Healthier nutrition for astronauts during flights could improve their performance

(ORDO NEWS) — Astronauts on spaceflight could be offered a new, improved, varied diet that includes more fruits, vegetables and fish than standard spaceflight meals.

It is known that long-term space flights affect human health. The food that astronauts eat can potentially mitigate some of the negative impacts during spaceflight, but in turn, the food that can be taken along is limited in terms of mass, volume, shelf life, and storage requirements.

Grace Douglas and her colleagues studied the difference in the effects of two diets on 16 people (10 men and six women).

As part of the study, four 45-day missions were conducted, each of which involved 4 people. The experiment took place in a closed ground-based chamber designed to simulate space flight conditions.

The subjects followed either the enhanced diet or the standard diet. The enhanced diet included increased servings and a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as more fish and sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

The Standard Spaceflight Diet is currently used on the International Space Station, and while it meets most requirements, the authors suggest that it could use more fruits and vegetables, as well as more sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

The enhanced diet included more than six servings of fruits and vegetables per day and two to three servings of fish per week, as well as other healthy foods. All products were shelf stable.

To mimic real space flight conditions, food was stored in the chamber before the start of each mission.

Subjects provided saliva, urine, blood, and feces samples and completed cognitive assessment tasks throughout the missions.

The authors found that people who ate the improved spaceflight diet had lower cholesterol levels, lower cortisol levels (indicating less stress), greater cognitive speed, accuracy, and attention, and a more stable microbiome than humans. eating the standard diet.

The authors conclude that an enhanced spaceflight diet has significant health and performance benefits for individuals and may be beneficial to astronauts even during short spaceflights.

While further research is needed to evaluate healthier eating habits in space, these results may help prioritize food resources in future space exploration missions.


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