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Nutrition 101 - Glossary - G

Garlic scapesDefinition – Spindly vegetables that are the green shoots that grow from garlic bulbs. Relevance – Their flavor is similar to garlic cloves but milder. They can be served as a vegetable (such as steamed or grilled) or chopped and used as a seasoning for dishes.

Genetic variantDefinition – An alteration from the most common genetic (DNA) sequence. In the past, the term "mutation" was more commonly used than variant. Relevance – The alteration may not cause any harmful effects, or it may contribute to disease. In some cases the significance of variants isn’t known.

GERDDefinition - Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition that results from the backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus, causing heartburn, irritation of the esophagus, and other symptoms. Relevance - Risk factors for GERD include alcohol intake, obesity, pregnancy, smoking, and certain medical conditions, although many medications can cause or exacerbate heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux.


GingivitisDefinition – A type of periodontal (gum) disease characterized by gum inflammation, redness, swelling and a tendency to bleed. Relevance – It may be due to various factors such as poor dental hygiene or poorly fitting dentures. If untreated, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis, a more severe type of periodontal disease.

Ginkgo bilobaDefinition - Ginkgo biloba is an herb from an ancient tree species that has been used for millennia as a medicinal treatment. Relevance - Ginkgo biloba acts as an antioxidant and shows some effectiveness in treating certain forms of dementia; it improves blood flow in the brain and may boost memory and cognition.

GinsengDefinition - Ginseng is a root that has been used medicinally for millennia in China; it exists in several forms (American, Asian, and Siberian), but Siberian ginseng is a different plant that lacks the health-enhancing compounds. Relevance - The active ingredients in ginseng are believed to be ginsenosides, which may reduce the risk of cold and flu, improve mental performance and decrease stress.

Glucosamine Definition - Glucosamine is found naturally in the body, particularly in the fluid surrounding joints, but it can also be harvested from shellfish shells or made synthetically. Relevance - Glucosamine is windily used to treat arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, as glucosamine sulfate.

GlutenDefinition - Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Relevance - Gluten-free diets are used to treat Celiac disease, but have become popular for many people who claim to have gluten sensitivities; there are no adverse health effects linked to gluten intake in people without Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Glycemic indexDefinition - The glycemic index (GI) is a numerical scale (1-100) that shows how quickly a certain food can raise blood sugar levels; the higher the number, the more quickly that food will raise blood sugar. Relevance - The glycemic index is measured relative to pure glucose, which has a value of 100, and foods with a low glycemic index or glycemic load have little effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. Awareness of the GI of food may help control blood sugar levels (especially in those with diabetes) and prevent insulin resistance, type II diabetes, certain cancers, and weight gain.

GlycyrrhizinDefinition - Glycyrrhizin is a compound found in licorice that is responsible for the sweet taste of the root. Relevance - Glycyrrhizin has reportedly been linked to high blood pressure  and edema, but licorice and glycyrrhizin are used to treat peptic ulcers and are thought to have anti-inflammatory effects.

GMODefinition - Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are organisms or foods that have had foreign genes put into their genetic codes. Relevance - There is significant public concern over the presence of GM foods in the diet based on animal studies, but the FDA states that GM foods are generally regarded as safe; GM foods are also nutritionally comparable to conventional foods.

GoutDefinition – A type of arthritis in which crystals of uric acid, which may feel like shards of broken glass, deposit in joints and result in severe pain. Relevance – Gout is generally managed with medication and dietary changes to help reduce uric acid levels in the blood.

Greenhouse gasesDefinition – Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and methane, contributing to global warming. Relevance – Global warming may result in more severe weather, dirtier air and extinction of certain wildlife, among other problems.