02715 - Nutrition Physiology

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Dietistic (cod. 8470)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will know the basic notions concerning the control of the nutrition function. In particular, the concept of homeostasis of body weight, the physiology of food intake and the physiology of energy expenditure. He will improve the knowledge of the brain circuits at the basis of the stimulus of hunger and of the control of metabolism. He will have the necessary competence to understand the basics of the control of nutrition function as well as the rationale behind the latest therapies for eating disorders. 

Course contents

Autonomic nervous system: anatomical-functional organization, sections of the autonomic nervous system, neurotransmitters and receptors of the autonomic nervous system, actions of the autonomic nervous system on different organs, control of the activity of the autonomic nervous system by higher structures. The enteric nervous system and the actions of the autonomic nervous system on the enteric nervous system.

Gastrointestinal system: functional anatomy and principles of regulation of the gastrointestinal tract. Cephalic, oral and esophageal phases of the integrated response to food ingestion. Gastric phase of the integrated response to food ingestion. Small intestine phase and colon phase of the integrated response to food ingestion. Transport and metabolic functions of the liver. Motility of the different tracts of the digestive apparatus. The exocrine pancreas: composition of pancreatic secretions and functions. Liver and its functions: anatomical-functional organization of the liver and biliary tract. Bile. Digestion and absorption: structure of the small intestine, digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, absorption of water and electrolytes, absorption of vitamins, production of feces.

Nervous system: the sensory systems: general characteristics. The chemical senses: taste and smell.

Endocrine system: general information. Endocrine organs. Steroidal and non-steroidal hormones. Regulation of the endocrine system. Hypothalamus and pituitary. Thyroid. Adrenal glands. Endocrine pancreas and blood glucose control. Hints to hormones produced in other organs.

Physiology of the reproductive system: hypothalamus-pituitary axis and male and female gonads, sex hormones and effects on reproduction. Germ cell production. Ovarian cycle and uterine cycle. Pregnancy, lactation and menopause. Relationship between nutrition and fertility.

Nutrition regulation: short, medium and long term regulation mechanisms. Centers of hunger and satiety. Leptin and other factors affecting the nerve centers.

Thermoregulation: concept of homeothermia, thermal balance, thermogenesis and thermodispersion mechanisms, body temperature control system, thermoregulation control center and pathways involved.

Energy metabolism: energy metabolism, definition of energy, ATP as a currency of exchange, energy inputs and outputs and energy balance, sources of energy for muscle contraction. Techniques for measuring energy outputs. Definition of basal metabolic rate and calculation.




Zocchi L., Principi di Fisiologia. EdiSeS, II Edition

R.M. Berne, M.N. Levy, FISIOLOGIA (a cura di, B.R. Koeppen, B.A. Stanton), 7a Edition, Milano Casa Editrice Ambrosiana.

Conti, Fisiologia Medica, Edi-ermes, 3a Edition, Volumes I and II.

Teaching methods

The lessons consist of a frontal teaching with powerpoint presentations and on-going learning verification.

Assessment methods

The test is aimed at verifying the knowledge of the topics presented in class. The exam is held in oral form. Each question (referring to a macro-topic) will be structured in sub-questions to which a score will be assigned on the basis of relevance and level of difficulty.  The knowledge of the topics and the student's ability to present them in an organic way and with adequate scientific language will be evaluated. During the test the use of support material such as textbooks, notes, computer supports is not allowed.

Teaching tools

Didactic material: the didactic material presented in class will be made available to the student in electronic format through the institutional platform.

Office hours

See the website of Chiara Berteotti


Good health and well-being

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