Glossary

Allele – Different versions of the same gene that may produce variation in inherited characteristics.
Ancestry – Your ancestry includes your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. You share a genetic relationship with all your ancestors, and also with people who have a common ancestor to you.

BMI – BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a calculation that is used to work out if you have a healthy weight for your height. A healthy BMI is between 20 and 25. A result above 25 suggests that you may be overweight, while a result below 20 suggests that you may be underweight. You can search for a BMI calculator online to quickly work out your BMI.

Calories – Calories are a measure of the energy that we get from food. For example, fats are relatively high in energy so have a high number of calories. Although kilojoules are the metric unit for calories, the Weightloss Complete program uses calories as most people find them easier to understand.
Carbohydrate – Carbohydrates are a macronutrient found in many foods such as bread, cereal, rice, pasta and fruit. They are an important source of energy for the body. Many carbohydrate-containing foods are also high in dietary fibre and low in fat.
Cardiovascular – Cardiovascular refers to the circulatory system which is made up of the heart and blood vessels. It carries nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the body and removes carbon dioxide and other wastes. Our cardiovascular health is influenced by many factors including our genes and our lifestyle.
Chromosome – Chromosomes are structures made up of tightly packaged DNA. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes in almost every cell in the body. Each parent contributes one chromosome to each pair, so half your chromosomes come from your mother and half from your father.
Coeliac disease – Coeliac disease is a genetic disorder, which has a damaging effect on the small intestines – the part of the digestive system responsible for absorbing nutrients.

DNA – DNA is the material inside your cells that contains all your hereditary information. The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of nucleotides which, in turn, are made up of one of four chemicals called bases. The order, or sequence, of these nucleotides is like an instruction manual that gives you your unique traits and keeps your body functioning properly.

Enzymes – Enzymes are proteins (or protein-based molecules) that speed up chemical reactions in the body, without being changed themselves. For example, they can change carbohydrates and proteins into substances that the body can use like glucose and amino acids.

Folate – Folate is a B vitamin that helps the body make healthy new cells by breaking down, using and creating new proteins. It is not stored in the body in large amounts, so you need to consume a constant supply through your diet. While everyone needs folic acid, it is particularly important for pregnant women.

Gene variations – Gene variations are what make each of us unique. While we all share the same genes, we may have different versions of these (called alleles). The DNA code of the gene may only differ by one or two base pairs, but this might still affect the way a gene works.
Genes – Genes are segments of DNA that directly influence one or more traits. Each gene is like a ‘recipe’ for making a certain protein with a specific function in the body.
Genotype – Your genotype is the combination of all your genes together. It can also be used to refer to variations on a particular gene, which contribute to your individual characteristics.

Heredity – Heredity is the process in which a parent passes certain genes on to their children. Genetics is the study of heredity.
Homocysteine – Homocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood. Its levels are strongly influenced by diet and genetic factors. High levels of homocysteine in the blood are associated with an increased chance of having heart and blood vessel problems.

Insulin – Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. When we eat foods containing carbohydrate they are broken down to glucose in the blood. Insulin then lowers the blood glucose level, by helping glucose get into your cells to give them energy. Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the body’s ability to control the amount of glucose in the bloodstream is reduced.

Lipids – Lipids are a macronutrient found in many foods such as meat and dairy products. They are fat-like substances that provide the body with energy and form an important part of the structure of cells. Cholesterol and triglycerides are both examples of lipids.
Low GI – GI or glycaemic index ranks foods according to how quickly the carbohydrate they contain is digested and absorbed into the blood. Foods that are slowly digested and absorbed have a low GI whereas those that are quickly digested and absorbed have a high GI. Examples of low GI foods include oats, pasta, wholegrain bread and apples.

Macronutrients – The three primary macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Macronutrients contain calories and therefore give you energy and help you maintain your body weight.
Metabolism – Metabolism refers to the chemical reactions in our cells that convert the fuel from food into the energy our bodies need. Specific proteins in the body control the chemical reactions of metabolism, and how these function depends on our genes.

Nutrigenomics – Nutrigenomics uses a person’s unique genetic information to understand their risk of developing certain diseases. As a result, it can be used to create individualised diet plans that help lower disease risk and improve overall health.

Obesity – Obesity is commonly defined in adults using body mass index or BMI, which compares height and weight. A person who has a BMI of 30.0 kg/m2 or above is considered to be obese.
Overweight – Overweight is commonly defined in adults using body mass index or BMI, which compares height and weight. A person who has a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 kg/m2 is considered to be overweight.

Prebiotic – Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that encourage the growth and/or activity of beneficial microorganisms in the digestive system. These microorganisms (mostly bacteria) are beneficial to the health of your body. Prebiotics are different to probiotics which are live microorganisms that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut.
Proteins – Proteins are a macronutrient found in many foods such as meat, dairy products, beans and lentils. They are used in the growth and repair of cells. Protein can also be used for energy if there are not enough carbohydrates in the diet.

SNP – A common variation in human DNA where people differ in a single base (A, T, C or G) in a DNA sequence.

Triglycerides – Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the bloodstream and fat tissue. They are a major source of energy for the body. However, high levels of triglycerides can put you at risk of having a heart attack or stroke.


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