Adequacy (Nutritional)

Providing all the essential nutrients, fiber, and energy in amounts sufficient to maintain health.


Adrenal glands

Endocrine organs lying immediately above the kidney, producing epinephrine, norepinephrine and steroid hormones.


Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)

A hormone produced by the pituitary that stimulates the cortex of the adrenal glands.


Aerobic exercise

Physical activity that requires oxygen and nutrient utilization by muscles. Such endurance type exercises sustain on going oxidative phosphorylation and in the exercising muscles and depends on delivery of adequate oxygen and nutrient supplies via the circulation.



Protein that is present in the blood, but can also be found in the urine.



An ingredient in a variety of beverages, including beer, wine, liqueurs, cordials, and mixed or other straight drinks. Pure alcohol itself yields about 7 calories per gram, of which more than 75% is available to the body.


Amniotic fluid

The fluid that surrounds the fetus in the amniotic sac in the womb.


Amniotic sac

Membranes which contains the fetus and the amniotic fluid. The amniotic sac and the amniotic fluid are often referred to as the bag of waters.


Anaerobic exercise

Physical activity that do not require oxygen and nutrients from the circulation. Such high intensity exercises can be sustained for only a short duration in contrast to the body's prolonged ability to sustain aerobic activities.


Angina pectoris

Severe pain and sensation of constriction about the heart caused by a deficiency of oxygen supply to heart muscle.



A balloon-like swelling in the wall of an artery.



Thick-walled blood vessels that carry blood from the heart toward cells in the body.



A condition where plaque builds up within the walls of arteries and in time may completely prevent blood flow.


Autonomic neuropathy

Damage to the nerves that control internal organs.


Background retinopathy

Initial Stage of retinal disease where aneurysms appear in vessels on the retina.


Balance (Nutritional)

Providing foods of a number of types in proportion to each other, such that foods rich in some nutrients do not crowd out of the diet foods that are rich in other nutrients.


Beta cell

A type of cell in the pancreas which makes and released insulin. It is located in areas called the islets of Langerhans.


Blood fat levels

Concentration of fats in the blood, especially cholesterol and triglycerides.


Blood glucose

The main sugar carries a nutrient by the blood. Made by the body from the three elements of food: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, but mostly from carbohydrates. Glucose is the major source of energy for living cells and is carried to each cell through the bloodstream. However, most cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin to transport glucose in to the cell.


Blood pressure

The force of the blood against the artery walls. Two levels of blood pressure are measured: the highest, or systolic, occurs when the heart pumps blood into the blood vessels, and the lowest, or diastolic, occurs when the heart rests.


Body mass index (BMI)

An index of a person's weight in relation to height, determined by dividing the weight (in kilograms) by the square of the height (in meters).


Bypass surgery

A means of circumvention, by creating an alternate route for blood to bypass an obstruction if a main or vital artery becomes obstructed.


Calcium entry blockers

A group of drugs that act by slowing the influx of calcium ions into the muscle cells, and this contraction, resulting in decreased oxygen demand by heart muscle.



Thick, hardened areas of the skin, generally on the hand or foot, caused by friction or pressure. In diabetics, calluses can lead to other problems, including serious infection and even gangrene.



A unit used to express heat or energy value of food. Calories come from carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and alcohol.


Calorie (energy) control

Management of food energy intake.



One of the three major energy sources in foods. The most common carbohydrates are sugars and starches. Carbohydrates yield about 4 calories per gram. Carbohydrates are found in foods from the starch/bread, milk, vegetable, fruit, and exchange lists.


Cardiac catheterization

Passage of a tiny plastic tube into the heart through a blood vessel. Samples of blood are withdrawn for testing; blood pressure and cardiac output are measured. Used in diagnosis of heart disorders and anomalies.


Cardiovascular system

These organs of the body (heart and blood vessels) involved in the circulation of blood.


Carotid arteries

Arteries that arise from the aorta and are the principal blood supply to the head and neck, including the brain.


Carotid endarterectomy

A surgical technique for removing obstructions of the lower portion of the carotid artery.


Carpal tunnel syndrome

Nerve damage that can lead to weakness, tingling, numbness and possibly muscle weakness in the hands.



Hormones secreted by the adrenal glands, which stimulate the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system.


Cerebrovascular disease

Narrowing of the supply to the cerebrum (brain) sufficiently to prevent adequate blood supply from reaching the brain. The narrowing is usually caused by atherosclerosis, and may progress to the point where the brain tissue is damaged due to lack of blood supply.


Cesarean section (C-section)

Delivery of the baby through an incision in the abdomen and uterine walls.



A fat-like substance normally found in blood and body tissues. A high level cholesterol in the blood has been shown to be a major factor for developing heart disease. Dietary cholesterol in found in all animal products, but is especially high in egg yolks and organ meats. Eating foods high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fat tends to raise the level of blood cholesterol. Foods of plant origin such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes contain no cholesterol. Cholesterol is found in foods from the milk, meat, and fat exchange lists. (also see lipid)



A thread like structure in the nucleus of a cell that carries genetic information in the form of genes. It is composed of long double filament of DNA coiled into a helix.


Chronic disease

A disease that persists over a long period of time there are degenerative diseases characterized by deterioration of the body organs. Examples include heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.



A thickening of the skin of the feet or hands, usually caused by pressure against the skin.


Coronary angioplasty

The alteration of the structure of a coronary vessel by dilating the vessel using a balloon threaded inside the artery.


Coronary arteriography

Obtaining pictures through X-ray after a coronary artery has been injected with a radioactive dye.



A steroid hormone secreted by the cortex of the adrenal gland.



Chemical compound created by the normal breakdown of muscle during activity. Increased quantities are found in the blood in advanced stages of renal disease.


Defense mechanism

An unconscious reaction that offers protection to the self from a stressful situation.


Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)

The chemical forming the genetic material of all organisms which controls heredity. Located in the nucleus of the cell in chromosomes.



A disease that occurs when the body is not able to use blood sugar (glucose) as it should. The body needs blood sugar for growth and energy for daily activities. A hormone called insulin is needed for the glucose to be taken up and used by the body. Diabetes occurs when the body cannot make use of the glucose in the blood for energy because either the pancreas is not able to make enough insulin or the cells are not able to utilize the insulin that is available. The beta cells in pancreatic islets of Langerhans make insulin.


Diabetic Coma

A severe emergency in which a person has lost consciousness because the blood glucose is too low or too high.


Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetes caused nerve disease.



The fluid used to remove or deliver compounds or electrolytes that the failing kidney cannot excrete or retain in the proper concentrations.



Process of diffusing blood across a semipermeable membrane to remove toxic materials and to maintain fluid, electrolyte, and acid-base balance in cases of impaired kidney function or absence of the kidneys.



A registered dietitian (R.D.) is recognized by the medical profession as the primary provider of nutritional care, education, and counseling. The initials R.D. after a dietitian's name ensures that he or she has met the standards of the American Dietetic Association. Look for this credential when you seek advice on nutrition.


Diffuse cerebral atherosclerosis

Arterial disease throughout the brain that causes multiple small strokes, leading to a systematic decline of mental function.


Diffuse neuropathy

A disease of the nerves that affects many parts of the body.



Powdered form of the dried leaves of the plant Digitalis purpurea that acts to increase cardiac output by increasing the contractility of cardiac muscle.



(ECG) A record of the electrical activity of the heart that gives important information concerning the spread of excitation to the different parts of the heart. This test is of great value in the diagnosis of cases of abnormal cardiac rhythm and myocardial damage.



A gland that produces many hormones, chemicals that circulate in the blood to reach their target organ.


Endothelial cells

The cells that line the inside of blood vessels.


End-stage renal disease (ESRD)

The final stage of kidney failure.



A muscular canal extending from the pharynx to the stomach. This is essential for carrying swallowed foods and liquids from the mouth to the stomach.



One group of steroid hormone compounds that promote the development of female secondary sex characteristics and control the normal cycle of the ovary.



Foods grouped together on a list according to similarities in food values. Measured amount of foods within the group may be used as "trade-offs" in planning meals. A single exchange contains approximately equal amounts of carbohydrate, protein, fat, and calories.


External basement membrane

A thin layer of protein and other compounds within the tunica adventitia of an artery.



One of the three major energy sources in food. A concentrated source of calories of 9 calories per gram. Fat is found in foods from the fat and meat exchange lists. Some kinds of milk also have fat; some foods from the starch/ bread list also contain fat.



An indigestible part of certain foods. Fiber is important in the diet as roughage or bulk. Fiber is found in foods from the starch/bread, vegetable, and fruit exchange lists.


Focal neuropathy

A disease of the nerves that affects a single nerve and part of the body.


Gastric stasis

A slow emptying of the stomach.



The science of inheritance. Attempts to explain the differences and similarities between related organisms and the ways characteristics are passed from parents to offspring.


Gestational diabetes

A form of diabetes which begins during pregnancy and usually disappears following delivery.



Small structures in the kidney that are made up of clusters of capillary blood vessels enveloped in a thin walled capsule of the kidneys nephrons.



A simple sugar found in the blood. It is the body's main source of energy. Glucose can be measured in venous blood and urine samples to detect diabetes mellitus or latent diabetes.


Glycemic index

A measure of the extent to which a food, as compared with pure glucose, raises the blood glucose concentration and elicits an insulin response.


Glycosylated hemoglobin

A test that gives information about blood-glucose levels during the preceding 1-2 months. When blood glucose is above normal, the glucose changes the hemoglobin in red blood cells. These cells last for about 100 days, and they can be measured.



A unit of mass and weight in the metric system. An ounce is about 30 grams.



Physician who specializes in healthcare related to women's reproductive system.



A method of replacing the function of the kidneys by circulating blood through tubes. The tubes are bathed by solutions that selectively remove unwanted material.


Hormone therapy

The treatment of diseases with hormones obtained from endocrine glands or substances that stimulates hormone effects.



A complex chemical substance produced in one part or organ of the body that initiates or regulates the activity of an organ or a group of cells in another part of the body.



An increase in the flow of blood through the kidneys and the glomeruli.



Exclusively high blood glucose concentrations. It occurs when the body does not have enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it does have to allow glucose to be utilized by cells. It is a sign that diabetes is out of control.



High blood pressure.



A condition where the blood sugar is lower than normal. In diabetes, it occurs when a person has injected too much insulin, eaten too little food, or has exercised without extra food. This is a dangerous condition and should be avoided or treated rapidly.



Part of the brain that regulates many basic functions, such as temperature and hormone secretion.



The consistent inability to sustain an erection.


Insoluble fiber

An indigestible content of certain foods such as wheat bran and other whole grains, that has poor water-holding capability. It appears to speed the passage of foods through the stomach and intestines, and increases fecal bulk. This type of fiber probably does not affect glycemic response or atherosclerosis.



A hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. The beta cells of the pancreatic islets of Langerhans make the insulin. Can be commercially prepared as an injectable substance for use by people who do not make enough of their own.


Insulin resistance

Many people with Type II diabetes do not respond to the action of insulin, thus glucose cannot be used for energy.


Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)

The type of diabetes in which the person produces no insulin at all; also known as Type I diabetes or juvenile-onset diabetes. Individuals with IDDM are ketosis-prone, and will develop ketoacidosis if they do not take insulin regularly.


Internal basement membrane

A thin layer of protein and other molecules within the tunica intima of an artery.


Intra-abdominal fat

Referred to as central obesity or upper-body fat and is stored around the organs of the abdomen. Abdominal fat is more common in men while fat around the hips and thighs, referred to as lower-body fat, is most common in women and seems relatively harmless. In fact, people who are overweight, but who do not have excessive fat around the abdomen are less susceptible to health problems than overweight people with central obesity.


Islets of Langerhans

Groups (islands) of cells in the pancreas that produce the hormones insulin and glucose.



The yellowing of the skin which is due to excessive bilirubins (bile pigments) in the blood. This can be caused by metabolic disorders or by blockage in the bile duct of the liver.



An increase in ketones in the blood sufficient to cause the body's acid balance to tip. An emergency situation that may result in coma and death if untreated.



An acid formed in the body when fats are burned for energy.



An organ in the upper abdomen that removes extra water and wastes from the blood to the urine.


Laser angioplasty

The surgical process that alters the structure of a coronary vessel by vaporizing plaques lining artery walls.






A lipid combined with a protein molecule.



The interior space of an artery through which blood flows.


Meal plan

A guide showing the number of food exchanges to use in each meal and snack to control distribution of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and calories throughout the day.



Substance essential in small amounts to build and repair body tissue and/or control functions of the body. Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc are some minerals.



In relation to dietary intake, providing enough but not too much of a substance.


Myocardial disease

Narrowing of the coronary arteries sufficiently to prevent adequate blood supply to the myocardium. The narrowing is usually caused by atherosclerosis, and may progress to the point where the heart muscle is damaged due to lack of blood supply.


Myocardial infarction

" Heart attack". Condition caused by partial or complete blockage of one or more of the coronary arteries, causing death (infarction) of heart muscle (myocardium).



The structural and functional unit of the kidney, composed of compex tubes that filtrate from the blood, enters on one end and leaves on the other end.



A bundle of nerve fibers outside the central nervous system that connect the brain and spinal cord with other parts of the body. They carry all sensation from the body to the brain and motor impulses from the brain to the muscles and glands of the body.


Non-insulin dependent mellitus (NIDDM)

The more common type of diabetes in which the fat and muscle cells do not respond to insulin and thus do not utilize glucose as an energy source; also called Type II diabetes or adult-onset diabetes. NIDDM is usually milder than IDDM and progresses more slowly.


Nuclear tracer scan

A special type of X-ray to determine blood supply to the heart. A radioactive dye is put into the blood stream, and then an X-ray is taken of the heart to see if blood is completely circulated to all areas of the heart.



Combination of processes by which the body receives and uses the materials necessary for particular food stuff necessary for maintenance of functions, for energy, and for growth and renewal of its parts.


Nutrient density

A measure of the nutrients a food provides relative to the energy it provides. The more nutrients and the fewer calories, the higher the nutrient density.



Physician who specializes in study of the eye.



Disorder characterized by abnormal weakening of bone, occurring most frequently in post menopausal women or in immobilized individuals and in patients on long term steroid therapy.



An organ behind the lower stomach. It makes insulin so that the body can use glucose for energy. It also makes enzymes that help the body digest food.


Peripheral neuropathy

Nerve damage of the limbs, such as those to the hands and the feet.


Peritoneal dialysis

A method of filtering the blood by filling the abdominal cavity with a fluid called dialysate.


Pituitary gland

A small, oval endocrine gland attached to base of the brain that is responsible for secreting hormones influencing body growth, metabolism, and reproductive function.



The special tissue that joins the mother and the fetus in the womb. It provides hormones necessary for a successful pregnancy, and supplies the fetus with water and nutrients (food) from the mothers blood.



A hardened deposition within the wall of an artery. Begins as lipid deposition which is covered by fibrous tissue, then latter hardened by calcium deposition.



A health professional who diagnoses and treats disorders of the feet.


Positive thinking

State of mind in which only good thoughts come to mind.


Private insurance

Health insurance paid for by the individual.



A steroid hormone produced by the ovary during the menstrual cycle.


Proliferative retinopathy

Second stage of retinopathy where small vessels proliferate on the retina, then burst due to friction with the vitreous.



One of the three major nutrients in food. Protein provides about 4 calories per gram. Protein is found in foods from the milk and meat exchange lists. Smaller amounts of protein are found in foods from the vegetable and starch/ bread lists.



The science dealing with behavior, inclucing mental and emotional processes.



The structure at back of the eyeball composed of nerve cells that perceive light.



A disease of the small blood vessels of the retina of the eye in people with diabetes. In this disease, the vessels, increase in numbers, swell and leak liquid into the retina, blurring the vision and sometimes leading to blindness.


Saturated fat

A type of dietary fat or lipid that tends to raise blood-cholesterol levels. It comes primarily from animals and is often hard at room temperature. Examples of saturated fats are butter, lard, meat fat, solid shortening, palm oil, and coconut oil.


Sex hormones

Chemical substances produced in the body that cause specific regulatory effects on the activity of organs of the reproductive system.



A mineral needed by the body to maintain life, found mainly as a component of salt. Many individuals need to cut down the amount of sodium they eat, to help control high blood pressure.


Soluble fiber

An indigestible part of foods that has high water-holding capability and turns to gel during digestion. This slows digestion and the rate of nutrient absorption from the stomach and intestine. This type of fiber is found in oat bran, pectins (from fruits and vegetables) and various "gums" which are found in nuts, seeds, and legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas. This type of fiber may play a role in smoothing out the glycemic response of foods, and in reducing the likelihood of atherosclerosis.



A type of sugar molecule that can accululate when blood glucose levels are high.



One of the two major types of carbohydrate. Foods consisting mainly of starch come from the starch/bread exchange list.



The birth of a dead fetus which has reached 24 weeks of gestation or more.



Sudden loss of consciousness followed by paralysis caused by starvation of brain tissues due to arterial blockage.



One of the two major types of carbohydrates. Foods consisting mainly of simple sugars are those from the milk, vegetable, and fruit exchange lists. Other simple sugars include common table sugar and the sugar alcohols (sorbitol, mannitol, etc.)


Sympathetic Nervous system

The part of the autonomic nervous system to internal organs that is most involved in "fight or flight" responses.



A blod-clot within an artery.


Transient ischemic attack

Temporary interference with blood supply to the brain.



To transfer tissue or an organ from one part to another.



A fat normally present in the blood which is made from food. Excess weight, or consuming too much fat, alcohol, and sugar may increase the blood triglycerides to an unacceptably high level.



A period of one-third of the total. Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters. The first trimester is 0-13 weeks of gestation. The second trimester is 14-26 weeks of gestation. The third trimester is 27 weeks gestation until birth.


Tunica adventitia

Literally the "outer coat" or outer layer of the wall of an artery.


Tunica intima

Literally the "inner coat" or inner layer of the wall of an artery.


Tunica media

Literally the "middle coat" or middle, muscular layer of the wall of an artery.



(Plural) Latin for "coats".


Type I diabetes

A chronic condition in which the pancreas makes little or no insulin because the beta cells have been destroyed. The body is then not able to use glucose for energy, since insulin is required for cellular uptake of glucose.


Type II diabetes

A chronic condition in which the pancreas may either produce an insufficient amount of insulin or even if it produces a large amount of insulin the body cells are resistant to the action of the insulin.



An open sore or lesion of the skin or mucous membrane accompanied by sloughing of inflamed necrotic tissue.


Unsaturated fat

A type of dietary fat (lipid) that tends to lower blood-cholesterol levels. It comes primarily from plants and is usually liquid at room temperature. Examples of unsaturated fats are vegetable oils such as corn, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, soybean, olive, and peanut oil.



The nitrogen of urea as distinguished from nitrogen in blood proteins.



The tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.


Variation (Genetics)

A change in genetic material (DNA) of a cell.


Variety (Nutritional)

Eating a wide selection of foods within and among the major food groups.



Substances found in food; needed in small amounts to assist in body processes and functions. These include vitamins A, D, E, B-complex, C, and K.



Jelly-like substance that fills the space within the eyeball.


Yeast infection

Inflammation caused by yeast accumulation of the vagina tissues.



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