GetHealthyHarlem.org's Healthopedia is a place where you can find simple definitions of health terms. All definitions have been written by Harlem Health Promotion Center (HHPC) staff and reviewed by our Health Advisory Board (HAB) to make sure they are correct and complete. For simple definitions of pharmacy and medication terms, check out our Pharmapedia page.
A1C levels: This monitoring method is a way to look at your average blood sugar levels over three months-not per day. It's important for people with diabetes to know their A1C levels to make sure they're making the right food choices day-to-day. In many cases this number is even more important than the finger-stick reading that diabetes patients take with a glucose meter everyday. Your doctor has to do a blood test to find out your A1C level.
Agribusiness: Various businesses involved in the production of food. These businesses include large farm operations such as those involved in the making, storage and distribution of farm equipment, supplies and other items the farm produces.
Allergen: Any substance that causes an allergy. Common allergens include: pollen, grass, dust and some medications.
Allergy: This is when your body reacts a certain way when it comes into contact with some things that are not normal to the body. It is usually caused by objects outside the body, such as dust, pollen, certain foods, certain insects, or certain medications. Common symptoms are sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, difficulty breathing and skin rashes.
Alopecia: A medical condition which results in hair loss from the head or body. May be a possible side effect of many medications.
Amino acids: Amino acids are what proteins are made of. Proteins are the building blocks of the body. There are 20 amino acids that are used to make proteins such as muscles, hormones and enzymes in your body. Your body can make 11 of those amino acids, but you have to get the remaining nine "essential" amino acids from foods such as milk, cheese, eggs, meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and foods made from grains.
Antioxidants: Antioxidants are a variety of very healthy substances in our food. Antioxidants help prevent damage to our body tissues. Because of this, many antioxidants are believed to reduce the risk of getting certain types of cancer, stroke and heart disease. Antioxidants are found in high amounts in many foods, including richly colored fruits and vegetables (such as blueberries and carrots), red beans, and apples. They can also be found in surprising sources such as oregano, tea, olive oil, and chocolate.
Arteries: Passageways in the body, similar to veins, which carry blood away from the heart. Blood pressure is measured by the force it takes to pump blood through the arteries during and in between heart beats. Damage to the arteries can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Asthma: A chronic lung disease that makes breathing difficult. With asthma, there is inflammation of the air passages that results in a temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs. This results in asthma symptoms, which include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.
Asymptomatic: The patient has a disease or infection, but has no symptoms [link to Healthopedia term] or signs of the disease.
Atrial Fibrillation: This is a condition where a person has an abnormal heart rhythm. The name comes from the fibrillating or quivering of the muscles in the two upper atria (or chambers) in the heart. Atrial fibrillation is often asymptomatic and is not in itself generally life-threatening. It can lead to heart palpitations, fainting, chest pain, or congestive heart failure. People with artrial fibrillation usually have an increased risk of stroke.
Autoimmune disease: A condition in which the body's immune system is activated to attack normal healthy cells. This can then cause problems depending on which part of the body is involved. For example, autoimmune disease can affect the thyroid gland which helps to regulate the body's metabolism.
Bell Commission: a team of medical experts who evaluated the training and supervision of doctors in the state of New York. They wrote a report that recommended doctors and medical residents should not be able to work more than 80 hours a week or for more than 24 consecutive hours. New York State turned these recommendations into law in 1989.
Biomedical doctor: A doctor that uses science-based information to treat patients. In general, the term “biomedical doctor” is used to identify doctors who don’t incorporate CAM in their medical practices.
Bipolar disorder: A mental illness that causes extreme changes in a person’s mood. It causes a person to shift from being extremely happy to being depressed or extremely sad within a short period of time and more often than the average person.
Bisphenol A (BPA): A chemical that can change the way hormones (like estrogen) act within a person’s body. BPA is found everyday products like hard plastics, in the lining of canned goods, and in the paper receipts are printed on.
Black Women's Health Study: A research project based in Boston to study why black women have higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, stroke, lupus and breast cancer at a young age. The study hopes to learn the causes of these illnesses for black women, as well as learn what black women do to stay healthy. 59,000 women all over the United States have been taking part in this study since 1995. Questionnaires are regularly mailed out to gather information about the participants health.
Blood clot: A blood clot is a group of blood cells and other material from the blood that join together in a sticky blob to prevent the body from bleeding too much. Clots form when there is an injury to blood vessels.
Blood Glucose Levels: Glucose is a type of sugar. It is the main source of energy used by the body. Glucose levels are the amount of this kind of sugar found in your blood. Your blood glucose levels are tested to check for diabetes or monitor the treatment of diabetes.
Blood Pressure: Blood pressure refers to the amount of blood in a person's blood vessels and the amount of pressure that the heart needs to use when it pumps in order to get blood circulating around the body.
Blood Pressure Cuff: A medical tool that is used, along with a stethoscope to measure blood pressure. The cuff is wrapped around your upper arm. Using a pump, the cuff is tightened and then gradually loosened, while the person taking your blood pressure listens for your heartbeat.
Blood volume: The amount of blood in a person's circulatory system.
Body Mass Index (BMI): This is a way of measuring a person's weight based on their height--many doctors use this formula to find out if a person needs to lose weight in order to be healthier. You can find out what your BMI is online using a BMI calculator. If the BMI is over 25, the person may be overweight and need to begin changing their lifestyle by getting more exercise or changing the food they eat. If the BMI is over 30, the person may need to lose weight in order to reduce their chances of getting diabetes, hypertension or any of the other health problems associated with obesity.
Bone Density: This is a measure of how solid bones are. The more solid (or dense) the bone is, the better. Minerals (like calcium) make up most of the bone's density. As we get older, bone density naturally decreases. Exercising to build strength and taking supplemental vitamins, like vitamin D and calcium, are great ways to make sure bones stay strong.
Bone marrow test: A medical procedure used to test possible disease in the blood. The health care professional removes a small amount of spongy tissue (marrow) from inside the bone and looks at it under a microscope to study it for any diseases.
Brachytherapy: A type of radiation therapy. It involves placing the radiation source or “seeds” inside the body where the cancer is located. The seeds give off radiation to kill cancer cells.
Breast self-examination: When a woman massages the full area around her breast, feeling for any lumps that are out of the ordinary. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to do a breast self-examination.
Calisthenics: This is an exercise class that does not use weights or equipment. Students learn a variety of simple movements and stretches so that they can increase their body strength and flexibility using the weight of their own bodies for resistance.
Calorie: A calorie is what the body uses as energy to be able to keep you going throughout the day. For humans and animals, calories come from food. Food = Calories = Energy! Nutrition labels list the number of calories that are in one serving of food. Nutrition labels can be found on almost every food. The body burns calories for everyday functions such as breathing, digestion, or walking. Often people eat more calories than they need for these functions each day. When this happens, the extra calories are stored as fat in the body. One pound of body fat has 3,500 calories stored in it. To maintain a good body weight, an adult has to eat the same number of calories that he or she burns.
Canning: Packing and preserving food in cans. It often includes adding salt or preservatives. Canning done at home is a healthier way to make foods last longer than canning done at factories because you have greater control over what is added. In order to can at home, you need the proper equipment. Visit National Center for Home Food Preservation to learn more about how do this at home.
Capillaries: passageways in the body where oxygen, water and other chemicals move back and forth between blood and tissues; capillaries are a type of blood vessel
Carbohydrates: Also called "carbs." The term is used broadly to describe foods like breads, rice, and starches. The body breaks carbohydrates down into sugars and is then used to provide energy.
Cells: All living things have cells - from plants to people to penguins. Each cell can be imagined as a building block. Like blocks, cells can be formed into an endless variety of different things. Cells (linked together) make tissues. Tissues come together to make organs, like the heart. Different organs like the heart, lungs, and stomach work together to keep the body running.
Cervical cancer: Cancer that forms in tissues of the cervix. It is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms but can be found with regular Pap tests. Cervical cancer is almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. In order to remove the cancer, the cancerous part of the cervix has to be removed.
Childhood Asthma: The most common chronic illness in children. It is caused by the swelling of a child's airways. This makes the airways very sensitive which can cause the child to have trouble breathing, as well as coughing or wheezing. It is treatable. Doctors can work with children and their parents to keep the symptoms under control.
Chiropractor: Chiropractors deal with problems of the musculoskeletal system (which contain the muscles and skeleton). Chiropractors believe that when your spine is not in line with your body or not connected to other joints in the proper way, you can develop problems with your nervous system and your overall health will be poor. Chiropractors use equipment such as X-rays, order laboratory tests and use other things to diagnose a problem. Their treatments include massage, ultrasounds and manual adjustments to the spine among others.
Cholesterol: Cholesterol is fat that's circulating throughout the blood. We have a certain amount of fat in the blood that's OK. But if there's too much fat in the blood it's not healthy. So, when we check someone's cholesterol we check how much fat is there. If the fat levels are too high we say that someone has high cholesterol levels.
Chronic Diseases: These are diseases that usually get worse slowly and last for a long time. They include things like heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. They are the leading causes of death in the world.
Circadian rhythm: The circadian rhythm is your body's clock that tells it when you should wake up, sleep, or eat depending on what is happening outside of the body over the course of twenty-four hours.
Circulatory system: The circulatory system is made up of blood vessels and muscles that control the flow of blood around the body. Blood continually travels through the body with the heart, the lungs, and the blood vessels (arteries, capillaries, and veins) working together to form a system that moves in a circle (the reason for its name).
Cirrhosis: a type of liver damage where a person's liver slowly worsens and stops working properly. It is commonly caused by excessive alcohol drinking, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or some combination of these things.
Coagulation: The process that creates a blood clot.
Colon: This is a large Intestine (also known as bowels), which is a part of the digestive system.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM): Ways of healing and treatment that are different from what we may think of as the medical care you typically receive at a conventional doctor's office. Meditation, yoga, acupuncture, herbal treatment and massage are some examples of CAM therapies.
Complete protein: A food or a combination of foods in a meal that have the nine essential amino acids in them. As long as you eat the nine essential amino acids that you need in a day, your body can produce the new proteins that it needs to survive.
Congestive heart failure: Also called "heart failure." This is a condition when the heart can't pump enough blood to the body's other organs. There are several reasons why it occurs, such as: narrowed arteries (the heart doesn't get enough blood); previous heart attacks (scar tissue impacts how the heart muscle works); high blood pressure; disease of the heart muscle; heart defects; or infections and diseases in the heart valves or muscle.The "failing" heart keeps working, but not as well as it should. People with heart failure can't do as much physical activity because they become short of breath and tired.
Constipation: When your bowel movements (BMs) become more difficult or less frequent.
Conventional medicine: A way of treating patients that is seen as the typical care you receive at an American doctor's office. Other names commonly used to describe conventional medicine include "Western medicine", "mainstream medicine", "biomedicine" and "regular medicine". Conventional medicine is practiced by various practitioners such as doctors, nurses, and psychologists. Conventional medicine is often compared to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) because they use different ways of treating patients.
Depression: See: Depressive disorders
Diabetes:People with diabetes have high levels of sugar in their blood. This is because their bodies have problems either making or using insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows the sugar from food to be used by the body for energy. Diabetes can be treated by diet, exercise, pills and with insulin. If blood glucose levels are too high in the blood, it can hurt the rest of your organs.
Diagnosis: When a doctor or healthcare professional tells you that you have a disease or condition that may need to be treated or managed by you or your doctor.
Diastolic blood pressure:The force against the walls of the arteries by blood in between heart beats.
Dialysis: is a process that uses very specialized machines to replace the work of the kidneys. Depending on the diagnosis, there are two types of dialysis: Hemodialysis and Peritoneal dialysis. With hemodialysis blood flows through tubes that filter and remove wastes, some minerals such as sodium (found in salt), and water. With peritoneal dialysis, a special fluid is allowed to flow into the abdomen and is then drained out again. There are advantages of each method and the decision is made with the doctor who specializes in care of the kidney (nephrologist). If dialysis does not work, a kidney transplant is the only other option.
Dietitian: A health professional who has completed a minimum of a college degree in the science of nutrition and had supervised experience in many areas of health care that have to do with nutrition. These health professionals know how to apply educational techniques to plan and teach dietary changes to patients and the general public.
Digestion: The process used by the body to break the food we eat down to smaller parts. These smaller parts are then absorbed by the body or used for energy. Digestion begins with chewing. In the stomach, digestion continues with the stomach juices that are very acidic. Also known as the "digestive system."
Digital rectal examination: During this exam, a doctor checks the inside of the rectum and anus (or butt) using his or her finger. The doctor feels for problems, such as tumors or other forms of cancer.
Drug interaction: See: drug-drug interaction
Enzyme: a protein in the body that helps chemicals and cells work properly. They help to make cells and chemicals in the body do their tasks faster and easier.
Estrogen: A hormone that manages a woman's reproductive system, sexual functioning and ability to carry a child.
External beam radiation: A type of radiation therapy. It involves the use of high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells or slow how fast they grow in the body. A machine is placed outside the body and a beam of radiation is directed at the tumor to kill the cancer cells.
Family medical history: This is the history of your family's illnesses and medical conditions. It is important for you to keep track of this history since many diseases can be passed to you from your relatives. This information can help you know how likely it is for you to get certain diseases. Your doctor will probably ask you about it during regular check-ups, so you should bring notes with you.
Fast: When a person fasts it means they are not eating. To test for diabetes people are sometimes asked to fast. When you don't eat for a long period of time the body sends glucose (sugar) into your blood. If you do not have diabetes your body will make insulin to lower blood sugar levels. If you do have diabetes your body will not make enough insulin to lower blood sugar levels. If you have high blood sugar levels after fasting you may have pre-diabetes (above normal blood sugar levels) or diabetes.
Fiber: It is found in foods that come from plants such as fruits, vegetables and grains. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are very important in keeping you healthy.
First dose effect: This is a side effect that can happen when a person takes a medication for the first time. Their heartbeat may slow down which can lead to low blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting. Usually these symptoms do not happen again even if a person continues to take the medication.
Food environment: The availability of food within a community. It is also how accessible the food is to the residents of the community. The food environment of a neighborhood has a large influence on what people choose to eat – or on what they can choose to eat.
Food Justice: Food justice is on both the consumer end and farmer end. It is having some control over getting healthy, fresh vegetables and fruits in an affordable and culturally-appropriate way. On the consumer end, it is getting affordable, healthy, fresh produce into communities. On the farmer end, it is helping farmers to develop reliable markets so they can stay in business and plan for long-term stability. It's working together so that everybody has the same ability to get fresh food.
Food Justice Movement: A movement that thinks everyone should have access to safe, healthy and affordable food. They believe all people have this right no matter if they are poor or live in a certain community.
Food system: is the system that is in place for food production. This includes growing the food, transporting the food, processing it, packaging it, and marketing and selling the food and food products.
Fructose: This is one of many natural sugars. It is slightly sweeter that sucrose or white granulated sugar. It is found in honey, many fruits, and some vegetables (i.e. beets and other root vegetables).
Genital Warts: These are small, hard, rough, single or multiple growths on the skin near genitals.
Glaucoma: increased pressure in the eye which may lead to damage to the optic nerve. Damaged optic nerves in your eye can cause blindness. Blurry vision, severe eye pain, nausea and vomiting, redness in the eye, and halos seen around lights are all signs of glaucoma. African Americans over the age of 40, people over the age of 60 and anyone who has a family member who has glaucoma should get an eye exam at least every two years to prevent blindness.
Glucose: Glucose is a type of sugar. When people talk about "blood sugar"-they're really talking about their blood glucose level. The body uses glucose as a source of energy.
Glucose Meter (Glucometer): Also called a finger-stick, it is a medical tool used for figuring out the amount of glucose in the blood (people sometimes call this "blood sugar"). People with diabetes use this tool at home to measure their blood sugar. The person pricks his/her finger and puts a small drop of blood on a test strip. The meter then reads the test strip and tells the person their blood sugar level.
Gout: swollen, red, hot and stiff joints. Often, it first affects your big toe. It can also attack ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers and elbows. It is caused by high levels of uric acid (a type of waste in the body) in the blood that builds up around the joints. It can be treated with different medications that relieve pain, using an ice pack to cool the joints, and just resting the joints.
Grains: Grains are a family of plants. Examples of grains are: wheat, rice, oats, barley, and corn (that's right; corn is not a vegetable, it is a grain!). Grain plants make a lot of seeds. We eat the seeds by boiling them, like we do with rice, oatmeal and corn, or by grinding the seeds into flour. Wheat flour can be made into foods like pasta, breads, crackers, etc.
Green: Going "green" means to live in a way that takes care of the environment and protects natural resources. Some examples are: recycling, eating locally-grown fruits and vegetables, and walking instead of driving a car.
Green Tea: This tea is made from the same leaves (Camellia sinensis) as dark tea that is popular in tea bags. There is caffeine in all tea unless it has been decaffeinated, however green tea has less caffeine than many other beverages. In general, green tea can be used as a substitute for coffee, black tea, and soda. You will enjoy better health if you make a decision to remove sugary drinks of all kinds. Green tea can also cause small improvements in your thinking, cholesterol level, and possibly your body weight. However, if you have high blood pressure, caffeine from all beverages may raise it slightly. Discuss this with your health care provider.
Consumers should be aware that all concentrated compounds may interact with medications. Always tell your health care provider about any products, including green tea extracts, you take.
Harm Reduction: Programs that reduce the harmful effects of drug use and other high risk activities by making it safer to continue those activities or using drugs. An example of a harm reduction is a needle-exchange program that gives drug users clean needles to keep them from sharing dirty needles.
Hatha yoga: This is the physical practice of yoga. It is most commonly practiced for mental and physical health. The classes are usually slow-paced with stretches, simple breathing exercises, and meditation. Some types of Hatha yoga include: Bikram yoga, Iyengar yoga, and Ashtanga yoga.
Health inequality/disparity: Differences in the presence of disease and health outcomes or gaps in the quality and access to health and healthcare across racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic groups. In the U.S., there is data that health disparities occur in minority groups, such as African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos. This means these groups have higher levels of chronic diseases and greater chances of death due to poor health.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was signed into law in 1996.Title II of HIPAA was signed into law in 2003 and it includes The Privacy Rule, which prevents heath care professionals from making a persons medical record and payment history public. It protects the privacy of a patient's health information and makes sure that all communication between patients and health care professionals remains private.
Health literacy: A person's ability to read, understand, and use health information to make health decisions and follow a doctor's instructions for treatment. Low health literacy decreases the success of treatment and increases medical errors.
HEPA Filter: A type of air filter that traps very small particles in the air that normal filters would miss. They are important for people with asthma or allergies because they reduce the amount of things like dust, pollen, mold, pet dander, and tobacco smoke in the air. They can be used at home.
Hepatitis B: This is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. It can spread through sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment and by sexual contact with an infected person. It can start with no symptoms or mild stomach discomfort and lead to cirrhosis or cancer of the liver.
Hepatitis C: A liver disease that a person can get when blood from a person who has the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This happens most commonly when people share needles to inject drugs. It can also happen through sexual contact when body fluids from a person who has the Hepatitis C virus enter the body of someone who is not infected.
High blood pressure: Also called "hypertension." Blood pressure is the measurement of how strong your blood pumps through your blood vessels. High blood pressure happens when blood has a hard time getting through the blood vessels, usually because the vessels are narrow. It means that your heart has to work really hard to pump your blood through your vessels.
High cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol can build up in your blood vessels as plaque making them so narrow that it's hard for blood to pass through. It's often called "bad" cholesterol because it can lead to things like high blood pressure. Another type of cholesterol, called high-density lipoprotein (HDL), is often known as "good" cholesterol because high levels of it seem to protect against heart attack. When your doctor tells you that you have high cholesterol, he or she is looking at both your "good" and "bad" cholesterol.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): A common sweetener in many sodas, fruit-flavored drinks, and other processed foods. It is a combination of fructose [healthopedia] and glucose. Fructose and glucose are in different percentages depending on use. There is much debate over how unhealthy HFCS is.
HIV: The virus that causes AIDS. It can weaken the body's defenses (immune system) and allow other infections to cause serious problems. The virus is usually spread through unprotected sex or sharing needles. Effective treatment is available and can help individuals live productive lives.
Holistic: To look at all the parts of something together and not view these parts separately. Holistic medicine practitioners not only look at symptoms of the medical problem, as most conventional practitioners do, they also look at many other parts of the person's life that might be contributing to their medical issue. For example, holistic medicine practitioners may ask questions about issues including how the person feels (their psychological state), their daily habits, where and how they live and the people in the patient's life.
Home health care: Refers to a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home. Often it is less expensive, more convenient, and just as effective as care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility
Hormone therapy: The use of hormones (chemicals released by cells in the body) in medical treatment. Some reasons for hormone therapy include: cancer treatment, aging, and sex reassignment.
Hormones: Chemicals released in one part of the body, that travel through the bloodstream to send out messages to tissues or organs and control/balance how they do their work. For example, insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas and when it is released into the blood, it helps regulate how the body uses glucose (a type of sugar) for energy.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): These are Viruses that cause diseases that you get through sexual contact, whether that is oral, vaginal or anal sex. This virus can lead to genital warts and cervical cancer. This infection can pass from one partner to another during sex. It equally affects all people regardless or their sexual orientation.
Hypertension: See "High blood pressure."
Hypertensive: When a person has been told by a doctor that he/she has high blood pressure. After being diagnosed with high blood pressure, a doctor or healthcare worker will make suggestions for ways to lower the blood pressure and possibly prescribe medications.
Infectious disease: A disease that is caused by contact with germs, specifically bacteria and viruses (living things that can be found everywhere, in the air, soil, and water). Each germ can cause a disease or be spread in specific ways, some by touching, eating, drinking or breathing it in. Certain infectious diseases can also be spread through sexual contact or sharing needles. Getting vaccines, washing your hands, drinking clean water, and practicing safe sex are some of the ways you can protect yourself from catching infectious diseases.
Inflammation: One way that the body responds to infection, irritation or other injury. You can see or feel it outside your body by redness, warmth, swelling and pain. It can also be inside your body, like in the case of asthma.
Insulin: A hormone that our bodies make. It helps glucose leave your bloodstream and get into your cells. People who have (Type 1) Diabetes do not make insulin naturally. People who have (Type 2) Diabetes either do not make enough insulin or the cells in the body are ignoring the insulin that is being made.
Integrative medicine: Integrative medicine is a way of treating diseases by looking at different areas of a person's life that might cause illness. Practitioners who use integrative medicine work similarly to conventional medicine practitioners, but they also take a holistic approach to treatment by working with the patient on other non-medical ways to improve health such as helping a patient eat better and reduce stress.
Intestine: A part of the digestive system that goes from the stomach to the anus (butt). It includes the small intestine and large intestine.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A common condition that affects the large Intestine or colon. The Symptoms include cramping, pain in the stomach, gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. Despite these uncomfortable signs and symptoms, IBS doesn't cause permanent damage to your colon. In many cases, you can control irritable bowel syndrome by managing your diet, lifestyle and stress. Check the word Digestion.
Kidney failure: Kidney failure (also known as kidney disease) means that a person's kidneys are not working as well as they should be. When kidneys begin to fail, it means that they aren't filtering poisons from the body. This also means that the salt that we eat everyday isn't being cleared from the body.
Kidney stones: Small, hard deposits (or "stones") that form inside your kidney. The stones are made up of minerals found in urine that builds up in the kidneys. These deposits usually pass through the bladder without any symptoms. When you are told you have kidney stones, it means that they have become large enough to cause severe pain in the groin or back.
If you are having trouble peeing or there is blood or pus in your urine, you should call you doctor immediately and have it checked!
Kinesthetic education: A field that focuses on bringing attention to our bodies. Kinesthesia is a basic sense; it is the ability to feel one's own body especially while moving. Kinesthetic educaiton teaches people to pay more attention to their bodies and the sensations they feel, so they may notice physical imbalances earlier and therefore avoid illnesses.
Legume: This is a plant species that has seed pods that split along both sides when ripe. Examples include beans, lentils, peanuts, peas, and soybeans. Legumes are high in protein, iron, and vitamin B.
Leptin: A hormone that is normally in males and females. It is made mainly in fat cells and it is very important in regulating the signal that tells your brain that you have had enough to eat. Problems with making or using leptin have been linked to overeating and excess body weight.
Licorice: The root of Glycyrrhiza glabra plant from which you can extract a sweet flavor. Licorice extract is produced by boiling licorice root and evaporating most of the water. The extract is sold as a solid or in syrup form as a sweetener. Licorice flavor is also found in wide variety of candies like TwizzlersTM.
LIfestyle changes: Long-term changes that you stick to every day. These changes will only help you if you do them over a long period of time. For example, eating less salt by changing your food choices every day, getting more physical activity by walking three times a week, meditating daily to relieve stress.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): A type of cholesterol that is also known as "bad" cholesterol because it can lead to things like high blood pressure. It can build up in your blood vessels as plaque, making them so narrow that it's hard for blood to pass through.
Lumpectomy (partial mastectomy): Surgery in which only the cancerous lump and a small amount of normal surrounding tissue is removed in order to preserve the breast. See also: mastectomy.
Mastectomy: Surgery to remove all breast tissue, usually for breast cancer. See also: lumpectomy.
Melatonin: This is a hormone produced by the brain, that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Menstrual cycle: The series of changes that occur regularly in a woman's body, beginning with bleeding from the vagina (getting a period). Each cycle usually lasts about 28 days and allows a woman's body to prepare for the possibility of pregnancy.
Metabolism: There are many chemical reactions in the body's cells that transform food into the energy (or calories) the body needs to exist. Metabolism is the process of using nutrients from food to build, break down and repair the body.
Microcalcifications: Deposits of tiny amounts of calcium that occurs in the breast, it is visible as tiny spots on mammogram.
Mind-body medicine: Mind-Body medicine is based on the idea that the mind can have a positive or negative effect on the body. Because the mind and body are believed to be closely connected, a person needs to maintain a positive attitude in order to heal the body.
Mineral: also called mineral nutrients or dietary minerals. These are required by living things to send electrical signals from brain to parts of the body. Examples include calcium, potassium, and sodium.
Nervous system: an organ system made up of the brain, the spinal cord, nerves and sensory organs that control major body functions
Neurologist: A brain doctor. They treat problems that people have with their brain, spinal cord, and nerves. If you are having problems with your memory, balance, movement, speech, language, or anything else that involves thinking, you should go see a neurologist.
Nutrients: are groups of substances found in foods. They help the body build and repair tissues and provide energy. Examples of nutrients are: vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water. Except for water, there is a variety of each nutrient group. If any of the nutrients is missing from the diet or not taken into the body, death will very soon or eventually result.
Nutrition: The process of eating healthy food to give your body nutrients necessary for life and growth. It can also be the scientific study of what and how people eat, and educating them to eat healthy food.
Obesity: If a person is obese it means they are extremely overweight. They are more likely to have health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. A person is obese if they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater.
Occupational therapist: A healthcare professional that helps people learn how to complete daily activities that they may not be able to do easily because of an illness.
Organic foods: When any food (whether made from ingredients that come from an animal or plant) has been grown without the use of any synthetic (manmade) products to prevent weeds, kill bugs and fungus, or enhance growth.
Original date: Your doctor must put the date he/she wrote the prescription for you. The original date can be found on the upper right hand corner of the prescription. The date is necessary because all non-controlled prescriptions expire after one year. All controlled prescriptions expire after one month.
Omega-3 fatty acids: These are known as "good fats." They are an important part of a healthy diet. They can be found in fatty fish (like salmon, sardines and light canned tuna) as well as certain nuts and plants. Having a lot of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, lower your blood pressure, have a positive effect on your mood, and many more benefits.
Osteoporosis: A bone disease that makes bones fragile and easy to break. There are no symptoms and no pain until a bone breaks. It can be prevented by exercising to prevent falls and by taking vitamins with calcium and vitamin D .
Osteoporotic fracture: A broken bone caused by osteoporosis.
Pancreas: a gland behind your stomach and in front of your spine that helps break down food and control blood sugar levels
Pancreatitis: Tenderness or inflammation in the pancreas. It is most commonly caused by heavy alcohol drinking and gallstones (build up of material in the gallbladder).
Pap tests: A procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and looked at under a microscope.
Peak Flow Meter: A portable device used to measure your ability to push air out of your lungs. Many doctors recommend these devices for people who have asthma.
Physical activity: Any activity that gets your body moving. This includes regular formal exercise as well as activities of daily living like climbing stairs, housework, and walking for errands. Regular physical activity helps improve your overall health and fitness, and reduces your risk for many chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. It also strengthens bones, tones and strengthens muscles, and helps improve your mood. Regular physical activity is also the best way of keeping your weight off after you lose weight.
People should get at least thirty minutes of moderate intensity physical activity five times a week, or vigorous exercise 3 times a week for 20-60 minutes. Moderate intensity means that it's hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat; vigorous activity means you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit.
Physical therapist (PT): A healthcare professional who helps people recover from injuries. A PT shows a person how to stretch and rebuild strength in their muscles after an injury or other health event.
Physiological: Anything having to do with physiology. Physiology si the study of life and how living things complete day-to-day functions. It helps us sunderstand how the body works, from teh smallest parts (cells), to entire body systems (the muscle system). It also studies how separate parts of the body work together, and how the body reacts to different conditions outside of it, such as changes in the weather.
Phytonutrients aka Phytochemical: Any word that begins with "phyto" is referring to a plant (rather than an animal). A phytochemical is a chemical (or substance) that is only found in plants. Nutrition educators encourage consumers to eat lots of foods that come from plants. These include: nuts, beans, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, and grains.
Plant-based foods: These are foods that include fruits, vegetables, grains (whole grains are best), peas and beans, nuts, and seeds. Foods made from these categories include bread, pasta, and mixtures such as vegetable soups.
Post-traumatic stress disorder: A mental state or reaction that occurs after a person goes through a very stressful event. Some examples are wartime combat, physical violence, a car accident or a natural disaster.
Potassium: A mineral that is commonly found in our diets and helps maintain normal water balance in the body, normal muscle growth, and healthy nervous system and brain function. It is most commonly found in bananas, potatoes, tomato paste and orange juice.
Potassium-sparing: Potassium-sparing drugs are a type of drug often given for hypertension (high blood pressure) or heart problems. This kind of drug makes your body hold onto more potassium. Eating a lot of extra potassium, like the salt substitute, potassium chloride, might raise potassium levels too high and can be unhealthy for the body.
Prehypertension: You have prehypertension if your systolic blood pressure is from 120 to 139 OR your diastolic blood pressure is from 80 to 89. People with prehypertension are more likely to develop high blood pressure, or hypertension, and other heart problems.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome. It is the physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms related to a woman's period. Some symptoms are: cramps, stress, muscle or joint pain, fatigue, acne, and mood swings.
Presentation: The appearance or display of symptoms of a disease or illness.
Preservatives: Substances that are added to foods to prevent mold, yeast and bacteria from growing in them. Most of these substances are chemicals such as nitrites, benzoates, and sorbates that can make food last longer, but they can also be toxic to our bodies and make us sick. There are many natural preservatives such as salt, vinegar, and sugar that are not toxic, but if you eat too much of these natural preservatives this can lead to diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
Processed food: Food that is no longer in its natural or original state. The ways that food can be processed include: canning, freezing, refrigeration, and dehydration (drying, such as dried fruit and powdered milk). Processing foods increases their shelf life, which can reduce food waste due to rotting or spoiling. It can involve adding colors, salt or other preservatives, which can be unhealthy for you. Consider buying foods that have the least amount of processing since they are usually the healthiest for you.
Prostate cancer: This is a form of cancer in men that starts in the prostate gland. If untreated, the cancer may spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones. The different types of screening for prostate cancer include: digital rectal examinations, Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) tests, and biopsies. The treatments for prostate cancer are: surgery/prostatectomy, radiation therapy, freezing/cryotherapy, drug/hormone therapy, or expectant management.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test: A test that measures the level of PSA (protein created by the cells of the prostate gland in the blood. To check PSA levels, the doctor takes blood from the patient and it is examined in a medical laboratory. The test is used to check to see if a man has prostate cancer. If PSA levels are high, the patient should talk to his doctor to find out if follow up treatment is necessary.
Prostatectomy: A surgery to remove all or part of the prostate gland.
Proteins: Proteins are the building blocks of the body. Think of proteins as bricks, which are small, but when held together can make huge, complex structures. Small proteins work this same way to make up our organs such as skin and lungs, as well as hormones, enzymes, and the many proteins that circulate through the blood. When we think about eating protein in foods, we are eating the protein-rich muscle of animals such as fish, chicken, turkey, pork, and beef, for example. Beans, grains, seeds, nuts, and vegetables have smaller amounts of protein, but are equally nourishing. Eggs, milk and cheese are also excellent sources of protein.
Psychotic disorders:Serious mental illnesses that affect a person’s ability to think clearly and can cause them to see, hear and feel things that are not real. Sometimes, they are also afraid that bad things might happen to them.
Public health: A profession that focuses on preventing disease and promoting health. It includes the use of health services to improve and protect community health through sanitation, immunization, health education and preventative medicine.
Raynauds disease: A disease that limits the flow of blood to extremities, such as the hands and feet. This causes the extremities to feel cold and sometimes change color. It is also associated with many other diseases such as scleroderma, frostbite, and lupus.
Receptor: A protein on or inside a cell that receives a substance and responds to it in order to produce an effect in the body. When a drug enters the body, it can attach to a receptor in order to produce its effect, whether it's lowering a person's blood pressure, reducing their pain, or whatever the drug/medication does.
Reproductive health: The physical and mental well-being of an individual's reproductive system. Good reproductive health means that a person is able to have a healthy, safe, and responsible sex life and is able to have children if, when, and how often they want to.
Reproductive system: Also known as the genital system. It's the system of body parts (for example, the penis and testicles in males and the vulva and ovaries in females) that work together for the purpose of reproduction, or creating children.
Respiratory system: The primary function of the respiratory system is to put oxygen in the blood and remove carbon dioxide from the blood. This is done through breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide, which helps gets oxygen to the blood. The respiratory system includes the lungs, airways, diaphragm, windpipe, throat, mouth, and nasal passages.
Retrovirus: A type of virus that injects their genetic information, called ‘RNA', into a cell. The retrovirus family includes the AIDS virus.
Saliva: Also known as "spit"; watery secretions from glands in the mouth that moisten chewed food and begin digestion.
Saturated fat: Saturated fat is the most common cause of LDL (bad) cholesterol in food. Eating foods that have saturated fats raises the cholesterol in your blood. Saturated fat is mainly found in foods from animals and some plants. Foods from animals include beef, beef fat, veal, lamb, pork, lard, poultry fat, butter, cream, milk, cheeses and other dairy products made from whole and two percent milk. Foods from plants that contain saturated fat include coconut, coconut oil, palm kernel oil (often called tropical oils), and cocoa butter.
Schizoaffective disorder: A mental illness that affects a person’s ability to tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t real and also causes mood problems such as extreme unhappiness. It is a combination of schizophrenia and depression or bipolar disorder.
Schizophrenia: A mental illness that is a specific type of psychotic disorder that affects a person’s ability to think clearly and can cause them to see, hear and feel things that are not real. They sometimes are also afraid that bad things might happen to them. It usually starts when people are in their 20’s and affects about 1 in every 100 people.
Screening: A medical procedure that tests a person for certain types of illnesses. Screening can be done using x-rays, blood tests or a physical examination by a doctor.
Secondhand smoke: The smoke you breathe in from other people smoking around you. It is a combination of smoke that comes from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. Secondhand smoke can be extremely bad for your health if you are exposed to a lot of it like in the case of living with a smoker who smokes indoors. It can also cause children who already have asthma to experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks.
Sickle cell disease: a serious, life-long inherited blood disease. This means that you can get it from your parents and pass it to your children, like hair color or eye color. Normal red blood cells are round and soft, but sickle cell blood cells can get c-shaped and stiff. This shape makes it hard for blood to reach parts of your body because sickle cell blood cells have a hard time moving through small blood vessels. Sickle cell disease can cause terrible times of pain and damage to many organs in your body, like your lungs, heart, and kidneys
Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing stops for as long as 20 seconds several times during sleep. Because breathing stops, the amount of oxygen in the blood is lower. Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, and headaches.
Social worker: A person who is trained and certified to help people manage their daily lives, understand and adapt to illness, disability, and death, and obtain social services, such as health care, government assistance, and legal aid.
Sodium: one of the minerals needed by the body in small amounts; when mixed with chloride it becomes what we know as table salt.
Somatic: Refers to cells in the human body that are able to reproduce themselves; these cells naturally have a knowledge of survival and represent the body-mind connection.
Stage 4 kidney disease: The most severe stage of the disease before dialysis must occur for survival. (Stage 5 is when dialysis is absolutely necessary) The kidney must cleanse the blood at a needed rate. When this rate slows down it is a sign that the kidneys are not working.
STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease): A disease caused by either a virus or bacteria that moves from one person to another usually through sexual contact. These diseases can also be spread through blood and breast milk. Some examples of STDs are syphilis, hepatitis C, and HIV. STDs can do damage to the reproductive, urinary, and immune systems in the body, if not treated.
Supplements: Supplements can come in a variety of forms such as pills, powders or liquids. Dietary supplements cover a broad range of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Herbal supplements are also considered dietary supplements. If a supplement contains plants or herbs it is called a ‘botanical'.
Syphilis: A disease that you can get through sexual contact. It is caused by a bacterial infection.
Systolic blood pressure: The force against the walls of the arteries by blood when your heart beats.
Therapeutic lifestyle changes: Healthy changes in your lifestyle. For example, eating a diet that is low in saturated fat, eating a low cholesterol diet, regular physical activity, and keeping a healthy weight.
Thermal paper receipts: Research shows that the thermal paper that receipts are printed on may contain BPA. These include receipts from cash registers and ATM machines (often on glossy, curled paper). The toxic chemical can easily absorb into our skin. As a precaution try to avoid extended contact and keep receipts in envelopes (not loose in your wallet or purse).
Tissue: See "cells"
Triglycerides: These come from fats eaten in foods or made by the body from other energy sources like carbohydrates. Any calories that you eat and do not use right away become triglycerides and are sent to fat cells to be stored.
Tumor: A large number of cells that form together and cause harm to the body. They may be cancerous or non-cancerous, but you cannnot know without medical testing.
Tuskegee: In Tuskegee, Alabama from 1932-1972 a group of researchers studied 400 African Americans who were infected with syphilis. By 1940, penicillin was found to be an effective treatment for syphilis but the researchers did not give the participants the penicillin because they wanted to study the natural progression of the disease. This experiment, which is now considered unethical, is one reason many African Americans don't trust medical professionals. It is also the reason that all studies involving human research subjects must first be approved by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) to make sure they're ethical.
Ulcer: A crater-like open sore that forms on the inside lining of the stomach, small intestine or esophagus. Ulcers can be caused by a bacterial infection, by certain medications (like Aspirin or Ibuprofin), by smoking, or by your body producing too much acid.
Unprocessed food: Food that has not been processed. This is the food that usually doesn't need labels or packaging. Examples include foods from a farmers market or the produce section or a supermarket such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, rice, beans, and fresh meats, poultry, and fish. Nutrition educators will promote them as the healthiest for you.
Urinary flow: The amount of time or ease to release urine. Urinary flow also relates to the force of the urine stream as it is released.
Veins: passageways in the body that carry blood to the heart; veins are a type of blood vessel
Virus:A tiny being that attacks living cells and copies itself inside of them. Viruses cause many common human diseases, such as HIV.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a vitamin that helps the body keep normal amounts of calcium and phosphorus in the blood and helps the body take in calcium. This helps the body make strong bones. Vitamin D is also called the "sunshine" vitamin because the body makes it after being in the sun.
Vitamins: Substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally. There are 13 vitamins the human body needs. They are vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate). You can get all of these vitamins from foods. To protect the vitamins in your food, be sure to keep food out of sunlight, wrapped, and cooked without extreme heat or large amounts of water.
Whole grains: Are found in foods and are essential parts of a healthy diet. They are good sources of fiber and other nutrients. The ingredients on a food label should SAY "whole grain" or whole wheat/barley/rice/etc. on it if it's a whole grain. Just because something, like rice or bread, for instance, is brown in color doesn't mean it has WHOLE grains in it.
Yin-Yang Theory: This is a concept of Chinese philosophy and medicine that views things in relation to its whole. The yin and the yang are opposites that combine to provide a way of explaining relationships between objects.