The Dictionary of New Brain Nutrition

As part of our education and outreach effort, New Brain Nutrition has created this Dictionary
of terms so that you can learn quickly and read more, where and when you like.

We have blogs, online educational videos, research updates, a cookbook, and much more.
We hope you find this New Brain Nutrition Dictionary helpful in your learning.


The letters ADHD are short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD is defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder which means a disorder is related to disturbed development of certain brain functions with a typical onset in childhood. However, adults may have similar symptoms and can also be diagnosed with this disorder. The characteristic symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity.  (ADD is an older name of the same disorder, and is now replaced by ADHD.)



Aggression is a behaviour that involves attack or provocation and can be physical or verbal. It’s present in all animals and has advantages on survival and mating, but it can cause harm to others and even the death. Aggression is usually classified into two main different types: i) Reactive aggression: emotional reaction to a thread. Hot blooded and impulsive, ii) Proactive aggression: instrumental, used to achieve a goal. Cold blooded with lack of empathy and remorse.


Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Anti-inflammatory foods know to activate pathways in our body that reduce inflammation. Habitual consumption of anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, olive oil, darkly colored berries, nuts and fish could maintain our brain health in good health.



Anxiety is defined as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure” by the American Psychological Association (APA) (1). Even though anxiety is generally experienced as an unpleasant emotional state, the underlying responses serve as an adaptive function when facing a threat through the activation of the fight-or-flight reaction. Experiencing anxiety is part of everyone’s life. However, if its intensity and/or duration seem uncontrollable and lead to a disruption of a person’s daily life, an anxiety disorder could be present.


Brain Health

Brain Health is used to describe how well a brain is functioning, and it is also used as synonym for mental health. Whether or not a brain is healthy is mainly measured through behavior, which can be the ability to cope with normal life situations, and also performance on computerized tasks. Scans such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or electroencephalography (EEG) can sometimes be used to investigate brain health, but only in specific situations such as to identify epilepsy, brain tumors or large-scale loss of neurons.



Compulsive behavior is the urge to do something that you do not actually want to do, or that provides no function or enjoyment. Often, compulsive behavior consists of performing the same act or ritual many times, even though the person doing it knows it is not useful or rational to do.




Depression is a mental disorder and the leading cause of disability, reaching the whole world (Ferrari et al., 2013) and being the most debilitating and recurrent stress-related disorder that highly impact the quality of life of people affected (Moussavi et al., 2007). The estimated prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD) reaches the 4.4% of the world population, equivalent to 322 million people living with depression (World Health Organization, 2017).


Elimination Diet

An elimination diet can be useful for seeing if psychological symptoms are reduced.  It involves a temporary (5 weeks) total change of diet in which the patient is only allowed to eat a few different hypo-allergenic foods (e.g. rice, turkey, lettuce and pears). After a significant reduction of ADHD symptoms, a 12-month reintroduction phase is needed to find out which products trigger ADHD symptoms.



Exercise (e.g., running, or cycling) is a subcategory of physical activity that describes any physical movement of the skeletal muscles in a planned and structured way to improve physical fitness or getting a health benefit.

Inflammatory Foods

Inflammatory foods are known as foods that can increase the risk of inflammation within the body. High intake of inflammatory foods, such as refined carbohydrates, processed meat, alcohol and foods high in saturated fats have been associated with several adverse mental health effects.


Impulsivity is defined as a behaviour that is connected to personality, temperament and mental health. Impulsivity is a predisposition to act hastily and with limited reflection on the possible outcomes. Impulsive behaviour can be described as a happy-go-lucky, act before thinking, unnecessarily risky and inappropriate to the situation. Impulsivity might cause problems in concentration as well. Excessive impulsivity is associated with mental conditions such as ADHD, substance use disorders, bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is based on the traditional cuisine of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is typically high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and olive oil. The main components of the Diet include a daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats; a weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs, and moderate portions of dairy products. The intake of red meat should be limited.

Mental Health

Mental health is the level of psychological well-being or an absence of mental illness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is an individual’s sense of well-being, the ability to recognize, express and modulate one’s own emotions, as well as empathize with others. Mental health is also the ability to cope with adverse life events and function in social roles.


The microbiome is the collection of microbes from bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses that live on and in our body which perform symbiotic functions to maintain and also reflect our state of health, both physically and mentally.  The microbiome can weigh as much as our brain, and produces a wide variety of chemicals that our body cannot produce by itself.  Our largest microbiome exists in our large intestine, and helps to process food and liquid intake to create optimal bodily function. 


Micronutrients are small particles such as vitamins and minerals. They are essential for many bodily functions and deficits in micronutrients can result in various illnesses. While some micronutrients are also produced in your body, most need to be taken in through diet to achieve adequate amounts. A healthy, varied diet is the best way to make sure you take in sufficient amounts of these nutrients.


Probiotics:  Are defined as live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit. Fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, kimchi are probiotics.  Although both probiotics and prebiotics sound similar, they shouldn’t be confused as they work in different ways in the gut.  


Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic mental disorder. It is characterized by disturbance in thought, perception and behavior. The symptoms have a negative impact on most functions and social interactions of the individual suffering from it. Schizophrenia does not imply a “split personality” or dissociative identity disorder, as is often wrongly labelled in the public.



Stress is the response of your body to cope with changes in your surroundings. It is normal and necessary to be able to adapt to these changes. However, if the so-called stress response is too long or not helpful for the situation, it becomes a bad thing.



Supplements are pills, capsules, tablets or liquids containing nutrients. They can contain, for instance, (multi)vitamins, minerals or fish oils. As their name suggests, dietary supplements are intended to supplement the diet. People may take supplements when their diet does not provide all the nutrients they need. Dietary supplements are not drugs. They are not intended to treat, prevent or cure diseases.

Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin deficiency means a shortage of vitamins in the body. Vitamins are essential compounds for our bodily functions, but cannot be created by the body itself. We therefore need to take vitamins in through our diet. A deficiency in vitamins can therefore be solved by improving diet or with vitamin supplements.

About the author

New Brain Nutrition is the public dissemination effort of Eat2beNICE, a consortium of 18 European universities, hospitals and agencies doing research on the connections between nutrition, lifestyle and mental health. We look to attract members of the public, health professionals, and representatives of industry and government to help develop healthier lifestyles and improved mental health.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 728018

New Brain Nutrition is a project and brand of Eat2BeNice, a consortium of 18 European University Hospitals throughout the continent.

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