A to Z of nutrition

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Additives

As the name indicates, they are substances that are added to food to improve its appearance or to preserve its taste and quality. Additives have been used for centuries and some of them are natural such as vinegar, salt and vitamin C. Food additives are listed on the food labels in the ingredient list and can be identified by numbers. The addition of additives to foods is normally regulated by recognized agencies such as the Unites States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Reliable food companies respect the addition of additives to their products from the approved safe list and in safe amounts.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 different types that are combined in different ways to make different proteins. The body can make some of its own amino acids but some are essential meaning that they cannot be made by the body so we need to get them from food.

Anemia

Anemia indicates a decrease in the number of red blood cells (RBC) in the blood or less than normal amount of haemoglobin in the RBCs. Hemoglobin transfers oxygen from the lungs to all body cells where it is used to produce energy and give the skin its healthy color. So when a deficiency exists, less oxygen is transported to body cells which will make us feel unpleasant symptoms such as tiredness, pale skin, less concentration and headaches. The most common kind of Anemia is Iron Deficiency Anemia which is especially seen in women and children, and is caused by inadequate intake of iron containing foods in the diet. Iron containing foods include red meat and chicken, in addition to legumes (Lentils, beans, chickpeas) and green leafy vegetables (spinach, parsley). The iron from meat and chicken is better absorbed than that from vegetarian sources. So in order to increase the absorption of iron from vegetarian foods, a vitamin C rich source such as lemon, oranges, melon, strawberries, tomatoes or green pepper should accompany the meal.

Aspartame

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener made up of two amino acids – aspartate and phenylalanine. These amino acids are found naturally in many foods such as meat,vegetables, dairy products and cereal grains. Individually these amino acids arenot sweet, but joined together they produce an intense sweet taste that is approximately200 times sweeter than sugar.

Acidophilus (Lactobacillus Acidophilus)

Acidophilus is a probiotic bacteria which is commonly found in yogurt. Probioticbacteria survive digestion in the stomach and help maintain the balance of ‘goodbacteria’ in the lower parts of the intestinal tract. A good balance of ‘friendly’bacteria in the intestine reduces the risk of health problems.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that help to protect the body against damage caused byfree radicals. The body produces its own antioxidants and they are also found infoods such as fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee and dark chocolate. Common antioxidantsare vitamins C, E and A, and phytochemicals likepolyphenols. Eating a diet richin antioxidants is beneficial for health and wellbeing.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardiovascular exercise, raises the body’s demandfor oxygen resulting in an increase in heart rate and respiration rate. This typeof physical activity is relatively low to moderate in intensity and of long duration(more than 20 minutes), such as walking, jogging, dancing, cycling, stair climbing,swimming and jumping rope. These types of exercises, if done regularly, improveheart function.

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