Glossary

Algae – a diverse group of aquatic organisms that have the ability to conduct photosynthesis

Antioxidant – a substance such as vitamin C or E that removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism

Bacteria – microscopic, single-celled organisms that thrive in diverse environments

Colonocytes – epithelial cells of the colon

Dietary fibre – plant-derived carbohydrates that are not digested in the small intestine and other plant components like lignin. As dietary fibre is not digested in the small intestine it reaches the large intestine or colon.

Dysbiosis – microbial imbalance with one type of bacteria taking over

Enterotypes – a classification of living organisms based on its bacteriological ecosystem in the gut microbiome. The discovery of three human enterotypes was announced in the April 2011 issue of Nature by Peer Bork and his associates.

Epithelium – one of the four basic types of animal tissue, along with connective tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue

Epitherial cells – a type of cell that lines the surfaces of your body

Flagella – a lash-like appendage that protrudes from the cell body of certain bacteria 

Fungi – any of about 144,000 known species of organisms of the kingdom Fungi, which includes the yeasts, rusts, smuts, mildews, moulds, and mushrooms

Gut / brain axis – the biochemical signalling that takes place between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system.

Microbiota – the community of micro-organisms

Microbes – micro-organisms which can be bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae or protozoa

Microbiome – the collective genomes of the micro-organisms in a particular environment

Microbiota diversity – a measure of how many different species and, dependent on the diversity indices, how evenly distributed they are in the community

Mitochondria – the parts of cells that turn sugars, fats and proteins that we eat into forms of chemical energy for the body

Mucosa – a membrane that lines various cavities in the body and covers the surface of internal organs

Organelles – a tiny cellular structure that performs specific functions within a cell

Peristalsis – a series of wave-like muscle contractions that moves food to different processing stations in the digestive tract.

Plasmids – a small, circular, double-stranded DNA molecule that is distinct from a cell’s chromosomal DNA

Prebiotic – a substrate that is selectively used by micro-organisms for a health benefit.

Probiotic – live bacteria and yeasts that, when administered in a viable form and in adequate amounts, are beneficial to human health

Protozoa – a single-celled eukaryotes, which feeds on organic matter such as other microorganisms or organic tissues and debris.

Short-chain fatty acids – fatty acids with two to six carbon atoms that are produced by bacterial fermentation of dietary fibres

Sigmoid colon – the S-shaped last part of the large intestine, leading into the rectum.

Synbiotic – a combination of probiotic and prebiotic which stimulates the proliferation of microbes

Viruses – A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism

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