A Detailed Glossary on all the Important Terms Related to Health, Nutrition, and Wellbeing
Health, nutrition, and well-being are full of jargon and terminology that could occasionally make it a tad difficult to grasp the vast knowledge they have to offer. Lucky for you, we’ve curated a glossary with everything from common terms like vegan protein powder, fiber supplement, etc. to lesser-known terms like anabolism, catabolism, etc., so you’re better equipped to understand the concepts of nutrition. Scroll down to enhance your knowledge, one word at a time.
Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is a chemical that transports energy across various cells in our bodies. It is the primary energy currency of all living things, and its core function is to capture the energy synthesized by the breakdown of food molecules and transport it to other cells for various cellular processes.
When proteins combine in the body, they form molecules known as amino acids. These molecules are primarily made of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The human body requires amino acids to produce proteins, which aid in digestion and tissue repair. To grow and function adequately, your body requires 20 different types of amino acids. While all 20 of them are beneficial to your health, only nine are considered essential. They are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. These cannot be produced by the body and need to be obtained from diets rich in meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, soy, etc. You can also get them through supplements.
This is concerned with growth and construction—essentially the organization of molecules. Anabolic reactions are endergonic, which means they require energy input to proceed and are not spontaneous. They build complex molecules from simple compounds (e.g., proteins from amino acids, carbohydrates from sugars, etc.)
Anthocyanidins are nothing but water-soluble plant pigments; they give fruits and vegetables their rich pink, red, blue, or purple colors.
Antioxidants are substances used by the body to counteract free radicals. This prevents the free radicals from harming other cells and causing oxidation in the body.
The amount of glucose in the blood is referred to as the blood glucose level. The bloodstream transports glucose, which provides energy to all cells in the body. Long-term high blood glucose levels can harm your kidneys, eyes, and other organs, as well as cause diabetes.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation of a person's weight in relation to his or her height. It is intended to serve as an indicator rather than a direct assessment of a person's total body fat. It insinuates that if a person's BMI rises, so will their total body fat.
Breathwork refers to any sort of therapy that uses breathing exercises to promote mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. The main principle behind breathwork is to expel toxins and tension when you breathe out and nourish your mind and body when you breathe in.
A calorie is a measurement of the amount of energy provided by food when consumed and digested. Calories are required to process everyday bodily functions. When a person is ill or weak, their body may require more calories to combat a fever or other issues.
Carbohydrates are sugar molecules. They are one of the macronutrients that the body requires to break down into glucose and use for energy. Though they are frequently demonized in modern diets, they remain the body's primary source of energy and hence essential.
Catabolism is the process in which the body breaks down complex molecules into simpler ones. Unlike anabolism mentioned above, catabolism is exergonic, which means it generates heat and operates through hydrolysis and oxidation. Cells may store important raw materials in complex molecules, break them down through catabolism, and reuse the smaller molecules to create new products.
Carotenoids are pigments found in plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria that function as antioxidants in humans. These pigments give plants, vegetables, and fruits their vivid yellow, red, and orange colors.
Collagen is a protein that is present in connective tissue, the skin, tendons, bones, and cartilage. As we age, the amount of collagen in our bodies starts to decrease, which is why it's best to opt for a collagen supplement in your mid-20s. If consumed regularly, collagen supplements may give you numerous health benefits. They are also often known as collagen peptides. The best collagen is generally the one derived from deep-sea fish. Apart from skin health, you can use collagen for hair, nail, and bone health!
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like molecule found in your cells that helps your body accomplish critical jobs. There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
In terms of nutrition, a person's diet is the composition of the food consumed. The term also frequently refers to the number of certain nutrients obtained for health or weight-management purposes.
Dietary fiber, often known as roughage or bulk, refers to plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. Unlike other dietary components such as lipids, proteins, and carbs, which your body digests and absorbs, fiber is not digested by your body. Lack of dietary fiber can cause indigestion or constipation, which is why people often turn to fiber supplements or fiber tablets. To meet your daily fiber requirements, a reliable fiber supplement should be combined with other superfoods.
Dietary supplements are products that are meant to augment one's diet. Dietary supplements can help you enhance or maintain your overall health, and they can also help you fill the gaps in your daily dietary requirements.
The breakdown of food into smaller components that may be taken into the bloodstream is referred to as digestion. There are two forms of digestion: mechanical digestion, which occurs in the mouth when food is physically broken up into smaller pieces, and chemical digestion, which occurs in the gastrointestinal tract when food is broken down into small molecules by digestive enzymes.
Enriching food is the practice of restoring micronutrients to a food product that may have been lost during processing.
Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge in your blood and other bodily fluids. Electrolytes have an impact on how your body functions with respect to the amount of water in your body, the pH of your blood, etc.
Enzymes are types of proteins in our body that assist in the faster processing of the chemicals and even speed up our metabolism. They have the ability to create some chemicals as well as break them down. Enzymes are produced in our bodies naturally, but we can also get them from food. Many vegan protein powders, organic protein powders, and plant protein variants have added enzymes for our bodies to reap the benefits of protein better.
Energy balance is the situation in which the number of calories consumed equals the number of calories expended. Physical activity, body size, the amount of body fat and muscle, and genes all have an impact on one’s energy balance.
A fatty acid is a type of fat, oil, or wax. It is created through hydrolysis, which is the breakdown of fats (typically triglycerides or phospholipids). Fatty acids are divided into two types based on the nature of their covalent bonds: unsaturated fatty acids and saturated fatty acids. Since the former is part of healthy fats, consuming foods rich in unsaturated fats like avocados, olives, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, and dark chocolate improves cholesterol levels as compared to the latter.
Flavonoids are phytochemical substances found in a wide variety of plants, including fruits, vegetables, and leaves. Flavonoids have a variety of therapeutic effects, including anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral activities.
A food item that has extra nutrients is considered ‘fortified’ with a certain additional compound. A vegan protein powder or plant protein fortified with essential amino acids or a fiber supplement with added superfoods are examples of fortified foods.
Free radicals are unstable chemicals that can harm cells and accelerate the aging and disease process. They are formed as a consequence of regular biological activities or by external sources such as pollution, radiation, and certain chemicals. Certain foods and supplements include antioxidants, which can neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative damage.
Glutathione is an amino acid molecule produced from glycine, cysteine, and glutamic acid. It is produced by the liver and is involved in a variety of biological functions. Glutathione is involved in tissue creation and repair, the generation of necessary molecules and proteins, and immune system function. It is also widely used in skin supplements or skincare tablets. For nourished, radiant skin from within, try skincare tablets that also contain collagen peptides.
Gluten is a protein found naturally in cereals such as wheat, barley, and rye. It is what gives certain foods their stretchy texture. Gluten, particularly the gluten found in whole grains, is not harmful to healthy people whose bodies can tolerate it.
The GI of a food indicates how quickly it impacts your blood sugar (glucose) level when consumed on its own. Several factors influence a food's glycemic index, like its nutrient makeup, cooking method, ripeness, and amount of processing.
The number of carbs in a portion of food is considered the glycemic load. It is used to assess how it may affect blood sugar levels after consumption.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, also known as "good" cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol from the blood and transports it to the liver. It is then flushed from the body by the liver. HDL cholesterol may carry LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol away from your arteries.
Hydrogenated fats (also known as trans-fatty acids) are synthetic fats assembled through the hydrogenation process. This involves adding hydrogen units to polyunsaturated fatty acids to keep them from turning rancid and to maintain their solid state at room temperature.
Hemoglobin is a protein present in red blood cells that transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and carbon dioxide from the body to the lungs for exhalation. Because of its iron concentration, hemoglobin has a particular ability to bind to oxygen, and the oxygen-hemoglobin link serves to guarantee that oxygen is carried efficiently to tissues that require it.
Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose in the blood to enter cells, supplying them with the energy they need to function. When insulin doesn’t function properly, it becomes the main contributor to the development of diabetes.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and hence remains intact when food passes through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is a form of dietary fiber that dissolves easily in water and is broken down into a gel-like substance in the colon.
IU stands for International Units. The IU unit is used to measure the effect rather than the number of substances like vitamins, hormones, enzymes, and medicines. Vitamins, hormones, some drugs, vaccinations, blood products, and other physiologically active chemicals are all measured in international units.
Ketosis is a metabolic process that makes your body burn fat rather than glucose for energy. The ketogenic diet offers numerous potential benefits, including weight loss, enhanced energy, and treatment of chronic illnesses.
LDL is an abbreviation for low-density lipoproteins. A high LDL level is usually referred to as "bad" cholesterol since it promotes a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries.
Lipids are fatty molecules that serve numerous roles in your body. They are part of your cell membranes and help regulate what enters and exits your cells. The right amount of lipids helps in the production of hormones, the movement and storage of energy, and the absorption of micronutrients. However, lipids in excess are toxic.
Lecithin is a term used to designate a class of fatty compounds present in plant and animal cells. Lecithin is required for normal cellular function. Soybeans are a commonly used source of lecithin supplements. Lecithin acts as an emulsifier, suspending fats and oils and preventing them from interacting with other molecules.
Macronutrients are nutrients that supply calories or energy for appropriate growth, metabolism, and other bodily activities; in other words, fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
Maltitol is a type of carbohydrate that is a sugar, alcohol, or polyol. It has half the calories of sugar and is 90% as sweet as sugar.
Malnutrition is characterized by an insufficient, excessive, or imbalanced intake of calories and/or nutrients. It occurs when the body lacks vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients required to sustain healthy tissues and organ function.
Metabolism is the process by which the body turns food and drink into energy. Calories from meals and drinks react with oxygen during this process to produce the energy that the body demands.
Micronutrients are nutrients that the body needs in small quantities for growth and development. They play a crucial role in the metabolic activities of the organism. Vitamins and minerals are considered micronutrients.
A form of dietary fat is monounsaturated fat (MUFA). Just like polyunsaturated fat, it is one of the healthy fats. Plant foods that include monounsaturated fats include almonds, avocados, and vegetable oils.
Minerals are inorganic substances that are required for the body to function properly. They are involved in a number of activities, including the formation of strong bones and teeth, the transmission of nerve impulses, the contraction of muscles, and the maintenance of a healthy fluid balance. Calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, and magnesium are examples of common minerals.
A dietary supplement that contains all or most of the essential vitamins that aren't easily obtained from food. Vitamins are classified based on their solubility in lipids (vitamins A, D, E, K, and F) or in water (vitamins C, B-complex).
Nutrients are chemical components present in food that the body requires in order to function properly and stay healthy. Proteins, lipids, carbs, vitamins, and minerals are all examples of nutrients.
Nutraceuticals are food-derived supplements that provide both nourishment and medicinal effects. They have a high concentration of bioactive chemicals produced by nature that have physiological effects and aid in the prevention and treatment of certain conditions. Skincare tablets, fiber supplements, or collagen supplements can all be considered nutraceuticals.
The Paleo diet, often known as the "caveman" or "stone-age" diet, consists mostly of lean meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Paleo diet supporters emphasize the importance of eating low-glycemic fruits and vegetables.
A placebo is a drug or treatment that is designed to be ineffectual. In general, placebos can influence how patients perceive their illness and stimulate the body's chemical mechanisms for pain relief and a few other symptoms, but they have no effect on the disease itself.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are health-promoting lipid molecules containing two or more carbon-carbon double bonds. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are always liquid at room temperature.
Protein is a macronutrient molecule comprising amino acids. They naturally contain roughly 20 distinct amino acids. Proteins are required for the body to function properly. They are the building blocks of biological components such as skin and hair, as well as enzymes, cytokines, and antibodies.
The RDA or Recommended Dietary Allowance, is the value of essential nutrient requirements considered by the Food and Nutrition Board to meet the known nutrition needs of practically all healthy people based on available scientific knowledge.
The average daily food intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of 97-98% of healthy individuals in a specific life stage and gender group is called Recommended Dietary Intake or RDI.
Saturated fats are saturated with hydrogen molecules and have just single carbon-carbon bonds. Because of this hydrogen molecule saturation, saturated fats are solid at normal temperatures. Saturated fat consumption may raise some risk factors for heart disease, such as LDL cholesterol.
A serving size is the recommended quantity of each food that you should ingest during a meal or snack.
Trans fat, commonly known as trans-unsaturated fatty acids or trans fatty acids, is an unsaturated fat found in foods. It is regarded as the worst form of fat to consume since it elevates the level of "bad" cholesterol in the body.
Triglycerides are a type of fat that is found in the blood. A high intake of this type of fat may increase the risk of coronary artery disease, particularly in women.
There is at least one double bond between carbon molecules in unsaturated lipids. Unsaturated fats always remain liquid at room temperature. They are considered healthy fats because they can lower blood cholesterol, reduce inflammation, normalize cardiac rhythms, and perform a variety of other functions.
Veganism is the practice of not using animal products or byproducts, especially in one's diet. Individuals who actively adhere to this ideology or diet are known as vegans.
Vegan protein powder or plant protein are supplements that derive their protein from plant-based sources, unlike whey protein. Plant-based proteins can also be used as sports nutrition supplements in addition to an athlete’s diet.
The term "well-being" refers to both a state of complete health and the process of achieving it.Physical, emotional, social, and cognitive wellness are all included. The biological, material, social, spiritual, cultural, emotional, and mental dimensions of well-being are all important.
Whole grains and foods prepared from them contain the grain seed's key elements and naturally occurring nutrients in their original quantities. For a food to be considered a whole grain, all of the endosperm, germ, and bran must be present.
Zen is an experiential practice that seeks to provide direct understanding and insight into life through meditation practice and instruction from an accomplished teacher. Meditation is central to Zen, as is an emphasis on self-control and understanding.
We hope this glossary could help you understand the terms you already knew a little better and bring to light unexplored information from the health, nutrition, and wellness category. Don’t forget to bookmark it for later!
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