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ADHD ( Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder )

The combination of inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive behaviour which are severe, developmentally inappropriate and impair function at home and school.

Common features include mood swings, anxiety, impulsivity, hostility, 'low frustration tolerance', poor concentration and sleep problems, as well as physical complaints such as stomach aches, headaches and migraines.

ASD ( Autistic Spectrum Disorder )


Autism is a serious developmental disorder characterised by profound deficits in language, communication, socialisation and resistance to learning.

Some autistic children do suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and stomach aches.


Dyslexia is an inherent dysfunction involving the language centres of the brain.

The spoken word may be affected to some degree, but the handicap is particularly related to mastering the written word.


Also known as developmental coordination disorder and ‘clumsy child syndrome’, dyspraxia is a disability caused by the impairment in the organisation of movement,

Food Hypersensitivity

A heightened reaction by the body to a particular food or ingredient. This reaction produces a variety of symptoms which are reproducible upon repeated exposure.

Cases of food hypersensitivity which involve the immune system are known as food allergy and can cause a life threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Cases of food hypersensitivity that does not involve an immune response is technically classified as non-allergenic food hypersensitivity, although it is commonly termed food intolerance. Symptoms of food intolerance are wide ranging and include stomach ache, itchy skin and migraine.

( Report of the Nomenclature Review Committee of the World Allergy Organisation, 2003)

Essential Fatty Acids

There are two essential fatty acids ( EFAs) known as alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid ( LA ).

They are termed essential as they can not be made in the body and need to be consumed in the diet. Dietary sources of these essential fatty acids include vegetable oils and green leafy vegetables.

The EFAs are converted into HUFAs by a series of enzyme reactions.

This conversion process can be affected by various factors.


HUFAs are highly unsaturated fatty acids, also known as PUFAs ( poly unsaturated fatty acids ).

Fatty acids principally consist of chains of carbon atoms of varying lengths. Between each pair of carbon atoms in the chain there is either a single or double bond.

Omega 3 fatty acids have the first double bond between the 3rd and 4th carbon atoms.

Omega 6 fatty acids have the first double bond between the 6th and 7th carbon atoms.

Saturated fatty acids do not have any double bonds and unsaturated fatty acids have at least one double bond.

HUFAs consist of 18 or more carbon atoms, have at least 3 double bonds in their carbon chains and can be either Omega 3 or Omega 6.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids


Omega 6 Fatty Acids


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an Omega 3 HUFA.

The brain is made of approximately 60% fat and half of this fat is in the form of HUFAs.

DHA is the most abundant Omega 3 HUFA found in the brain and has a major structural role in neuronal membranes ( nerves ).

DHA appears to be particularly important at highly active sites such as synapses and photoreceptors, with deficiencies linked to visual and cognitive deficits.

( Neuringer et al, 1994 and 1996 ).


Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is an Omega 3 HUFA.

EPA is crucial for brain function and together with DGLA and AA , is made into a complex group of compounds known as eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are involved in numerous regulatory functions in the brain and body.


Arachidonic acid (AA) is an Omega 6 HUFA.

The brain is made of approximately 60% fat and half of this fat is in the form of HUFAs.

AA is the most abundant Omega 6 HUFA found in the brain and has a major structural role in neuronal membranes ( nerves ).


Dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) is an Omega 6 HUFA.

DGLA has more of a functional rather than a structural role in the brain.

Together with EPA and AA, DGLA is made into a complex group of compounds known as eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are involved in numerous regulatory functions in the brain and body.


Casein is a milk protein present in all mammalian milks, including breastmilk, and milk products.


Gluten is a mixture of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin.

Gliadin is the protein responsible for gluten enteropathy such as coeliac disease.

Wheat contains a large amount of gluten. Other cereals such as barley, oats and rye do not contain gluten but a very similar protein and hence are often excluded in gluten-free diets. When gluten is mixed with water the molecules stick together to form a dough. This ability to form a dough has been vital for bread and pasta production and has ultimately lead to wheat becoming a dietary staple, particularly in Western countries.


Opioids refers to a group of substances that share a particular chemical structure, based on morphine.

During the process of digestion certain dietary proteins, such as gluten and casein, are broken down into opioids, such as gluteomorphin and casomorphin.

It has been proposed that these opioids could act on receptor sites on the brain and influence behaviour. This has yet to be proven and remains a controversial theory amongst many health care professionals.


See opioids


See opioids


See opioids


Lactose is commonly termed ‘milk sugar’.

It is the carbohydrate found in all mammalian milks ( cow, sheep, goat ), including breast milk.

Gut Microflora

This refers to the collection of various different types of bacteria living in the small and large intestines ( gut ). These bacteria are crucial to our health, with  imbalances between certain types being implicated in certain physical and mental health problems.


Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that include Bifidobacteria and Lactobacteria.

Probiotics can be taken as a supplement or in particular foods, such as yoghurts and yoghurt drinks. Although all yoghurt will contain some good bacteria, probiotic yoghurts and yoghurt drinks contain a special strain of bacteria that have been clinically proven to reach the bowel and exert a positive effect.


Prebiotics are substrates (food) specifically utilised by probiotic bacteria which in turn

stimulate their growth. They are non-digestible carbohydrates that can be found in certain foods, as well as breast milk.

Candida albicans

This is a type of yeast that is found on the skin and the mucous membranes of the body. Many broad-spectrum antibiotics do not affect Candida albicans which can lead to an overgrowth ( candidiasis ).


See Candida albicans

Sulphation deficit

Sulphur-containing foods, such as milk, wheat and bananas, are oxidised in the body to produce sulphate by the PST ( phenol-sulphur-transferase ) enzyme system. This enzyme system may be faulty in certain individuals, leading to a sulphation deficit.

Sulphate is important for keeping the mucin layer of the gut healthy and for the inactivation of neurotransmitters.



Mucin is a protein found in mucus and therefore present in mucous membranes.

The mucin layer lining the gut requires sulphate to remain healthy and functioning.

Oxidative stress

An imbalance within the body when the action of harmful free radicals is

inadequately countered by protective antioxidants.

Autism, depression and Parkinson’s disease are conditions associated with increased oxidative stress.

Free radicals

Highly reactive molecules produced during normal metabolic processes in the body.

Smoking, ageing and degenerative diseases all increase the production of free radicals.


Antioxidants are biologically active substances that act to counter the harmful effects of free radicals. They include certain vitamins ( Vitamin C and E ) , minerals ( Selenium ) and other groups such as carotenoids and bioflavanoids.

Many fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants.

Cis and Trans Fats

Unsaturated fats contain double bonds between some of their carbon atoms. There is no freedom of rotation for the two groups either side of the double bond and so they exist in two geometric isomeric forms, cis and trans.

The unsaturated fatty acids found in both plants and animals are mainly found in the cis form.  Some trans fats are produced during the rumenation process in cows so are consequently found in butter, milk and meat.  This is biohydrogenation and is a natural process.

Cis fats can  however, be changed into the trans form during certain manufacturing processes, known as commercial hydrogenation. Partially and fully hydrogenated fats/oils are trans fats.

Hydrogenated fats

Hydrogenation is the method of turning liquid vegetable oil into solid fat.

This process stabilises the oil, preventing oxidation which causes rancidity, and as such can be used in manufactured products of extended shelf-life.

Fully or partially hydrogenated fats are found in many processed foods, such as margarine, snacks and bakery products.

Leaky Gut

One of the many functions of the gut mucosa is that of a barrier, keeping the stomach contents within until digestion has been fully completed.

If the gut mucosa is damaged then fragments of food which have not been fully digested can leak out into the blood stream. This is what we term ‘ leaky gut ‘ but it remains a controversial theory.

gut mucosa

The gut mucosa is the inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

It is a type of mucous membrane.

mucous membrane

A membrane that lines a body cavity which opens to the exterior

eg. mouth, gastrointestinal tract, vagina


Steatorrhoea is used to describe increased fat in the faeces and is characterised by a pale, smelly, frothy stool. It is a feature of fat malabsorption and can be caused by a variety of factors.


Peptides are chains of amino acids that can be short, medium or long chained( also termed small and large). Whole proteins are made up of a variety of peptides bonded together. The process of digestion breaks down these bonds, by a sequence of enzymes, allowing the gut to absorb them into the bloodstream as short-chained peptides and free amino acids.

hepatic portal system


The flow of blood from the gastrointestinal organs to the liver before returning to the heart.

During the absorptive state ( following a meal) , hepatic portal blood is rich with substances absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. The liver monitors these substances before they pass into the general circulation.

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