Glossary - F

Fatty acids

A fatty acid is a molecule made up of a long hydrocarbon chain with a carboxyl group (known as COOH). A collection of these molecules makes up fat. It is the combination of fatty acids making up a type of fat which control many of the fat's specific characteristics, such as its appearance, and whether it is liquid or solid at room temperature. Fatty acids are found in different forms such as unsaturated, saturated and essential fatty acids. 


Fermentation is an anaerobic metabolic process that involves the breakdown of organic compounds like carbohydrates into acids, gases or alcohol.


Fibre is a food type which is not easily broken down by the digestive system, and which therefore passes through much of the digestive system largely unchanged. Fibre is essential to the body's healthy digestion, and is absolutely necessary for regular bowel movements. A high fibre diet has been linked to a reduced risk of bowel cancer, and to fewer digestive health issues like bloating. Fibre can be found in fruit and vegetables, beans and pulses, wholegrain bread and brown rice, amongst others. 


Firmicutes are a phylum, a large family, of bacteria. The Lactobacilli and Clostridia generas both belong to this phylum.


A normal by-product of the digestive process. Flatulence refers to the expulsion of gases (flatus) produced by bacterial activity in the bowel, through the rectum. 


Also known as linseeds, flaxseeds are the seeds from a herbaceous plant typically grown in cooler regions of the world. They are either brown or golden in colour, and are rich in fibre and Omega 3 essential fatty acid Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). 


FODMAPs are types of carbohydrates found in certain foods, including wheat/rye and beans/lentils. These short chain carbohydrates (sugars) cannot be broken down by the body and absorbed by the bowel, and studies have shown strong links between FODMAPs and digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea and constipation. Individuals may choose to follow a low FODMAP diet if suffering from common digestive disorders.

Framingham risk score

Framingham risk score is an algorithm used to estimate the 10-year cardiovascular risk of an individual. It takes into account age, gender, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, as well as occurrence of smoking and diabetes.

Free Radicals

A free radical is an unstable and highly reactive molecule which can do damage to cells in the body. They are thought to contribute to a range of diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer as well as the aging process. Free radicals can come from environmental factors such as smoking and air pollution but are also natural by-products of bodily processes such as metabolism. Free radical damage can be minimised by the use of antioxidants.

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) is one of the most well-known prebiotics. Naturally occurring in foods such as chicory root, the prebiotic FOS has a slightly sweet taste and can be used as a natural sweetener instead of sugar. Unlike sugar however, prebiotics such as FOS cannot be digested or absorbed by the human body, and therefore pass through the digestive tract to the large intestine where they act as a food source for probiotics. FOS has been shown to stimulate certain types of beneficial bacteria more than others, often those of the Bifidobacteria genus in particular.

Find out more about prebiotics.


A fungus is a member of a large group of spore-forming organisms that range from microorganisms such as yeasts and moulds to the more familiar mushroom. They play a vital role in the decomposition of organic matter and the nutrient cycle.