Nutrients from food are absorbed for use as energy and for growth and repair

Amino Acids

Building blocks of proteins.


A deficiency in the number and/or quality of red blood cells. This affects the ability of blood to deliver oxygen to body tissues and organs and results in fatigue. It is often related to an iron deficiency.


Term used when food, fluids, saliva, stomach contents enter the airway (trachea) instead of the food tube (oesophagus). There is a risk inflammation of the lungs, infection, and pneumonia. Death may follow.

Bolt (to seed)

Term used when plants go to seed very quickly. Tends to happen in hot weather.


A soft rounded ball of chewed food


A unit of energy. It also refers to the energy value of food and the amount of energy our bodies burn. The unit of energy, ‘kilojoule’, is now used more often than ‘calorie’. The terms, kilojoule and calorie are sometimes used interchangeably which is confusing.

1 calorie = 4.2 kilojoules


Generally refers to ability. In this package, the term is used to refer to the ability of a person to make informed decisions.

Cerebral palsy

A non-progressive disorder of movement, muscle tone, posture and co-ordination that results because of damage to the developing brain.


A compound of fat made in the liver and intestines. It is important for many tissue functions, but too much can block arteries and cause problems. There are two types of blood cholesterol:

Low density lipoprotein – LDL cholesterol – called ‘bad’ because it contributes to the narrowing and silting up of blood vessels that can lead to heart disease and stroke.

High density lipoprotein – HDL cholesterol – called ‘good’ because it carries cholesterol out of the blood to the liver and reduces the risk of heart disease.

Circulatory system

The heart and blood vessels make up the circulatory system which services every cell in the body. Wastes are taken away and exchanged with oxygen and nutrients from food.


A surgical procedure that involves bringing the large intestine out through a stoma (hole) in the abdominal wall. Faeces is collected in a disposable bag attached to the stoma.



Makes something impure, unclean, or poisoned


A lowered state of mood. Depression may become an illness when the lowered mood state is severe, when symptoms persist for two weeks or more, and when it interferes with the ability to function at work or at home.


A condition of impaired glucose metabolism (break down in the body). It is caused when the hormone, insulin, is not produced or not produced in sufficient quantities. Type 1 diabetes generally occurs under 30 years of age and is not preventable. Type 2 diabetes is often preventable because it is frequently related to poor lifestyle (although there are also genetic links).


The mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into nutrients to be absorbed into the blood stream.


Refers to the dribbling of saliva. Usually uncontrollable and common in people with neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy.


Difficulties with swallowing.


A substance that initiates or speeds up a chemical reaction in the body. For example, enzymes in saliva begin the process of digestion, and many others are involved.


A disruption of the usual electrochemical activity of the brain that results in seizures.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)

Chronic condition that occurs when the sphincter (see Glossary) between the oesophagus (food tube) and stomach does not close properly. This allows stomach contents to leak back into the oesophagus. (See also Reflux).


Creation of an artificial external opening into the stomach for nutritional support. The opening may be used for feeding, such as with a gastrostomy tube.


The science of genes, heredity and inheritance. Genetic factors describe genes inherited from our parents that contribute to our physiology and make us who we are.


Simple sugar that is the body’s primary source of energy. Carbohydrates are metabolised into glucose that circulates in the blood and delivers energy to all tissues.

Glycaemic index (GI)

The GI ranks carbohydrates according to how quickly they are converted to glucose in the body.


Hormones are chemicals made by specific cells or glands in the body that sends messages to other body tissues to affect function., e.g., testosterone, made in testes, ovaries and adrenal glands, affects hair growth (amongst other functions).


High blood pressure


High muscle tone. Often results in muscle spasm referred to as spasticity.

Hypoglycaemia (hypoglycaemic)

Low blood sugar.

Medication to lower blood sugar.


Low thyroid hormone production

Immune system

Made up of special cells, tissues and organs that work to protect the body from infection and foreign substances. The immune response works to produce antibodies that fight microorganisms and harmful substances (antigens).


Hormone produced by the pancreas that is essential for transporting glucose across cell membranes. Insulin resistance refers to a decrease in the effectiveness of insulin. It also plays a role in fat metabolism.

Intellectual disability

Impaired cognitive (thinking) processing that occurs before the age of 18. People with intellectual disability may have difficulty learning and managing daily living skills. Many lack capacity to make informed decisions. (See Capacity).


A unit of energy. It also refers to the energy value of food and the amount of energy our bodies burn. The common term used to be ‘calorie’. The terms, kilojoule and calorie are sometimes used interchangeably which is confusing. 1 calorie = 4.2 kilojoules

Lactose intolerance

Occurs when the small intestine is not able to digest lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products.


Difficulty absorbing nutrients from food.


The condition that develops when the body does not get the right amount of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and energy to be healthy.

Metabolism (metabolic)

Processes that help the body make energy and also release energy.

The chemical processes that occur within living cells or organisms that are necessary for the maintenance of life. In metabolism some substances are broken down to produce energy for vital processes while other substances are synthesised.


Relates to the nervous system of the body. A neurological impairment is a problem with the nervous system.

Cerebral palsy is an example of a neurological impairment that is caused by damage to the central nervous system (brain). Quadriplegia is a neurological impairment that may be caused by damage to the spinal cord.


Nutrients are chemical elements or compounds that the body needs for energy or metabolism to promote health, growth, and cell and tissue replacement.


Condition that develops when body fat accumulates to have an adverse effect on health. Body Mass Index (BMI) is the usual measure of obesity.


Infection of the bone.


Fragile bones related to low bone density. Increased risk of fracture. Associated with ageing, immobility, low vitamin D, low calcium. Osteoporotic fracture – fracture related to osteoporosis.


Pale colour of the skin. It is significant when lips, tongue, and mouth are involved.

Perennial (plant)

A plant that lives for more than two years.

Peripheral circulation

Blood circulation at outer areas of the body – fingers, hands, feet, toes, legs.


Symmetrical contraction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestinal tract (gut) that churn and propel food and liquid forward to reach the rectum.

Person responsible

A concept in law when a person needs to make decisions for people with disabilities who cannot make decisions themselves. A ‘person responsible’ might be a parent, a spouse, a guardian, an unpaid carer, or a relative or friend.

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS)

A rare genetic disorder. Some characteristics are: low muscle tone, short stature, incomplete sexual development, cognitive disabilities, problem behaviours and from about two years of age a chronic feeling of hunger that can lead to excessive eating and life threatening obesity.


Administer as required. From the Latin, pro re na, ‘according to circumstances’.


A severe mental illness characterised by a breakdown in thought processes and disordered emotional responses. It interferes with a person’s ability to think, feel, and act.


An abnormal curvature of the spine. The spine bends sideways and rotates along its vertical axis. Severe curves may result in serious problems including: pain, arthritis, distortion of organs such as lungs and heart, breathing problems, dislocation of the hips, paralysis.


A ring-like band of muscle that relaxes or tightens to open or close a passage or opening in the body. Examples are the anal sphincter (around the opening of the anus) and the pyloric sphincter (at the lower opening of the stomach).


A hole or opening created to allow for introduction and discharge of products in and out of the body. Examples include: abdominal stoma for feeding (gastrostomy); abdominal stoma for faecal discharge (colostomy); pubic stoma for urinary elimination (supra-pubic catheter); stoma in neck for breathing (tracheostomy).