. A BMI between 19 and 24 is considered healthy; between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight; over 30 is considered obese.
Bone-density test Also known as bone mineral density (BMD) test, this technology ascertains whether you have osteoporosis. Before the invention of bone densitometry, osteoporosis was detected through routine X-rays or a bone biopsy. Thus, osteoporosis was rarely diagnosed before a fracture had occurred and a minimum of 25 percent of the bone mass had already been lost. Today, a BMD test can tell whether you have osteoporosis before it is well advanced. The most common bone density test in use is called dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). This test involves lying on a table for 10 to 20 minutes while a small X-ray detector scans the spine, hips or both. The test is safe and painless and does not require injections.
Bromelain The protein-digesting enzyme found in pineapple, bromelain has been associated with a number of health benefits, including aiding digestion, speeding wound healing and reducing inflammation. It is found in both the fruit and stem of the pineapple, but the enzyme in supplements comes from only the stem.
Bulimia nervosa An eating disorder characterized by repeated episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives or diuretics, fasting or excessive exercise.
Bursitis A painful inflammation caused by subjecting the body's joints to overuse and stress due to repetitive movements or pressure. The body has more than 150 bursae, which are tiny, fluid-containing sacs that lubricate and cushion pressure points between bones and tendons and muscles near joints. Bursae allow movement without pain; when they become inflamed, movement or applied pressure hurts. Most often bursitis affects the shoulder, elbow or hip joint areas. But bursitis can also occur in the knee, heel and even in the base of the big toe. Bursitis pain usually goes away within a week or so with proper treatment, but recurrent flare-ups are common and frustrating.
C-reactive protein A heart-specific marker in the blood. If elevated, it signifies an inflammatory or infectious cause of heart disease. Organisms such as chlamydia pneumonia, mycoplasma pneumonia, herpes and cytomegalovirus could trigger a chronic inflammatory process in blood vessel walls, leading to formation of plaque.
Caffeine A natural stimulant found in many common foods and beverages, including coffee, tea, cola drinks and chocolate. It may enhance exercise endurance by stimulating fatty acid release but also causes fluid loss. Consuming too much caffeine can lead to headaches, trembling, rapid heart rate and other undesirable side effects. Excessive caffeine can also cause unstable blood sugar and therefore lead to binge eating.
Calcium A mineral that builds and maintains bones and teeth, calcium is also essential for blood to clot and signals to be transmitted to the nerves. There are various forms of calcium that are available in supplement form, however, calcium hydroxyapatite, orotate and citrate are those most readily absorbed.
Calcium AEP A mineral also known as colamine phosphate, calcium AEP is found naturally in our bodies. Complementary physicians use it to treat multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes and various types of cancer. It can be administered intravenously or orally.
Calcium gluconate A natural substance injected during prolotherapy into weakened tendons and ligaments, stimulating the body's own healing and growth processes. The joint then becomesstronger and more stable. The result is improved function, increased range of motion and endurance as well as pain relief.
Calorie A unit by which energy is measured. Food energy is actually measured in kilocalories (1,000 calories=1 kilocalorie), abbreviated kcalories or kcal. Still, the common lay term is calorie. So an apple said to have 84 calories really contains 84 kcal. Low calorie foods include a whole egg (about 74 calories), a small apple with peel (about 84 calories) and a serving of 4 asparagus spears (about 14 calories).
Cancer An abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells, it is not a single disease, but a term that encompasses more than 100 different and distinctive diseases. Cancer may be benign (meaning it does not spread to other parts of the body and is not life-threatening) or malignant (when cellsinvade and damage nearby tissues and organs and can spread to different areas of the body, a process called metastasis).
Candida A genus of yeastlike fungi, including the common pathogen candida albicans.
Candida albicans A common budding, yeastlike microscopic fungal organism, normally present in the mucous membranes of the mouth, intestinal tract and vagina, as well as on the skin of healthy individuals. Under certain conditions, it may cause superficial infections. In more severe cases, invasive systemic infections may occur in people with compromised immune systems.
Candidiasis Any infection caused by a species of candida, usually candida albicans. Diaper rash, athelete's foot, impetigo, vaginitis and thrush are common topical manifestations.
Cane sugar See Sugar.
Capillary The smallest blood vessel in a closed circulatory system, where materials carried by the blood are exchanged with those in surrounding tissues.
Carbohydrate One of the nutrients that supply calories to the body. Compounds composed of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen arranged as monosaccharides (simple sugars) or multiples of monosaccharides (polysaccharides). Sources include grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and other plant foods. When completely broken down in the body, a gram of carbohydrate yields about 4 calories. The pH Miracle Program concentrates on vegetables and other nutrient-dense carbohydrates rather than refined, heavily processed carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar.
Carcinogen A chemical that increases the chance of developing cancer.
Cardiac arrest A condition in which damage to an area of heart muscle occurs because of an inadequate supply of oxygen. This is the result of the heart not pumping strongly enough to provide blood to vital organs. Causes include clot formation or spasm in one of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle (a coronary artery).
Cardiac ischemia A shortage of blood supply to an organ or tissue of the body. It's usually the result of narrowing or obstruction in the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to nourish cells. If ischemia is severe and prolonged, it can lead to death of the affected tissue (infarction). Cardiac ischemia involves the heart muscle and is due to narrowing or occlusion of one or more of the coronary arteries. It often produces the symptom of angina (chest pain) when the blood supply can't meet the demands placed on the heart by increased physical activity or other stress. In the case of severe or total obstruction of blood flow, death of heart muscle or heart attack may occur.
Cardiac risk The chance of having a disease related to the heart. Blood measurement of total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL will be calculated to determine risk ratio as being high or low. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, diabetes, stress, physical inactivity, increasing age and family history.
Cardiology The medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of the heart.
Cardiomyopathy Heart damage that can lead to congestive heart failure. Most cases of cardiomyopathy have no known cause, although some cases run in families. Cardiomyopathy is not due to blood flow problems. Less common causes include infections (myocarditis), alcohol abuse and the toxic effect of drugs such as cocaine and some drugs used for chemotherapy.
Carnitine See L-carnitine.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) A condition that produces numbness, pain and, eventually, weakness in the hand and wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist. (Carpal is from the Greek word karpalis, for wrist.) The tunnel protects the nerves and tendons that extend into the hand. When the tissues in the carpal tunnel become swollen or inflamed, they put pressure on the median nerve. Because this nerve provides sensation to the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers, pressure on it produces numbness, pain and hand weakness. Fortunately, most people who perform repetitive tasks with their hands will not develop carpal tunnel syndrome. However, proper treatment can usually relieve the pain and numbness and prevent permanent damage.
Central nervous system (CNS) The brain and spinal cord that control cell receptors, glands and muscles.
Cervical dysplasia A pre-cancerous stage in which abnormal cells are detected in the outer layer of the cervix. Cancer of the cervix is one of the most common cancers of the female reproductive organs. Thanks largely to Pap smear screening, the death rate from cervical cancer has fallen 70 percent since the 1940s. In nearly all cases, the Pap test allows for the detection of the abnormal cells (dysplasia) in the outer layer of the cervix that haven't invaded deeper tissues. If untreated, the abnormal cells may convert to cancer cells, which can spread in stages into the cervix, the upper vagina, the pelvic areas and other parts of the body. Cancer or pre-cancerous conditions that are caught at the pre-invasive stage are rarely life threatening and typically require only outpatient treatment.
Chelation therapy A therapy that heals the body by removing toxic metals, whether Intravenously or by suppository. In chelation therapy, ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) is administered and binds with metallic ions in the body, such as mercury, which are both then excreted through the kidneys.
Cholesterol See Dietary cholesterol or Serum cholesterol.
Chromium A trace mineral found naturally in the body. When the level of chromium is low, the body has a harder time regulating blood sugar levels, with resultant sugar cravings. Refined sugar also depletes the body of chromium. Supplementation is the best way to get more chromium, as only foods grown in chromium-rich soils will have adequate amounts. Both picolinate and polynicotinate are safe and effective forms of chromium.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) A condition in which patients are not just tired, but bone-achingly tired, and feel terrible for a long time. Many also feel feverish, forlorn or forgetful. Although some people with CFS crave sleep, their sleep is often fitful. No one knows for sure what causes CFS, but some researchers theorize that the trigger is a viral infection, chronic stress or another other ongoing trauma that continually activates the immune System.
Circulation The movement of blood through the blood vessels.
Cirrhosis The scarring of an organ, particularly the liver.
Claudication Cramping pains in the legs due to insufficient arterial blood supply to the muscles.
Coenzyme Q10 This powerful antioxidant protects the body from free-radical damage. One of its most important roles is to aid metabolic reactions, such as transforming food into energy. Meat and fish are good sources of coenzyme Q10, which is also widely used in supplement form to help prevent an array of health conditions such as heart disease, obesity, asthma, Alzheimer's disease and allergies. It is also known as Ubiquinone, its name signifying its widespread function in the human body.
Coenzymes Small organic molecules that work with enzymes to facilitate the enzymes' activity. Many coenzymes have B vitamins as a part of their structures.
Colchicines A category of drugs used to treat acute attacks of gout.
Cold-pressed oil Oil that has been extracted by squeezing seeds in a press. Also known as expeller-pressed oil. This method differs from the standard, chemically induced method in which heat and hexane gas are used to extract oil. Using the cold-pressed method means the oil has no hexane molecules and no poisonous trans fatty acids. (Heating to 450°F in the extraction process changes the nature of the oil molecule from a normal cis fatty acid to an abnormal trans fatty configuration.)
Colitis An inflammatory condition of the large intestine characterized by severe diarrhea, bleeding and ulceration of the lining of the large intestine or colon, weight loss and pain. Like Crohn's disease, colitis is a form of irritable bowel syndrome. The disease may be dormant for long periods between episodes. Also known as ulcerative colitis.
Collagen The protein material from which connective tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments and the foundation of bone and teeth are made
Colloidal A system in which finely divided particles, which are approximately 10 to 10,000 angstroms in size, are dispersed within a continuous medium in a manner that prevents them from being filtered easily or settled rapidly.
Complementary medicine The best possible options chosen from all the healing arts, including both mainstream and alternative (or natural) therapies. Also known as alternative or integrative medicine.
Complex carbohydrates Polysaccharides composed of straight or branched chains of monosaccharides (simple sugars).
Congestive heart failure A condition in which the heart has become weakened and does not circulate enough blood to meet the needs of the body, causing shortness of breath and fatigue, as well as fluid retention in legs, ankles and feet. The term congestive refers to the fluid buildup that occurs with the disease. Congestive heart failure affects mainly older adults and is usually the end result of long-standing heart disease. It can also be a complication of a heart attack and uncontrolled high blood pressure. Once congestive heart disease has developed, it usually can't be cured but it typically can be managed. In most cases, medication can improve symptoms and life expectancy.
Constipation The condition of having infrequent or difficult bowel movements.
Copper A mineral essential to cardiovascular function and control of cholesterol, sugar and uric acid levels in the body. Copper also helps increase bone strength, maintains immune function and performs various other key functions. Vegetarians tend to have copper deficiencies. Too much copper can increase free radical activity, which causes many health problems. A blood tests can determine copper levels and only such results should cause one to start supplementing with copper.
Coronary artery disease See Heart disease.
Coronary bypass surgery A procedure in which an artery is skirted or shunted, as with a blood-vessel graft, to relieve obstruction.
Coronary heart disease A general term used to describe diseases affecting the heart or blood vessels, including but not limited to atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, heart failure, hypertension, orthostatic hypotension, shock, endocarditis and congenital heart disease.
Coronary occlusion The clotting of blood within the coronary artery of the heart.
Coronary-artery stent A special wire mesh device inserted into an artery to keep it from becoming too narrow and thereby restricting blood flow.
Cortisol A steroid hormone also known as hydrocortisone that is secreted by the cortex of the adrenal gland. Many call it the "stress hormone" because when the body is under stress or blood sugar dips, cortisol levels rise. Elevated levels are associated with a number of diseases, as well as premature aging. Cortisol levels can be measured with a blood test.
Creatine A nitrogen-containing compound that combines with phosphate to form the high-energy compound creatine phosphate in muscles. Creatine supplements enhance energy and muscle strength.
Creatinine A value measured via a blood test and a urine sample that helps physicians determine the efficacy of calcium and protein metabolism, kidney function and other processes.
Crohn's disease One of the most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Painful and debilitating, it causes chronic inflammation of digestive tract. Crohn's disease is much like ulcerative colitis; the two are so similar, in fact, that they're often mistaken for one another. Both inflame the lining of the digestive tract, and the symptoms include severe bouts of watery diarrhea and abdominal pain. No one knows exactly what causes Crohn's disease, although the body's immune response and certain genetic and environmental factors may play a role.
Cyanocobalamin See Vitamin B12.
Degenerative arthritis See Osteoarthritis.
Degenerative joint disease See Osteoarthritis.
Dehydroepiandrosterone A hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. Elevating levels of DHEA with supplements has been shown to improve overall health and well-being, with marked improvements in conditions such as fatigue, autoimmune disease, heart disease, diabetes and immune weakness. It also slows the aging process.
Depo-Provera The brand name for a form of female injected birth control. Depo-Provera is a hormone much like the progesterone a woman produces during the last two weeks of each monthly cycle. It stops egg release and provides other contraceptive effects.
Depression A mood disorder that occurs in various degrees. Usually all types include demoralization; many people experience sadness and hopelessness, poor appetite and weight loss, insomnia, feeling worthless and guilty, and inability to concentrate. Mainstream physicians treat depression with psychotherapy and drugs; complementary doctors tend to rely on nutrients and dietary intervention.
Detoxification The conversion of toxic chemicals to harmless chemicals by the liver.
Dextrose A simple sugar obtained from sugar beets or sugar cane.
DHA The acronym for Docosahexanoic acid.
DHEA The acronym for Dehydroepiandrosterone.
Diabetes A disorder characterized by high fasting blood sugar levels (126 mg/dL and higher) and the inability of the body to transport glucose to cells. See type I diabetes and type II diabetes.
Diastolic blood pressure The point of least blood pressure, when the heart dilates between each heartbeat. It is the lower number in a blood pressure reading, expressed as the bottom part, or denominator, of the fraction. When you say your blood pressure is 110 over 70, 70 is the diastolic blood pressure.
Dietary cholesterol Chemically, a compound composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms arranged in rings. It is found only in animal foods such as meat, eggs and dairy products, as well as shellfish. In the body, dietary cholesterol serves as a structural component of cell membranes and contributes to other functions. It had a bad rap for giving people high serum (blood) cholesterol levels until researchers determined that the liver contributes much more cholesterol to the body's total count than does diet.
Dietary fiber Plant cell walls and other non-nutritive residues that are not digested are generally called dietary fiber. Fibers include cellulose, pectins, gums, lignans, cutins and tannins.
Digestion The process of breaking down food particles into molecules small enough to be absorbed by cells.
Disaccharides Sugars composed of pairs of monosaccharides such as sucrose, lactose and maltose.
Diuretic Any process or factor that increase urine output. Diuretic drugs are prescribed for the treatment of edema (the accumulation of excess fluids in the tissues of the body), which may be the result of underlying disease of the kidneys, liver, lungs or heart (e.g., congestive heart failure). Fluid retention can also be the result of sodium retention from a high-salt diet, excessive insulin production, hormone imbalances or food allergies. Diuretics are also used to treat high blood pressure and glaucoma. They act on the kidneys, modifying the absorption and excretion of water and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.
Diverticulitis A condition characterized by small pouches formed in the wall of the large intestine resulting from pressure within the colon. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, fever and frequent urination. If early symptoms are ignored, perforation of the colon and peritonitis can occur. Consuming adequate amounts of fiber to ensure bowel regularity is the best prescription against developing diverticulitis.
Docosahexanoic acid An essential Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil and other nuts and seeds. It helps keep blood platelets from clumping, preventing the formation of clots that cause heart attacks. DHA has been coined the "brain fat" because it is responsible for brain and eye development in infants.
Echinacea purpurea An herb used for enhancement of the immune system. It has been shown to be effective against viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Healing preparations made from the plant's leaves, flowers and roots help the body fight infection by stimulating the mucous membranes, liver and lymph nodes. It is a recommended natural remedy for sinus infections, sore throat, tonsillitis, coughs, bladder problems and kidney infections. Echinacea also has wound-healing and germ-fighting properties.
Eczema Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a chronic skin condition whose cause is unknown.
EFA An acronym for Essential Fatty Acids.
Eicosapentaenoic acid An essential Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, walnut oil, and flaxseed oil. EPA helps keep blood platelets from clumping, preventing the formation of clots that cause heart attacks. Supplemental EPA effectively lowers cholesterol, helps regulate arrhythmias and blood pressure, helps diabetes, joint problems, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, skin disorders and much more.
Electrolytes Salts such as sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, magnesium and bicarbonate in blood, tissue and other cells, electrolytes consist of various chemicals that can carry electric charges. Proper quantities and balance of electrolytes are essential to normal metabolism and function. Diuretics can cause loss of electrolytes, resulting in leg cramps and other symptoms.
Electrons Negatively charged particles; components of atoms.
Elimination The removal of indigestible materials from the digestive system.
Endocrine system The glands that communicate with each other and affect other parts of the body by secreting hormones into the blood stream.
Endometriosis A common and often painful disorder of the female reproductive system, in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) becomes implanted in the outer surface of the uterus, the fallopian tubes or the ovaries. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond the reproductive organs and pelvic region. Endrometriosis is a common cause of fertility problems. Experts estimate that 10 to 15 percent of American women of childbearing age have endometriosis. The condition, which occasionally runs in families, is most likely to occur in women who haven't had children and are between the ages of 25 and 40.
Endorphins Any chemicals, resembling opiates, released by the body in response to stress or trauma, which react with the brain's receptors to reduce the sensation of pain, much as a sedative does.
Enzyme A protein that acts as a catalyst for a biological reaction. For example, digestive enzymes facilitate the breakdown of food in digestion.
EPA The acronym for Eicosapentaenoic Acid.
Epidemiological The area of medicine that deals with the study of large groups of people to determine the frequency of diseases and why they occur.
Epinephrine A hormone also known as adrenaline.
Erectile Dysfunction Also known as Impotence, this term is typically defined as the inability to obtain an adequate erection for satisfactory sexual activity. However, it actually refers to a range of disorders that includes Peyronie's disease (curvature of the penis during erection), priapism (prolonged painful erection not associated with sexual desire) and premature ejaculation. Although impotence is more common in men over age 65, it can occur at any age. An occasional episode happens to most men and is perfectly normal. As men age, erections may take longer to develop, may not be as rigid or require more direct stimulation to be achieved. Men may also notice that orgasms are less intense, the volume of ejaculations is reduced and recovery time increases between erections. When erectile dysfunction proves to be a pattern or a persistent problem, however, it can harm a man's self-image as well as his sex life. It can also be a sign of a physical or emotional problem that requires treatment.
Essential amino acids Nine amino acids that the human body cannot synthesize and must be obtained from food.
Essential Fat: The kind of fat deemed absolutely necessary for the body to function properly but which cannot be produced by the body. Examples include the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Essential fatty acids Polyunsaturated acids that are essential in the diet, they are commonly called EFAs and include linolenic (omega 3) and linoleic acid (omega 6). Sources of EFAs are seeds (including flaxseeds), oils (safflower, sunflower, corn) and deep-sea fish. They are necessary for normal functioning of the endocrine and reproductive systems and for breaking up of cholesterol deposits on arterial walls. EFAs play an important role in fat transport and metabolism and in maintaining the function and integrity of cellular membranes. A deficiency in EFAs causes changes in cell structure and enzyme function, decreased rate of growth, brittle and dull hair, nail problems, dandruff, allergic conditions and skin problems. Supplementation with EFAs has proven useful in treating high cholesterol, neurological disorders and other medical conditions. It also assists in weight loss.
Estradiol Produced by the ovaries, it is the predominant estrogen before menopause, protecting bones and assisting cognitive function. Estradiol helps prevent hot flashes. When prescribed to treat menopausal symptoms, side effects include increased risk of endometrial cancer.
Estriol The weakest form of estrogen, it balances estradiol and estrone. It is produced in large amounts during pregnancy. In addition to protecting the vagina and urinary mucosa, estriol has anticancer effects and is considered safe for use by women who are at high risk for breast cancer.
Estrogens A class of female sex hormones produced by the ovaries that bring about sexual maturation at puberty and maintain reproductive functions.
Estrone A weaker form of estrogen, this is the predominant form in the body after menopause. The most carcinogenic of all estrogens, it is stored and concentrated in fat cells.
Excretion The removal of metabolic wastes from the body.
Fainting Characterized by sudden pallor, loss of consciousness and, occasionally, slight twitching or convulsive movements, fainting can be caused by any condition restricting blood flow to the brain.
Fasting A period when no food and only water is consumed. Fasting is usually recommended at least 12 hours before a blood test.
Fat A concentrated form of energy, fat is one of the three sources of macro-nutrients in food and essential for life. Fat insulates the body - insuring temperature maintenance - supplies fatty acids and carries the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. When completely broken down in the body, a gram of fat yields about 9 calories. Total fat refers to the sum of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in food.
Fat-producing hormone See Insulin.
Fatigue The state of being tired or exhausted, fatigue represents a normal and important response to physical exertion, emotional stress or lack of sleep. It can also be a nonspecific symptom of a psychological or physiologic disorder. Pathological (illness-related) fatigue is not relieved by adequate rest, adequate sleep or removal of stressful factors.
Fatty acids An acid originating from fats such as oleic, stearic and palmitic acid.
FDA An acronym for the Food and Drug Administration.
Fermentation The breakdown of complex molecules into simple molecules by enzymes.
Ferritin An iron compound formed in the intestine and stored in the liver, spleen and bone marrow for eventual incorporation into blood molecules. Serum (or blood) ferritin levels are used as an indicator of the body's iron stores.
Fiber See Dietary fiber.
Fibrinogen A protein present in the blood. It becomes fibrin during the blood-clotting process.
Fibrocystic breast disease A common glandular upset resulting in the formation of many cysts in the breasts of women. It is characterized by dense, irregular and bumpy "cobblestone" consistency in the breast tissue, discomfort and tenderness or a sense of feeling full or dull. Discomfort generally improves after each menstrual period. The cause is not completely understood but is believed to be associated with ovarian hormones since the condition usually subsides with menopause.
Fibromyalgia A chronic disease that affects muscles, joints and tendons. It is characterized by musculoskeletal pain, spasm, stiffness, fatigue and severe sleep disturbance. Common sites of pain or stiffness include the lower back, neck, shoulder region, arms, hands, knees, hips, thighs, legs and feet. Individuals with fibromyalgia, who are mostly women, can also experience a host of symptoms such as abnormal bowel function, pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants can provide temporary relief.
Fight or flight response A defense reaction that prepares individuals for conflict or escape by triggering hormonal, cardiovascular, metabolic and other physiological changes.
Fish oil Oil from cold-water species of fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and cod, it contains Omega-3 fatty acids, and helps keep blood platelets from clumping, preventing the formation of clots that can cause heart attacks.
Fitness The ability to carry out normal activities and still have enough energy and strength to overcome unusual challenges.
Fluorine The chemical element of atomic number 9, a poisonous pale yellow gas of the halogen series. It is the most reactive of all the elements. Fluorine compounds are added to city water supplies in the proportion of about one part per million as Sodium fluoride (NaF), stannous(II) fluoride (SnF2), sodium monofluorophosphate (Na2PO3F) and Hydrofluoric acid (HF) - which are all highly poisonous to the body.
Folacin See Folic acid.
Folate See Folic acid.
Folic acid A B vitamin also known as folate or folacin, necessary for growth and maintenance of health. A deficiency of folic acid may result in anemia. Studies suggest that neural tube defects, which occur in the fetus early in development, are a result of low folic acid levels in the mother's body. These studies showed that an increase in the mother's dietary folic acid before conception and during the first month of pregnancy reduced the risk of neural tube defects.
Food allergy See Allergic reaction.
Food and Drug Administration A government agency whose mission is to promote and protect the public health from dangerous (or as yet unproved as safe) food or drug products.
Food Intolerance An adverse reaction to foods that does not involve the immune System, and is therefore less severe than a food allergy. A common food intolerance is lactose intolerance, caused by the inability to digest the lactose (milk sugars) found in dairy products.
Free radical A highly reactive molecule that can bind to and destroy the body's cellular compounds. Most free radicals in the body are toxic forms of oxygen molecules. Similar to the formation of rust (oxidized iron), oxygen in its toxic state can damage (oxidize) molecules in our bodies. The body tends to produce more free radicals with age, and they are believed to play a role in the onset of degenerative diseases, as well as heart disease and cancer.
Fructose A simple sugar found in fruit, honey, corn and saps. It has the same chemical formula as glucose and therefore may be used as a source of energy like glucose or converted to glycogen and stored in the body.
Gallbladder A hollow, pear-shaped organ located beneath the liver, it stores and concentrates bile, which emulsifies fat.
Gallbladder disease A condition in which the gallbladder is unable to function properly, including gallstones.
Gallstones Stones in the gallbladder that vary in size from a small seed to that of a lemon and can slow or obstruct the flow of bile and can result in gallbladder disease.
Gamma linoleic acid A powerful omega-6 essential fatty acid that is particularly helpful for people with dry skin. GLA supplements can also reduce cholesterol levels and ameliorate inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, among other benefits.
Gastric juice A fluid secreted by the stomach wall that chemically digests food.
Gastritis Chronic or acute inflammation of the stomach lining.
Gene The segment of DNA that contains the genetic information for a given trait.
Genetic predisposition (or gene expression) The use of the information in a gene to affect the cell or its environment.
Genetic variation The difference among offspring of the same parents in their genetic makeup.
GLA Acronym for Gamma linoleic acid.
Glucomannan A herb from the konnyaku root (part of the yam family), which contains 100 percent natural dietary fiber without any calories. It helps reduce cholesterol, promote good bowel health (including maintenance of regularity), normalize blood sugar levels and weight reduction.
Glucose A form of simple sugar also known as blood sugar or dextrose.
Glucose tolerance factor A term used to describe chromium supplementation, which researchers believe helps in blood sugar control and potentiates the action of insulin.
Glucose tolerance test (GTT) A test that measures the body's ability to utilize blood glucose appropriately.
Glutathione A tripeptide made up of amino acids (gamma-glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine). It helps prevent oxidative stress in most cells and free-radical damage. There has been an association between the speed of aging and the reduction of glutathione concentrations in the cells. As individuals get older, glutathione levels drop, and the ability to detoxify free radicals is impaired.
Gluten An elastic protein found in wheat and other grains that gives dough its structure and cohesiveness.
Gluten intolerance An adverse reaction to foods rich in gluten, gluten intolerance has been associated with irritable bowel syndrome and colitis. Children with celiac disease and non-tropical sprue are thought to be allergic to gluten.
Glycerine Also known as glycerol or glycerin, this thick liquid is used by food manufacturers to improve taste, add moisture and impart sweetness. Glycerine is classed as a carbohydrate, but does not impact on blood sugar levels the way such carbohydrates as cane sugar do. Consequently, it can be used as a replacement for cane sugar; glycerine is 0.6 times as sweet as cane sugar. Chemically, it is a 3-carbon molecule with three hydroxyl groups, and is one of the most common alcohols found in human metabolism. It is also found naturally in animal and plant products and is the backbone of triglycerides (fats) and phospholipids.
Glycerol See Glycerine.
Glycogen A complex sugar composed of glucose, it is manufactured and stored in the liver and muscles and held ready for release to other parts of the body.
Glycolysis The energy-yielding process of converting glucose to pyruvic and lactic acids.
Gout A type of arthritis or inflammation about a joint caused by excess uric acid in the blood. Attacks occur suddenly and characterized by severe pain and tenderness. The big toe is a frequent site. In the past, gout was associated with obese old men who overindulged in rich foods. But today it's recognized that anyone can develop gout. In fact, gout is a painful problem for more than two million Americans. Men are more likely to get gout, but women become increasingly susceptible to it after menopause.
Grain The seed or seedlike fruit of many members of the grass family, especially corn, wheat, oats and other cereals.
Guar A spherical endosperm extracted from the seeds of legumes. The guar bean contains significant amounts of galactomannan gum, which is used as an emulsifier/thickening agent.
Guggulipid Derived from the sticky gum resin of guggul, a tree native to India, it has been shown to promote cardiovascular health by reducing cholesterol build-up. In India, it is used as a cholesterol-lowering medication. Other benefits include its potential inhibition of platelet aggregation to decrease the risk of stroke, stimulate thyroid function and treat ulcers, sore throat, nasal inflammation, tonsillitis, bronchitis, obesity, gout and other disorders.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) Considered the "good" cholesterol, HDL is actually a carrier molecule that transports cholesterol in the blood. HDL is responsible for returning cholesterol and triglycerides (fats) from the cells and the vessels to the liver. A high HDL blood level is associated with a lowered risk of heart attack.
HDL/LDL ratio The ratio of "good" (HDL) to "bad" (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood.
Heart attack Also called myocardial infarction, it is caused by obstruction in the coronary artery.
Heart disease Also known as coronary artery disease, this is any one of the abnormal conditions that may clog the heart’s arteries with a buildup of plaque from cholesterol, calcium or mechanical trauma. The buildup produces various pathologic effects, especially reduced flow of oxygen and nutrients to the myocardium (the lining of the heart). Coronary atherosclerosis, one type of Coronary artery disease, is the leading cause of death in the Western world.
Heart failure A general term used to define the disorder in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood efficiently. Heart failure may affect either the right side, left side or both sides of the heart. As pumping action is lost, blood may back up into other areas of the body, including the liver, gastrointestinal tract, extremities or lungs. Shortness of breath and swelling of the ankles are two common symptoms of congestive heart failure.
Heart fluttering See Palpitations.
Heart jumping See Palpitations.
Heart pounding See Palpitations.
Heart racing See Palpitations.
Heart skipping See Palpitations.
Hepatitis An inflammatory condition of the liver, characterized by jaundice, elevated liver enzymes, anorexia, abdominal and gastric discomfort, clay-colored stools and tea-colored urine. Bacterial or viral infection, parasitic infestation, alcohol, drugs, toxins or the transfusion of incompatible blood may cause hepatitis.
Herbs The leaves, bark, berries, roots, gums, seeds, stems and flowers of plants. Culinary herbs add flavor to foods; medicinal herbs possess healing properties.
High blood pressure Also known as hypertension, high-or elevated-blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack or stroke. blood pressure represents the resistance produced each time the heart beats and sends blood flowing through the arteries. The top reading of the pressure exerted by this contraction is called systolic pressure. Between beats, the heart relaxes and blood pressure drops. The lowest reading is referred to as diastolic pressure. It is estimated that 24 percent of all American adults (about 43 million people) have high blood pressure.
High blood sugar See Hyperglycemia.
Hirsutism A condition in women in which there is excess facial and body hair in a masculine distribution pattern, as a result of heredity, hormone dysfunction or medication.
Histamine A chemical released by the body in response to an allergic reaction, usually associated with dehydration.
Homocysteine An amino acid that promotes free radical oxidation and premature vascular disease. It responds to vitanutrient supplementation such as B6, B12 and Folic acid.
Hormonal cycles A complex monthly balance of hormones that affect menstruation and ovulation. The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, estrogen progesterone, lutenizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone are all part of the hormonal cycle.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) A treatment for menopause in which a form of estrogen or an estrogen-progesterone combination is prescribed to alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irritability and changes in mood and sleeping patterns. The pros and cons of therapy are generally well known: decreased risk of both cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis versus a potential increased risk of breast cancer, although this remains controversial. Other potential risks associated with HRT include an increased incidence of blood clots, an exacerbation of pre-existing liver disease, and for some women, an increased risk of endometrial cancer. Some users can also develop hypertension.
Hydrated Having adequate amounts of water in the body. Drinking alkaline ionized water is the best way to stay hydrated.
Hydrocortisone See Cortisol.
Hydrogenated oil A man-made product (unsaturated fat to which a hydrogen molecule is added) causing an oil to become more solid at room temperature. Considered a saturated fat, it is used by the food industry to prolong the shelf life of many processed foods, such as sliced bread, margarine, vegetable shortenings, soups, chips, crackers, cookies, pastries and even some pasta and rice mixes.
Hyperglycemia A condition in which there is a greater than normal amount of glucose in the blood, and which can lead to serious conditions such as Type II Diabetes.
Hyperinsulinemia A condition in which the pancreas releases excess amounts of insulin into the blood, usually in an effort to control high blood sugar. It may be a precursor to diabetes, is an independent risk factor for heart disease and is associated with many medical conditions such as syndrome X and high blood pressure. Characteristics of hyperinsulinemia include sodium retention, thickening of artery walls causing constriction and certain cancers.
Hyperinsulinism The body's reaction to an excessive amount of carbohydrate consumption, which raises blood sugar and, in turn, produces high insulin levels.
Hypertension See High blood pressure.
Hyperthyroidism A condition characterized by hyperactivity of the thyroid gland in which the gland is usually oversized and over-produces thyroid hormone, creating an accelerated metabolism. Symptoms include nervousness, tremor, hunger, palpitations, weight loss, fatigue and protruding eyes.
Hypoglycemia A condition in which there is a lower than normal amount of glucose in the blood. This can happen when glucose is used up too rapidly, glucose is released into the bloodstream more slowly than is needed by the body or when excessive insulin (a hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to increased glucose levels in the blood) is released into the bloodstream. Hypoglycemia is relatively common in pre-diabetes.
Hypothyroidism A condition of decreased activity of the thyroid gland, which may cause a variety of symptoms. The body's normal rate of functioning slows, causing mental and physical sluggishness, lethargy, water retention, constipation, arthritis, dry skin, brittle nails and loss of eyelashes and eyebrows.
IBS Acronym for Irritable bowel syndrome.
Immune System The system involving multiple organs that protects the body against infection. Once foreign organisms, such as germs, invade the body, the immune system operates through a remarkable network involving organs and billions of cellular defenders that rush to protect the body.
Impotence See Erectile Dysfunction.
Inflammation A reddening or swelling in the body in response to an infection or stress.
Inflammatory arthritis See Rheumatoid arthritis.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) An inflammatory disease of unknown origin usually affecting the colon or another part of the digestive tract. IBD occurs most commonly as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
Insulin A naturally occurring hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps transport glucose into muscle cells and other tissue, where it is stored for energy use. Insulin is also known as the fat-producing hormone.
Insulin Receptors Molecules on the surface of most cells of the body that "recognize" insulin and allow it into cells.
Integrative medicine See Complementary medicine.
Intermittent claudication Severe cramplike calf pain caused by inadequate blood supply; the pain occurs when walking and subsides during rest. May be associated with atherosclerosis.
Intravenous A method of providing fluid, nutrients or medicine, via a tube placed in the vein. Also known as IV.
Iodine A trace mineral and essential nutrient necessary for normal metabolism and thyroid function. Good sources include iodized salt, cod, sea bass, haddock, perch and kelp.
Ipriflavone A synthetic version of one of the isoflavones, which are plant-based compounds with estrogen like effects. Studies have shown this supplement can help prevent bone thinning and combat the effects of osteoporosis.
Iron An important trace mineral found in every cell of the body, usually combined with protein. The best food sources of easily absorbed iron (heme iron) are animal products. Iron from vegetables, fruits, grains and supplements (non-heme iron) are more difficult for the body to absorb. Mixing some lean meat, fish or poultry with beans or dark leafy greens at a meal, improves the absorption of vegetable sources of iron by a factor of three. Foods rich in vitamin C also increase iron absorption.
Irregular heartbeat See Arrhythmia.
Irritable bowel syndrome Abnormal increase in intestinal movement or motility that can be triggered by emotional stress, food allergies, infection, imbalanced intestinal flora, reaction to drugs, diverticulitis, lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity. It manifests itself as diarrhea, abdominal bloating and occasional pain in the lower abdomen. Chronic IBS over time can lead to colitis or Crohn's disease.
Ischemic stroke See Transient ischemic attack.
Isoflavones One of the families of phytoestrogens found in chickpeas, soybeans and other legumes. The two primary isoflavones in soybeans are daidzein and genistein.
Isometric Describes resistance or anaerobic exercise, which consists of contracting and stretching muscles by lifting weights, for example, to tone and firm them.
IV An abbreviation for Intravenous.
Ketoacidosis A state in which there is an abnormal accumulation of ketones, which changes the body's PH to acidic. This usually occurs in diabetics whose blood sugar is out of control, alcoholics and people in a state of starvation.
Ketogenic diet A restricted carbohydrate program in which stored body fat is primarily used instead of glucose to provide fuel for the muscles, brain and other vital organs.
Ketone The normal products of fat metabolism, when there is not sufficient carbohydrate as a source of energy. For people who are restricting their intake of carbohydrates, ketone presence in the urine indicates achievement of a fat-burning phase that will result in weight loss. Also known as ketone bodies.
Ketone bodies See Ketone.
Ketosis Short for benign dietary ketosis, or BDK, this is a biological process that results when sufficient glucose as a source of energy is not available from dietary carbohydrate and the body switches to primarily using fat. Fatty acids are released into the bloodstream, then converted to ketones, which are used by muscles, the brain and other organs. Excess ketones are excreted in urine.
Kidney disease A medical condition in which the functioning of the kidneys is impaired. diabetes and high blood pressure contribute to kidney disease, as do some prescription drugs and over-the-counter painkillers.
Kidneys The pair of organs that regulate blood chemistry and remove water and metabolic wastes from the blood.
L-carnitine A nutrient (resembling amino acids used by the body to transport long-chain fatty acids to the mitochondria in the cells, where it is burned mainly for muscular energy. It can help prevent fatty buildups in the heart and liver. Deficiencies in L-carnitine can appear as low energy levels, muscular weakness, mental confusion, angina (heart pain) and weight gain. Vitamins B1, B6 and C; iron; and the amino acids lysine and methionine are needed for carnitine synthesis. carnitine is found in meats and other animal foods. Vegetarians may want to consider supplementation with L-carnitine.
Lactose A disaccharide composed of glucose and galactose; commonly known as milk sugar.
Lactose intolerance A condition in which an individual lacks the enzyme lactase that breaks down lactose so that it can be digested. Symptoms include bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. Lactose intolerance differs from milk allergy, which is caused by an immune reaction to the protein in milk.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) LDL is a carrier molecule that transports cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood from the liver to the body's cells. A high level of LDL is associated with a high risk of heart attack because it indicates there is too much artery-clogging cholesterol in the blood. Although long considered the "bad" cholesterol, recent research indicates that some sub-fractions of LDL are actually heart protective.
Lecithin A phospholipid widely distributed in animals and plants and the major component of cell membranes. It is important to normal cell function and has antioxidant properties. Sources of lecithin include eggs, dairy products and meats. It is also used as an emulsifying or wetting agent in food products.
Legume Any plant in the bean and pea family in which the seed is enclosed in a pod, including chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, peanuts and many others.
Lignin Also spelled as lignan, a non-carbohyrate plant component that is classified as fiver. It is abundant in flaxseed, which also contains essential fatty acids.
Lipid A group of organic compounds that includes fats and oils. Examples of fatty substances in the blood include cholesterol, free fatty acids and trigylcerides.
Lipid profile An analysis of the blood, usually including HDL (so-called "good" cholesterol), triglycerides, LDL (so -called "bad" cholesterol) and total cholesterol.
Lipolysis The natural process of burning fat for energy. Fat can come from dietary sources or body fat.
Lipoprotein (a) A subclass of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), a conjugated protein in which lipids form an integral part of the molecule. Lipoprotein (a) is particle for particle classified as larger, fluffier and more cholesterol-rich than lipoprotein (b), and therefore less of a risk for plaque formation on arteries. This means that lipoprotein (a) is less likely to increase risk factors for vascular disease.
Lipoprotein (b) A subclass of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), a conjugated protein in which lipids form an integral part of the molecule. Lipoprotein (b) is particle for particle classified as smaller and denser than lipoprotein (a), and therefore more likely to increase plaque formation on the artery wall. This means that lipoprotein (b) is associated with a greater risk of vascular disease.
Lipoprotein profile An analysis of the blood that looks at high and low-density lipoproteins (HDL and LDL). More detailed analyses include the subclasses of lipoprotein such as lipoproteins (A) and (B).
Lithium An alkali metal used to treat psychological conditions such as bipolar disorder. As a maintenance therapy, it is useful in preventing or diminishing the frequency of relapses in bipolar manic-depressive patients. Contraindications include individuals who have severe cardiovascular or renal disease and those with evidence of severe debilitation or dehydration, sodium depletion, brain damage and any conditions requiring a low-sodium diet.
Liver A large glandular organ located in the upper abdominal cavity, which secretes bile and is essential to metabolic processes.
Low blood sugar See Hypoglycemia.
Lupus erythematosus A chronic inflammatory disease that can affect many parts of the body, including skin, joints, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs. Episodes of lupus tend to come and go throughout life, and may cause an individual to feel tired and achy. But with treatment with cortico-steroid medication, topical steroids and anti-maleria drugs, patients can lead an active, healthy life. About 40 to 50 Americans out of every 100,000 have lupus, and most of them are women. There are several types of lupus, but systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common and the type that causes the most difficulties. It can lead to problems ranging from fevers to sore muscles to anemia.
Lyme disease An acute inflammatory infection transmitted by a deer tick. An early sign of an infection is the appearance of a red bull's-eye-shaped skin eruption at the site of the bite. Knees and other large joints are most commonly involved, with local inflammation and swelling. Flulike symptoms - chills, fever, headache and malaise - may be the first signs of infection and may precede the joint pain. Undiagnosed Lyme disease can lead to heart, nerve and other serious problems.
Magnesium A silver-white mineral, the element magnesium is involved in nearly every essential bodily function, from the healing of the heart to the creation of bone and the regulation of blood sugar. It helps to burn fat and produce energy and is also known as the "gatekeeper of cellular activity." Magnesium is abundant in foods such as wheat, bran, almonds and tofu.
Maltodextrin A type of sugar, and therefore a carbohydrate, found in packaged foods.
Manganese A trace element, this mineral is essential for growth, reproduction, wound healing, peak brain function and for the proper metabolism of sugars, insulin and cholesterol.
Mediterranean diet A way of eating based on clinical findings observed between diet and cardiovascular health in people who lived in Crete, Greece, during the 1950s. Scientists found there was a very low incidence of heart disease and attributed this to the Cretan diet, which emphasized olive oil, fish and nuts (all foods very high in monounsaturated fat) with moderate intake of meat and dairy foods.
Melatonin A hormone secreted by the brain's pineal gland, a small gland in the center of the brain that regulates body rhythms and, thus, sleep. Studies have shown that those with low melatonin levels who suffer insomnia are best helped by supplemental melatonin. It has also proven useful for jet lag and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Menopause The transition period in a woman's life when the ovaries stop producing eggs, menstrual activity decreases and eventually ceases, and the body decreases the production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Typical symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irritability and changes in mood and sleep patterns.
Mercury A toxic metallic element found in old thermometers, some fireworks, paints, hair dyes, antiseptics and fungicides. The ingestion or inhalation of mercury-containing products or food such as fish contaminated by polluted water can cause mercury poisoning, which can lead to death.
Metabolism The process by which foods are transformed into basic elements that can be utilized by the body for energy or growth; the sum of all chemical reactions that go on in living cells. Metabolism includes all the reactions by which the body obtains and spends all the calories it gets from food.
Migraine An excruciating, throbbing headache usually affecting one side of the head that is frequently accompanied by nausea, diarrhea and intense sensitivity to light and sound. Doctors theorize migraines occur when blood vessels of the head and neck constrict, decreasing blood flow, then suddenly dilate. Attacks are often triggered by menstruation, alcohol, allergic reactions or relaxation after a period of stress. The cause is unknown.
Milk sugar See Lactose.
Milligram A unit of weight used in the metric system (abbreviated as mg). One thousand micrograms equals one milligram. One ounce is equivalent to 28,400 mg.
Mineral In nutrition, a compound nutrient that contains an inorganic substance, such as a metal or other trace element found in the earth's crust. For example, sodium chloride (table salt) is a compound of sodium and chlorine. Minerals play a vital role in regulating many of the body's functions.
Mitochondria The parts of body cells which are responsible for the cells' major source of energy.
Mitral valve prolapse A disorder in which the mitral heart valve (a part of the heart) does not close properly, which allows blood to leak into the left atrium. Mitral valve prolapse is a common syndrome with a wide range of symptoms. Some forms of seem to be hereditary.
Molecule The smallest physical unit of an element or a compound.
Molybdenum A trace element that in supplemental form is known to cleanse the body of toxic compounds, generate energy, help manufacture hemoglobin and relieve symptoms of arthritis and asthma. This mineral can be poisonous if ingested in large quantities.
Monosaccharides Simple sugars, such as glucose, fructose and galactose.
Monounsaturated fat A fatty acid with only one double or triple bond per molecule, it is found in such foods as fowl, almonds, pecans, cashew nuts, peanuts, avocado and olive and canola oil.
Mucous membrane Thin sheets of moist body tissue that line the mouth, intestines, urinary tract, nasal passages and various other parts of the body and secrete mucous that protects the underlying structure.
Multiple sclerosis A progressive disease characterized by the breakdown of the lining of the brain, which affects the nerve fibers and spinal cord. It begins slowly, usually in young adulthood, and persists with periods of exacerbation and remission. The first signs are abnormal sensations in the extremities or on one side of the face. Other early signs are muscle weakness, vertigo and visual disturbances. As the disease advances, the patient experiences abnormal gait and lack of complete muscle control.
Mycoplasma infection An infection caused by bacteria that possess no true cell walls, such as parasites or other pathogens, which can cause mycoplasma pneumonia, bronchitis or pharyngitis, among other symptoms. These types of bacteria can infect the sac of the heart.
Myocardial infarction See Heart attack.
Neurotransmitter Any of the numerous chemical substances, such as acetylcholine or norepinephrine, which transmit nerve impulses across the synapse of the brain.
Niacin See Vitamin B3.
Nicotinic acid See Vitamin B3.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs Abbreviated as NSAIDS, medications used to treat inflammation, such as arthritis, tendonitis and bursitis. Examples include indomethacin (Indocin), ibuprofen (Motrin and Advil), naproxen (Naprosyn), piroxicam (Feldene) and nabumetone (Relafen). The major side effects of long-term use of NSAIDs are gastrointestinal complaints, including abdominal pain, stomach and duodenal ulcers, diarrhea, bloating and heartburn. Recent studies have shown chronic long-term use can affect kidney function.
Norepinephrine Known as the "anger hormone," it is secreted by the adrenal glands. As a part of the fight or flight response, the adrenals release epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine, which in turn trigger a series of changes as they circulate throughout the body. Hearing and vision become more acute, bronchi dilate to allow more air into the lungs, blood pressure is raised, digestion halts and perspiration increases to cool skin. In addition, endorphins are released to relieve pain in case of injury and blood cell production increases. These almost instantaneous changes give us the heightened reflexes and strength necessary to react when alarmed.
NSAIDS See Nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs.
Nutraceutical Any substance that is a food or a part of a food and provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. Such products may range from isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and specific diets to genetically engineered designer foods, herbal products, and processed foods such as cereals, soups and beverages. It is important to note that this definition applies to all categories of food and parts of food, ranging from dietary supplements such as folic acid, used for the prevention of spina bifida, to chicken soup, taken to lessen the discomfort of the common cold. This definition also includes a bio-engineered designer vegetable food, rich in antioxidant ingredients, and a stimulant functional food or pharmafood.
Nutrient density A measure of the nutrients a food provides relative to the calories it dispenses. The more nutrients and the fewer calories, the higher its nutrient density.
Obesity An abnormal increase in the proportion of fat cells (as opposed to lean body mass) in the tissues of the body. An individual is considered obese when weight is 20 percent (25 percent in women) or more over the maximum desirable for his/her height. When the excess weight begins to interfere with vital functions such as breathing, it is considered morbidly obese. Obesity will increase the risk of illness and death due to diabetes, stroke, coronary artery disease and kidney and gallbladder disorders. The more overweight an individual, the higher the risk becomes. Obesity has been implicated in increased incidence of some types of cancer.
Occlusion The shutting off (or clotting) of blood flow in a blood vessel. coronary occlusion is the clotting of blood within the coronary artery of the heart.
Omega-3 fat Polyunsaturated essential fatty acids (complete with long-chain fatty acids), eocosahexanoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and arachidonic acid, omega-3s are found in fish, flaxseed oil and canola oil. They act as anti-inflammatories and play an important role in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, hypertension, arthritis and cancer. Like omega-6s, they prolong bleeding time and should be discontinued before and immediately after surgery.
Omega-6 fat Polyunsaturated essential fatty acids or linoleic acid (LA), gamma linoleic acid (GLA) and arachidonic acid, omega-6s are found in vegetable oils and meats. These fats play a role in treating arthritis, diabetes, skin disorders and multiple sclerosis. They will prolong bleeding time and should be discontinued before and immediately after surgery.
Oral diabetes medication In contrast to insulin injections, drugs taken by mouth to help control type II diabetes.
Organic Pertaining to animal and vegetable products raised or grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or drugs.
ORP ORP is an acronym for “Oxidation Reduction Potential”. ORP is a measure of the molecular charge which gives the level of the ability of a substance to oxidize or reduce oxidation. A positive ORP charge (+) indicates that the substance is an oxidizer. The higher the positive charge the stronger the oxidizing power. To oxidize involves the exchange of electrons between two atoms. The atom that gains the electron is said to be oxidized. A negative ORP (-) indicates the ability to donate electrons, the higher the negative charge, the greater the ability to provide electrons. This is the level of the ability to be an antioxidant. Free radicals are oxidizers and their ability to oxidize is eliminated or reduced by the addition of electrons from atoms with a negative ORP. Substances with a high negative ORP are called “antioxidants”. ORP is measured in mV (millivolts).
Osteoarthritis A non-inflammatory form of arthritis in which one or many joints go through degenerative changes. Sometimes called degenerative joint disease, this type of arthritis makes up about half of all kinds of arthritis. It is most common in women and adults above the age of 45. It may affect any joint in the body, including in the fingers, hips, knees, lower back and feet. Osteoarthritis has no cure and the cause is unknown.
Osteoblast cells Cells that build new bone. The activity of these cells diminishes with age, making older people prone to osteoporosis.
Osteoclast cells Cells that break down bone. When osteoblast cells are still functioning at full swing in youth, these cells work together in a constant recycling program. However, with age, less new bone is being formed but osteoclast activity continues at its regular rate, which can cause osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis A disease of the skeleton leading to increased risk of bone fracture. Normal, strong bone is composed of protein, collagen and calcium. Osteoporosis is characterized by the depletion of both calcium and protein, resulting in brittle bones with less density.
Oxidation reduction potential Oxidation Reduction Potential is a measure of the molecular charge which gives the level of the ability of a substance to either oxidize or reduce oxidation. A positive ORP charge (+) indicates that the substance is an oxidizer. The higher the positive charge the stronger the oxidizing power. To oxidize involves the exchange of electrons between two atoms. The atom that gains the electron is said to be oxidized. A negative ORP (-) indicates the ability to donate electrons, the higher the negative charge, the greater the ability to provide electrons. This is the level of the ability to be an antioxidant. Free radicals are oxidizers and their ability to oxidize is eliminated or reduced by the addition of electrons from atoms with a negative ORP. Substances with a high negative ORP are called “antioxidants”. ORP is measured in mV (millivolts).
Palpitations Irregular heartbeats, also referred to as the heart skipping, jumping, pounding, racing or fluttering. Causes include gas, stress, excess caffeine and heavy physical activity, among others.
Pancreas An organ located behind the stomach that makes enzymes, glucogens and hormones, including insulin. The enzymes help digest food in the small intestine, glucogens are a reserve source of energy and insulin controls blood sugar, making it integral to carbohydrate metabolism.
Pantethine The substance to which pantothenic acid converts in the body. A powerful cholesterol-reducing agent, it is also helpful in autoimmune disorders, colitis and Crohn's disease.
Pantothenic acid A water-soluble B vitamin essential for the metabolism of food. It is needed for the synthesis of hormones and cholesterol. Food sources include eggs, fish, milk and milk products, whole-grain cereals, legumes, yeast, broccoli and other vegetables in the cabbage family.
Partially hydrogenated fat See Hydrogenated oils.
PCOS See Polycystic ovary syndrome.
Pectin A polysaccharide found in fruits and vegetables that serves as a gelling agent. It can also be used as a water binder and stabilizer.
Peptide A chain of molecules composed of two or more amino acids.
Phosphorus A mineral that makes up 1 percent of total body weight. It is present in every cell of the body, but 85 percent of the body's phosphorus is found in the bones and teeth, where it helps with their formation. Phosphorus plays an important role in the body's utilization of carbohydrates and fat, and in the synthesis of protein for the growth, maintenance and repair of cells and tissues. Phosphorus works with the B vitamins in the body. It also assists in muscle contraction, kidney function, maintenance of a regular heartbeat and nerve conduction.
Phytate See Phytic acid.
Phytic acid A non-nutrient component of plant seeds, also known as phytate. A form of fiber, it is found in the husks of grains, legumes and seeds, and is capable of binding minerals such as zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium and copper, which the body excretes unused.
Phytoestrogens Compounds found in plants that are weaker than human or other animal estrogens.
Phytonutrient Any potentially healthy food component that comes from a plant and may provide a benefit beyond simple nutrition. vitamins and minerals are also found in plants, but phytonutrients usually have a more profound effect on the metabolism. One major advantage of phytonutrients is their ability to help prevent cancer and other diseases. Some examples include allyl sulfides in garlic, onions and chives and capsaicin in chile peppers. Phytonutrients are usually present in plants in much smaller amounts than vitamins and minerals.
Plaque A buildup of substances including cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, white blood cells and fibrin that can partially or completely block an artery, reducing blood flow.
Plateau In terms of weight loss, a point at which progress ceases despite continued adherence to the program. This pause may happen for several reasons. A plateau could be the result of taking a new medication, illness, stress or reduced activity level. With continued compliance to the program, weight loss will eventually resume.
Polycystic ovary syndrome One of the most frequent causes of female infertility, PCOS is a complex endocrine disorder associated with hormonal imbalance and long-term failure to ovulate. PCOS is characterized by formation of cysts in the ovaries, as a result of the failure of the ovary to release an egg, and in most cases, the ovaries become enlarged. The disorder afflicts up to 22 percent of women during their childbearing years, although only 10 percent of these women will develop symptoms.
Polydextrose A substance that is resistant to digestion in the human small intestine and is partially fermented in the large intestine. Because its physiological effects are similar to dietary fiber, it is labeled as dietary fiber in the Nutrition Facts panel of food products and has no impact on blood sugar.
Polyols See Sugar Alcohols.
Polysaccharides Also called complex carbohydrates, these are many monosaccharides (simple sugars) linked together. They include glycogen, starches, dextrose, cellulose, gums, inulin and Fibers.
Polyunsaturated fat: Technically, a type of fatty acid with more than one double or triple bond per molecule, PUFAs are found in fish, walnuts, sunflower seeds, soybeans and cottonseed and safflower oil.
Potassium A mineral necessary for muscle building, normal body growth and glycogen formation, potassium assists in protein synthesis from amino acids and in carbohydrate metabolism. Fish such as salmon, cod, flounder and sardines are good sources of potassium. Various other types of meats also contain potassium. Vegetables including broccoli, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes (especially their skins) and leafy green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and parsley contain potassium. Fruits that contain significant sources of potassium are citrus fruits, apples, bananas and apricots (especially dried apricots).
Pre-diabetes See Hypoglycemia.
Pregnenolone Produced by the body from cholesterol, it is a precursor for all steroid hormones including progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and DHEA.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) A symptom or collection of symptoms that occurs regularly in relation to the menstrual cycle, with the onset of symptoms five to 11 days before the onset of menses and relief of symptoms with menses or shortly thereafter.
Pro-vitamin A See Beta-carotene.
Processed food In contrast to whole foods, foods that may contain additives and have often been treated to enhance looks, taste or shelf life. Nutrients are often added to replace those destroyed by processing.
Progesterone One of the two primary female hormones (the other is estrogen). With the onset of menopause, progesterone generation by the ovaries is diminished, along with estrogen. Unlike estrogen, which will still be stored and steadily secreted by fat cells, progesterone production grinds to a stop.
Prolotherapy A therapy for many conditions, including arthritis, in which a natural substance is injected into weakened tendons and ligaments that cause chronic joint pain. The substance stimulates the body's own healing abilities, resulting in improved function, increased range of motion and endurance and pain relief. Prolotherapy is also helpful for neck pain, back pain, whiplash, sciatica, herniated discs, degenerative discs, headaches, torn rotator cuffs, knee and ankle instability and wrist injuries.
Prostaglandins A group of about 20 lipids that are modified fatty acids found in tissues, where they act as "messengers" in the inflammatory response.
Prostate A gland in the male reproductive system located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder that stores urine and produces semen.
Protein A group of organic compounds made up of chains of amino acids. Protein, needed for the growth and repair of all human tissues, is composed of 22 amino acids. The body can make 13 of them; the other 9, called essential amino acids, must be obtained in the diet. Protein is needed for the manufacture of hormones, antibodies and enzymes. It also maintains the body's acid/alkali balance.
Psoriasis A chronic skin disease characterized by patches of raised red skin covered by a flaky white buildup. The exact cause is unknown, but it may be due to faulty signals sent by the body's immune system, which then accelerates the growth of skin cells that pile up on its surface.
Psychotropic drugs Drugs that affect the psychic functions, behavior or experience of a person using them, exerting an effect on the mind or modifying mental activity.
Psyllium husk The seed coating of a soluble plant-based fiber that, in combination with adequate water intake, adds bulk to the stool, promoting regularity. Soluble fiber has also been shown to help reduce blood-cholesterol levels.
PUFAs See Polyunsaturated fat.
Pulse The regular, recurrent expansion and contraction of an artery, produced by waves of pressure when the left ventricle of the heart contracts, ejecting blood. It can be easily detected on superficial arteries of the wrist or neck, corresponding to each heartbeat.
Purines Substances found naturally in the human body as well as in certain foods and medications, including caffeine, diuretics and muscle relaxants. Purines are partially responsible for the production of uric acid, which in excess can cause Gout. Purines are found in organ meats (liver, brains, kidney and sweetbreads), anchovies, sardines, herring and mackerel. Smaller amounts are found in red meats and poultry.
Pyridoxine See Vitamin B6.
Pyrilinks D A urine test that measures bone reabsorption. It can be used between bone-density tests to monitor bone loss and the effectiveness of treatment.
Quercetin A flavonoid found in fruits, vegetables and tea that inhibits the release of histamine and other inflammatory responses in the cells of the nose, mouth and other mucous membranes, making it useful for helping alleviate allergic reactions.
RDI An acronym for Recommended Daily Intakes.
Reactive hypoglycemia See Hypoglycemia.
Recommended Daily Intakes Formerly referred to as Recommended Daily Allowances, these are federal government guidelines for dietary intake of certain essential vitamins and minerals. Commonly referred to as RDI.
Refined carbohydrate(s) Plant foods that have undergone a process by which their coarse parts are removed. For example, when wheat is refined into flour, the bran, germ and husk, all healthful components rich in vitamins or fiber, are taken away.
Resistance training See Weight training.
Respiratory Describing a function that pertains to the breathing process.
Retinol See Vitamin A.
Rheumatoid arthritis Also known as inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is among the most debilitating forms of joint disease, causing joints to ache and throb and eventually become deformed. Sometimes these symptoms make even the simplest tasks-like opening a jar or taking a walk-difficult to manage. Unlike osteoarthritis, which results from normal wear and tear on the joints, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition. The exact cause is unknown, but it may be caused by the body's immune system attacking the synovium-the tissue that lines the joints. Rhumatoid arthritis is three times more common in women than in men and generally strikes between the ages of 20 and 50. But rheumatoid arthritis also can appear in young children and older adults. There's no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but with proper treatment, a strategy for joint protection and changes in lifestyle, people with the condition can live a long, productive life.
Riboflavin See Vitamin B2.
Rosacea Rosacea (pronounced "roh-ZAY-shuh") is a very common skin disease that affects people over the age of 30. It causes redness on your nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. Some people get little bumps and pimples on the red parts of their faces. Rosacea can also cause burning and soreness in your eyes.
Saccharin An artificial sweetener that tastes 200 to 700 times as sweet as sugar and provides the body with zero calories.
Saturated fat A type of fatty acid found in meat, egg yolks, dairy products and fish, as well as coconut and palm oils. Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature.
Sed rate The rate at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of a test tube, indicating the presence of inflammation, which could be a sign of a health problem, such as arthritis or even a cold. The normal values for men are up to 15 mm/hr; women: up to 20 mm/hr; children: up to 10 mm/hr; seniors: up to 30 mm/hr.
Selenium A trace mineral, selenium has a variety of functions, the main one as an antioxidant. Selenium seems to stimulate antibody formation in response to vaccines. It also may provide protection from the toxic effects of heavy metals and other substances. It may assist in the synthesis of protein, in growth and development. It is also an aid in fertility, especially in men; it has been shown to improve the production of sperm and sperm motility. Fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, brewer's yeast, wheat germ, eggs, chicken, liver and garlic are all good sources of selenium. The amount of selenium in vegetables is dependent on the selenium content of the soil.
Serotonin A naturally occurring derivative of tryptophan, found in blood platelets and in cells of the brain and the intestine. Serotonin in intestinal tissue stimulates the smooth muscles to contract. In the central nervous system it acts as a neurotransmitter. Dysregulation of serotonin may be involved in disorders such as depression, obsessive compulsive or aggressive behavior and appetite and sleep disorders.
Serum cholesterol A soft waxy substance present in all parts of the body including the nervous system, skin, muscle, liver, intestines and heart. It is made by the body and obtained from fatty substances in the diet. cholesterol is manufactured in the liver for normal body functions including the production of hormones, bile and vitamin D. It is transported in the blood for use by all parts of the body.
Sodium An electrolyte or mineral salt that conducts electricity when dissolved in water. It is critical to the maintenance of fluid balance, nerve transmissions and muscle contractions. In the body, sodium is intricately related to another electrolyte, potassium.
Starch A plant polysaccharide composed of thousands of small sugar molecules. Sources of starch include grains, legumes and vegetables such as potatoes and beets. Starches are used as thickening agents in many products such as bread, cakes and pasta.
Statin drugs A group of cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as lovastatin (Mevacor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), pravastatin sodium (Pravachol) and simvastatin (Zocor) that are used to lower cholesterol.
Stress A physical, social or emotional reaction to any stimulus, known as a stressor, that disturbs equilibrium, and in turn leads to a response or physiological change.
Stroke A group of brain disorders that occur when the blood supply to any part of the brain is interrupted. The brain requires about 20 percent of the circulation of blood in the body. Even a brief interruption to the blood flow can cause decreases in brain function. Symptoms vary with the area of the brain affected and commonly include such problems as changes in vision or speech, decreased movement or sensation in a part of the body or changes in the level of consciousness. If the blood flow is decreased for longer than a few seconds, brain cells in the area are destroyed, causing permanent damage to that area of the brain or even death.
Subfraction A subgroup of a larger group. For example, very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) is a subfraction of LDL cholesterol.
Sucralose An artificial sweetener that tastes 600 times as sweet as sugar and provides 0 calories per gram.
Sucrose See Sugar.
Sugar A disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose. It is commonly known as table sugar, beet sugar or cane sugar. Sugar also occurs in many fruits and some vegetables and grains. It is broken down in the intestine to glucose and fructose.
Sugar alcohols Also known as polyols, sugar alcohols are sugar molecules with hydroxy, or alcohol, groups attached. Sugar alcohols have many of the characteristics of carbohydrates such as bulking and sweetening, but provide fewer calories, and do not impact blood glucose as sugar does.
Systolic blood pressure The maximum blood pressure, which occurs during contraction of the left ventricle of the heart chamber. It is the higher number in a blood pressure reading, expressed as the higher part, or numerator, of the fraction. When you say your blood pressure is 110 over 70, 110 is the systolic blood pressure.
Table sugar See Sugar.
Testosterone A steroid hormone, the main male sex hormone, which is also present in women in smaller amounts.
Thermogenesis A process that generates heat, especially in the body.
Thermoregulation The ability to maintain a constant internal body temperature.
Thiamin Vitamin B1, which functions as part of an enzyme essential for energy production, carbohydrate metabolism and nerve function. Thiamin is found in both plant and animal sources and functions in the complex process of converting glucose (blood sugar) into energy. It is vital in certain metabolic reactions, and thus is needed during exercise and times of high-energy expenditure. Thiamin is also essential for maintenance of the heart and nervous system and formation and maintenance of red blood cells. A syndrome associated with thiamin deficiency is beri beri.
Trans fatty acids Also known as trans fats, a fat that has been altered to a form that the body cannot digest. Examples include hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils created by a manufacturing process as well as fats that have been exposed to excessive heat by cooking. See also hydrogenated oils.
Transient ischemic attack (TIA) A form of stroke, also known as ischemic stroke, caused by deprivation of blood flow to a specific area of the brain.
Triglyceride The chief form of fat in the diet and the major storage form of fat in the body. Serum levels of triglycerides indicate how much fat is moving through or clogging arteries. A level below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) is considered healthy.
Type I Diabetes Insulin-dependent diabetes is a less common type of diabetes than Type II in which insufficient insulin is produced, requiring daily injections of insulin. Juvenile-onset diabetes is more likely to be Type I.
Type II Diabetes Also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes, this is the more common type of diabetes. The body's fat cells resist the action of insulin, resulting in the inability to burn up the blood sugar (that comes from dietary carbohydrates), resulting in more sugar circulating in the bloodstream.
Ubiquinone See Coenzyme Q10.
Ulcer An area of the stomach eroded by stomach acid. Symptoms include indigestion and chest and/or abdominal pain, which can be worse before or after eating and strong enough to awaken someone who is asleep. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by an endoscopy, which views the lining of the stomach and duodenum. The following increase risk for developing an ulcer: a family history, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption and certain drugs such as aspirin. Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium found in the stomach, can also be responsible.
Ulcerative colitis See Colitis.
Uric acid A form of nitrogenous wastes, uric acid is an odorless compound formed in the body as a result of protein metabolism. It is present in small amounts in human urine; high levels can result in kidney stones and Gout.
Vitamin An organic nutrient (as opposed to a mineral, which is inorganic) essential for normal physiological and metabolic functions of the body. Most vitamins cannot be synthesized by the body and must be ingested in food or supplements.
Vitamin A An important fat soluble vitamin that helps in the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucous membranes and skin. It is also known as retinol, as it generates the pigments that are necessary for the working of the retina. It promotes good vision, especially in dim light. It may also be required for reproduction and lactation. beta-carotene, which has antioxidant properties, is a precursor to vitamin A. Because it is fat-soluble, it can accumulate in the liver, so overdosing is possible.
Vitamin B12 Also known as cyanocobalamin, is a water soluble vitamin involved in protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, as well as blood formation and nerve function. Sources are liver, kidneys, fish and meats. Deficiency, commonly called megablastic anemia, can occur in strict vegetarians and also in those who have a problem absorbing B12 due to a lack of intrinsic factor, a substance secreted essential for absorption of vitamin B12. This can also occur as we age.
Vitamin B2 A water-soluble vitamin (also known as riboflavin) required by the body for health, growth and reproduction; part of the vitamin B complex. It is important for red cell production and helps release energy from carbohydrates. Dietary sources include lean meats, eggs, legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables and dairy products. Breads and cereals are often fortified with Riboflavin. Oral contraceptives can reduce riboflavin levels.
Vitamin B3 Also known as niacin or nicotinic acid, it is used to treat various medical conditions such as high cholesterol, peripheral vascular disease and migraines. If supplementing with Niacin, be sure to get the flush-free variety. High doses can stress the liver.
Vitamin B6 Also known as pyridoxine, this water-soluble nutrient plays a role in the immune System's synthesis of antibodies, helps maintain normal brain function and form red blood cells. It is also required for the chemical reactions of proteins. Vitamin B6 is found in beans, nuts, legumes, eggs, meats, fish, whole grains and fortified breads and cereals. The higher the protein intake, the greater the need for this nutrient. Deficiency of this vitamin is not common in the United States. Excessive doses can cause neurological disorders and numbness.
Vitamin C This water-soluble vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that has been shown to play a role in boosting the immune System. The Recommended Daily Intake RDI) is 60-75mg per day, but Linus Pauling and other complementary practitioners recommend considerably higher doses for preventing the common cold. Sources of vitamin C include strawberries, peaches, plums, tomatoes, celery, onions and cabbage.
Vitamin D Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate. In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol can be ingested from the diet and from supplements. The body can also synthesize vitamin D (specifically cholecalciferol) in the skin, from cholesterol, when sun exposure is adequate (hence its nickname, the "sunshine vitamin").
Vitamin K A fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in blood clotting, vitamin K is found in vegetables, including cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and other leafy greens, as well as in cereals and soybeans. The bacteria lining of the gastrointestinal tract also makes vitamin K. Vitamin K counteracts the effects of oral anticoagulant drugs such as Coumadin.
VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol The type of lipoprotein made primarily by the liver cells to transport lipids to various tissues in the body.
Weight training Also known as resistance training, this is the use of free weights or weight machines to provide resistance for developing muscle strength and endurance. A person's own body weight may also be used to provide resistance in the case of sit-ups, pull-ups or abdominal crunches.
Wheat A widely cultivated cereal grass, used in making flour, wheat comes in many varieties including the high-protein spelt. Different classes of wheat produce flour with different characteristics. For example, semolina, used for pasta, comes from durem wheat. The wheat seed or kernel contains the endosperm, the germ and the husk or outer coat. The germ and husk are removed in the process that mills white flour.
Wheat flour Any flour made from wheat, including white flour, which may or may not be refined. Some flours are "enriched," meaning that they are supplemented with iron and vitamin B complex to restore nutrients removed in the milling process.
Wheat germ The embryo contained inside the wheat kernel, it can be sprinkled on foods as a concentrated source of vitamins, iron, phosphorus and Essential fatty acids.
White flour The finely ground endosperm of the wheat seed, this flour has been refined for maximum softness and whiteness. It may also be bleached. The bran, a source of fiber, and germ have both been removed.
White sugar Pure sucrose or table sugar that is produced by dissolving and concentrating crystals of sucrose or dextrose so that it recrystallizes.
Whole grain A grain milled in its entirety; not refined.
Whole wheat flour A whole grain flour made from the whole kernel of wheat.
Yeast infection See Candidiasis.
Zinc A nutrient and co-factor for many processes including DNA synthesis, growth, wound healing, reproduction and bone formation. Orally, zinc is used as a dietary supplement. Topically, it is used to treat acne and speed wound healing. A deficiency in zinc is characterized by abnormal fatigue, decrease in taste and odor sensitivity, poor appetite and prolonged healing of wounds. Food sources include meats, eggs, seafood, nuts and other foods high in protein.