Amino Acid - Building blocks of protein molecules that are necessary for every bodily function. There are twenty different types of amino acids, which come in two forms: nonessential, which the body can produce; and essential, which the body must extract from foods.
Amonorrhea - Abnormal absence of suppression of menses.
Anaerobic - Of, relating to, or being activity in which the body incurs an oxygen debt (i.e. weight training exercise).
Analgesic - Causing insensibility to pain without loss of consciousness.
Anemia - A condition characterized by a decreased amount of hemoglobin circulating in the cells. The most common type is iron-deficiency anemia in which the red blood cells are reduced in size and number, and hemoglobin levels are low.
Angina - Chest pain resulting from lack of blood (and therefore oxygen) to the heart muscle. The correct medical term is angina pectoris.
Antibodies - Complex substances formed to neutralize or destroy foreign substances or organisms (antigens) in the blood. Antibody activity normally fights infection but can be damaging in allergies and a group of diseases that are called autoimmune diseases.
Anticoagulant - Referring to a substance that prevents or delays blood clots (coagulation).
Antioxidant - Chemical compounds that prevent oxygen from reacting with other compounds. Some antioxidants have been shown to have cancer-protecting potential because they neutralize free radicals.
Apoptosis - Programmed cell death as signalled by the nuclei in normally functioning human and animal cells when age or state of cell health and condition dictates. Cancerous cells, however, are unable to experience the normal cell transduction or apoptosis-driven natural cell death process.
Arrhythmia - A condition caused by variation in the regular rhythm of the heartbeat. Arrhythmias may cause serious conditions such as shock and congestive heart failure, or even death.
Arthritis - A term that encompasses a number of joint diseases, the most common of which is osteoarthritis, characterized by a gradual loss of cartilage and often an overgrowth of bone at the joints.
Asthma - A lung disorder marked by attacks of breathing difficulty, wheezing, coughing, and thick mucus coming from the lungs. The episodes may be started by breathing foreign substances (allergens) or pollutants, infection, vigorous exercise, or emotional stress.
Atherosclerosis - A condition characterized by the accumulation of plaque within the arterial walls. This results in a narrowing of the arteries, which reduces the blood and oxygen flow to the heart and brain as well as to other parts of the body and can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or loss of function or gangrene of other tissues.
Autoimmune - Referring to the development of an immune response to one's own tissues.
Autoimmune Disease - One of a large group of diseases marked by a change of the immune system of the body. Normally, the immune system controls the body's defenses against infection. Sometimes these defenses are turned against the body itself. This leads to chronic and often deadly diseases.
Ayurvedic - Type of alternative medicine in which diet and therapies, such as herbal inhalation and massage, are dictated by individual's body type; 4,000 year-old traditional Indian system believed to be helpful to those suffering insomnia, hypertension and digestive problems.
Top of Page
Bile - A bitter, yellow-green secretion of the liver. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and is released when fat enters the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).
Blood Clot - A clump of coagulated blood. When a blood clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream it is called an embolus. An embolus may block an artery and cut off blood flow to the lungs, causing pulmonary embolism to the brain, causing a stroke.
Bone Marrow - Specialized, soft tissue filling the spaces in the cancellous part of bone shafts.
Breast Cancer - A cancerous tumor of breast tissue, the most common cancer in women in the United States.
Top of Page
Capillary - Any of the tiny blood vessels in the system that link the arteries and the veins.
Carbohydrates - The sugars and starches in food. Sugars are called simple carbohydrates and found in such foods as fruit and table sugar. Complex carbohydrates are composed of large numbers of sugar molecules joined together, and are found in grains, legumes, and vegetables like potatoes, squash, and corn.
Cardiac Muscle - The heart muscle that has qualities of both skeletal muscle and smooth muscle fibers. Its fibers look like those of skeletal muscle but are only one third as large when measured through the middle.
Cardiovascular - Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - A common, painful defect of the wrist and hand. It is caused by pressure on the middle nerve in the carpal tunnel. The syndrome is seen more often in women, especially in pregnant and in menopausal women. Symptoms may result from a blow, swelling, a tumor, rheumatoid arthritis, or a small carpal tunnel that squeezes the nerve. Pain may be infrequent or constant and is often most intense at night.
Cartilage - Specialized fibrous connective tissue that forms the skeleton of an embryo and much of the skeleton in an infant. As the child grows, the cartilage becomes bone. In adults, cartilage is present in and around joints and makes up the primary skeletal structure in some parts of the body, such as the ears and the tip of the nose.
Cataract - A disease of the eye that gets worse and worse, in which the lens loses its clearness. Most cataracts are caused by the functions of the body breaking down. Trauma, as a puncture wound, may result in cataracts.
Cell Membrane - The outer wall of a cell. It often has threads that stick out and also contains the cell's cytoplasm. The membrane takes care of the exchange of materials between the cell's cytoplasm and the area around it.
Cervical Cancer - A cancerous tumor of the uterine cervix.
Cholesterol - A waxy, fat-like substance manufactured in the liver and found in all tissues. In foods, only animal products contain cholesterol. An excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - A disorder of unknown cause that lasts for prolonged and variable periods of time and causes a person to feel weak and exhausted. A person who has chronic fatigue syndrome may have fever, headache, muscle ache, and joint pain.
Cirrhosis - A long-term disease in which the liver becomes covered with fiberlike tissue. This causes the liver tissue to break down and become filled with fat. All functions of the liver then decrease, as making of glucose, processing drugs and alcohol, and vitamin absorption. Stomach and bowel function and making of hormones are also affected.
Coenzyme - Small molecules composed of nonprotein substances - often vitamins - that assist enzymes in their functions.
Collagen - The main supportive and connective tissue in the body. It forms the basic structure for tendons, ligaments, skin, and cartilage.
Colon - The part of the large intestine that extends to the rectum. The colon takes the contents of the small intestine, moving them to the rectum by contracting.
Colorectal Cancer - A cancerous tumor of the large intestine. It is marked by dark, sticky stools containing blood and a change in bowel habits.
Top of Page
DNA - Deoxyribonucleic acid, the large molecule that is the main carrier of genetic information in cells. DNA is found mainly in the chromosomes of cells.
Dermatitis - A general term used to refer to eruptions or rashes on the skin.
Diabetes - A condition characterized by the body's inability to produce enough insulin or to use it properly. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and noninsulin-dependent (adult-onset).
Diabetic Retinopathy - A disorder of the blood vessels in the retina of the eye, resulting in broken blood vessels in the eye. The disorder occurs most often in patients with long-term, poorly controlled diabetes. Repeated bleeding may result in partial or complete blindness.
Dilatation - Normal increase in the size of a body opening, blood vessel, or tube.
Dyspnea - Difficult or labored breathing.
Top of Page
Eczema - Swelling of the outer skin of unknown cause. In the early stage it may be itchy, red, have small blisters, and be swollen, and weeping. Later it becomes crusted, scaly, and thickened.
Electrolyte - An element or compound that, when melted or dissolved in water or other solvent, breaks up into ions and is able to carry an electric current.
Endorphin - Chemical substances produced by the central nervous system that suppress pain.
Enzymes - Proteins produced by the cells that are crucial in chemical reactions and in building up or synthesizing most compounds in the body. Each enzyme has a specific function; for example, the digestive enzyme amylase acts on carbohydrates in foods to break them down.
Epidermis - The outer layers of the skin, made up of an outer, dead portion and a deeper, living portion. Epidermal cells gradually move outward to the skin surface, changing as they go, until they become flakes.
Erectile - Capable of being raised to an erect position. The term usually describes the spongy tissue of the penis or clitoris.
Ergometer - An apparatus for measuring the work performed as by a person exercising.
Estrogen - One of the female sex hormones produced by the ovaries.
Top of Page
Fats - The body's most concentrated source of energy, technically termed lipids. All fats are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms arranged in combinations of glycerol and fatty acids. Fats found in foods are either in solid or liquid (oil) form. In the body, fat is part of all cell membranes, where it serves as a stored form of energy, helps cushion organs, and helps create certain hormones.
Fatty Acids - Chemical chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that are part of a fat (lipid) and are the major component of triglycerides. Depending on the number and arrangement of these atoms, fatty acids are classified as either saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated.
Fluidity - The ability of being able to flow.
Free Radicals - Unstable molecules, usually containing oxygen, created by normal chemical processes in the body as well as by radiation and other environmental influences. The interaction of free radicals with DNA and other macromolecules leads to impaired functioning of the cells.
Functional Foods - Foods in which the vitamin, nutritional, and supplemental profiles have been enhanced, resulting in health benefits beyond inherent basic nutrition.
Top of Page
Gallstone - A stone formed in the biliary tract, consisting of bile pigments and calcium salts. Medically called biliary calculus.
Gastric Cancer - A cancer of the stomach. It occurs more often in men than in women and peaks in the group 50 to 59 years of age.
Gastric Ulcer - An open sore on the lining of the stomach. Gastric ulcer most commonly occurs in the 60 to 70 age group, slightly more often in men than in women.
Gastrointestinal - Referring to the organs of the gastrointestinal tract, from mouth to anus.
Glaucoma - A disease characterized by increased pressure in the eyeball, which can ultimately damage the optic nerve and lead to blindness.
Glucose - A sugar that is the simplest form of carbohydrate. It is commonly referred to as blood sugar. The body breaks down carbohydrates in foods into glucose, which serves as the primary fuel for the muscles and the brain.
Glycogen - A compound produced by the liver from glucose and stored in the liver and muscles. It acts as an energy source for muscles, and releases glucose from the liver to maintain blood sugar.
Top of Page
HDL Cholesterol (High-density lipoprotein) - A transporter of cholesterol from the tissues to the liver to be broken down and excreted. Often called the good cholesterol.
Hemochromatosis - A rare disease in which iron deposits build up throughout the body. Enlarged liver, skin discoloration, diabetes mellitus, and heart failure may occur.
Hemoglobin - The oxygen-carrying protein of the blood found in red blood cells.
Hepatitis - An inflammatory disease of the liver, involving yellowing of the skin, loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, abnormal liver function, clay-colored stools, and dark urine. Most commonly caused by viruses, but also by alcohol, drugs, or overexposure to toxic chemicals.
Herpes Simplex - A virus that causes cold sores around the lips and mouth, and that also causes painful blisters on the genitals and in the pubic area, thighs, and buttocks.
Histamine - A compound, found in all cells, produced by the breakdown of histidine. It is released in allergic reactions and causes widening of capillaries, decreased blood pressure, increased release of gastric juice, and tightening of smooth muscles of the bronchi and uterus.
Hormones - Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions. In this way, hormones regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth.
Hypertension - High blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure because it adds to the workload of the heart, causing it to enlarge and, over time, to weaken; in addition, it may damage the walls of the arteries.
Hyperthyroidism - A condition marked by hyperactivity of the thyroid gland. The gland is usually swollen, releasing greater-than-normal amounts of thyroid hormones, and the body processes are accelerated.
Hypervitaminosis - An abnormal condition resulting from intake of dangerous amounts of one or more vitamins, especially over a long period of time.
Hypoglycemia - A condition characterized by an abnormally low blood glucose level. Severe hypoglycemia is rare and dangerous. It can be caused by medications such as insulin (diabetics are prone to hypoglycemia), severe physical exhaustion, and some illnesses.
Top of Page
Idiosyncrasy - A physical or behavioral feature unique to an individual or group. A person's unique allergy to a drug, food, etc.
Immune System - A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.
Insulin - A hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood glucose levels. Insulin stimulates the liver, muscles, and fat cells to remove glucose from the blood for use or storage.
Top of Page
Jaundice - Yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes as a result of an excess of the pigment bilirubin in the bloodstream.
Top of Page
Kidney Stone - A stone (concretion) in the kidney. If the stone is large enough to block the tube (ureter) and stop the flow of urine from the kidney, it must be removed by surgery or other methods. Also called Renal Calculus.
Top of Page
LDL Cholesterol (Low density lipoprotein) - A carrier of cholesterol, LDL delivers cholesterol to tissues and has been implicated in the accumulation of plaque within the arteries. Often referred to as bad cholesterol.
Lethargy - The state or quality of being indifferent or sluggish.
Leukopenia - A condition in which the number of white blood cells circulating in the blood is abnormally low.
Lipids - The technical term for fats, waxes, and fatty compounds.
Lipoproteins - Molecules composed of lipids and proteins that carry fats and cholesterol through the bloodstream.
Top of Page
Macular Degeneration - A condition of the eye, which may lead to vision impairment.
Mammary Gland - One of two half-sphere-shaped glands on the chest of mature females. It is also seen in simple form in children and in males.
Melanin - A dark pigment produced in the skin. Dark-skinned individuals produce more melanin, and melanin production increases in response to sunlight, causing the skin to become darker.
Melanoma - A life-threatening type of skin cancer that occurs in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin, the pigment found in skin, hair, and the iris of the eyes.
Menopause - Technically, the end of a woman's final menstrual period. As commonly used, the word denotes the time of a woman's life usually between the ages of 40 and 54 when menopause occurs. The medical term for what is sometimes called change of life is climacteric.
Metabolic Disorder - Any disorder that interferes with normal digestion and use of food in the body.
Metabolism - The sum total of the chemical reactions in the body that are necessary to sustain life. All metabolic processes are driven by energy derived from the major nutrients in foods.
Methionine - Amino acid needed for proper growth in infants and for nitrogen balance in adults.
Myoglobin - An oxygen-carrying muscle protein that makes oxygen available to the muscles for contraction.
Top of Page
Neonatal - A term that refers to newborn infants, particularly during the first four weeks of life.
Neural Tube - The tube of tissue that lies along the central axis of the early embryo. It gives rise to the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the central nervous system.
Neurotransmitters - Chemicals in the brain that aid in the transmission of nerve impulses. Various Neurotransmitters are responsible for different functions including controlling mood and muscle movement and inhibiting or causing the sensation of pain.
Nodular - A small, firm, knotty structure or mass.
Nutraceutical - Any substance that may fight disease, prevent disease, and improve health.
Top of Page
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - A unique group of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fish oil and some seeds (such as in linseed oil).
Osteoporosis - A disease in which bone tissue becomes porous and brittle. The disease primarily affects postmenopausal women.
Oxalic Acid - A substance that when joined with calcium in the body forms insoluble salts and hinders iron absorption from food. It is found in such vegetables as spinach, chard and rhubarb.
Top of Page
Parasites - An organism living in or on another organism.
Parathyroid Gland - One of many small structures, usually four, joined to the lobes of the thyroid gland. The parathyroid glands release a hormone that helps to keep the level of blood calcium normal.
Parathyroid Hormone - A hormone released by the parathyroid glands that acts to keep a constant level of calcium in body tissues.
Pharmacological - Involving the use of drugs.
Phenylalanine - An amino acid needed for the normal growth of infants and children. It is also needed for normal protein use all through life. It is found in large amounts in milk, eggs, and other common foods.
Phytochemicals - A term that refers to chemicals found in plants, which may have distinct health benefits. Presumably, phytochemicals promote good health by fighting or preventing illness.
Polycystic Breast Disease - Breast disease consisting of more than one cyst.
Prenatal - Occurring, existing, or taking place before birth.
Probiotic - Conducive to life. A natural substance that encourages life. A bacteria that upon ingestion exerts health benefits.
Prostaglandin - One of several strong hormonelike fatty acids that act in small amounts on certain organs. They are made in tiny amounts and have many different effects.
Protein - Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables.
Provitamin - A substance found in certain foods, that the body may convert into a vitamin. Also called previtamin.
Psoriasis - An inborn skin disorder in which there are red patches with thick, dry silvery scales. It is caused by the body making too-many skin cells. Sores may be anywhere on the body but are more common on the arms, scalp, ears, and the pubic area. A swelling of small joints may go along with the skin disease.
Top of Page
RNA - Ribonucleic acid, a type of genetic material that carries out the instructions of a cell's DNA.
Retina - A 10-layered, frail nervous tissue membrane of the eye, parallel with the optic nerve. It receives images of outer objects and carries sight signals through the optic nerve to the brain.
Rheumatoid Arthritis - A long-term, destructive connective tissue disease that results from the body rejecting its own tissue cells (autoimmune reaction).
Top of Page
Saponin - Any of various mostly toxic glucosides that occur in plants (as soapwort or soapbark) and are characterized by the property of producing a soapy lather.
Saturated Fats - A type of fat that is readily converted to LDL cholesterol and is thought to encourage production of arterial disease. Saturated fats tend to be hard at room temperature. Among saturated fats are animal fats, dairy products, and such vegetable oils as coconut and palm oils.
Scurvy - A disease that is caused by a lack of vitamin C in the diet. It is marked by weakness, anemia, edema, spongy gums, often with open sores in the mouth and loosening of the teeth, bleeding in the mucous membranes, and hard bumps of the muscles of the legs.
Serotonin - A phenolic amine neurotransmitter (C10H12N2O) that is a powerful vasoconstrictor and is found especially in the brain, blood serum and gastric membranes of mammals.
Shingles - A severe infection caused by the varicellazoster virus (VZV), affecting mainly adults. It causes painful skin blisters that follow the underlying route of brain or spinal nerves infected by the virus. Also know as herpes zoster.
Skin Elasticity - The ability of skin tissue to regain its original shape and size after being stretched or squeezed.
Solubility - The amount of substance that will dissolve into a given amount of another substance.
Spina Bifida - A nerve tube defect present at birth that results in a gap in the bone that surrounds the spinal cord. Spina bifida is relatively common, occurring about 10 to 20 times per 1,000 births.
Stroke - A hemorrhage or a blockage in a blood vessel that supplies the brain, resulting in insufficient blood (and therefore oxygen) to a portion of the brain. The most common manifestation is some degree of paralysis, but small strokes may occur without symptoms.
Top of Page
Teratogen - Any substance, agent, or process that blocks normal growth of the fetus, causing one or more developmental abnormalities in the fetus.
Testosterone - The principal male sex hormone that induces and maintains the changes that take place in males at puberty. In men, the testicles continue to produce testosterone throughout life, though there is some decline with age.
Thyroid Gland - An organ with many veins. It is at the front of the neck. It is essential to normal body growth in infancy and childhood.
Thyroid Hormone - An iodine-containing compound released by the thyroid gland. These hormones increase the rate of processing, affect body temperature, regulate protein, fat, and carbohydrate catabolism in all cells. They keep up growth hormone release, skeletal maturation, and heart rate, force, and output. They promote central nervous system growth, stimulate the making of many enzymes, and are necessary for muscle tone and vigor.
Thyrotoxicosis - Also known as Graves' disease, is a disorder of excess thyroid hormone production. It is usually linked to an enlarged thyroid gland and bulging eyes (exophthalmos).
Tinnitus - A sensation of noise that is caused by a bodily condition and can usually only be heard by the person affected.
Torula - Any of various fungi and especially yeasts that lack sexual spores, do not produce alcoholic fermentations, and are typically acid formers.
Toxicity - The potential ability of a substance to harm a living organism. Almost any substance in food, air, and water can become toxic if taken in a high enough concentration.
Toxin - A poisonous substance produced by bacteria, other infectious agents, and some plants and animals.
Triglyceride - The main form of fat found in foods and the human body. Containing three fatty acids and one unit of glycerol, triglycerides are stored in adipose cells in the body, which, when broken down, release fatty acids into the blood.
Tryptophan - A crystalline essential amino acid (C11H12N2O2) that is widely distributed in proteins.
Tumor - A growth or enlargement occurring in conditions that produce swelling.
Top of Page
Unsaturated Fats - In foods, fats missing hydrogen atoms in specific places on the fatty acid molecule; depending on the number of missing atoms, these fats are classified as either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Main dietary sources are plants and fish.
Urinary Tract Infection - An infection of the urinary tract.
Top of Page
Varicose Veins - A twisted, widened vein with incompetent valves.
Vasoconstriction - A narrowing of any blood vessel, especially the arterioles and the veins in the blood reservoirs of the skin and the abdominal viscera.
Vasodilation - Widening or enlarging of blood vessels, particularly arterioles, usually caused by nerve impulses or certain drugs that relax smooth muscle in the walls of the blood vessels.