Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell'Ambiente - Guida degli insegnamenti (Syllabus)


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Seat Scienze
A.A. 2016/2017
Credits 6
Hours 48
Period 2^ semestre
Language ENG
U-gov code SM04 5S056


Basic knowledge in Chemistry and Biochemistry is desirable.

Development of the course

The course is implemented both through classroom lectures as well as through laboratory practicals in the didactic laboratories. These are carried out in small groups (3-5 students), on specific topics that have been treated during the course. In support of the classroom lecture, on the on line Moodle platform, teaching materials, instructions and protocols of laboratory exercises are loaded:. Seminars on specific topics of particular interest may be organized in agreement with students.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student will have achieved an overall knowledge on: the structure, function and nutritional significance of the fundamental food macronutrients and micronutrients; the reactions in which nutrients are involved during food processing and storage; the main biochemical and metabolic processes involved in food intake and nutrient utilization. Students will have the information for understanding the molecular and metabolic mechanisms involved in human diseases and disorders related to nutrition.

Ability to apply the knowledge:
At the end of the course, students will have achieved an overall knowledge and competence on the fundamental points necessary to deal the issues related to nutritional aspects and to apply this knowledge in the profession.

Soft skills:
The laboratory practicals at the individual level and in groups, and the discussion and interpretation of the results obtained, will contribute to improve the decision-making skills of each student in general, as well as the ability to communicate within a group, and the ability to reach conclusions. 


Contents of the lectures:
Food and nutrition: use of the terms and operational meaning.
Nutritional standards and dietary guidelines: body mass index and its use for the diagnosis of obesity in adults. The RDAs and adequacy of food intake. 
Categories of nutrients, macronutrients and micronutrients.
Carbohydrates: definition and nutritional classification, food sources, energy value. Digestion, absorption and role of available carbohydrates in the diet, the minimum and recommended requirements. Factors affecting the bioavailability of carbohydrates. Glycemic index and glycemic load and their biochemical meaning. Dietary fiber. Sweetening power of sugar and artificial sweeteners. Prebiotics and Probiotics.
Lipids: classification and chemical composition. Food sources and energy value. Saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, trans fatty acids. Essentiality of fatty acids. Lipid requirements and pathophysiological roles of lipids. Dietary cholesterol and endogenous cholesterol. Digestion and absorption and plasma lipoproteins.
Proteins: nutritional and energy value meaning. Amino acids: nutritional and metabolic classification. Protein turnover. The nutritional value of protein. Integration and complementation of food proteins. Digestion and absorption. Daily requirement and pathophysiological roles.
Vitamins: nutritional significance. Fat-soluble and water soluble vitamins, their biochemical deficiency and toxicity, requirements, food sources and bioavailability.
Minerals: classification of main macro and micro elements. Food sources and bioavailability, requirements and deficiencies, toxicities.
Phytonutrients (polyphenols, carotenoids, glucosinolates). Food sources and their pathophysiological importance.
Major changes nutrients undergo during processing and storage of food: enzymatic and non-enzymatic browning reaction (Maillard reaction and caramelization); oxidation of lipids and the role of antioxidants; degradation and / or oxidation of proteins; loss of vitamins and phytonutrients.
Food and health: the molecular basis of diseases associated with wrong eating habits. Functional foods.

Laboratory Practicals: 
Determination on normal and pathological lyophilized serum of the concentration of proteins, enzymes and metabolites routinely analysed in biomedical diagnostics, using diagnostic kits and spectrophotometric measurements. Determination of metabolites and physical examination of urine using dipsticks and diagnostic kits. Determination of antioxidant activity on different samples of white and red wine using a spectrophotometric assay based on a stable, coloured radical. At the end of each practical, the student has to hand in the data obtained for comparison with data from other groups/students, followed by discussion/interpretation of the results obtained. 

Development of the examination

Methods for assessing learning outcomes:
The exam consists in oral examination with questions targeted to evaluate the knowledge on the topics of the course.

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
The student has to demonstrate that he/she knows and has mastered all the topics of the course and to possess the information needed to deal issues related to nutrition / diet.

Criteria for measuring learning outcomes:
The final exam mark is out of 30. The exam is considered passed when the mark is greater or equal to 18. There is also the possibility of giving full marks with honors (30 cum laude).

Criteria for conferring final mark:
The final mark is given based on the ability demonstrated by the student during the exam of being competent on the topics of the course 

Recommended reading

Notes taken during the lectures and powerpoint presentation handed out by the lecturer (on line Moodle platform)

Further reading:
I. COZZANI e E. DAINESE. Biochimica degli Alimenti e della Nutrizione. Piccin, Padova, 2006
A. MARIANI COSTANTINI, C. CANNELLA, G. TOMASSI, Fondamenti di Nutrizione Umana, Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore, Roma.

  • Biologia molecolare e applicata

Università Politecnica delle Marche
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