Nutrition 101 – Glossary – B

B6 – Definition – Vitamin B6 is water-soluble vitamin that is involved in more than 100 metabolic enzyme reactions and is found in fish, poultry, organ meats, starchy vegetables, and non-citrus fruits.  Relevance – Vitamin B6 makes antibodies to support immunity and hemoglobin to carry oxygen in red blood cells, but it is also important for brain development during pregnancy and early childhood, normal nerve function, normal blood sugar, and protein breakdown.

Beta-amyloids – Definition – Beta amyloids are protein pieces that accumulate in the brain and are studied and sometimes used to assess one’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Relevance – The presence of beta amyloid plaques in the brain are a biomarker used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at the time of autopsy.

Beta-Carotene – Definition – Beta-carotene is a plant pigment in the carotenoid group that gives red, orange, and yellow color to some fruits and vegetables.  Relevance – Beta-carotene and other carotenoids possess half of the vitamin A needed in the diet and may be effective in treatment of exercise-induced asthma, certain cancers, and some forms of sun sensitivity.

Betalains – Definition – Betalains are a group of antioxidants found in red beets and some other plants that contribute their bright red pigment.  Relevance – In the plants they are found in, Betalains replace anthocyanin pigments in the plants and may have antioxidant activity.

Biogenic amines – Definition – Chemical compounds, such as histamine, tyramine and phenylethylamine, produced from certain amino acids in food, such as by bacteria during fermentation or food spoilage. Relevance – Biogenic amines are found in foods such as aged cheeses, fermented vegetables and alcoholic beverages. The compounds may contribute to headaches and other food-sensitivity reactions in some people.

Bisphenol A (BPA) – Definition – An industrial chemical used in certain plastic food and drink containers and food-can linings, as well as the thermal paper used for many cash register receipts. Relevance – Preliminary evidence suggests BPA may disrupt hormone systems in the body and may contribute to risk of health issues such as cancer and obesity

BMI – Definition – Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat that is calculated from a person’s height and weight and used to determine overweight and obesity. Relevance – Higher BMI is associated with increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other health issues.

Bomb Calorimetry – Definition Bomb calorimetry measures the heat created when an object, like a food item, is combusted; this indicates the amount of energy, or calories, present in that particular food.  Relevance – Bomb calorimetry is an objective way to determine the energy (calorie) content of a certain food that provides a very precise value.

Bronchodilators – Definition – Bronchodilators are drugs used in the treatment of asthma and chronic bronchitis that relax the smooth muscles of the airway to improve breathing, often administered by inhaler.  Relevance – The smooth muscles of the airway, bronchial tubes, are arranged as rings; contraction narrows the airway and since smooth muscle is involuntary, we have no conscious control of these muscles so bronchodilators must be administered to relax them in patients with asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.