Food, nutrition and health

Course Coordinator

ECTS points:


Course number:

Course Description


Providing the more recent scientific knowledge about the role of dietary plant foods in preserving human health and modulating the risk of degenerative diseases in humans. The mechanism of action (from oxidative stress to inflammation and angiogenesis) of the development of degenerative diseases will be outlined in order to better understanding the strategy of dietary prevention. The course will give a detailed overview of the components and activity of endogenous antioxidant network in preventing oxidative stress. The preventive role of dietary regimen and the role played by specific food items: olive oil, wine, teas, soy, fruit, vegetables and cocoa as well as Mediterranean Diet will be outlined on the basis of “science-based evidences”. An overview of the biomarkers utilized to monitor nutritional changes in vivo will be given and special attention will be paid to highlight pro and cons of each methodology. The role of specific phytochemicals supplement (i.e. flavonoids, vitamins, pro-vitamins) in disease prevention and their impact on human defences will be discussed reviewing the latest evidences form literature and in comparison with dietary sources. The novel aspect of “post-prandial metabolic stress” induced by unbalanced dietary regimen and raising a cluster of cardiovascular risk factors, will be presented. The concept of nutrigenomics and the rationale behind the role of food to modulate specific transcription pathways will be introduced. Main results from reports of international agency such as WHO, FAO, ILSI and World Cancer Research Fund focused on the association between diet and disease will be presented.  At the end of the class, Students will be able to build up a specific knowledge on the association between diet and disease founded on science-based evidences, mainly from human intervention studies and critically assessing science-based evidences.


  • Identifying mechanism of body’s defenses (redox, inflammation, immunity) and the link with diet;
  • Recommending the use of specific foods to modulate oxidative and inflammatory stress;
  • Recognize the role of single food items, phtiochemicals and supplements to prevent degenerative diseases;
  • Understanding and recommending the use of specific biomarkers and experimental models in human intervention studies


Lectures: 20 hours

Seminars 10 hours

Description of the manner in which direct instruction is conducted: lectures and seminars

Description of the performance of duties:

Attendance on the class, written and presented seminar, written and oral exams





1. Scientific papers
2. L.K.Mahan, S.Escott-Stump (2004) Krause's Food, Nutrition & Diet Therapy. 11 th ed., Elsevier.
3. American Dietetic Association,
4. British Nutrition Foundation,
5. World Health Organization,