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We need a little bit of fat as part of a healthy diet but some fats are better for us than others. Fat is used for energy and helps our brain to work properly. It is found naturally in animal products such as lamb and butter but it is also added to many processed foods such as potato chips. Unsaturated fats are helpful to the body but we only need small amounts of them.  We mainly get these fats from plants and fish. Trans fats and saturated fats are the unhealthy fats which have been linked to heart disease.  If people have too much saturated or trans fat in their bodies it can build up and block their blood vessels, which causes heart trouble.

What are they?

Fats and oils belong to a larger group of substances called lipids. We call fats that are liquid at room temperature “oils”.  Fat is a source of energy and essential fatty acids.  Some foods have almost no fat whilst others have plenty of fat.

What’s the difference between the main types of fat?

Saturated fatty acids (SFAs)

Saturated fats are considered to be the unhealthy fats.  Eating too much of these has been shown to link to high cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease.  Saturated fats are found in meat and other animal products and in many takeaway and processed foods.

Unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs)

Unsaturated fats are sometimes called the healthy fats and in small amounts they are helpful to the body.  There are two types of unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA).  Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are types of PUFA that we get mainly from plants or fish. They include two essential fatty acids (EFAs) that we can’t live without or make ourselves and must get from our food.

Trans fats (TFAs)

Trans fats are produced during some manufacturing processes and have been found to be more harmful than saturated fat to heart health. For this reason, trans fats should be avoided in the diet and replaced with mono or polyunsaturated fats where possible.  Natural TFAs are present (about 2% to 9% total fat) in beef, mutton and lamb and dairy foods.

Why do these differences matter?

If we have lots of SFAs in our bodies, the ones with melting points around our body temperature can start to build up and solidify (set), attract “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and block our blood vessels. This can cause heart trouble. Man-made TFAs cause similar problems and are now banned in some countries, like the USA. Fish and plants operating at lower temperatures that could risk SFA blockages tend to use fewer fats and/or more UFAs.

Why do we need fat?

Fats are a part of every cell in our body and the building blocks for many hormones, including steroids and sex hormones. We need them for our brains to work properly and when we are injured or have bacteria or poisons in our body tissue as fat helps to combat infections.  Eating fat guarantees a source of our two Essential Fatty Acids, the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and helps us absorb some vitamins like Vitamin D.

Fat also provides energy. It releases over twice the energy of proteins and carbohydrates (37 kJ versus 17 kJ per gram) when burned, so is great for active bodies.  It is vital for maintaining healthy skin and hair.

Which foods contain which fats?

Saturated fats are common in animal foods like fatty meats and full fat dairy foods like butters, cheese, cream, yoghurts; and cocoa butter, palm oil, & coconut products.

Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and man-made trans fats are found in processed foods like hard margarines, shortening, cakes, crisps, crackers, biscuits, processed meats like salami and corned beef; dairy foods, beef and lamb have natural trans fats.

Monounsaturated fats are in good amounts in many nuts and their oils (including cashews, macadamias and peanuts), avocado and its oils, and lean meat.

Polyunsaturated (including omega-3 and -6) fat sources include common vegetable oils (canola, corn, sunflower, soybean) nuts, seeds, fish and some margarines. Oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines, seafood like mussels, flax oil and walnuts are good for omega-3s. Sunflower, soybean, corn, sesame and walnuts are good sources of omega-6s.

What information is there about fats on food packets?

In NZ a food label can only legally claim it’s “low-fat” if it contains less than 1.5 g total fat/100 mL liquid or 3 g total fat/100 g. Nutrition Information Panels (NIPS) in NZ must list total and saturated fat levels but do not have to give TFA, PUFA, MUFA, omega or EFA levels unless the manufacturer wants to or is making health or nutrition claims. Foods with less than 10 g fat/100 g (or 2 g/100 g for dairy) are usually considered low fat. If you check out Harold’s Food Analyser you’ll find that most fruit, breakfast cereals, grain foods, legumes and veggies meet these levels and some meats and dairy – but hardly any snacks.

What can we do?

Watching the level of SFAs and TFAs in our foods is a good start as these are the fats most likely to cause us harm. The Ministry of Health reckons that SFAs provide 14% to 15% percent of energy in the diets of NZ children and young people– more than the 10% recommended – but our TFA levels are below the 1% recommended levels, at around 0.6%.

To reduce how much fat – particularly SFAs and TFAs we eat – we can:

  • Use less fat and replace foods or oils rich in SFAs with ones rich in PUFAs and MUFAs.
  • Cut down on the amount of heavily processed foods we eat.
  • Try leaner meats or fish, and low fat or lower fat dairy options.
  • Think about how the total amount of energy in all the food we eat each day balances out against the energy we use – the excess is mostly stored in fatty tissue in our bodies.



Iron is a mineral. When we eat plants and animals we get it in two main forms: as non-haem and haem iron. Dairy foods, eggs and plants have non-haem iron only; good sources are nuts, legumes and dried fruits. Lean red meat, poultry, and fish are good sources of haem iron but also have non-haem. We sometimes add iron to foods like yeast spreads and breakfast cereals.

Human bodies can’t absorb (take in) non-haem iron nearly as well as haem iron. Some substances (like Vitamin C) can help us absorb non-haem iron, while others make it harder.

We need iron to help blood carry oxygen round our bodies and give us energy. It also helps make chemical messengers like hormones and the neurotransmitters in our nerves. We need a lot when we’re growing. If we don’t eat enough iron we can feel tired, get sick, and look pale.

What is it?

Iron is the fourth most common mineral element in the earth’s crust. It’s also in the bodies of plants and animals. In animal meats, just under half its iron is there as “haem iron” (in blood) and the rest as “non-haem iron” (found in plants). The iron in dairy, eggs, and edible plants is only there as non-haem iron. Sadly, our bodies can’t absorb non-haem iron from foods nearly as well as haem iron.

What foods do we get it from?

Lean red animal meats, liver, poultry and seafood are good sources of haem iron. There’s a good amount of non-haem iron in fortified breakfast cereals (to which iron has been added), many dried fruits, nuts, legumes and other veggies, and spreads like marmite/vegemite. People eating only the less absorbable non-haem iron need to make sure they get enough to meet their iron needs.

Can other substances affect how much iron we get?

Vitamin C helps us to absorb non-haem iron from food in our gut if it’s eaten at the same time: try a kiwifruit or some fresh orange juice with your cereal. Haem iron also helps with absorbing non-haem iron – suggesting there might be something to old idea of “meat and two veg”. A number of substances including tannins (which give us the bitter taste in tea and coffee), oxalates (found in spinach and chocolate) and phytates (found in some legumes and grains) interfere with non-haem absorption, so eating a varied diet will help to balance out their effects.

Why do we need it?

We need iron to help make haemoglobin and myoglobin – the proteins that help carry oxygen in our blood and to our muscles. Iron helps us to get energy from our food. We also use it to make certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain) and hormones. And our immune system needs it. People who are active or growing fast like infants, children, teenagers and athletes – or losing blood like teenage girls and women of childbearing age – need more iron.

What happens if we have too much or too little?

Too little iron (deficiency) isn’t common in NZ. Adolescent girls are most at risk. Someone with a deficiency could feel tired, look pale, feel puffed, or get more infections. Anaemia (a lack of red blood cells or haemoglobin) has these symptoms. We’re unlikely to get too much iron unless we’re taking high doses of iron supplements or have a genetic condition (haemochromatosis) that causes it to build up. A bit too much might upset our stomach and make us feel sick, but too much over a long time could damage someone’s heart or liver.

Funky fact

About 0.005% of an 80-kg adult’s bodyweight is iron: that’s about 4 g­ or enough to make 3 or 4 nails. We store about half the iron in our bodies in our liver.

Levels of nutrients like vitamins can be changed by storing and processing fruit and veges. Many plants start to lose vitamin B and C once they’re picked: stored spinach can lose all its Vitamin C in a week. Freezing fresh fruit and veg can reduce how much Vitamin B and C they lose, and even increase Vitamin E levels. In other plants, storage increases levels of vitamins A or D.

Cooking fresh plants can also cut their Vitamin B and C levels by around 15% to 50%. Just how much depends on the plant and how it was cooked. Canned plant foods lose about 60% of their Vitamin B and C compared to fresh. But many canned vegetables concentrate minerals like calcium or sodium, and canned tomatoes may contain more Vitamin E.

Aim for a mix of very fresh, chilled, frozen and canned foods, cooked in many ways.

What happens to vitamins when we store fruit and vegetables?

Levels of water-soluble vitamins like B and C start to fall at different rates after we pick some plants: fresh spinach stored at 20 °C for a week loses 100% of its Vitamin C, but carrots only 27%; refrigeration at 4 °C slows down these losses (to 75% and 10%, respectively), as does flash freezing vegetables like peas right after harvesting. But other plants (like pumpkins and mushrooms) only develop higher levels of carotenes (coloured substances related to Vitamin A) or fat-soluble vitamins like A and D after they’ve been kept for a while.

How do frozen and refrigerated vegetables and fruits compare?

A 2015 study found certain stored frozen foods (like corn, green beans and blueberries) had higher Vitamin C levels than the same refrigerator-stored fresh food. There was no major loss of Vitamin C for frozen strawberries, carrots, spinach, peas or broccoli. For Vitamin B2 the results were similar except that frozen peas lost more than refrigerated ones. Beta-carotene (from which we make Vitamin A) levels were 50% lower in frozen peas, carrots and spinach than in refrigerated but no different for beans and broccoli. Vitamin E levels were up to 50% higher for frozen peas, beans, blueberries, spinach and corn.

What happens when we cook fruit and vegetables?

Most cooking techniques like boiling or baking  break down water soluble vitamins so they’re less helpful to us. Home cooking causes a 15% to 55% loss of Vitamin C depending on plant type and method. Microwaving, boiling and steaming generally cause least loss and frying the most, but it varies. Boiling carrots concentrates their beta-carotene but can damage  other nutrients. The nutrients that leak out of plant cells into cooking water aren’t totally wasted if you use this liquid in a sauce, stew or soup. But if you peel plants before cooking them, remember you’re also removing some of their nutrients: about 90% of the iron, 70% of the fibre, and 30% to 50% of the B and C vitamins in a potato are in its skin.

How do frozen and canned fruits and vegetables stack up?

Blanching (briefly putting food in boiling water or steam to stop the enzymes that break it down from working) before freezing or canning can damage sensitive vitamins like B and C. Vitamin C losses average around 50% for freezing and over 60% for canning. And because picked plants – even refrigerated ones – naturally lose Vitamin C, frozen produce can end up containing similar amounts of Vitamin C to fresh foods which have been stored for a while. Canned tomatoes often have more Vitamin E than fresh or frozen ones, but levels are similar for other vegetables. Canned veges often take up minerals (like calcium) from water during processing so may have more than fresh. But they often also have added sodium (brine) – and tinned fruits may come in sugary syrups. It’s good to check can labels and aim for low or no sodium and sugar products, and maybe drain or rinse what’s inside before eating it.

So what’s the best trade-off?

By the time we balance vitamin losses during storage against those from freezing or canning and cooking, most cooked fresh vegetables will contain similar levels of nutrients like Vitamin C and beta-carotene (from which we make Vitamin A) to cooked frozen or canned ones. Although fresh is good, it’s not always practical or economical: a variety of fresh, chilled, frozen and canned produce, prepared in a range of ways should provide most of the nutrients we need in a balanced diet.

A processed food is anything we eat that we’ve changed on purpose in some way from its natural state. We call the process that causes the change ‘food processing’, and we’ve been doing it for thousands – even millions – of years.

Simple processing includes things like bagging, washing and cutting up food.  This doesn’t change it too much. Heavier processing includes cooking, adding preservatives, sugars or salt, combining foods, or changing their textures. It is more likely to change the properties of a food and also how good it is for us. When people talk about “processed foods” they usually mean heavily processed ones like snacks and convenience foods.

Washing, cooking or chilling food to kill harmful bacteria are examples of processing which can make food safer. Adding lots of sugars, fats, or salt are examples of processing which can make it less healthy.  We need to balance the helpful and harmful.

There are different degrees of food processing

We can think of processed foods as falling on a scale depending on their level of processing:

Simple processing keeps most of a food’s natural physical, chemical, and nutritional properties. We do it when we wash, clean, bag and cut up fresh food.

Minimal to moderate processing changes more food properties. It includes blanching*, cooking, freezing, drying, juicing and extracting, crushing, mincing, pickling and canning; it’s also processes like pasteurising, refining and milling. It can involve adding ingredients like fats, oils, sugars and sweeteners, salt, flavours, and preservatives; or using processes like baking to combine foods and change their structure.

Heavy processing involves even more ingredients (including additives: emulsifiers, colours, and stabilisers) and more complex chemical or physical processes (like adding hydrogen to saturate unsaturated fats, water to plump up bacon, or carbon dioxide to make fizzy drinks). This further changes the structure, taste, time it will last, texture, and nutritional value of foods. It creates the products most people think of as “processed foods”: crackers, snacks, cakes, biscuits, deli meats (like salami, ham and bacon), cook-in sauces, breakfast cereals, soft drinks … all the way up to convenience foods and ready-to-eat meals.

Why do we process foods?

To help ourselves. Simple or minimal processing makes foods cleaner and easier to eat and transport. We also process foods to make them suitable or safe to eat (e.g. milling grain, boiling raw potatoes, pressing oil, pasteurising milk, or cooking meat). Some processes (like blanching*, canning and freezing) preserve foods so we can enjoy them safely at our convenience and out of season. But we also process foods to make them more appealing – whether by adding sugar, fats and salt for taste, removing some fats, swapping artificial sweeteners for sugars, removing fibrous husks, adding or removing caffeine, adding vitamins or minerals, altering textures, or using preservatives to make foods last longer.

Sometimes processed foods may not be the best choice

Some processed foods encourage us to eat more salt, sugar and fat (especially saturated) than we need, and various substances about which we know very little. Our understanding of what’s in a food usually decreases as processing increases, so it’s harder to make healthy food choices. Processing can also alter concentrations of key nutrients.

Sometimes processed foods are helpful

However, many processed foods have a place in our lives – and not just because they keep foods safe from unwanted bacteria. If someone is busy, being able to use frozen, pre-cut, or washed fruits and vegetables for a meal could make the difference between eating them or deciding not to; canned foods like cooked kidney beans or tuna provide nutritious foods we might not have time to prepare safely or at all; and affordable tinned foods like tomatoes, fruit salad and pineapple can add useful amounts of vitamin C to our diet.

*Briefly putting food in boiling water or steam to stop the enzymes that break it down from working.

What is the Liver?
The Liver is the largest solid organ in the body. It grows as we grow until, when we are adults, it has reached the approximate size of an American Football. It can be found on the right side of the body, just under the rib cage. Blood constantly flows through the liver to be cleaned and processed, and the liver holds approximately 13% of the body’s entire volume of blood at any one time.

What does the Liver do?
The Liver has over 500 functions, but some of the most important ones are:
• Processing digested food and absorbing useful nutrients into the blood.
• Removing harmful substances and waste products from the blood.
• Breaking down food and converting it to energy, especially heat.
• Storing energy as glycogen, ready to be used when it is needed quickly.
• Making bile, which is stored in the gallbladder until it is needed in the blood to help absorb fat from food.
• Fighting infections within the body, and cleaning bacteria from the blood.
• Storing iron, vitamins, and other essential chemicals until they are needed.
• Making enzymes and proteins to be used elsewhere in the body.

What are the Kidneys?
We each have two Kidneys. They sit under the ribcage – one on either side of the spine – and filter the blood that they receive from the renal artery.
Their most important task is to filter waste. They also filter enough water from the blood to keep the fluid levels in our bodies balanced, and combine this excess water with the filtered waste to make urine. The urine travels through the ureter to the bladder, where it is stored until we go to the toilet.

Our Kidneys are also involved in:
• Keeping levels of certain minerals in the blood such as potassium, sodium and phosphate stable.
• Producing hormones that make red blood cells.

What is the Pancreas?
The Pancreas is a long, flat gland about 12 cm long that sits behind the stomach. It has two main jobs:
• Making enzymes which digest fats, carbohydrates and proteins, and sends them to the small intestine through the pancreatic duct. The nutrients can then be absorbed into the blood.
• Making hormones: most importantly insulin, which controls and regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) that the body can store and use. When the Pancreas cannot make enough insulin, the person may develop diabetes.

Being part of a team
When we are part of a group of people who share skills and work together to achieve a common goal, we are part of a team.
Sharing ideas and collaborating with others enables us to work creatively together. When each team member contributes, we can benefit from a wide range of strengths and skills. We can also help other people to be a good leader, by being a good team member.
Skills involved in being a good team member include:
. Reliability – do what you say you will do
. Communication – listen to others, and respond clearly and calmly
. Flexibility – be prepared to adapt when circumstances change within the team
. Focus – concentrate on your own work, and let others concentrate on theirs
. Being Respectful – of the roles and abilities of other team members

Types of Teams
When we think of a team, we often think first of a sports team, but a team is really any kind of group that is formed for a specific purpose. Some examples are:
. School student council
. School crossing patrollers
. Library monitors
. Class maths group

Being a Leader
Just as being a strong team member is crucial to the success of the team, so is having good leadership. A leader helps a team to stay on task, as well as making sure that all team members are valued and effective. Good leaders are positive and inclusive, not bossy and judgemental.
Although some people appear to have ‘natural’ leadership abilities, in actual fact, leadership skills can be learnt by anyone.
Good leaders:
. Help everyone to understand and ‘see’ the goal
. Motivate the team to keep going when things get hard
. Know how to listen to others, and communicate well
. Ensure that all team members feel valued
. Lead by example: be hardworking and reliable themselves
. Know how to encourage, not dominate, the team
. Are respectful of others and their abilities
. Treat all team members fairly
. Are prepared to take responsibility for the team and the outcome
. Can make difficult decisions when needed

At school, and in the community, it is important to take opportunities to lead – perhaps starting with small groups and projects. Leadership experiences can be very rewarding.
With a good team and good leadership, great things are possible. Whether the goal is to write and perform a play for the class; to plan and organise a school disco; or to compete in a sports tournament, teams need the participation and commitment of each team member to be truly successful.

The skeletal system is the name for all the bones and joints that make up the internal structure of our body.  There are 206 bones in the human body. 

What are bones made of?

  • The outer layer of a bone is called the Periosteum. It is a thin, strong layer containing nerves and blood vessels which nourish the bone.
  • Compact Bone is the shiny white layer of bone that we imagine when we think of a skeleton. This layer gives the bone its strength and structure.
  • Cancellous Bone, also known as spongy bone, is the spongy-looking layer of bone underneath the Compact Bone. This is designed to be strong but light, so that we can move around easily.
  • Protected in the centre of some bones (such as the femur, or thigh bone), we can find Bone Marrow. This is where our body makes blood cells.


What do our bones do?

  • The skeleton is the scaffold for our bodies. It provides a stable, strong structure for our muscles to attach to, and gives us shape.
  • Muscles and bones act together so that we can move. They act as levers – for example when we lift things, or kick balls – without too much effort.
  • Our organs are protected by our skeleton. For example: the skull protects our brain, while the rib cage protects our heart and lungs.
  • Blood cells are produced deep inside flat bones (such as the skull or hip bones) and long bones (such as thigh or arm bones).
  • Essential minerals and substances are stored in our bones for use when needed. The most important of these is calcium.
  • Bones change and develop as we grow. When we are born, we have about 300 bones.  As we grow, some of them grow together (fuse).  Other ‘bones’ are made of a substance called ‘cartilage’ when we are born, and slowly absorb calcium and turn into adult bone as we grow up.  This process happens at a certain rate, and is completed by the time we are 25 years old.  This explains why archaeologists can sometimes tell how old a person was, just from their skeleton.
  • Bone cells release a hormone that regulates blood sugar and fat deposits.

What are joints?

The point of contact between two bones is called a joint.  We have several different types:

  • A Fixed joint doesn’t move at all. A flat plate in the skull fused to another plate is an example of a fixed joint.
  • A Synovial joint is the most common type in our body. The space where two bones meet is covered with a kind of capsule which holds liquid called synovial fluid. This fluid acts like oil to stop friction and allow the bones to move.
  • A ‘hinge joint’ is where the bones can only move in one direction, such as the elbow.
  • A ‘ball and socket’ joint can move in many directions. The shoulder and the hips are ball and socket joints.

Public Domain images courtesy of WPclipart.com


KidsHealth.org, Your Bones, October 2012.  Retrieved from:

http://kidshealth.org/ 20 March 2015

InnerBody.com Skeletal System, n.d. Retrieved from: http://www.innerbody.com/image/skelfov.html  20 March 2015

With support from       JSB Education

LET NZ 20 March 2015

My individual characteristics, qualities, and abilities make up my identity. My identity makes me special and unique.

How does identity develop?

When we are first born, we are not aware that we are separate and individual beings. From about the age of two, we begin to understand the concepts of ‘I’ and ‘You’. At about 18 months, we are able to demonstrate our ability to be self aware when we can recognise ourselves in a mirror.

From about 3 years of age, we start to form a sense of who we are. This is called self concept, and it develops as we make our own decisions and act on them. This new independence helps us to learn about ourselves and our capabilities. We start to identify ourselves by how we feel about our abilities, for example: ‘I am good at running’. We see ourselves in concrete terms, such as how tall we are, or what colour our hair is.

Middle childhood (from about the age of 7 till puberty), is a time when we are very aware of the people and the environment around us. As we try more activities and gain more skills, we compare ourselves with our peers and realise that we are more competent at some things than at others. This helps us to form a well-rounded sense of ourselves. As we compare our capabilities (sports, academics, social skills) with others around us, we develop a concept of self competence. Having positive and encouraging role models will also help us to develop a healthy sense of self worth.

During adolescence, we begin to establish our adult identity. This includes re-evaluating what we feel about who we are, and retaining or rejecting ideas and values from our childhood. We are free to experiment with different personalities and roles. We are now capable of abstract thought, (ideas and concepts that are not concrete) which means that we can think of ourselves in terms such as ‘loyal’ or ‘kind’. It also means that we can imagine a future for ourselves, and make new use of our skills and abilities to help us to plan and prepare.

Identity Workout

If we think of our sense of identity as a muscle, then we can think about things that will give it a workout and help it to be stronger and healthier.
• Positive People – who are my role models? How do they do encourage me?
• Resilience – when things go wrong, can I try again?
• Success – what am I good at? How does it make me feel?
• Community – what are the values of my school/culture/family/country? What do they mean to me?
Thinking about who we are and about the influences that surround us helps us as we mature and develop our sense of self, so that we can make positive decisions about our lives for the future.

YourDictionary.com ‘Identity’ n.d. Retrieved from http://www.yourdictionary.com/identity 11 June 2015

Princeton University ‘The Development of Children aged 6 to 14’ 1999. Retrieved from:
http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/docs/09_02_02.pdf 24 June 2015

Education.com ‘Identity Development’ 23 December 2009. Retrieved from:
http://www.education.com/reference/article/identity-development/ 24 June 2015

With support from JSB Education

LET NZ 13 July 2015

My brain is protected inside my skull by cerebrospinal fluid which acts as a shock absorber. This cushions the brain from damage caused by everyday bumps or knocks.
This cushioning is needed because, inside my skull, my brain is soft and squishy – like ripe avocado or warm butter. If my head is suddenly hit against something hard, the brain may be ‘bounced’ against the inside of my skull, and brain tissue can be stretched or bruised. In serious cases, the brain may even bleed.

How could my brain get an injury?
The most common causes of injury to the brain are:
• falling
• car accidents
• bicycle accidents
• sporting accidents (eg a rugby tackle, or being hit by a cricket ball)
• being struck or hit by another person
• illness (eg meningitis or seizures)
• lack of oxygen (near-drowning or suffocation)

How can a brain injury make me feel?
People with brain injuries can have many symptoms. They may include:
• headache
• vomiting
• tiredness
• loss of memory
• inability to concentrate
• moodiness / irritability
• changes in behaviour or personality
Other effects of an injury depend on the part of the brain that is damaged. For example, problems with hand/eye coordination may happen if a particular part of the parietal lobe (area of the brain just behind the top of the head) is injured.

How can I keep my brain safe?
There are things I can do to protect my brain from injury. They include:
• wearing helmets for activities such as riding a bike or skateboarding
• always wearing a seatbelt in a car
• being careful in high or dangerous places where there is a risk of falling

This week we have 3 research tasks that you could complete;
1. Research and find five amazing facts about our brains?
2. Research into some of the medical conditions that can affect the brain?
3. Research the different parts of the brain and create a diagram to show these areas.

Muscles make all our movements possible. We have over 600 muscles in our body. Without them, the rest of our body systems would not be able to function.
We have three different types of muscles in our bodies:
Smooth muscles, also called ‘involuntary’ muscles, are controlled by our brain. We can’t consciously control these muscles. Smooth muscles keep our crucial body systems working. For example, the muscles that move our food through the digestive system, or focus our eyes as we look around, are smooth muscles.

Skeletal muscles are the muscles that we can control. They are also known as ‘voluntary’ muscles. Tough cords of tissue, called tendons, attach skeletal muscles to our bones. When we decide to make a movement, we send a message from our brain to the muscle we want to move. The muscle contracts, and pulls the tendon and bone with it – and that is how we move. A message can travel from the brain to the muscle at speeds as fast as 430 km/hr!

The gluteus maximus (buttock) muscles are the strongest muscle in the body. They enable our legs to straighten when we walk, run, or climb. They are also the muscles we use when we stand up from a sitting position.

Cardiac muscle is the thick, strong muscle that makes up our heart. It is considered an involuntary muscle because a special group of cells stimulate the heart to contract and pump blood around the body – all day, every day.

Muscle is a soft tissue made up of fibres. The fibres are built from cells which contain protein filaments that slide over each other to make a contraction.
Our skeletal muscles often work in pairs or groups, so that our movements are smooth and coordinated.
For example, the biceps muscle contracts to bend the arm, while the triceps muscle contracts to allow it to be straightened.

Major Muscles
• Because there are so many skeletal muscles in your body, we can’t list them all here. But here are a few of the major ones:
• In each of your shoulders is a deltoid muscle. Your deltoid muscles help you move your shoulders every which way — from swinging a softball bat to shrugging your shoulders when you’re not sure of an answer.
• The pectoralis muscles are found on each side of your upper chest. These are usually called pectorals or pecs, for short. When many boys hit puberty, their pectoral muscles become larger. Many athletes and bodybuilders have large pecs, too.
• Below these pectorals, down under your ribcage, are your rectus abdominus muscles, or abdominals they’re often called abs for short.
• When you make a muscle in your arm, you tense your biceps muscle. When you contract your biceps muscle, you can actually see it push up under your skin.
• Your quadriceps or quads, are the muscles on the front of your thighs. Many people who run, bike, or play sports develop large, strong quads.
• And when it’s time for you to take a seat? You’ll be sitting on your gluteus maximus – the muscle that’s under the skin and fat in your behind!