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Glossary of Terms Used on this Site

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Adaptogens

This term usually refers to herbs or foods that have a regulatory or normalising effect on the body. They work when the body is challenged by stress of one kind or another. Examples include ginseng and rhodiola.

 

Anti-oxidants

Beneficial chemicals that mop up free radicals in the body. This prevents damage in the body and aids repair of body cells. They are a vital component of a healthy immune system.

 

Betaine

Another name for trimethylglycine.

 

Bioavailability

The availability of a substance for absorption by the body.

 

Candida Albicans

One type of yeast that is found in small quantities in everyones gut. However, in certain circumstances (stress, antibiotics, hormonal replacement etc.) an overgrowth of candida can develop and symptoms such as flatulence and bloating may result. There are many other strains of Candida and of yeast that can also cause problems in the gut.

 

Casein

Protein found in milk and milk products that can cause dairy sensitivities and allergies.

 

Choline

Can be synthesised in the body in small amounts but not enough for health. Most choline in the body is found in fat molecules called phospholipids, such as phosphatidylcholine or lecithin. Without adequate phosphatidylcholine fat and cholesterol can accumulate in the liver. Choline is also a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter needed for muscle control and memory. Choline is also metabolised into betaine or tri-methylglycine to metabolise homocysteine into methionine.

 

Cortisol

An adrenal stress hormone. Cortisol raises blood sugar, increases energy and gets you ready for action. Levels should be highest in the morning and gradually decrease over the day so that they are lowest in the evening so that you can sleep. Chronic stress can lead to excess cortisol levels; in excess cortisol suppresses the immune system, depletes the bones of minerals, interferes with sex hormone production, reduces DHEA levels, impairs skin healing, reduces muscle mass and causes insomnia. If stress continues the body?s ability to produce cortisol is reduced and adrenal fatigue results.

 

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)

An adrenal steroidal hormone. DHEA increases muscle mass and decreases fat deposition, strengthens the bones thus preventing osteoporosis, improves resistance against infection, lowers cholesterol, aids the conversion of T4 to T3 and is a precursor to the sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone. It is also involved in brain function and cellular protection acting as an anti-oxidant. DHEA levels peak at around age 20 and decline linearly after that until the age of 70 when they stabilise.

 

Electrolytes

These are substances that conduct an electrical charge when in solution. Sodium and potassium are important electrolytes within the body.

 

Essential fats

The omega 3 and 6 fats are defined as essential because the body needs them to function but it cannot make them from other fats. They are needed for brain function, hormonal balance, skin, hair and nail health, energy and metabolism.

 

Free Radicals

These are unstable chemicals that can cause damage in the body. Some are created internally during metabolism; others are created by the immune system to neutralise viruses and bacteria; others come from external factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, the sun, burnt foods etc. If insufficient anti-oxidants are available free radicals can damage cells and cause disease.

 

Glands

These are organs in the body that secrete fluids, such as hormones, that have an effect elsewhere in the body. Examples include the adrenals, pituitary, thyroid, pineal and gonads.

 

Gluten

A protein found in wheat, rye, oats, barley, spelt and kamut. It is a large and hard to digest protein that can cause digestive problems and other symptoms for many people. Wheat contains more gluten than the other gluten containing grains, so it is possible to be sensitive to wheat but fine with the other gluten grains.

 

Homocysteine

An amino acid that should only be in the body for a fraction of a second before being metabolised into methionine. High levels of homocysteine have been associated with many disease states.

 

Hyper

This is used as a prefix to denote excess or abnormal increases. Examples include hypertension meaning high blood pressure and hyper-thyroidism meaning an over active thyroid.

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