Glossary

Bioavailability: The proportion of a nutrient that is absorbed into the bloodstream and used for normal body functions. Not all nutrients can be used to the same extent, depending on various internal and external factors.

Biodiversity: The variety of all biological life on earth, the genes they contain and the ecosystems on land or in water where they live.

Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS): Method for determining protein quality in terms of human nutrition, based on the levels of essential amino acids. Unlike PDCAAS, DIAAS allows rankings higher than 1. A higher score reflects a greater protein quality. A score of greater than 1 means the protein is complete – it has sufficient of all essential amino acids to meet requirements.

Essential amino acids/indispensable amino acids: Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. Essential amino acids, also known as indispensable amino acids, cannot be made by the body so must therefore come from food. The 9 essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

Flexitarian: An individual who aims to increase the amount of plant-based foods in their diet, but still consumes animal-sourced foods.

Food enrichment: The addition of micronutrients to a food which are lost during processing.

Food system: All activities relating to the growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transport, marketing, consumption and disposal of food and food-related items. It also includes the inputs and outputs at each of these stages.

Fortification: The addition of micro-nutrients to food, to improve the nutritional quality of the food and improve public health.

Greenhouse gas emissions: Emissions of any gaseous compound into the atmosphere that is capable of absorbing infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat, ultimately leading to global warming. The primary greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour.

Haem iron: Form of iron found only in meat, chicken and fish. It is more easily absorbed by the body than non-haem iron, meaning it has a higher bioavailability. Haem iron can help increase the uptake of non-haem iron if taken together.

Lactovegetarian: An individual that includes plant-based foods as well as dairy; however, abstains from meat and eggs.

Macro-nutrients: Carbohydrates, fat and protein that humans require for normal body function. Macro-nutrients are required in larger amounts –in gram quantities per day.

Malnutrition: A condition that results from eating a diet in which one or more nutrients are either not enough or are too much, causing health problems.

Micro-nutrient deficiency: A lack of essential vitamins and minerals, that can lead to poor growth and development.

Micro-nutrients: Vitamins and minerals that are required for normal body function. These are essential for general wellbeing, healthy development, and disease prevention. They are called micro-nutrients as they are only required in small amounts – generally in milligram quantities per day, however, are just as important as macro-nutrients.

Noncommunicable diseases: Chronic diseases of long duration and the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors. The main types of noncommunicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

Non-haem iron: Form of iron mostly found in plant foods and is not absorbed as well by the body as haem iron, meaning it has a lower bioavailability.

Price elasticity: The degree to which the demand changes as price increases. Generally, as price increases, demand decreases. If demand changes more than the change in price, it is termed elastic and the absolute value is greater than 1. If demand changes less than the change in price, it is termed inelastic and the absolute value is less than 1.

Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS): Method for determining protein quality in terms of human nutrition, based on the levels of essential amino acids. Unlike DIAAS, the PDCAAS score is truncated at 1. A higher score reflects a greater protein quality. A score of 1 means the protein is complete – it has sufficient of all essential amino acids to meet requirements.

Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM): A potentially lethal form of malnutrition where a lack of calories and protein leads to growth failure.

Recommended Dietary Intake/Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) The average daily intake level of a particular nutrient to meet requirements for 97-98% of healthy individuals in a particular age or gender group. RDI varies depending on age and gender.

Supplementary nutrition: Used to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities, for example, vitamins, minerals and protein. Supplements come in a range of forms, including tablets, powders etc., and come from many different sources such as natural herbs, mined from the earth or fish oils.

Sustainable Development Goals: The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a plan to build a better world for people and the planet by 2030. They were set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. See the full list here.

Sustainable food system: Defined by the FAO as “a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised.” This includes economic sustainability, social sustainability and environmental sustainability.