A fortified space diet filled with fruits, vegetables and fish could help boost astronaut health and performance, a new study finds.
Spaceflight poses many risks to astronauts, including high radiation exposure and long-term effects. microgravity. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help scientists overcome these health problems, but space missions are very limited and “food has the highest requirements for space flight,” lead author of the study, Grace Douglas, a food scientist at NASA’s Johnson Center. Houston, said Space.com.
Current food for scientists living in the International Space Station (ISS) is designed to provide nutritious meals. However, “all local foods must be processed for shelf stability at room temperature,” Douglas said — that is, able to live on shelves for a long time at room temperature without spoiling. “Many healthy fruits and vegetables are not eaten this way.”
Related: Food in space: What do astronauts eat?
In the new study, “we were able to produce a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that are compatible with spaceflight and provide them with a large amount of food,” said Douglas. He and his team have used these materials to help develop improved diets with more nutrients and a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as more fish, tomatoes and other nutrient-dense foods. important ones such as flavonoids and omega-3 fatty acids. acid.
The researchers investigated the various effects of the current and improved ISS diet airplane food consisted of six women and 10 men. These 16 people each ate one or more meals while participating in 45-day activities in a closed room based on Earth designed to simulate closed atmospheric conditions.
Scientists have found that volunteers on a better diet have lower cholesterol and the stress hormone cortisol. They also perform well in terms of speed, accuracy and attention in a simple video game designed to test their cognitive performance. In addition, their gut microbiome – the community of microbes that naturally live in our digestive tracts – remained diverse and rich, as an indicator of health, in pass to volunteers on regular meals.
“We’re showing diet-related benefits in less than 45 days, which shows how important nutrition is to health and performance,” Douglas said. “Astronauts must operate at extremely high mental and physical levels, and this information is critical as we plan equipment for future missions.”
Scientists are already testing this method of eating food in space, Douglas said.
“NASA is interested in how food weight can be cut, but first we have to understand how food interacts with health and performance in this mission, and then how weight loss can affect health and well-being.” how does it work,” Douglas said. “Additional vehicle weight may be required for food to support health and performance, especially as missions become longer and [go] away from The world.”
Douglas and his colleagues explained their results (opens in a new tab) Online December 15 in the journal Scientific Reports.
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