Glossary


A

Action that is dynamic and specific of the foods (A.D.S.)
This consists in the raising of the metabolic level generated by the various foods and due to the processes of digestion and the absorption of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. The increase of the BM due to the A.D.S of the proteins is 20-30%, that due to the A.D.S. of the lipids is 2-4%, that due to the A.D.S. of the carbohydrates of 6%. Consider that the A.D.S. of a balanced diet determines on average an increase of the BM of 10%.

Additives in food
These are substances that are deliberately added to the foods at any processing phase in order to improve their conservation and aspect (aroma, taste, colour and consistency). They are divided into: Acidifiers, Thickeners, Anti-microbicides , Antioxidants, Flavourings, Colouring agents, Sweeteners, Emulsifying agents, Flavour intensifiers, Gelatinizing agents. An acceptable daily dosage is fixed for the utilization of these substances which represents the quantity that can be consumed daily in the diet in the lifespan without creating any side effects.

Albumins
These are simple proteins characterized by their solubility in water and in semi-saturated solutions. From a biological point of view, the most important ones are the serum albumin, the main protein of the human serum, the ovalbumin and the canalbumin found in the white of the egg and the alfa-lactalbumin of the whey. Vegetable albumins are present in legumes and cereals.

Allergen
This is a substance introduced from outside the body (by mouth, by inhalation, by injection), which determines such a sensitization as to provoke allergic reactions (IgE - mediate). The most common allergens are pollens, dusts, epidermal derivatives, heterogeneous proteins, serums and chemical substances.

Allergies caused by food
These are specific reactions of the immune system caused by the presence of substances (allergens) in the food which are foreign to the organism. During the allergic reaction, certain processes are triggered off which activate substances that determine the typical allergic manifestations.

Amino acids
These are an essential unit of proteins, made up of the amino group (NH2) and a carboxyl group (COOH), common to all the amino acids, and a variable R group, characteristic of each one of them. The amino acids known in nature are twenty and they are divided intoessential and non essential ones.

Amylum (Starch)
This is a polymer of glucose molecules which are united by glycosidic links to form two chains: a linear one (amylose) and a branched one (amylopectin). It is a polysaccharide found only in the vegetable kingdom where it carries out an energy saving function; this represents the basis of the alimentation in that it is the main ingredient of cereals, pulses and tubers.

Android obesity
According to the classification of Vague, android obesity is intended as the obesity in which the fatty tissue is predominantly distributed in the upper half of the body and, more precisely, in the abdominal region. This type of obesity is also called visceral and is often associated with cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, hyperuricemia, hypercholesteremia, minor tolerances to carbohydrates, diabetes.

Anorexia
This is a serious reduction and loss of appetite. Anorexia nervosa: a serious form of anorexia of psychological origin, with an almost complete refusal of food, that affects especially women. For the definition according to the DSM-IV, see the specific area.

Anthropometry
This is the study of the proportions of the human body by means of measuring the various parts.

Antioxidants
These are substances of an endogenous or exogenous nature, capable of contrasting the action of the free radicals that intervene in the processes of the cellular ageing and in the degeneration of the tissues. They are antioxidants, enzymes and cofactors such as the coenzyme Q10, metal binding molecules such as transferrin and ferritin, mineral salts, above all selenium, zinc and manganese,vitamins, in particular vitamins A,C and E.


B

Balance of nitrogen
This is the difference between the nitrogen assumed with the alimentation and that eliminated by the body.

Basal Metabolism (BM) 
This represents the quantity of energy needed to keep the vital functions active of a person awake, in a supine position, who has not eaten for 12 hours, in conditions of total psychological and physical relaxation and in a condition of thermal neutrality. It is expressed as quantities of energy (or work) per unit of time: Kcal/min, Kcal/day (KJ/minute, kJ/day).

Basal metabolism factor (BMF)
This is the energy expenditure of a single activity (walking, peeling potatoes, chopping vegetables by hand, stirring a pan.), performed at a normal pace and without including a rest break. This expenditure is expressed as a multiple of the BM.

Binge Eating Disorder 
See Uncontrolled Eating Disorder.

Bioavailability
This indicates the easiness and the speed with which an active principle is absorbed; the bioavailability of a substance is estimated according to its concentration in the body liquids and to the intensity of the response it produces in the body.

Biological value of the proteins 
This indicates the nutritive quality of the alimentary proteins and represents the ratio between the percentage of proteinaceous nitrogen retained by the organism and the percentage of nitrogen absorbed by the organism.

BMI (body mass index) 
This is given by the ratio between the body weight expressed in kilograms and the square of the height expressed in metres; this is needed to establish the condition of normal weight, overweight and underweight.

Bulimia
This is a pathological increase of hunger caused by illness or psychological motives. For the definition according to the DSM-IV see specific area.


C

Calorimetry, direct
This is the measuring carried out by means of a calorimeter, of the quantity of heat generated by the body.

Calorimetry, indirect
This is the measuring of the quantity of heat produced by a body; it is carried out by means of determining the consumption of oxygen utilized in a set period of time for the oxidization of the nutrients (respiratory thermo-chemistry) or by means of the quantity of heat released by the combustion of the foods (alimentary thermo-chemistry).

Carbohydrates 
See Glucides.

Cellular mass 
This represents the group of the body cells and makes up the metabolically active body tissue.

Cellulose 
This is one of the most important and widespread polysaccharides. It is made up of glucose molecules (from about 300 to 3.000 units) joined to each other. It is the main structural component of the vegetable cell walls, which make up the skeleton.
The human organism cannot utilize it for nutritional purposes because it doesn't have the enzymes needed to hydrolyze it. Together with pectin and hemicellulose it makes up the alimentary fibre.

Cholesterol 
This is a sterol belonging to the group of lipids and it is present in all animal organisms. It is divided into endogenous cholesterol, produced by the liver and exogenous cholesterol which is introduced with alimentation.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy 
This therapy is widely applied during the course of nutritional therapy and is aimed at changing the convictions that the patient has of him or herself, of others and of behaviours with the object of modifying his or her emotions.

Compliance 
This indicates the level of sticking to the food therapy on the part of the patient.

CSI (Cholesterol/Saturated Fatty Acids)
This is an index that is used for estimating the daily intake of fats, it expresses the lipidic quality of the foods and furnishes a valid indicator for atherogenic risk. The value is expressed on a scale of 1 to 100, the lower the value of the index the lesser is the probability of cardiovascular illness.


D

Deep-freezing 
This is a method of food preservation which utilizes temperatures of between -15°C and -40 °C. the law states that a frozen food must reach the required temperature in less than 20 minutes and it must be put on the market in originally closed packets bearing indications regarding the method of preservation, moreover it must be preserved observing the cold cycle without any interruptions.

Densitometry
This is a method of determining the total body density; the measuring of the body volume, needed for calculating the density, is obtained by means of hydrostatic weighing. With this method it is possible to estimate the fat mass and the lean mass.

Desirable weight 
This is a weight, which, in the nutritionist's personal opinion, offers safe improvements in the health of the individual and it can be really reached by the patient. It does not necessarily coincide with the ideal weight, calculated with formulas obtained from statistic investigations.

Dissociation diet
This is a type of diet based on the principle that, in the same meal, the following associations should never take place: proteinaceous foods (meat, fish, eggs.) with foods that are mainly carbohydrates (pasta, bread..), proteinaceous foods with different origins (for example meat and cheese), proteinaceous foods or carbohydrates with acidy foods (lemon juice, vinegar, some fruit.) or desserts and sweetmeats.

DSM-IV 
This is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association in which mental disorders are classified according to sets of criteria with descriptive characteristics.

Dysphagia
This is a swallowing disorder which is evidenced by the sense of an esophageal obstruction to the passing of liquids or solids; it can be of a nervous, organic or mechanic nature and generally is accompanied by ulcerative lesions.


E

Ego 
This is a function of the psyche which integrates the instinctual needs and drives of the id with the demands of the outside world and with the prohibitions of the superego.

Empathy
This is the ability of identifying oneself in the thoughts and in the frame of mind of another person, while conserving the consciousness of one's own identity separately.

Essential amino acids
These are amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the body and which therefore must be introduced with the foods. They are valine, leucine, isoleucin, lysine, methionine, threonine, phenylalanin, tryptophan, histidine.

Essential fatty acids (EFA) 
These are linoleic and linolenic polyunsaturated fatty acids, from whose metabolism derive arachidonic acid, ecosapientainoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. They are called EFA omega-3 or omega-6 depending on which double link is in positions 3 or 6, starting with the methylic group. They cannot be synthesized by the body, but they must be necessarily introduced with the alimentation; they govern important functions in that they are constituents of the cellular membranes, precursors of the prostaglandin etc.


F

Fat mass 
This indicates the body fat, that is the part of the body occupied by adipose tissue.

Fibre 
This is the indigestible part of foods of vegetable origin, that makes up the supporting involucre and the skeleton. All its components are polysaccharides except for lignin. Fibre is divided , according to its reaction in water, into water-soluble fibre and insoluble fibre.

Framingham Study 
This is a study named after the town of Framingham (Massachusetts) where it has been carried out. It began in 1948, under the direction of the National Heart Institute on a cross-section of 5209 of the town's inhabitants composed of both men and women. Its main aim has been that of identifying the principal factors of cardiovascular risk; it is still being carried out today in collaboration with Boston University.

Free radicals
These are highly reactive substances due to their chemical composition (they have an atom with an unpaired or odd electron) and they are capable therefore of interacting with organic molecules altering their characteristics (oxidative stress).

Freeze-drying 
This is a method of preservation based on the dehydration of the foods. The treatment entails the freezing of the food and then the elimination of the water, by means of sublimation, in high vacuum conditions.
The aim of the freeze-drying is that of assuring a long life to perishable organic substances.

Freezing 
This is a method of conserving foods, which uses low temperatures. The foods are rapidly taken to a temperature of between - 18 and - 25 degrees centigrade (and in some cases even to - 40º C).

Fructose 
This is a natural sugar found in honey and fruit. It has a higher sweetening capacity than that of saccharose. It is utilized in the food industry as a sweetener, as a preservative and as an additive.

Functional foods
These are foods which contain a component that determines a health benefit. Examples of functional foods are: Vitamin E, Folic acid, Tyrosine, Tryptophan, Choline, Lecithin, Selenium, Lycopene, Polyunsaturated fatty acids, Polyphenols, Probiotics and Prebiotics.


G

Globulins
These are simple proteins, widespread in nature, found in the plasma and in the interstitial liquid of animal organisms, in milk, in eggs and in vegetable seeds.

Glucides 
Commonly called sugars, these are ternary nutrients made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen; they can also contain sulphur, phosphorous and nitrogen. The combination of more than one simple glucides (monosaccharides) give rise to oligosaccharides (from two to ten monosaccharides) or polysaccharides (from more than ten monosaccharides).

Glucose 
This is a monosaccharide that contains six carbon atoms. Known also as dextrose, it is found in various foods, especially in fruit, and in all living organisms in a free or combined form (saccharose, lactose, starch, glycogen, cellulose).

Gluten 
This is a protein complex found in certain cereals such as wheat, rye, oats and barley. Some people, due to an enzymatic genetic defect, are unable to digest gluten and display signs of the intolerance known as celiac disease.

Glycogen 
This is a branched polymer of glucose which, in animals, performs an energy storing function; it is mainly accumulated in the liver and in the muscles.

Gynoid obesity 
According to the classification of Vague, by gynoid obesity we intend the obesity in which the adipose is predominantly distributed in the lower half of the body and more precisely, in the gluteal-femoral region. It is also defined as subcutaneous obesity and is frequently associated with varicose illnesses of the lower limbs.


H

HDL 
This represents lipoproteins with a high density (1.063 < d > 1.21) and these initials stand for High Density Lipoprotein. They are involved in the metabolism and in the transport of excess free cholesterol in the blood, in order to avoid it accumulating in the tissues.

Hemicellulose 
This is a complex polysaccharide, which represents one of the components of the vegetable cell walls; structurally its main constituents are hexoses, glucose, galactose and mannose, and pentoses, xylose and arabinose.
Hemicellulose is a polysaccharide which is not used for nutritional purposes and together with cellulose and pectin it is one of the components of the alimentary fibre.

Homocysteine
This is a nonessential amino acid that derives from the methionine and represents an intermediate product of the biosynthesis of the cysteine. Its concentration in the blood is today controlled for preventive reasons, as it appears that an increase is connected to an increase in cardiovascular risk.

Hormones
These are chemical substances produced by the organism, by means of endocrine glands, as a result of specific stimuli; introduced into the blood circulation, they cause a specific reaction at a distance in certain cells or organs. There are also some substances which have hormonal actions but are not produced by endocrine glands (parahormones).

Hydrostatic weight 
This is a method of determining the body volume, by means of immerging the patient in water.

Hyperlipidemia
This indicates an excessive concentration of lipids in the blood plasma (if referred to an excessive concentration of triglycerides then we are dealing with Hyperlipoproteinemia of the I, IV, V type).

Hyperlipemia
See Hyperlipidemia


I

Ideal weight 
This is the weight which offers the best expectations of life and is calculated with formulas obtained from statistic investigations.

Impedancemetry 
This is a method for studying the body composition and is based on the measuring of the resistance offered by the tissues to the passing of a low voltage alternating current.

Index of Atherogencicity 
This expresses the ratio between Saturated Fatty Acids and Unsaturated Fatty Acids and it is an important parameter for determining the atherogenic risk of a diet.

Index of Glycaemia (IG) 
This is the capacity of a food of influencing the glycaemia and insulinaemia; it is calculated as a percentage of the ratio between the glycemic response to a food and the glycemic response to the administering of an isoglucidic portion of glucose. The IG of the glucose is 100%.

Index of Mediterranean diet Adequacy (MAI) 
This is an index which expresses the existing ratio in a food plan between the energy supplied by the food groups belonging to the Mediterranean Diet and the energy supplied by the food groups that do not belong to the Mediterranean Diet.

Index of Thrombogencicity 
This is an index which expresses the ratio between saturated Fatty Acids and Unsaturated Fatty Acids; in the calculation, a different weight is attributed to the various fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 according to their antithrombogenic power, taking into account also Monounsaturated Fatty Acids.

INQ (Index of Nutritional Quality) 
This is a measure of the nutritional quality of the individual macronutrients or of the micronutrients contained in a food in relation to the standardized values and referring to a balanced diet with an average caloric supply of 2400 Kcal.

Insoluble fibre 
This is represented by lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose. It does not dissolve in water but it retains it, increasing and softening the faecal mass and reducing the time of intestinal passage.

Integrated energy index (IEI) 
This is the energy expenditure of a specific working activity and includes the caloric expenditure of the simple various activities of which it is composed. The IEI is expressed, like the TAF and the BMF, as a multiple of the BM.

Intolerances to food 
These are also known as hypersensitivities and are due to the organism's reactions, not mediated by the immune system, with regards to certain substances.

Isometric contraction 
This is a static muscular contraction during which there is an increase of the tension, but no variations of length of the same muscle are detected.

Isometric exercise 
This is a static type of exercise in which there is an isometric contraction; an example is pressing the hands together, one against the other, in front of the thorax.


K

Kilocalorie (Kcal) 
This is a unit of measurement of energy, expressed as a quantity of heat. It is the quantity of heat needed for raising by 1 degree (from 14.4 to 15.5º C) the temperature of 1 kg of water. (1 Kcal = 4.186 Kj).

Kilojoule (Kj) 
This is a unit of measurement of work, of energy and of the quantity of heat. It is the work produced by the force of 1 newton when its application point moves 1 metre in the direction of the force. 
(1 Kj = 0.239 Kcal)

Kwashiorkor 
This is a form of malnutrition of the baby and the child, typically found in developing countries, which is caused by a lack of protein, also in cases where the energy supply is adequate. The signs of this condition are oedemas, steatosis, skin and hair changes.


L

Lactose 
This is the sugar of the milk and it is a disaccharide formed by a molecule of glucose and one of galactose
In the case where the intestinal mucous is unable to digest the lactose, hydrolyzing it into the two components, intolerance will occur.

LARN 
Levels of daily recommended consumption of energy and nutrients for the Italian population.

LDL 
This represents lipoproteins with a low density (1.019 < d > 1.063) and these initials stand for Low Density Lipoprotein. They are involved in the transport of cholesterol in the blood, their concentration must remain within the ranges of normality in order to avoid the depositing of cholesterol in the tissues.

Lean mass 
This is the body component which includes the water, the bones, the muscles, the connective tissues, the reserves of glycogen and minerals.
The water represents about 70% of the lean mass, the proteins 19% and the mineral salts 6%.

Level of physical activity (LPA) 
This is the energy expenditure relating to the entire space of a day. This is calculated by the sum of the weight of the single BMFs or more frequently and easier of the IEIs; it also includes the energy expenditure of sleep and other inactive periods. The LPA is also expressed as a multiple of the BM.

Lipids
These are heterogeneous classes of components characterized by being insoluble in water but soluble in apolar solvents. They aretriglycerides , waxes, phospholipids, steroids, lipoproteins and terpenes.

Lipopolysaccharides
Also called glycolipids, are complex molecules made up of a carbohydrate portion (polysaccharide) and a lipid one; their chemical structure produces an amphipathic behaviour, that is to say that the molecule behaves on one hand like a lipid and on the other hand like a carbohydrate.

Lipoproteins 
These are compounds formed from lipids, proteins and traces of carbohydrates. The plasmatic lipoproteins are classified according to the density in 4 classes:

  1. the HDL with a high density (1.063 < d > 1.21);
  2. the IDL with a mean density (1.006 < d > 1.019);
  3. the LDL with a low density (1.019 < d > 1.063);
  4. the VLDL with a very low density (0.95 < d > 1.006).

Not included in this grouping are the chylomicrons, which are lipoprotein complexes with a density of < 0.95 that form in the intestinal wall and absorb cholesterol and triglycerides introduced with the alimentation, and the very high density lipoproteins, VHDL (1.21 < d > 1.25). There are also some lipoproteins which are found in the serum only in pathological conditions.


M

Macrobiotics 
This is a discipline inspired by traditional principles of Chinese medicine and which sets itself the aim of improving the conditions of life; it strives for a life in syntony with the environment, an alimentation with well defined characteristics and a specific program of physical activity. George Ohsawa was the first to apply the principles of traditional Chinese medicine to the western way of living.

Macronutrients 
These are proteins, carbohydrates and fats, organic substances introduced by the foods and used for supplying the body with energy. They are called macro because they are consumed in much larger quantities with regard to micronutrients and the measuring unit utilized to quantify them is the gram.

Malnutrition 
This is a condition which occurs when the body does not introduce adequate energy supplies and nutrients.

Marasmus 
This is the progressive decline of the body following an energy-protein malnutrition which can occur after a long illness, cerebral lesions or in old age. Typical manifestations are growth and behavioural disorders, asthenia, dryness of the skin and of the mucous, reduction of the muscle mass.

Metabolism
This includes the group of biochemical and energy transformations that take place in living organisms, regulated by a complex system of factors. Materially the metabolism includes two phases, one synthetic called anabolism and a destructive process calledcatabolism.
From a physiological point of view, two energy components stand out, the additional metabolism which varies according to the energy expenditure associated with the muscle work, the thermal regulation, the digestive processes and the basal metabolism (see definition).

Micronutrients 
These are essential substances introduced with the food in small quantities in comparison with macronutrients, it is for this reason that they are called micro and the measuring units used for quantifying them are milligrams and in some cases micrograms. They include minerals, trace elements and vitamins.

Micronutrition 
This official medical heading indicates the branch of medicine which, born with the orthomolecular medicine founded by Linus Pauling (1901-1904), is based on the foundation that the therapy which assures the best health guarantees is the one that assures the body the adequate quantity of nutrients.

Mineral salts 
These are micronutrients which are part of the fundamental processes of life; they are subdivided into macrominerals (calcium, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, sulphur, chlorine and magnesium) which are found in the organism in relatively high quantities and trace elements (iron, zinc, copper, fluoride, iodine, selenium, chromium, manganese and molybdenum) which are found in much smaller quantities.


N

Nutrients
These are substances with nutritive powers, they are classified in macro and micro-nutrients (see definition)

Nutrition, enteral (NE) 
This is a method of alimentation that consists in introducing, in the healthy part of the alimentary canal, predigested or highly digestible food, by means of small tubes (for example gastric-nose or jejunal-nose) or stomas.

Nutrition, parenteral (NP) 
This is a method of alimentation which consists in introducing simple nutrients, ready for use, directly into the haematic circulation. It can be total (NPT) or to support the normal nutrition.


O

OGM (Organisms Genetically Modified)
These are bacteria, plants or animals which have been modified by means of recombinant DNA technology; this technique utilizes the inserting of foreign genes, the transgenes, into the chromosome complement of an organism giving it, in this way, new characteristics.

Omega-3 
These are polyunsaturated fatty acids, characterized by the presence of different double links in the carbon chain. They are calledessential because they are indispensable for the organism which is not able to synthesize them and has to introduce them with the food.

Organic farming
This is the farming technique that works respecting nature, eliminating or reducing to a minimum the use of fertilizers, pesticides and synthetic chemical medicines.

Organoleptic characteristics
These are the characteristics of a substance that are perceivable by means of the sensory organs.

Osteopenia
This indicates a reduction to below normal values of the bone density. It can be due to a reduced rate of synthesis of the osteoid tissue such as not to compensate for the normal process of bone lysis.


P

Pasteurization 
This is a method of preservation utilized for some alimentary liquids, which consists in them undergoing heat action; when such a process is carried out rapidly, that is to say rapid pasteurization(HTST, High Temperature Short Time) it guarantees the destruction of the vegetative forms of all the micro-organisms maintaining the organoleptic characteristics of the product unaltered. There also exists pasteurization at ultra high temperatures (UHT, Ultra High Temperature) which is carried out at up to a temperature of 90 °C .

Pattern 
This word is generally the accepted term for a model or plan.

Pectin 
This is of a glucidic nature and is distributed in the higher plants and in the fruit. Together with the cellulose and the hemicellulose it is one of the components of the alimentary fibre. In the food industry, pectin, thanks to its chemical properties, is used for the production of gelatines.

Polysaccharides
These are carbohydrates made up of different molecules of monosaccharides held together by a glycosidic bond; some polysaccharides are composed of chains of a single type of monosaccharides , Homopolysaccharides, like starch and cellulose, others are made up of different polysaccharides,heteropolysaccharides. Other important polysaccharides diffused in nature are glycogenchitin and inulin.

Prebiotic foods 
These fall into the group of the functional foods and are carbohydrates present in some foods which resist digestion on the part of the intestinal enzymes, they reach, therefore the colon where they promote the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli which have a beneficial effect for the organism.

Probiotic foods
These are products that contain micro-organisms (lactobacilli andbifidobacteria) which are vital and of a sufficient number for colonizing an intestinal section producing beneficial effects on the host's health. They are part of the functional food group.

Protein Quality
This represents the nutritional value of a protein and indicates the content of essential amino acids.

Proteins
These are nitrogenous organic compounds, made up of two or more amino acids linked by peptide bonds. According to the molecular weight they are divided into oligopeptides (less than 10 amino acids), polypeptides (from 10 to 100 amino acids) andmacropeptides (more than 100 amino acids).

Purines
These are nitrogenous heterocyclic organic compounds that are widespread in animal and vegetable organisms where they have an important biological role. In man the final product of the metabolism of the purines is represented by the uric acid.


R

Rate
This is a number which expresses the ratio between two measurements.

Rate of physical activity 
This is the energy expenditure of specific activities; it represents a higher level of complexity of the activity in comparison with the BMF, in that it describes complex activities, reuniting the simple activities of which they are composed. Also the TAF is expressed as a multiple of the BM.

Refeeding syndrome 
This term refers to the complications and decompensations that may arise in the case where after a long period of underfeeding food is given without first having carried out a slow and adequate period of re-alimentation.

Relapse 
This term which means falling again, for example, when the patient falls back into his or her old improper ways which he or she had tried to correct with the diet.

Respiratory rate
(RR) is the ratio between the volume of carbon dioxide eliminated and the volume of oxygen consumed by an organism or by a tissue. In dietetics this value is used for the indirect calculation of the basal metabolism.


S

Saccharose 
This is the common sugar that is obtained by extraction from the sugar beet and the sugar cane; chemically it is a disaccharide formed by fructose and glucose.

Saturated fatty acids
These are simple lipids with an R-COOH structure, which distinguish themselves from the unsaturated ones because they do not have double links in the alkyl chain (R). They are mainly found in fats of animal origin and are classified according to the number of carbon atoms (C) contained in the chain. The most important ones are the stearic and the palmitic.

Self
This is intended as the sense of identity and worth of the person, whose exact definition cannot be had by means of introspection and empathy. According to the writings of Heinz Kohut, the self is an organized system of memories best defined as representations of the self, we are dealing, therefore, with an organized psychological system which, at the centre of the psychology of the person, has a dynamic influence on his/her behaviour.

Self-esteem
This is the consideration that each individual has of him or herself. It is a particularly important concept in diet treatments because by reinforcing this aspect it is possible to improve the patient's compliance.

Set-Point 
This is a theory according to which there exists a genetically determined optimal weight, for each person, which can be maintained by homoeostatic mechanisms of an endocrine-metabolic nature.

Skin-fold measuring 
This is a method of estimating the body composition which is based on the measuring of certain skin folds, using a specific calliper.

Soluble fibre 
This is represented by pectin, mucilage, gum.It dissolves in water to form a gel which, as well as delaying the gastric evacuation, it reduces the absorption of the nutrients (for example of the glucose, cholesterol, biliary acids.)

Somatotype
This is the body structure resulting from the development of three somatic components, endodermicectodermic and mesodermic

Study of the growth of organisms
This is a branch of medicine that studies the processes of the growth of organisms and is concerned with the phenomena and the pathologies associated with man's growth.

Sugar 
This is the common name for saccharose (see definition).


T

Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) 
See total daily energy needs.

Total daily energy need
This is the sum of the basal metabolism, of the energy expenditure for the physical activity and of the A.D.S.

Toxin 
This is a natural substance which can have an animal or vegetable, bacterial origin and is endowed with toxic action towards man or animals. The toxins, aside from their various origins, are endowed with antigenic action.

Triglycerides 
These are lipids made up of three fatty acids linked to a glycerolmolecule; they represent the most widespread category of lipids in nature and are a source of energy and essential nutrients.


U

Uncontrolled Eating Disorder (UED) 
This is a form of eating disorder characterized by hyper-alimentation and is commonly known in the English language as Binge Eating Disorder. For the definition according to the DSM-IV see specific area.

Unsaturated fatty acids
These are simple lipids with an R-COOH structure characterized by the presence of one or more double links in the alkyl chain (R). They are found mainly in vegetable oils and are classified according to the number of carbon atoms (C) and the position of the double links. Some unsaturated fatty acids are needed by the organism for the normal functioning of certain processes and are called essential(see AGE).


V

Vegan diet
This is the most extreme form of vegetarianism, which excludes any type of food of animal origin including milk, eggs and cheese, and where the diet is composed only of foods of vegetable origin.

Vegetarian diet 
This is a dietetic system which excludes the meat of any animal but allows the consumption of some foods deriving from animals such as milk, cheese and eggs.

Vitamins 
These are organic substances found in foods in small concentrations and they are indispensable for the growth and the health of the organism, of which they regulate fundamental processes. They are divided, according to chemical structure, into two groups, the water-soluble (A, D, E, K) and the liposoluble (C, B1, B2, PP, B6, B5, B12, B9, H).


W

Weight cycling syndrome
This is the alternating of periods of weight loss with periods of weight gain resulting in exceeding the original weight at the start. It is also known as the Yo-Yo Syndrome.


X

Xanthine
This is a nitrogen base which is formed as an intermediate product of the metabolism of the purines and is transformed into uric acid. It is found in small quantities in some vegetables and in animal secretions. Caffeine, the stimulating substance found in tea and coffee, derives from xanthine, as does theophyline which is found in tea and theobromine found in cacao.

Yo-Yo Syndrome 
See Weight Cycling Syndrome.