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4 Nutrition and Health Terms in Plain English

By Kate Gardner 

I'll confess, when I read health and wellness articles, I don't always know what they're talking about. I know that words like "fatty acids" and "inflammation" have to do with health and nutrition, but I'm not sure what those things are, exactly, and why they should matter to me. Understanding the terms we read is important, though, so we can figure out how to incorporate what we're learning into our everyday lives. 


Inflammation is easy enough to understand when we're talking about a sprained ankle or a broken wrist. In these cases, you can see the swelling caused by inflammation. But swelling is only a part of inflammation. Inflammation is the body's necessary and helpful response to injury and infection. It can cause pain, swelling, warmth, redness, and loss of function. Organs, like the liver, can become inflamed, but you may only be aware of one part of inflammation such as pain. Acute inflammation is important for healing, but chronic inflammation can cause damage. 

Essential Fatty Acids

Fats are made up of fatty acids. The body uses fatty acids for a number of important activities. While we make some of our own fatty acids, there are a few our bodies need that they can't make on their own. These are the essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6.  The omega-3 fatty acids come from salmon and other cold water fish. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in many oils, such as sunflower, soybean, and corn oil. While it's important to get both in your diet, we tend to get more than enough omega-6 and not enough omega-3. 


When I hear something called a superfood, I imagine it wearing a cape. Superfoods can't see through walls or fly, but they are really good for you. These foods are designated "super" because they pack in a lot of nutrition. However, there is no universally accepted definition of a superfood or which foods qualify.


With the current popularity of the ketogenic diet, you're likely to hear the word ketosis. The ketogenic diet swaps out carbohydrates for fats in order to put your body into ketosis. When you're in ketosis, your body is forced to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose. Many people go on ketogenic diets to help lose fat. Ketosis should not be confused with ketoacidosis, which is a potentially fatal complication of diabetes. 

These are just a few of the nutrition and health terms it's good to know about. Check back soon for more! 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Monrovia, Calif. 

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