BELOW IS A DESCRIPTION OF NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICAL TERMS USED ON NUTRITION UPGRADE.
Proteins are chains of amino acids linked together. The body breaks down dietary protein into amino acids that are then used to build very specific proteins the body needs. Protein is the second most abundant substance in our bodies after water. Amino acids are involved in the biochemical structures of the body including genes, blood, tissues, muscle, collagen, skin, hair and nails. Chemical messengers are made from amino acids, like hormones, neuro-transmitters, anti-bodies and enzymes.
Amino acids are composed of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. It is the nitrogen component which is able to repair and re-build tissue. Amino acids fall into two basic categories: essential and non-essential. The liver produces about 60% of the amino acids needed. The remaining 40% must be obtained from food. Essential amino acids, of which there are nine to twelve, cannot be made in the body. They need to be obtained from animal or vegetable proteins. The main essential amino acids are lysine, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine and valine. A person would begin to degenerate and eventually die without ingesting these amino acids daily. This continued low level of synthesis and use of amino acids is essential to life.
Fatty acids come in many shapes, sizes and lengths. They are the building blocks of all fats and oils (lipids). Fatty acids comprise the blood fats, triglycerides, which travel through the blood stream. Fatty acids are the main components of membranes that surround all cells and within cells, the organelles.
Each fatty acids is comprised of ‘fatty chain’ at one end, and an ‘acid group’ at the other end. The fatty chain is made from entirely of Carbon and Hydrogen, which the end of the chain ending in a methyl group (CH3). The acid end of the chain is a weak acid known as a Carboxyl group (-COOH) which dissolves in water.
Fatty acids also come in different chain lengths ranging from 4 carbon atoms, like butyric acid found in butter, to 24 carbon atoms found in fish oil and brain tissue). Fatty acids are broken down into different groups according to their structure.
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Saturated fatty acids
- Monounsaturated Fatty acids
- Omega 6 Fatty acids
Fatty acids provide a number of important physiological functions in the body.
- They are a source of energy – when glucose reserves have been used up, then the body relies on its sources of fats for fuel.
- They help absorb fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, K2 from the gut.
- Fats are required for basic structure of brain tissue. DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), an omega 3 fatty acid is a fundamental component of brain tissue.
- They are required for the formation of hormones. Cholesterol is the ‘grand-mother’ of all hormones as its steroidal structure provides the backbone upon which all other steroid hormones are based on. These include the sex hormones testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
- Fats are required for a source of cellular anti-inflammatory compounds. Through various pathways found within the cell, compounds called prostaglandins are produced from Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which have a anti-inflammatory effect.
- Fats are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. The fatty acids lauric and caprylic acid found in coconut oil, has been proven to be anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, and thus help protect our guts and skins from pathogens.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and many viruses. DNA is a nucleic acid. The composition of DNA consists of two biopolymer strands which are coiled around each other to form a double helix. The DNA strands are composed of simpler units called nucleotides. Each nucleotide is composed of a nitrogen containing base compound, which is either guanine, adenine, thymine or cytosine, as well as deoxyribose and phosphate groups.
The mitochondria are the cells’ power plants, that is, they generate most of the cells’ requirement for energy or ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) as its known. ATP is what keeps us alive, it is used for conducting all biochemical processes needed within the body. Mitochondria are also involved with regulating cell differentiation, cell death, cell growth and cell division. All these aspects are critical to the correcting functioning of a normal cell.
The principle of functional medicine is the belief that all chronic diseases for example cancer, heart disease, auto-immune and diabetes are caused by physiological imbalances, deficiencies and toxicities which contribute to dysfunction, in the various systems of the body. By analysing clinical data from laboratory analyses, evaluating organ function, nutrient deficiency / toxicity, cellular function one can identify the triggers and causes of disease and remediate the condition by removing the trigger or cause, and re-creating homeostasis through diet supplementary and detoxification regimes. Key institutional organisations providing education plarforms on functional medicine include:
Institute of Functional Medicine: www.functionalmedicine.org
Functional Medicine University: www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com
MORE TO COME….