Copy of `Wellcome Trust - Dieting Glossary`

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Wellcome Trust - Dieting Glossary
Category: Food and Drink > Dieting Terms
Date & country: 30/08/2013, UK
Words: 27

The process by which large molecules are built up from smaller molecules. Anabolism is the opposite of catabolism and part of metabolism. Anabolic reactions require energy, which is frequently provided by adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Making skeletal muscle is an example of an anabolic reaction.

A molecule capable of absorbing free radicals (highly reactive molecules produced during many metabolic processes that can damage DNA). Whether eating foods high in antioxidants is beneficial to health is contentious.

Using engineering techniques to solve medical problems. An example would be the design and production of artificial limbs.

The process by which large molecules are broken down into smaller molecules. Catabolism is the opposite of anabolism and part of metabolism. Catabolic reactions release energy, some of which is used to synthesise adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Glycolysis - the stepwise conversion of glucose to pyruvate - is an example of a catabolic reaction.

A type of lipid needed to maintain the stability of cell membranes, for the insulation of nerve fibres and for the production of steroid hormones, including testosterone and oestrogen. Most cholesterol is made in the body (including in the liver), and some we get from our diet. Cholesterol is transported in the blood in complexes called lipoproteins. High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) tend to remove cholesterol from the tissues to the liver for excretion. Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) are more likely to deposit cholesterol in damaged areas of blood vessels and lead to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. High levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease, whereas high levels of HDL cholesterol can protect against heart disease.

A group of metabolic diseases caused by a lack of insulin production or by the inability of the body to use insulin correctly.

A protein that catalyses a chemical reaction by lowering the activation energy required, increasing the rate of reaction. Different enzymes work in different parts of the body on specific molecules (substrates). Enzymes are not altered by the reactions they catalyse.

The study of the spread and control of disease in populations.

The study of heritable changes to DNA in which the genetic sequence remains unchanged but small chemical groups are added to the DNA. The addition of these groups affects how a gene works.

A hormone produced by cells in the stomach lining and pancreas. Ghrelin stimulates hunger, increasing food intake, and is also important for the secretion of growth hormone.

A chemical reaction that uses water to break bonds within molecules. A hydrolytic enzyme, or hydrolase, increases the rate of hydrolysis. Proteases are a type of hydrolase that catalyse the hydrolysis of interior peptide bonds in chains of peptides.

Also known as high blood pressure, this medical condition is caused by an increase in the blood pressure within arteries. The extra pressure can cause damage to the arteries or the heart. Hypertension can raise the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.

A small area of the brain found in all vertebrates. It produces hormones that control a variety of bodily functions, including hunger, thirst, body temperature and sleep patterns.

Insoluble fibre
A necessary part of diet, found in whole grains and vegetables. Insoluble fibre helps speed the transit of food through the intestines and adds bulk to stools.

A hormone secreted by the pancreas that regulates blood glucose levels. When blood glucose levels are high, insulin causes glucose to be stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles.

A unit of energy with the symbol J. The energy found within food is often discussed in kilojoules (KJ, 103 J) or megajoules (MJ, 106 J). One kcal is equal to 4.184 kilojoules.

Ketogenic diet
A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that mimics prolonged starvation. The use of fat as a preferential energy source leads to a build up of ketone molecules (which contain a carbonyl group, C=O, bonded to two other carbon atoms). This diet is sometimes used to reduce the number of seizures suffered by children with epilepsy.

A hormone involved in the regulation of hunger. Leptin acts on the hypothalamus in the brain, inhibiting appetite by counteracting the effects of other hormones.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
A medical imaging technique that uses powerful magnets to visualise the inside of the body. It can be used to study the structure and function of body parts, including the brain.

The sum of the chemical reactions that occur within the body. Metabolism can be divided into anabolism and catabolism. Chemical reactions are usually grouped into metabolic pathways, with enzymes used to control the rate at which they occur. See a metabolic pathway map.

The total number and diversity of microbes found in, and on, the human body. Different species inhabit different areas. Those found in the gut have several important roles in digestion.

Neural tube
The precursor to the central nervous system in vertebrates. Neural tube defects such as spina bifida occur when the tube does not develop properly. Taking folic acid is important in reducing the risk of these defects.

A combination of the words 'nutrition' and 'pharmaceutical'. These are foods or food products that are believed by some people to be medically beneficial, although opinion is divided as to whether they really are. Examples include margarines supplemented with processed plant esters (stanols), which claim to lower consumers' cholesterol levels.

Also known as PKU, this is a genetic disorder in which the enzyme responsible for metabolising the essential amino acid phenylalanine into tyrosine is inactive. This leads to a build-up of phenylalanine, which can cause brain damage. Sufferers need to eat a very strict low-protein diet to prevent excess phenylalanine being consumed.

Saturated fat
Fat molecules that contain no double bonds between their carbon atoms. Saturated fat is found in large amounts in foods like butter and lard. A diet high in saturated fats can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Soluble fibre
Found in foods including fruit, vegetables and oats, this fibre absorbs water, turning into a gel-like substance that slows digestion.

Unsaturated fat
Fat molecules that contain one or more double bonds between their carbon atoms. Although they are considered healthier than saturated fats, they should still be eaten in moderation.