91014 - Nutritional Physiology

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Rimini
  • Corso: Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Pharmacy (cod. 9078)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows the physiology of motor, secretory and absorptive functions of the human digestive tract, the mechanisms of control of food and water homeostasis, the metabolism and the nutritional requirements in physiological and pathological conditions.

Course contents


Functional anatomy of the gastrointestinal system

Structure of the gastrointestinal tract wall. Splanchnic circulation. Innervation of the gastrointestinal system. Nervous regulation of functions of the gastrointestinal system: enteric nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation, reflex activity. Hormonal regulation of gastrointestinal functions.

Motility of gastrointestinal system

Chewing. Swallowing. Motility of esophagus. Gastric motility: filling of the stomach, movements of mixing and emptying of gastric contents. Vomiting. Emptying of the gall bladder. Motility of small intestine, large intestine, and rectum. Defecation.

Secretion of the gastrointestinal system

Salivary secretion: functions of saliva, secretion mechanisms, and their regulation in physiological conditions.

Gastric secretion. Hydrochloric acid: its functions, secretion mechanism, and regulation in physiological conditions. Pepsinogen: its functions, secretion mechanism, and regulation in physiological conditions. Mucus secretion. Gastrin secretion. Pancreatic secretion: mechanisms of exocrine pancreatic secretion. Bicarbonate ions in pancreatic secretion; enzymes in pancreatic secretion. Regulation of pancreatic secretion in physiological conditions. Bile secretion: bile salts and their rule in the digestive process. Intestinal secretions.

Digestion and absorption

Digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. Digestion and absorption of proteins. Digestion and absorption of fats; the role of bile salts in digestion and absorption of fats. Absorption of water and minerals: regulation of intestinal absorption of water and ions. Absorption of calcium and iron.

Functions of the Intestinal Microbiota: Probiotics and prebiotics.




Regulation of body weight

Energy balance. Body composition and methods for its assessment. Loss of weight and effects on fat mass and fat-free mass.

Alimentary behavior

Alimentary behavior disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge-eating disorder.

Obesity and its causes. Obesity and pregnancy. Caloric restriction. Useful methods to lose weight. Brown fat: functions and metabolism.

Nutritional consumption

Nutritional consumption in particular physiological states: diet during early childhood, adolescence; pregnancy, feeding; and during the third age. Artificial nutrition: enteral and parenteral nutrition.


Basal metabolic rate. Energy metabolism and its regulation systems. Direct calorimetry. Indirect calorimetry. Factors that influence energy metabolism.


Guyton & Hall, Textbook of Medical Physiology; 13rd ed.; Elsevier

Boron, Walter, Boulpaep, Emile: Medical Physiology, 3ed; Elsevier

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons using Power Point presentations

Teaching tools

Lectures will be supplied on informatic supports (https://virtuale.unibo.it/)

Office hours

See the website of Cecilia Garofalo


Good health and well-being Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.