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Glossary

Dementia

Significant impairment of intellectual abilities such as attention, orientation, memory, judgment or language. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in older adults.

Diabetes mellitus

A chronic metabolic disease, characterized by abnormally high blood sugar (glucose) levels, resulting from the inability of the body to produce or respond to the hormone insulin (glucose resistance), causing cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood.

‘Type 1 diabetes mellitus’, formerly known as insulin-dependent or juvenile-onset diabetes (IDDM), is usually the result of autoimmune destruction of the insulin secreting beta-cells of the pancreas.

The most common form of diabetes is ‘type 2 diabetes mellitus’, formerly known as non-insulin-dependent or adult onset diabetes (NIDDM), which develops when the tissues of the body become less sensitive to insulin secreted by the pancreas.

Diastolic blood pressure

The lowest arterial blood pressure during the heart beat cycle, and the second number in a blood pressure reading (e.g., 120/80).

Dietary fiber

The indigestible portion of plant foods (e.g., cellulose, lignin, chitins, pectins) that pushes food through the digestive system, absorbing water and easing defecation. Potential advantages of consuming fiber are the production of health-promoting compounds during the fermentation of water-soluble fiber by bacteria, and insoluble fiber's ability (via its passive water-attracting properties) to increase bulk, soften stool and shorten transit time through the bowel (‘intestinal tract’).

Diuretic

An agent that increases the formation of urine by the kidneys, resulting in water loss.

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