My Whole-Food, Plant Based Vegan Glossary

This page is under continuous development as I am building this site. Thanks for exploring! These are just some of the words/terms/topics I found interesting as I began blogging for this site. For a comprehensive, utmost legit library of topics go to NutritionFacts.org/topics.

Acrylamide is a “chemical that is created when we fry carbohydrates.” Potato chips and French Fries exceed the amount allowed in water by law 30,000%. It has been “linked to human kidney cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer and human breast cancer.(s) This is a carcinogen from frying potatoes; like the heterocyclic amines and polycyclic hydrocarbons formed at high temperatures when you deep-fry animal products.(s)

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s): glycotoxins in food suppress sirtuin activity. Excess consumption of AGE’s can be neurotoxic. High levels in the blood may predict cognitive decline over time. Researchers have linked AGE’s with cerebral brain loss. Foods highest in AGE’s are chicken, bacon, hot dogs, steak, turkey, and fish. (s) (s) AGE’s are considered gerontotoxins (aging toxins), thought to accelerate the aging process. (s)

Atherosclerosis is hardening and narrowing of the arteries, also called Heart Disease or Cardio Vascular Disease. Atherosclerosis is caused by fatty deposits from the foods we eat. These foods are oils and dietary cholesterol found only in animal foods. See our post on Heart Disease, the leading killer for almost a century.

These fatty deposits build up into vaso-constricting plaques decreasing vital oxygen flow to all of your organs. In addition to the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, the plaques crystallize into sharp edges that may break under systolic pressure. These crystals are found puncturing through the arterial wall of heart attack vitcims. (s)

Atherosclerosis can go unnoticed for many years. It may manifest into various life threatening diseases from the spine, to the kidney’s, to the heart, and brain.

Atherosclerosis involves the entire vascular tree affecting the entire human organism. Symptoms may be lower back from a malnourished spine, impotence, heart attack, and a list of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. (s) also see ischemia.

Allium, like cruciferous, are a family of vegetables like leeks, garlic, and onions. Those particular ones happen to suppress cancer the most. See Best Veggies to Fight Cancer.

Angiogenesis is the physiological process of new blood vessels forming from existing blood vessels. Some foods have antiangiogenic properties, like mushrooms. This may in turn prevent cancer growth, metastasis, and even necrosis of the cancer.

Beta Amyloids, Amyloid plaques are sticky buildup that accumulates outside nerve cells or neurons. Amyloids are protein that is normally found throughout the body and when they divide improperly they become beta amyloid which is toxic to neurons in the brain. Diet-induced high cholesterol has been shown to increase the formation and progression of amyloid plaques in the brain. Copper with a diet high in saturated fats appears to exacerbate cognitive decline and even Alzheimer’s disease. (s)

Cyanobacteria, also known as Cyanophyta, is a phylum of bacteria that obtain their energy through photosynthesis, and are the only photosynthetic prokaryotes able to produce oxygen. The name “cyanobacteria” comes from the color of the bacteria. (s)

C-reactive protein is a substance produced by liver in response to inflammation. High serum levels could mean anything from an infection to cancer to arterial inflammation (increased heart attack risk). Saturated fat is associated with an increased likelihood of elevated C-reative protein levels. (s)

Dead Zones are areas in oceans and large lakes where marine life can no longer survive. These areas are developing at alarmingly exponential rates. And they just so happen to be occurring “near inhabited coastlines, where aquatic life is most concentrated.”(s) I first learned about them through Dr. Sylvia Earle in her incredible documentary Mission Blue. Everyone should see her documentary. Sylvia has exploring and analyzing the oceans as a marine biologist since before she achieved her doctorate of phycology from Duke University in 1966. Learn more about Dead Zones from her perspective by checking out Mission Blue.

Endotoxins (Endotoxemia) come from the dead bacteria in meat. This cannot be destroyed by your gut bacteria or even boiling for that matter. And to make matters worse “animal fat may play a profound role in the pathogenesis of after meal inflammation by increasing the absorption of the endotoxins.” (s)

Energy Density: the weight reducing effect of fruits and veggies is due to their “low energy density“. Unlike meat, eggs, and dairy plant foods have a lot of fiber and water meaning “you get a lot of food for just a few calories, so it fills you up”. “Energy Density is defined as the amount of energy per unit weight of a food or beverage.” Foods high in fat are generally high in energy density. Meats, eggs, and dairy are all examples of this. It’s better to stay away from high energy density foods. Nuts are the only exception to this rule. (s) Energy density explains why you can lose weight on a whole-food, plant based diet eating more food.

Epigenesis when environmental influences alter our genetic expression, causing our genes to change in either positive or negative ways.

Fat is one of the three macronutrients (see also protein and carbohydrates). Animal fats cause atherosclerosis (heart disease). Essential omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are found in nuts in seeds. Everyday I eat a serving of pecan or walnuts with a salad or meal and flax in my cereal and/or smoothies. I only need 58g fat a day. A serving of walnuts is 52g. Two tbsp of flax is 8g! It’s important to get a balanced ratio of omega 3 and omega 6.

Frugivore is an animal that eats fruits, nuts, and vegetables (sound familiar? lol). Check out our post on “Humans Should be Frugivores

Glycotoxins (Advanced Glycation End Products) also considered gerontotoxins (geronto as in gerontology) or aging toxins, thought to accelerate the aging process-the multi-system decline in anatomic integrity and function. There are two sources of these toxins, one, we can/t do much about. They are produced internally as natural waste products of metabolism. But source number two is our diet. The highest concentrations of AGE/s are found predominantly in chicken, bacon, and other meats. (s) (s) (s)

Goitrogenic compounds are naturally occurring chemicals found in many healthy foods that can “interfere with the uptake of iodine into the thyroid. (s)

Homocysteine is a non-protein a-amino acid. Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood, Hyperhomocysteinemia, has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Elevated homocysteine levels are thought to contribute to atherosclerosis, stroke, blood clots, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s. Homocysteine is biosynthesized from methionine. Protein from meat contains the most methionine. To learn more about methionine visit our page on protein. (s) (s) (s)

Ischemia refers to a reduction in blood supply to an organ which can lead to necrosis of that organ, or infarct. The most common cause of cardiac ischemia is atherosclerosis.

Macronutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

Micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, and water.

  • Vitamins are organic substances made by plants.
  • There are 13 vitamins: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the eight B vitamins: thiamin/B1, riboflavin/B2, niacin/B3, pantothenic acid/B5, pyridoxine/B6, biotin/B7, folate/B9, and cyanocobalamin/B12. You can get all your vitamins from whole food, plant based based sources (and a B12 supplement since you probably wash your food, drink clean water, and practice modern hygeine). Your body also makes vitamins D and K.

Water Soluble Vitamins: B1, B2, B6, B12, C, & Folic Acid/B9
Fat Soluble Vitamins: A, D, E, K

You may also want to check out our Supplements page.

  • Minerals (major/large amounts needed & trace/small amounts needed) are inorganic substances that are not made by living things. Minerals are found naturally in soil and water and are absorbed by plants.

Minerals examples are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus.
Trace mineral examples are zinc, manganese, selenium, copper, iron, cobalt, iodine, chromium, fluorine, lead, cadmium.

Mitochondria is found in eukaryotic organisms and are the power station of the cell. They are organelles that digest nutrients, break them down, and create energy rich molecules for the cell. Your heart muscle cells have more mitochondria (5K per cell!) than any other organ in your body. The Mitochondrial Theory of Aging suggests that free radical damage to our cells mitochondria lead to loss of cellular activity and function over time. (also see superoxide) (s)

Mushrooms come in over 2,000 edible varieties! They are saprophytic in that they feed off of rotting dead animals (like the necrovore so many humans think are) and plants. As a result some attempt to argue that mushrooms aren’t vegan or vegetarian even. But because they do not have a brain and therefore presumably cannot feel pain they are fair game for vegan consumption. Scientifically we know they can be both very beneficial and very toxic. (s) But so is everything else which is why you want to consume the most nutritiously beneficial over the risks.

It’s a good idea to always cook your mushrooms. This removes most if not all the agaratine, a mycotoxin. I may cook them in the microwave for a minute and a half or more before any other cooking methods.

If you soak them in Sunsine to increase vitamin D cooking in the sun for an hour “may” help remove this toxin. Mushrooms are very beneficial nonetheless. For example, they increase immunoglobulin A (IGA), an antibody that may play as significant role in immune function of mucous membranes (e.g. mouth, gut lining, eyes, etc…). So as far as agaratine the benefits of mushrooms outweigh the risk even with nominal cooking as far as we know right now. Mushrooms have also been shown to have antiangiogenic properties.

Methylmercury all fish contain small amount of this, the most toxic form of mercury, and fish consumption is the main source. Exposure can cause overt structural brain abnormalities like microcephaly, which is a shrunken brain disorder. (s)

necrosis is the death of most or all of an organs cells or tissue. This may be caused by a disease, injury, or loss of blood supply.

Nitrate is a polyatomic ion made of one nitrogen and three oxygen atoms. Plants need nitrates to grow. When we eat plants based foods like arugala, beets, etc. our body converts the nitrates into nitrites and eventually nitric acid. Nitric acid is a powerful vasodilator widening blood vessels. This results in life-enhancing effects minimizing the risk of high blood pressure and “improving oxygen efficiency while decreasing age-related cognitive decline.

Processed meats are cured using the preservative sodium nitrite to fight harmful bacteria’s. When nitrites are added to meat as a preservative nitrosamines (Carcinogens like the ones found in cigarettes) are formed. Food is a package deal and the phytonutrients found in plants block the formation of nitrosamines. (s)

Package Deal is a significant concept (s) in which we consider all of the effects of what we consume. “For example, you could throw a multivitamin into a scoop of sewer sludge and legally call it a “good” source of half a dozen things, but it would probably kill you. It’s not good at all… It is impossible to get the calcium from dairy without also getting all the hormones. Or the iron in beef without the saturated fat. So, these aren’t necessarily good sources of nutrients after all, because we can’t get one without the other. (s)

When “we get our nutrients from non-animal sources… then we don’t have to worry about saturated fat, cholesterol and the rest. And there’s a bonus that comes when we get, for example, our iron and zinc from whole grains, greens, beans, nuts and seeds, the fiber, folate, the phytonutrients, etc. It’s a package deal, but in a good way!”(s)

Protein from animal sources comes with many risks that gravely outweigh any potential nutritional benefit. Plant sources of protein come packaged with loads of essential fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.(s)

The idea of Package Deal also applies to supplements. For example; beta-carotene, lycopene, isolated green tea compounds (catechins), selenium and even vitamin E supplements result in more cancer. Dietary, plant sources of nutrients suppress cancer whereas supplement sources not only don’t work they cause more cancer. The protective effects of a phytochemical-rich diet is best obtained from frequent consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products. (s)

Isolated Soy Protein (e.g. in soy milk, soy meatless burgers, soy candy bars, soy shakes, soy sausages) is another example of this. Soy as a whole-food has many amazing beneficial effects. However, consuming those isolated nutrients raises IGF-1, which feeds cancer to say the least.(s)

Phosphorus (or phosphates) is found in both animal and plant food. But, the phosphates found in plant foods “are mainly in the form of phytic acid” (see Phytates below). Phosphorus is essential for all living organisms. In plants it enables growth, plays a role in photosynthesis, respiration, energy storage and transfer, cell division, cell enlargement, and several other processes. (s) Plants obtain phosphorus through the soil, where it’s released from rocks through weathering and even ocean sediments.

In humans, much like in plants, phosphorus is an essential mineral. We need it for growth and repair of cells and tissues. “Next to calcium, phosphorus is the most abundant mineral in the body.”(s) All body cells contain phosphorus with 85 percent found in teeth and bones. “There, together with calcium, phosphorus provides structure and strength.” It is also a component of DNA and RNA “which carry genetic information used to make proteins. Phosphorus also “acts as a buffer, neutralizing acids to maintain normal pH in the blood. Many enzymes and hormones contain phosphorus as a structural component. Hemoglobin, the important oxygen-carrying protein in the bloodstream, depends upon phosphorus… for proper function.” (s)

Too much phosphorus in the blood “is the leading cause of disease and death in kidney failure patients” and “isn’t good for anyone. Intakes of phosphorus “in excess of nutrient needs have been shown to significantly disrupt the hormonal regulation of phosphate, calcium, and vitamin D, which contributes to disordered mineral metabolism, vascular calcification, impaired kidney function, and bone loss. Moreover, …. mild elevations of serum phosphate within the normal range are associated with cardiovascular disease risk in healthy populations without evidence of kidney disease.” (s)

“Having high levels in our blood has been found to be an independent predictor of heart attacks and mortality in the general population, increasing risk of not only kidney failure, but heart failure, coronary death, and overall death.” Higher phosphate levels are associated with significantly shorter lifespan. It’s thought to cause damage to blood vessels and accelerate the aging process, even potentially hurting our bones contributing to osteoporosis by disrupting hormonal regulation.” The estimated average intake of phosphorus in the US is nearly twice the RDA. (s)

Phosphate-containing additives are present in most meat products and significantly increase the phosphorus content. “Inexpensive food containing additives (processed food), and fast food in particular, are extra ordinarily rich in phosphate additives…” Milk and other dairy products are also high in phosphorus and aluminum. One grilled cheese sandwich may exceed the world health organization’s provisional tolerable daily intake of aluminum by 428%, in one sandwich.” More than 90% of poultry is injected with phosphate additives. Furthermore “most foods with phosphorus additives do not list them on their food label. Sometimes they call the phophate additives flavorings or broth.” Some more examples include  dicalcium phosphate, disodium phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, and the list goes on… To keep it simple “minimize intake of anything with those four letters: p-h-o-s.” (s)

“Those this practice remains banned in Europe, thanks to a 1982 ruling, 11 different phosphate salts are allowed to be injected into meat and poultry in the United States. Despite the fact that phosphate is considered an arterial toxin, causing our arteries to stiffen up within just two hours of consumption”. Furthermore, adding phosphate to poultry increases the survival of C. coli and C. jejuni bacteria strains million times more! “The infectious dose for campylobacter has been shown to be as little as 500 organisms. How much might there be in chicken? 100,000 can be easily recovered from washes of whole chicken carcasses.” Basically, this is a 100 fold increase in the potential of contracting this “food borne disease that can leave people paralyzed.” (s)

Phytonutrients (a.k.a. phytochemicals) refer to the over 30,000 different compounds found in plants (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes). Phytonutrients help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, harsh sun rays. They also help us fight off free radicals, reduce oxidative damage to cells (cancer protection), and they are anti-inflammatory (protect against heart disease). Phytonutrients are of course only found in plants, hence “phyto”.

Phytates are found in seeds, legumes, grains and other plant sources of food. Plants store phosphorus as phytic acid. When phytic acid binds to minerals it is called a phytate. Phytates are antioxidants but the concern is they may bind to dietary minerals. However, slowing absorption may be a good thing. And, because of the “lack of the enzyme phytase the bioavailbility of vegetable phosphate esters is usually less than 50%. (s)

Cashews are one of the richest sources of phytates. Soy, pintos, kidney beans, navy beans, and peanuts are high in phytates and may have twice the amount found in lentils, walnuts, chickpeas, peas, and white beans. The bran in whole grains has high concentrations of phytates.

Phytates in unsoaked beans, legumes, and whole-grains may inhibit iron absorption 10-50%. However, just 50 mgs of vitamin C counteract these phytates. 150 milligrams of Vitamin C increase absorption 30%.  100 mg of Vitamin C twice a day for 60 days resulted in a full recovery of anemia for most people. A study using 500 mgs twice a day to increase hemoglobin and ferritin (iron) lead researches to believe that Vitamin C supplements was more effective than iron supplements: https://youtu.be/KQVc8Tpg3T8

Refined grains have had the phytates removed. This process increases shelf life. However, it also removes the iron, fiber, a quarter of the protein, many B vitamins, and a score of other nutrients. As a results only a mere shadow of the original grain is left that is excessively starchy and high in gluten. Furthermore, the process of refining introduces various chemicals.

Phytates are actually a phytonutrient and are good for us. They have a “wide range of health-promoting properties, such as anticancer activity. But because it binds up some of the minerals, that just means one has to eat more whole healthy plant foods-or eat mineral absorption enhancers, such as garlic and onions. In fact, the whole allium family of vegetables was recently found to have promoting influences on the bio-accessibility of iron and zinc.” (s)

They have been shown to help protect against cancer. More on this coming soon!

Superoxide The oxygen we breathe may get a hold of an electron we ate that was pumped with energy by plants, thanks to photosynthesis, and transformed that oxygen molecule into what’s called superoxide, which can damage (oxidize) our delicate cellular machinery. (see mitochondria and superoxide dismutase) (s)

Superoxide Dismutase is a detoxifying enzyme within our mitochondria that neutralizes superoxide and turns it back into oxygen. It’s considered a tumor suppressor gene, staving off cancer. It’s considered neuro-protective in our brain, staving off dementia. Eating vegetarian seems to boost this anti-aging enzyme’s activity 300%. A three-fold increase in the expression of the superoxide dismutase gene compared to the omnivore control group. This change in our gene expression based on our diet is called epigenesis. (also see superoxide) (s)

Telomeres are a region of repetitive nucleotide sequences at the end of each strand of DNA protecting our chromosomes from deterioration and fusion with other chromosomes; effecting how our cells age. An enzyme called telomerase can slow, stop, and maybe even reverse telomere shortening that happens as we get older. Saturated fats, or the increased oxidative stress and inflammation from animal foods (meat, eggs, and dairy), are toxic to heart cells, bone marrow cells, pancreatic cells, and brain cells and have been shown to shorten telomeres. (s)

Whole-Food, Plant Based Diet is simply a plant based diet. The science studies and observes the healthful effects of this diet where we eat grains, greens, legumes, and fruits. We have a whole post on it for a more elaborate definition here: What is a Whole-Food, Plant Based Diet?

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