Metabolic Disease

We eat to live. We also eat for fun, for coping, and for feeding the trillions of microbacteria that live inside us. What happens after you swallow a bite? In five units we’ll explore what makes food “food,” how our bodies use it, what can go wrong with how our bodies use it, how scientists (and you!) figure out if a food is ‘healthy’ or not to eat, and more.

Unit 1

What’s in your food?

If you can eat it, does that make it food? This unit is all about why we eat what we eat, where the food we eat comes from, and what gets added — or subtracted — from it along the way. Do you know your vitamins from your minerals?

Lesson 1: What does ‘food’ mean?
Lesson 2: What’s in your food besides food?
Lesson 3: Food Safety
Lesson 4: Virtual Calorimetry lab
Lesson 5-6: Macro- and Micronutrients; Review of nutrients and virtual calorimetry lab

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Supplemental Videos (external links):
Stop Eating Food: The Soylent Experiment (YouTube)
Whole Foods vs. Processed Foods in Digestion (YouTube)
The Real Math Behind Food Labels (YouTube)

Unit 2

How does your body use food?

Are all calories created equal when it comes to fueling up? To answer this question, we’ll follow what happens inside our bodies when we eat something. Chewing and swallowing is only the start!

Lesson 1: Digestion: From the mouth to the blood stream
Lesson 2: Metabolism: Glucose is the middleman for ATP
Lesson 3: Glucose homeostasis in the blood (1) – storing energy
Lesson 4: Glucose homeostasis in the blood (2) – un-storing energy
Lesson 5: Blood glucose in sleep, a 5 mile run…and after that Big Mac

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Unit 3

What is metabolic disease?

What causes us to gain or lose weight? How does our diet contribute to health? There’s more at work than just a simple equation of calories and exercise.

Lesson 1: What is obesity and how does BMI relate?
Lesson 2: What is fast and slow metabolism?
Lesson 3: How do we decide when and how much to eat?
Lesson 4: Can you become addicted to food?
Lesson 5: Homeostasis gone awry: How does the satiety pathway relate to obesity?
Lesson 6: Obesity and Metabolic diseases: Diabetes and Heart disease (pdf)

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I Got This: An Interactive Story
I GOT THIS, created by UC Berkeley’s The Lawrence Hall of Science, is an interactive, first-person, educational story that follows a young teenage girl who discovers that she has type 2 diabetes, one of the fastest growing diseases in the US and around the world. Told in a real-world setting, I GOT THIS focuses on the causes, symptoms, prevention, and social aspects of the life-changing disease.

Download the ‘I Got This’ app (free!) for your iPhone or iPad Touch, or visit the Lawrence Hall of Science to explore more about diabetes online.

Unit 4

How do I identify “good” and “bad” food?

It seems like everyone has an opinion about what you should be eating — and many of them contradict each other! How can we figure out what advice is trustworthy? In this unit, we’ll look at the history of how people went about learning what we “know” now about food and human metabolism in the first place, and how we can apply that process ourselves to evaluating what studies mean.

Lesson 1-2: Why are there contradictory messages about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods?
Lesson 3: How do we know what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food really is?
Lesson 4: Seeing through the static – How do we identify correlations in data?
Lesson 5: Treating obesity with behavior modification?

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Unit 5

How does this knowledge apply to me?

Now it’s your turn to put your knowledge and skills to work! In this unit we will critically evaluate a dietary claim using content from the previous units. Do diets actually help people lose weight? Do some food additives lead to cancer? Now is your chance to find out!

Lesson 1: How can you use what you know to evaluate claims?
Lesson 2: How can you use what you know to evaluate claims? (2)
Lesson 3: Researching Your Project Topic

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Final Project

Inform the public: Create a public health brochure.