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Human Nutrition and the Digestive System

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Nutrition
Wordcount: 3235 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Human Nutrition and the Digestive System


  1. Terms of reference

The purpose of this report is to demonstrate how our daily diets may influence our overall health, whilst also looking at nutrients and their sources. Linking all findings to the 3 different dietary scenarios throughout the report.





Terms of reference 1

Research methodology 2

Findings 3

Explain the constituent food groups of a balanced diet and their sources 3.1

Describe how food preparation and combination may alter the availability of nutrients 3.2

Explain the symptoms caused by a diet deficient in a mineral 3.3

Explain the symptoms of a vitamin deficiency disease 3.4

Explain how food intake and physical activity contribute to the maintenance of body mass 3.5

Conclusion 4

Recommendations 5

Appendices 6

Appendices 6.1

Appendices 6.2

Appendices 6.3

Appendices 6.4

Appendices 6.5

Appendices 6.6

References 7

Bibliography 8

  1. Research Methodology

Throughout this report I will be using secondary research to gain as much information as possible from different websites and articles. The dietary scenarios will be linked in to my findings from this. (see appendix 1)



3.1 Explain the constituent food groups of a balanced diet and their sources

To form a balanced diet there are 5 different food groups that we should include in our meals.

Group 1 Meat, fish and alternatives -Supply protein and micronutrients, iron and zinc.

Group 2 Bread, cereals and potatoes-supply fibre and energy.

Group 3 Fruit and vegetables-packed full of micronutrients, and antioxidants.

Group 4 Milk and dairy foods-Rich in calcium for bones and protein for muscle contraction.

Group 5 Foods containing fat and foods containing sugar. This group should be limited as they are high in calories but obtain low vitamins and minerals.

 Macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fat, micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. Eating a variety of foods increases the probability of obtaining enough essential nutrients, no single food is the best source of all nutrients. (Diaz,2011)

The government guidelines highlight the foods that contribute to a healthy diet called The Eatwell Plate (see appendix 2)

3.2 Describe how food preparation and combination may alter the availability of nutrients.

In diet scenario 1 (see appendix 1) Michael could make a few changes to his lifestyle especially around cooking, he has a high BMI of 31 which puts him in the obese category for his height and age. He could start by limiting his saturated fat content by boiling grilling and steaming his food, preparing food can alter the fat content in certain foods, trimming off excess fats in meats for example is best.  Many foods start off healthy until we try to modify them for our own personal taste, which in turn can affect the nutrients in that food. Dry heat such as baking, roasting and grilling hardly effects mineral content at all and are the best ways to reduce fat and hold on to those nutrients. On the other hand, vitamins do slightly better with moist cooking methods such as boiling as the cooking times are shorter. If frying is preferred, to make sure to use low calorie sprays or vegetable oils, a non-stick pan will help to limit the amount of oil you need. (Reinagel 2008) Michael eats out quite a lot, preparing food at home would help. He needs to start adding some exercise in to his diet too. Although Michael cannot play football anymore simple changes like walking instead of driving would help significantly. If Michael carries on with this lifestyle, he could end up with serious health implications such as heart disease. People with a high body mass may be at risk of osteoarthritis, gallstones, including several types of cancers and respiratory issues, the added stain on his heart is also increasing his chances of a heart attack or heart disease (Coffman 2015)


3.3 Explain the symptoms caused by a diet deficient in a mineral

Stephanie in diet scenario 2 (see appendix 1) is suffering from anaemia which is a lack of the mineral iron. When the body has difficulty absorbing minerals from food, or if there is a lack of minerals in a person’s diet it can cause various health issues over time depending on what mineral the body is lacking in. In Stephanie’s case this is leading to her feeling tired and having trouble with her periods. Heavy periods are a common cause of iron deficiency, having a low amount of red blood cells stop the body from getting enough oxygen leading to fatigue. (NHS UK 2018). Other Common symptoms that Stephanie is likely to feel include dizziness, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, irritability and sexual dysfunction. (aoafamilyblogger,2018)

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Other than medication, Stephanie could add iron in to her diet to boost her red blood cells. Red meats, chicken, nuts seeds, and leafy green vegetables are the best sources of iron (see appendix 3) vitamin c in take also helps absorb iron whilst caffeine and dairy can block it. If these changes are made her iron count should go up, resulting in her feeling a lot better.

There are other minerals that we can become deficient in, each come with their own symptoms when lacking in them. (see appendix 4) You may display one or more of these symptoms, although some symptoms may be so minor that they go unnoticed and undiagnosed. (Radcliffe 2016)

3.4 Explain the symptoms of a vitamin deficiency disease

The group in dietary scenario 3 (see appendix 1) have come from India to the U.K, their children are at risk for developing rickets. In Indian cultures women and children have most of their skin covered even in summer months, Some groups, such as people with dark skin, those who wear concealed clothing may need to rely on diet to add these vitamins in that they are lacking (Morris 2012) Rickets is a skeletal disorder which happens when there is a lack of vitamin d phosphate and calcium in the diet causing them to soften resulting in bowed legs, stunted growth, and muscle cramps.

The group can prevent the children getting this by adding vitamin c, oily fish and eggs in to their diets (see appendix 5) as well as exposing their skin to sunlight, you only need to expose your hands and face to sunlight a few times a week during the spring and summer months to prevent rickets. (Cafasso 2017)

3.5 Explain how food intake and physical activity contribute to the maintenance of body mass

Good nutrition and daily exercise go hand in hand to maintain a healthy body mass. (see appendix 6) Because of ageing our metabolism slows down, so it’s important to exercise and eat healthy to maintain a healthy BMI in later life. The food we consume supplies us with the calories to function. Regular exercise burns off extra calories to keep a healthy physique, Healthy foods are generally lower in calories and higher in nutrients than other foods. (schuna 2017)

  1. Conclusion

To Conclude, optimal health and a healthy BMI is obtained when food that is prepared is not only balanced but includes a wide variety from the 5 food groups and when they are being prepared, they are cooked the healthiest way possible allowing the body to receive the most nutrients from them. 

  1. Recommendations

changes like steaming veg instead of boiling, using fry light instead of oil, sweetener instead of sugar could significantly improve health, walking instead of driving or using stairs instead of taking the lift could benefit health more by producing more energy keeping metabolism speed up. Knowing your own BMI is important to take control of your own health, making it less likely to be deficient in any minerals too.

  1. Appendices 1

1.     Dietary Scenario 1

Michael is married with two teenage sons and is 42 years old. He works long hours. At weekends he enjoys watching sports programmes on TV, but due to an injury in a football match some years ago he is no longer able to swim or play football. He and his wife both drive cars and enjoy eating out. His current weight is 98kg and he is 1.78m tall.

Michaels’ total energy and nutrients for a typical day are outlined in the table below.






Of which saturated fatty acids



Monounsaturated fatty acids



Polyunsaturated fatty acids





Of which starch, intrinsic & milk sugars



Non-milk extrinsic sugars




Vitamin C






Michael needs to know whether his lifestyle and diet are appropriate for someone of his age. He also needs to be made aware of the possible risks to his health if he does not make some changes to his lifestyle.

Dietary Scenario 2

Stephanie goes to the doctors because she is feeling tired all the time and she has had problems with her periods.

The doctor carries out a blood test which identifies Anaemia. The doctor then gives her an explanation of what this means in terms of the symptoms she is likely to feel. 

He refers her to a dietitian who gives her advice of ways she could adjust her diet. Summarise the advice from these professionals in terms of symptoms, causes and remedies. 

Dietary Scenario 3


A recent study focusing a group of people who emigrated from the Indian subcontinent to the UK during the 1970s has shown that whilst they are successful in running their businesses and have plenty to eat, their children are at risk of developing rickets.

The group need to know what the symptoms of rickets are, and how their children can be prevented from developing the disease.

Appendices 2

Safe food 2018 ‘Healthy Eating’ [online image] Available from https://www.safefood.eu/Healthy-Eating/What-is-a-balanced-diet/The-eatwell-plate.aspx (accessed 25 Nov 2018)

Appendices 3

Ministry of health and medical services 2018 ‘Iron deficiency’ [online image] Available from http://www.health.gov.fj/?page_id=1408 (accessed 24 Nov)

Appendices 4

PMF IAS 2016 ‘Vitamins and minerals deficiency diseases’ [online image] Available from https://www.pmfias.com/vitamins-minerals-deficiency-diseases-food-sources-of-vitamins-minerals/ (accessed 23 Nov)

Appendices 5

Wang.Y 2015 ‘Rickets in children’ [online image] Available from https://qsota.com/rickets-in-children/ (accessed 23 Nov)

Appendices 6

Chase Brexton healthcare 2018 ‘Health education and resources’  [online image] Available from https://www.chasebrexton.org/patient-resources/health-education-and-resources (accessed 25 Nov)

7       References


8       Bibliography


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