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Human Nutrition and Food 1

Course CodeBRE102
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


  • What we eat

  • How food affects our health

  • Lay the foundation for better food management. 

This course is suitable for those involved in the food industry or influencing what people eat:

  • Cooks and restaurant owners

  • Food manufacturers and processors

  • Health food retailers and consumers

  • Personal/professional carers (child care, nursing, aged care, nannies, parents)

  • Life coaches

  • Fitness Instructors and

  • Workers in Allied health areas

Emphasis is placed on understanding the body, the food we eat, and how it affects our mental, emotional health (state of mind), and physical well being.

Study as a standalone course or as the first step toward a specialised certificate or higher qualification.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Nutrition
  2. The Digestive System
  3. Absorption & Enzymes
  4. Energy Value and Foods
  5. Carbohydrates and Fats
  6. Proteins
  7. Vitamins and Minerals
  8. Water
  9. Nutrient Disorders

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain the role of different food types in human health.
  • Explain the physiology of digestive processes.
  • Recommend appropriate intake of vitamins.
  • Recommend appropriate intake of minerals.
  • Recommend appropriate food intake to meet an individual's energy needs.
  • Recommend appropriate carbohydrate intake.
  • Recommend appropriate fat intake.
  • Recommend appropriate protein intake.
  • Recommend appropriate water intake in different situations.
  • Recognise signs and symptoms of the major nutrient disorders.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish between nutrition terms including: food, nutrition and diet.
  • Distinguish between characteristics of all major food groups, including chemistry and nutritional value
  • Explain the significance of each of the major food groups, including:
    • Carbohydrates
    • Proteins
    • Fats
    • Minerals
    • Vitamins.
  • Label on unlabelled illustrations, parts of the digestive system, including:
    • Oesophagus
    • Liver
    • Stomach
    • Gall bladder
    • Pancreas
    • Duodenum
    • Ascending colon
    • Caecum
    • Appendix
    • Transverse colon
    • Descending colon
    • Ileum
    • Sigmoid colon
    • Rectum.
  • Explain the function of different parts of the digestive system, including:
    • Salivary Glands
    • Liver
    • Stomach
    • Gall bladder
    • Pancreas
    • Duodenum
    • Colon
    • Ileum
    • Rectum.
  • Distinguish between digestion and absorption of food.
  • Explain the different layers of the digestive tract, including:
    • Mucosa
    • Submucosa
    • Muscularis
    • Serosa.
  • Explain different physiological processes involved in absorption
  • Explain how different hormones control the digestive process, including:
    • Gastrin
    • Gastric Inhibitory Peptide
    • Secretin
    • Cholecystokinin.
  • Explain the action of three different digestive enzymes.
  • Convert calories to joules, in two calculations.
  • Explain the meaning of basal metabolic rate (BMR).
  • Describe how the intake of different types of food may affect metabolic rate.
  • Explain how different factors other than food intake can affect digestion, including stress and disease.
  • Compare energy values of ten different foods, on a given food chart.
  • Explain possible implications of mismatching food intake to individual's energy needs, through over or under intake of energy requirements.
  • List foods which are a common sources of carbohydrate.
  • List common foods in the diet which are poor sources of carbohydrate.
  • Distinguish between monosaccharides and disaccharides in your normal diet.
  • Explain relative values of five alternative sources of carbohydrates.
  • Explain three factors which affect the bodies demand for carbohydrate.
  • Develop guidelines to determining appropriate carbohydrate intake, in accordance with an individuals specific requirements.
  • List foods which are a common source of fats.
  • Distinguish between saturated and unsaturated fats in the diet of a specific person.
  • Explain the relative value of five alternative sources of fats.
  • Explain factors which affect the bodies demand for fat.
  • Explain the role of fat in the body, including an explanation of two different physiological processes involving fat.
  • Develop a set of guidelines to determining appropriate fat intake, in accordance with an individuals specific requirements.
  • List foods which are a good source of protein.
  • Explain the role of protein in the body, including examples of two physiological processes involving protein.
  • Explain relative values of different sources of protein.
  • Explain factors which affect the bodies demand for protein.
  • Develop guidelines to determining appropriate fat intake, in accordance with an individuals specific requirements.
  • List two sources for each of ten different minerals considered essential to human health.
  • Explain the role of ten different minerals in the body.
  • Consider the relative values of different sources of minerals in your diet,to determine minerals which may be supplied in inappropriate quantities.
  • Describe symptoms of five different nutrient disorders including deficiencies and toxicities.
  • Explain the use of five different mineral supplements in a specified human diet.
  • Distinguish between sources of different types of vitamins which are important to human health, including:
    • Retinol
    • Vitamin D
    • Vitamin E
    • Vitamin K
    • Ascorbic acid
    • Thiamine
    • Riboflavin
    • Nicotinamide
    • Pyridoxine
    • Pantothenic acid
    • Biotin
    • Cyanocobalamin
    • Folacin.
  • Explain the role of fifteen different vitamins in the body.
  • Explain the relative values of three different sources of each of five vitamins.
  • Explain proliferation of vitamin supplement usage in modern society.
  • Describe in one sentence or less for each, symptoms of five different vitamin disorders including deficiencies and toxicities.
  • Explain the role of water in the body, for five different physiological processes.
  • List factors which affect the body's requirement for water.
  • Compare three different methods of purifying water, including two commercially available water purifiers.
  • Explain the physiology of dehydration, at different levels.
  • Discuss the affect of five different water impurities on human health.
  • Distinguish between the signs and symptoms of forty common problems associated with nutritional disorders, including:
    • Deficiencies
    • Sensitivities
    • Diseases.
  • Describe three different techniques used by health practitioners for determining food/nutrition disorders.
  • Explain the importance of obtaining a recommendation from a medical practitioner, when a nutritional disorder is suspected.
  • Explain the significance of "second opinion", when diagnosing nutrient disorders.

Eat the Best things; Eat the Best Way

Quality of Ingredients

Fresh food is superior to processed and packaged food because in the processing, some nutrients are lost, and often, less desirable ingredients such as sugars, fats, and chemical additives are added. Fruit, vegetables, bread, meat and dairy products should ideally be consumed when fresh. Also pay attention to the quality of the food. Fruits and vegetables are freshest and most nutritious when in season and locally grown, as they can be picked later in the ripening stage, whereas produce that is transported large distances is usually picked well before it is ripe, as it travels better and lasts longer. Look for signs of quality: good colouring; aroma; firmness, crispness or softness, as appropriate; no signs of disease.

Price is not always an indicator of quality, but in general, you get what you pay for with foods, and cheaper produce carried by one shop might be inferior in nutritional value than slightly more expensive produce in a neighbouring shop.  Good chefs choose their produce very carefully because they know that quality ingredients result in tastier, more nutritious, and appealing dishes.  Good produce might cost more, but it will be higher in nutritional value. Some people spend more to buy organic produce. While there has been some research into the advantages of organic food over conventionally grown food, it is still not clear if there is a significant difference in overall nutritional value. However, the flavour of organic produce is usually reported to be better, and the possibility of chemical contamination is also greatly reduced.

Range of Ingredients

No one food or food group can supply us with everything that we need for good health. An important principle of nutrition is to eat a wide variety of foods daily. This gives our body the best chance of obtaining all the nutrients required. A diet dominated by bread will provide plenty of starch and other carbohydrates, but will be deficient in some vitamins, minerals and protein. A diet heavy in meat will supply lots of protein, but again will be deficient in some nutrients and can also over tax parts of the system. On the other hand, eating mainly vegetables and fruit may provide adequate levels of vitamins, but energy from carbohydrates and strength from proteins may be insufficient.

When we consider specific vitamins, minerals and other elements of the diet, we can see more clearly that we need a range of foods in our diet to obtain all the nutrients we need for optimum health. For example, dietary zinc can be easily obtained from red meats and some shellfish, but vegetables are a poor source of zinc. For cobalt and molybdenum, it is the other way around: leafy greens have a high concentration, while meats do not. Vitamin and mineral supplements are not a substitute for a balanced, varied diet. Vitamins and minerals are not absorbed beyond the body’s needs, and the body will either eliminate what it does not use or store it, which can result in toxicity. Also, it is difficult to keep track of every vitamin, mineral, or nutrient that you need and eat. The simplest way to get what you need is to eat lots of different foods. It is also more appealing from a culinary point of view.

Cooking Methods Used

Cooking food is useful because it softens hard ingredients, increases the availability of some nutrients (e.g. carotene), releases and mixes flavours, and makes foods (some of which are inedible when raw) palatable. While proper cooking may slightly reduce the nutritional value of food, over-cooking should definitely be avoided. In general, the longer the cooking time, the greater the nutrient loss. Boiling can leach (cause loss of) out large amount of nutrients, although in the case of soups and stews this is not a problem because the liquid is consumed. Cook rice, lentils, etc. by the absorption method, rather than by boiling in water and then draining off the nutrient-rich excess water. Frying, grilling, baking and barbecuing can convert some materials into carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) if the ingredients are burnt, although the quantities present are usually minute. With over cooking, the chemicals in foods can sometimes change from useful to detrimental chemicals. It is important to include raw foods in the diet, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. A platter of vegetable sticks and a couple of dips is a simple and healthy snack or meal.

Excessive use of fats and oils can occur in frying and baking. Instead, try dry frying, grilling or simply using a smaller amount of fat or oil. To improve taste, use herbs and spices in preference to salt.

The cooking equipment can also affect food. Glass, stainless steel or enamel pots and pans should be used. Copper can interfere with the vitamins in food. The use of aluminium pots and pans is said to increase the amount of aluminium entering the body, which could lead to health problems such as muscle weakness, bone problems and Alzheimer's disease. Cooking with acidic foods in aluminium (e.g. vinegar, tomatoes, citrus fruits) can make the situation worse.


After food is prepared, its nutritional value for the body can be affected by the way the food is eaten, and the circumstances in which the meal occurs. Chewing is the first stage in the digestion of food. Without going overboard, food should be chewed adequately to reduce the particle size, add moisture for easier swallowing, and to add a number of enzymes that will breakdown starches into sugars. Saliva, secreted from six glands within the mouth, contains the water and enzymes necessary for this stage of digestion. Once the food has been mashed and mixed with saliva, swallowing occurs. This involves the combined action of muscles in the mouth, tongue and throat pushing the bolus of food down into the pharynx. As the food goes down, the epiglottis stops it from entering the wind-pipe (larynx). It then passes through the oesophagus and into the stomach.

A relaxed state of mind and body is necessary for complete digestion. When you eat 'on the run', your mental energy is not on the meal but on other things, and your physical energy is being used to keep your body and mind running, and diverted from the important processes of digestion. Stress and tension can lead to poor digestion through poor chewing, unbalanced stomach acid release and bowel blockages.

To find out if this course is right for you, contact a course advisor here.

Meet some of our academics

Jade SciasciaBiologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager. Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Dip.Professional Education, Cert IV TESOL, Cert Food Hygiene.
Lyn QuirkM.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.
Melissa Leistra B.Ed., Masters Nutrition 16 yrs experience - in hosapitality, teaching, cooking Lives a self-sustainable lifestyle on a farm and raising all types of animals. experienced vegetarian/vegan cook and loves to create wholesome food using her slow combustion wood stove.

Check out our eBooks

Human NutritionBoth a text for students, or an informative read for anyone who wants to eat better. While covering the basics, the book approaches nutrition a little differently here to some other books, with sections covering ”Modifying diet according to Genetic Disposition or Lifestyle”, “How to find Reliable Information on Nutrition” and “Understanding how Diet relates to Different Parts of the Body” (including Urinary, Digestive, Respiratory and Circulatory System, the Brain, etc). This ebook was written to complement the ACS Nutrition I course, and provides a solid foundation for anyone wanting to grasp a fundamental understanding of Human Nutrition. 41 pages
Organic GardeningCreate a healthy, well-balanced garden. Attract abundant beneficial insects to pollinate your plants. Have healthy, fertile, organic soils teeming with life. Use this book as a guide to establish lush gardens laden with fruit, vegetables, herbs and ornamentals - without the use of chemicals. The ebook covers: soils and nutrition, pest and disease, natural weed control, conservation and recycling. 179 pages, 170 colour photos
Human BiologyFor any new student of human biology, being confronted with thousands of unfamiliar words can be overwhelming. It can also be difficult to identify which words you need to learn first. This book presents words that have been carefully selected as the most important for new biology students to learn and understand. It also provides more information about each word than is often found in traditional dictionaries, giving students a more in-depth understanding of the word's meaning. The book is intended as an aid to all new students of human biology.
Nutritional TherapyDiscover how the way you eat can impact upon the affects of an illness. This book is unique, written by our health and nutritional scientists. Chapters cover: “Scope and Nature of Nutritional Therapy”, “How different factors Interact with Nutrition”, “Different Ways” and “Appropriate Therapeutic Responses for Different Health Issues” Thirty different conditions are covered from Mental Illness and Gastritis to Coeliac Disease and Osteoporosis.