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Glossary


Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet is based on limiting consumption of carbohydrates to prevent the body from storing food as fat and to also promote the body to burn fat reserves for energy to lose weight. When the body is not taking in carbohydrates, insulin levels in the blood remain low, prompting ketosis, a process in which the body burns fat for energy. Atkins places a high focus on net carbohydrates, or carbohydrates remaining to be stored in the body following the digestion of a food. The fewer net carbs in a food, the more efficiently the carbohydrates within the food are being used and fewer calories are stored within the body, meaning that the body can continue to burn fat reserves instead of adding to them.

 

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Blood Sugar

Also referred to as Blood Glucose Level, Blood Sugar is a measure of the amount of glucose present per unit of blood.  Glucose is the energy source for all of the cells in the human body, so blood sugar is, in effect, a measure of how much energy the blood is carrying to the cells.  Blood sugar levels have to be closely regulated, however, as extreme highs or extreme lows can be dangerous.  High levels of blood glucose can have a toxic effect on the body and low levels can deplete cell function and cause numerous physical and psychological side effects.  Blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day depending on a variety of factors including food intake, stress, and activity level, but there are many important and dependable methods to self-monitor and self-regulate.

 

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Carbohydrates

When used to reference food and nutrition, carbohydrates are molecules that carry and deliver energy that can be broken down and utilized by humans.  Carbohydrates are extracted from food during metabolism and carried to the blood as glucose, where they can be used immediately as energy or stored as fat for later use.  There are two types of carbohydrates that one should be familiar with: complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates.  Complex and simple carbohydrates metabolize differently during digestion and tend to impact the body differently during metabolism.

 

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Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in the blood that is necessary for hormone production and cell function, though excessive cholesterol or an abundance of ‘bad’ cholesterol can be destructive to heart health.  There are two types of cholesterol, LDL and HDL, standing for low- and high- density lipoproteins.  LDL is commonly referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol, and can build up in the blood due to poor diet high in cholesterol and saturated fat, lack of physical activity, age, gender and as a result of diabetes, among other factors.

 

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Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are a type of carbohydrate that has a tendency to break down more slowly during metabolism, leading to a slower, more stable introduction of glucose into the blood than with simple carbohydrates.  Because of the physiology behind blood sugar and insulin reaction, complex carbohydrates generally have a milder impact on the body and do not cause dramatic blood sugar fluctuations to the degree that simple carbohydrates do.  Not all complex carbohydrate sources follow this trend, however; the glycemic index is a far more accurate method for assessing a food’s impact on one’s blood sugar levels.

 

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Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus, or diabetes, is a metabolic disease derived from the body’s resistance to or inability to produce the chemical insulin, a vital component to the metabolic process.  There are two types of the disease.  Type 1 diabetes refers to an inability to produce insulin, therefore restricting the body’s ability to self-regulate blood sugar levels.  Type 2 diabetes refers to a resistance to insulin, a condition in which the body doesn’t properly manage blood glucose levels because the insulin in the body is not being utilized normally.  In both cases, blood sugar levels are subject to greater fluctuations than is normal or safe, and numerous precautions must be taken to regulate blood sugar levels using external means, lifestyle changes, dietary restrictions, and other methods.

 

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Endocrinology

The study of the endocrine system, or the systems of glands throughout the body charged with the creation and secretion of regulatory hormones.  Endocrinology closely relates to nutrition and metabolism as many of the hormones created and secreted by the endocrine system directly affect the digestive system of the human body and the metabolism process involving the conversion of food to energy.

 

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Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a condition in which women experience symptoms of diabetes during pregnancy due to fluctuation in hormones that affect the metabolism process. Though gestational diabetes typically subsides following pregnancy, women affected by it are then at a much higher risk for developing type 2 or even type 1 diabetes after the pregnancy, and their children are at a higher risk of childhood obesity and diabetes. Risk factors include maternal age, weight, family history of diabetes, smoking, and ethnic background. Exercise, proper diet and lifestyle management are the leading methods of prevention and management of the condition.

 

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Glucose

The synthesized result of the metabolism process in the body or the final product of the body's conversion of food to usable fuel for bodily cells.  Food is converted to glucose during metabolism, which is then utilized by the cells as energy to power basic bodily functions.  Blood glucose level, or blood sugar level, refers to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream per unit of blood.

 

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Gluten

A protein compound derived from processed wheat products and primary source of protein in wheat products and cereals.  A few whole grains such as quinoa and millet, do not contain gluten.  A very small percentage of Americans have celiac disease or have a sensitivity to wheat, in which case the avoidance of gluten products is essential.  For those who do not experience sensitivity to wheat products, gluten does not pose a health risk or a nutritional detriment.

 

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Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index is an assessment of the impact that a food has on the consumer’s blood sugar levels, or the rapidity at which a food is metabolized and converted to soluble glucose.  Foods with a G.I. rating of 70 or above are considered high G.I. foods, having a severe impact on blood sugar levels.  Foods with a G.I. rating of 55 or below are considered low G.I. foods, having a mild, moderated effect on blood sugar levels.  The body responds very differently to foods with varying Glycemic levels, and in this sense the Glycemic Index is an effective method of familiarizing oneself with the effects that different foods will have on the body.  In general, high G.I. foods will induce a strong regulatory insulin reaction from the body in order to counteract the food’s impact on blood sugar.

 

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Glycogen Rebound Effect

The Glycogen Rebound Effect is a natural defensive process used by the body to artificially raise blood sugar levels in cases of extremely low blood sugar. Also known as the Somogyi effect, the Glycogen Rebound Effect is a dangerous bodily response to abormally long periods of fasting or low blood sugar. When blood sugar levels hit a low point, the body releases glucagon and instead of burning glucose derived from food for energy, the body burns glycogen that had been previously stored. The glucagon in the blood, combined with the other hormones released during the rebound phenomena, work to elevate blood sugar levels and sustain them at a higher level than normal. This rebound effect is typically due to long periods of fasting or excessive insulin at night. High blood sugar can manifest itself in the form of blurred vision, fatigue, stupor, or even coma; it's a very dangerous condition, especially for diabetics.

 

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Healthy Fats

Mono-unsaturated fats, poly-unsaturated fats, and Omega 3 fats that can lower your LDL ('bad' cholesterol), total cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats). Poly- and monounsaturated fats work to sustain HDL ('good' cholesterol), which helps to maintain and improve cell and nerve function.  Omega-3 is often referred to as an essential fatty acid, or one that is required by the body for normal growth and digestive processes. These healthy fats can be found within fish, beans, meat and vegetables. Fish is especially high in essential fatty acids and can be highly beneficial to heart health.

 

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Hyperglycemia

A state of significantly raised blood sugar resulting from elevated levels of glucose in the blood, due to the body’s inability to properly sustain safe or normal blood sugar levels as might be the case in those with diabetes.  Excessively high blood glucose can have a toxic effect on the body, as the body is improperly utilizing blood glucose and is entering ketoacidosis.

 

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Hypoglycemia

A state of significantly lowered blood sugar resulting from depleted levels of glucose in the blood due to a lack of food energy reaching the body or due to excessive insulin levels.  Prolonged fasting, intestinal disorders, and diabetes are primary causes of hypoglycemia, though a hypoglycemic state can also be a side effect of certain medications.  Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include headaches, nausea, disorientation, extreme hunger, chills, fatigue, lethargy and disturbed vision, among many other potentially harmful symptoms.

 

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Insulin

A hormone produced by the body to regulate the metabolism and storage of glucose in the body.  When there is more glucose present in the blood than the body’s rate of consumption of glucose for energy demands, insulin converts the glucose to glycogen, which can be stored by the body for later use.  Insulin also prevents fat from being burned as an energy source so that the glucose in the blood can be used efficiently.  Without a proper insulin response, the body would experience dramatic swings in blood glucose levels that can result in alternating hypo- and hyperglycemia, causing a myriad of harmful consequences.

 

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Insulin Adjustment

An insulin adjustment refers to the process in which a person with diabetes who is unable to control their blood sugar manually by injecting themselves with insulin after meals to counteract fluctuations in blood sugar caused by food. People with diabetes must rigorously manage their blood sugar using blood glucose meters and, in some cases, glucose pumps. Insulin adjustments can be administered through pumps or by needle injections, which can often be painful. Injection sites must be carefully rotated around the body to ensure that the proper dosage is received.

 

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Insulin Response

The metabolic response of the body to the intake of food energy for the purpose of regulating blood sugar.  As food is digested, glucose is released into the blood stream to be consumed as fuel by the cells.  If there is more glucose flowing through the blood than the body currently demands, the body responds by secreting insulin.  Insulin stores the excess glucose as glycogen for later use and calls for the body to begin storing glycerol and fatty acids in the blood as fat.

 

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Ketosis

A condition where the body burns fat for fuel, often as a result of a lack of incoming food energy. In extreme low-carb diets, this is a desirable state, as the body is burning more fat off than it is storing. Many clinicians qualify ketosis as highly dangerous and potentially fatal; ketones, a compound released during fat burning, may have a cumulative toxic effect on the kidneys.

 

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Ketoacidosis

A condition where the body is unable to store or utilize glucose as energy for the cells, instead resorting to the burning of fat for fuel at an unhealthy rate, usually caused by malnutrition or an illness such as diabetes.  As fat is broken down, byproducts called ketones can build up, causing a variety of painful and potentially harmful symptoms including fruity breath, rapid and labored breathing, abdominal pain, nausea, headaches and other side effects.   The body responds by releasing glucose into the blood, compounding the problem with a sudden peak in blood sugar levels and adding to the mix the common side effects of hyperglycemia.

 

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Low Glycemic

Low-glycemic refers to a food product that ranks low on the scale of the Glycemic Index, meaing that the carbohydrates (if any) within a food have a minimal effect on blood sugar. The lower the glycemic index rating, it's likely that the food either has fewer carbohydrates or that those carbohydrates metabolize slowly and reach the blood gradually. Low glycemic foods are a part of many weight loss programs and diets because they do not incur the insulin response, a process in which the body stores excess food energy as fat.

 

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Metabolic

Of or relating to the physiology of the conversion of food to energy.

 

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Metabolism

The body’s process of converting food energy to glucose, which can be used by bodily cells as fuel.

 

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Net Carbohydrates

A measure of the number of carbohydrates left over after the metabolism process of a food, or a measure of how many carbohydrates are stored rather than used following consumption of a food.  Because net carbs aren’t efficiently used by the body, the number of net carbs can help to illustrate the impact that a food will have on blood sugar levels and how many carbohydrates from a food are unnecessary.  The general formula for determining net carbohydrate content is to subtract the fiber content of a food from the total carbohydrate content.  After you attain this number, if a food contains sugar alcohols, half of the sugar alcohol content should be subtracted from it.  Sugar alcohols have a varying glycemic impact, thus it is a sound practice to underestimate their impact on the net carb formula. To learn how to count net carbohydrates, visit our 'How To Use' page.

 

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Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are a type of carbohydrate that has a tendency to break down more quickly during metabolism, leading to a more rapid, less stable introduction of glucose into the blood than with complex carbohydrates.  Because of the physiology behind blood sugar and insulin reaction, complex carbohydrates generally have a more dramatic impact on the body and can cause dramatic blood sugar fluctuations, often requiring an insulin response to balance out.

 

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South Beach Diet

Developed originally as a diet meant for heart health, the South Beach diet quickly became a national favorite for weight loss. The foundation of the diet is based on the fact that people gradually become resistent to the insulin within their own bodies, causing the body to produce excessive insulin, eventually this could lead to diabetes and constant hunger. To avoid incurring the insulin response, the diet is based on foods with low glycemic index ratings and preaches the dieter to distinguish between 'good carbs' and 'bad carbs' based on their glycemic index value.

 

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Spike-Crash-Crave

The spike-crash-crave cycle is a repetitive, destructive physiological cycle that is often the result of repeatedly consuming unhealthy foods with very high glycemic index ratings. After eating one of these foods, blood sugar levels will rise very quickly and cause a powerful insulin response to drive blood sugar back down. With high-glycemic foods, the insulin response incurred is often excessive and drives blood sugar too low. Once blood sugar bottoms out, the person will feel extremely hungry and may overeat, causing the cycle to start right back at the beginning. Because of the repetitive eating caused by the cycle and the accelerated fat storage prompted by the insulin response, the 'Spike-Crash-Crave' cycle can cause significant weight gain and health problems.

 

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Sugar Alcohols

Sugar Alcohols are artificial sweeteners that appear in low-sugar or sugar-free foods. Because they are not metabolized fully by the body, they do not have the same effect on blood sugar that regular sugars do. They are regarded as a safe alternative to traditional sugars in order to lower calorie and carbohydrate counts in foods. Another advantage of sugar alcohols in comparison to table sugar is that sugar alcohols do not have the same effect as sugar on the teeth, meaning that they do not cause tooth decay as sugar tends to do. The most prominent sugar alcohol in Extend Nutrition products is Maltitol, a sugar alcohol common in many food products due to its high sweetness. Many sugar alcohols are significantly less sweet than sugar, thus Maltitol is at an advantage to other sugar alcohols because less is required for the same level of flavor and sweetness.

 

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Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes refers to a kind of diabetes that results from the immune system targeting and destroying the insulin-producing beta cells within the body, rendering the body unable to moderate blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes may eventually lead to a complete inability to produce insulin at all, a fatal condition that must be carefully managed by monitoring and adjusting insulin manually. Type 1 diabetes was previously referred to as juvenile diabetes, because the symptoms for the disease typically showed up at an early age. In some cases, Type 1 diabetes can go undiagnosed or the autoimmune destruction of beta cells can occur later in life. As a result, the 'juvenile' label, become less appropriate. Approximately 5% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

 

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Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a far more common form of diabetes compared to type 1; nearly 90% of the diabetic population has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Unlike type 1 diabetes, in which the body destroys its own insulin-producing cells, type 2 diabetes usually caused by an inability to produce enough insulin or a resistence to insulin developed later in life. Factors in the development of the disease include poor diet, inactivity, genetics and some medical conditions. Once a patient is diagnosed with diabetes, it is unlikely that they will be completely 'cured' of the disease, but it is considerably easier to manage with proper eating habits, exercise and lifestyle changes combined with proper management of blood sugar levels.

 

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Uncooked Corn Starch

Uncooked corn starch is the active ingredient in Extend Nutrition products. It is an extremely low-glycemic complex carbohydrate that breaks down very slowly during the metabolism process. Because the energy from uncooked corn starch reaches the blood sugar at a very slow, stable rate, it can have a long-lasting moderating effect on blood sugar.

 

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Unhealthy Fats

Saturated fats and trans fats raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Saturated fats are fats most often found in meat and dairy products and even more so among processed foods. Trans fats are found exclusively in processed foods and are not a natural fat at all; they are a result of food preservation processes. Part of the challenge of eating wisely is that many of the processed foods that are sugar-free or low carb are also high in saturated or trans fats, and because of the danger they can pose to your heart health, it's always best to check labels to verify saturated and trasn fat content.

 

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