Glossary

Acetaldehyde

Acetaldehyde is an organic chemical compound that may be cancer-causing to humans.

Alkalise

To turn a substance less acidic.

Alpha-Tocopherol

A type of vitamin E that is thought to have an antioxidant effect on the human body.

Aluminium

Aluminium is a silvery white metallic element, most often found in foods in the form of aluminium salts.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are one of the building blocks of life, and are made up of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen.

Analgesic

A drug or substance that can relieve pain.

Anti-inflammatory

A drug or substance that can reduce inflammation in the human body, with inflammation being the body’s response to injury or infection.

Antioxidants

These substances prevent the oxidisation of a cell in the body; a process that can lead to a chain reaction within the cell that causes damage or death of the cell.

Apple

The round fruit of a tree of the rose family, which typically has thin red or green skin and crisp flesh.

Arachidonic acid

Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid, used primarily by the body to rebuild muscles.

Atopic

A condition where a hereditary or inherited predisposition exists that can be set off by exposure to a triggering agent (such as dust or pollen).

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Bioactive

Meaning that the substance has the ability to interact with the human body’s tissue or body systems.

Blood Sugar

The amount of blood sugar (or glucose) that is present in the human body.

Bowel flora

Bowel flora consists of the bacteria and microorganisms that naturally live in the bowel/ gut. We ingest bacteria daily through food and drink. It is mainly harmless and is beneficial to the functioning of the bowel/ gut.

Brain Cells

Otherwise known as a neuron, these are the cells that transmit signals within the human brain.

Brain plaques

Deposits on the brain that can lead to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Butyric Acid

A type of fatty acid that occurs naturally in plant oils and animal fats.

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Calcium

A chemical element that is essential to human life and found in the highest quantities in bones and teeth.

Candida Bacteria

A species of yeast that can exist harmlessly in the human body, or which can cause disease or infection to occur depending on the circumstances.

Cardiovascular Disease

The group of diseases associated with the heart and blood vessels.

Carotenoids

These are organic compounds that are present in the cells of plants and are used in the body’s metabolic process (the process of chemical reactions that allow humans to sustain life).

Chemopreventive

A substance or food that prevents the development of cancer.

Cholesterol

A waxy fat that is produced by the liver and transported by the bloodstream and used to create hormones and cells.

Choline

Is a water-soluble essential nutrient. Foods containing choline must be included in one’s diet in order for the body to remain healthy. It is used in the combination of the constructional components in the body’s cell membranes.

Cochrane Systematic Review

Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care.

Cohort Study

A cohort study is an analytical study in which individuals are observed for the occurrence of certain health effects over a period of months and years.

Colonic Epithelial Cell

Epithelial cells line the cavities and surfaces throughout the body, responsible primarily for secretion, absorption and protection.

Colorectal Adenomas

Adenomas are benign growths in the colon that can become cancerous in certain circumstances.

Compound isoflavones

Compound isoflavones have mild properties similar to oestrogen and antioxidant properties. They are present in soy beans.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid

A type of acid found mainly in meat and dairy products, which some studies have suggested may have anticancer properties.

Cysteine

Cysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in food and can be manufactured in the body. It promotes antioxidant activity.

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D-Chiro-inositol

A substance found in buckwheat.

Diuretic

A substance that increases the body’s rate of water excretion, usually through urination.

Docosahexaenoic acid

Otherwise known as DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid that is found in high quantities in the human brain and retina.

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E.coli bacteria

A type of bacteria that is commonly found in the guts of humans and other mammals, certain types of which can lead to food poisoning.

Eicosapentaenoic acid

An omega 3 fatty acid more commonly referred to as EPA, which has anti-inflammatory properties.

Elemental Diet

A liquid only diet that enables a person to receive the amino acids, fats, sugars, vitamins and minerals they require without eating solid food.

Enzyme

Is a protein that increases the rate of chemical reactions.

EULAR

European League Against Rheumatism

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Fat

Fat can be derived from both animal and plant based products and is an essential part of human diet.

Fermentable Carbohydrates

These are found in sugary foods such as cakes and biscuits but also fruits including bananas and raisins and may be a cause of IBS as they are broken down in the large intestine by bacteria releasing high quantities of hydrogen and methane.

Fibre

Sometimes called roughage, this is the indigestible part of plant based foods that can be found in whole grain products, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Fizzy Drinks

Drinks made from carbonated water, sweeteners and flavourings.

Flavin

Is the common name for a group of organic compounds.

Free Radicals

Formed when molecules break up, free radicals are thought to cause cellular damage: vitamins C and E help the body’s defences against them.

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Glucose

A simple sugar found in carbohydrates that provides a significant source of energy.

Gluten Protein

Found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye, an intolerance of this type of protein can lead to coeliac disease.

GORD

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, the main symptom of which is heartburn.

Guidelines

This is where dietary guidelines have been issued in the UK for this food and condition combination.

Gullet

Food passes down the oesophagus, also known as the gullet, on its way to the stomach.

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Heterocyclic Amines

Vitamins and carcinogens are examples of HCAs, chemical compounds that have atoms of at least two different elements.

High Density Lipoproteins

Cholesterol is transported in the blood stream by lipoproteins: high density lipoproteins transport cholesterol back to the liver for excretion.

High Fibre

A high fibre diet includes lots of vegetables and legumes, as well as fruit and whole grains that are high in soluble and insoluble fibre.

Histamine

Antibodies trigger the production of histamine that causes allergic symptoms such as eczema, asthma and hives.

Hives

A form of allergic reaction that results in raised, red, itchy bumps on the skin.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

HRT is a medical treatment most commonly used for menopausal women that reduces the amount of oestrogen and progesterone hormones.

Hormone Treated Milk

Milk from cows that have been treated with hormones to increase milk production.

Hyalurdinase

A type of enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid and can be used to transport drugs more quickly round the body.

Hyperandrogenism

A condition resulting in excessive production of androgens, one of the main symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Hypoallergenic

Products that cause a lower allergic reaction when compared to other similar items.

Hypocaloric diet

A diet that includes fewer calories than a normal diet.

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Insoluble Fibre

Roughage from plant foods, such as whole grains, that help food pass through the digestive system.

Insulin

A hormone produced in the pancreas that is used to regulate glucose.

Isoflavones

A compound found in pulses such as soybeans suggested by some studies to reduce the amount of glucose in the bloodstream.

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Lactobacilli

Bacteria that convert lactose and other sugars to lactic acid and are present in fermented food products such as yoghurt, cheese and beer.

Legumes

A type of plant characterised by a single pod that opens on both sides such as peas, beans and lentils.

Low Density Lipoproteins

Part of the group of lipoproteins that transport cholesterol around the body: high levels are thought to lead to cardiovascular disease.

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Magnesium

This mineral is found in nearly every cell in the body and is essential for good health.

Malodorous

An unpleasant smell.

Meta-Analysis

Meta-analysis combines the results from a number of studies investigating the same aspect of any given subject to give a truer result.

Mono-Oxygenase 3

Is a transferase (an enzyme that increases the transfer of a functional group) from one molecule (called the donor) to another (called the acceptor).

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats are found in foods such as red meats, whole milk products and nuts and are thought to promote production of high density lipoproteins.

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Narrative review

A comprehensive summary of the literature available on any given subject.

Nerves

Fibres that transmit messages to the brain and from the brain to muscles and organs in the body.

Neurodegeneration

Neurodegeneration is a term used to describe the loss of function of neurons and includes diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntingdon’s.

Neurotoxic

Neurotoxicity occurs when exposure to natural or artificial toxins damages the nervous system and destroys neurons.

NICE

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Nitrates

Nitrates can be present in the water system and can inhibit growth and have a detrimental effect on the immune system.

NSAIDS

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect.

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Observational Studies

A study that divides patients into a treated group and a control group to observe the results of different treatments.

Oesophageal Sphincter

This muscle is at the lower end of the oesophagus and allows food to pass through into the stomach but prevents acids from flowing back up.

Oesophagus

Food passes down the oesophagus, also known as the gullet, on its way to the stomach.

Oestrogen

A group of hormones that promote female characteristics in the human body.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish and some plant oils and evidence suggests that they reduce blood pressure, alleviate symptoms of conditions such as arthritis and improve circulation.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

A type of unsaturated fatty acid, high levels of which are linked to occurrence of heart attacks, strokes, arrhythmia, arthritis, osteoporosis, obesity, and cancer.

Opioid Receptors

Found in the brain, spinal cord and digestive tract.

Other Reviews or Single Trials

This is where a lower level review has taken place or a single trial that hasn’t been verified by further trials.

Oxidative stress

Causes cell damage and contributes to many diseases. It occurs when there is an excess of free radicals or a decrease in antioxidant levels.

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Pancreas

The pancreas is an organ in the digestive system that secretes enzymes to aid digestion in the small intestine.

pH

A value given to show acidity or alkalinity on a scale on which 7 is neutral, lower values are more acid and higher values more alkaline.

Phytonutrients

Found in certain plants, phytonutrients are thought to have wide ranging health benefits in humans.

Placebo

A treatment, often sugar pills without any medicinal effect, given to a control group in a clinical trial to enable comparison with the treated group.

Potassium

Potassium is an important element in the human body contributing to healthy brain and nerve function and can be found in foods including bananas, nuts, avocados and soy beans.

Proanthocyanidins

Proanthocyanidins are found in a variety of plants including apples, grapes and cranberries and studies show that they have significant antioxidant properties.

Prostaglandins

Prostaglandins are produced at various places in the body and are needed to contract and relax muscles, dilate and constrict blood vessels and control blood pressure.

Protein

Protein is made up of amino acids, found in foods such as meat, eggs, lentils and vegetables, and is needed for repairing and maintaining organs in the human body.

Purines

Meat products, particularly internal organs, are very high in purines, which are part of the genetic structure of every cell in the body.

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Quercetin

Quercetin is found in fruit, vegetables and grains and studies are currently underway into their effectives against a wide range of diseases.

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Saturated Fats

Products with a high amount of animal fat such as butter and cheese contain saturated levels.

Selenium

Selenium is a mineral that promotes thyroid gland function and is found in foods including nuts and cereals.

Serotonin

Serotonin is a chemical manufactured in the brain and contributes to feelings of happiness. However, the majority of it is present in the gut in order to regulate bowel movements.

Sex hormone-binding globulin

SHBG is mainly produced by the liver and is released into the blood stream to transport androgens (a hormone that activates and controls the development and maintenance of male characteristics) and oestrogens in blood and regulates their access to target tissues.

SIGN Guideline

Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network

Soluble Fibre

Roughage from plant based foods, such as oats, legumes and some fruits, that absorbs water and ferments in the colon.

Sphincter

A circular muscle that controls the passage of food at various stages of the digestive process such as the oesophageal sphincter and anus.

Sphingomyelin

Sphingomyelin is found principally in the tissues of the nervous system.

Statins

Statins reduce the level of cholesterol in the body thereby lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Stomach Acid

Gastric or stomach acid is formed by the cells in the stomach to aid digestion.

Sugars

Sucrose, fructose and glucose are sugars present in many food products: excessive consumption can lead to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Sulphites

Sulphites are a common allergen and are used as preservatives in a wide range of food products.

Systematic Review

A systematic review identifies all the leading literature on a given subject and sums up the results of existing high quality studies.

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Tangles

Fibres in the brain cells contain protein for transporting nutrients: abnormal protein tangles are symptomatic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Tatrazine

An E number that is used as a yellow food colouring.

Triglycerides

These are the main constituents of vegetable oil and animal fats and in humans they are a mechanism for storing unused calories. Consumption of starchy and fatty foods creates a high concentration in blood.

Trimethylamine N-oxide

This is a protein stabilizer found in saltwater fish, sharks, rays and shellfish. It decomposes into trimethylamine which creates the odour when seafood goes off.

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Unsaturated fats

Are found in plant based foods and oils, and oily fish. They are healthier than saturated fats because they can help lower blood cholesterol whereas saturated fats increase it.

Uric Acid

A chemical that is produced when the body breaks down purines and is passed out of the body in urine.

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Vitamin

Vitamins, the majority of which can be found in a healthy and balanced diet, are essential for good nutrition and growth.

Vitamin A

Sources include vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, vitamin A is essential for good vision.

Vitamin C

Found in a variety of fruit and vegetables, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant with a range of health benefits.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bone growth and is made in the skin after exposure to the sun, but can also be found in some fish and in fortified food products.

Vitamin E

Found in nuts and seeds, fortified food products and certain vegetables, vitamin E deficiencies can be detrimental to growth, particularly in children.

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White Blood Cells

White blood cells defend the body from infections and disease and are produced in the bone marrow.

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