For thousands of years, nutrition has been a driving factor behind the success or failure of human exploration. This is particularly true in the case of space flight. It is vital to prevent the astronauts from becoming malnourished during missions, which often last months.
But modern space nutrition goes further than that. It aims to maximize the crew's performance while reducing the damaging effects of space flight and protecting against long-term health risks like cancer and heart disease.
It may seem excessive to put so much effort into the nutrition of the handful of people who venture into space. But as with most space research, any breakthroughs have clear implications for those staying behind on Earth.
Poor eyesight and fertility: what's the link?
Some astronauts are returning from space with eye problems. Este includes effects on the back of the eye such as "cotton wool spots" – fluffy white spots on the retina – and swelling of the optic nerve.
Effects Of Microgravity
In other words: some astronauts have left the planet with perfect vision, but came home needing glasses. The effects of microgravity on the circulatory system have been held to blame, including shifts in body fluid and increased pressure on the brain.
Our theory is that genetic differences could affect how their blood vessels function. When combined with a triggering factor during spaceflight such as shifts in body fluid – this leads to leakage of blood vessels in or around the eye.
Studying space by staying in bed
- Astronaut nutrition studies help us understand how humans could adapt to longer space flight – and how can we improve our lives on Earth
- Studies in space usually have to be done with limited resources and face the challenges of weightlessness, or "microgravity."
- Earthbound studies are sometimes used with healthy subjects confined to bed for weeks or months in a head-down tilt position
- This recreates the effects of microgravity and allows monitoring of bone and muscle loss and other changes
Lack of sunlight
Our skin creates vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. Is exposed to sunlight. It's needed to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy and muscles healthy. Astronauts do not get enough vitamin D during space missions, as they are protected from sunlight exposure and are unable to get enough from their food supply.
The secret to strong bones
Bone loss has been one of the biggest concerns for space travelers. Astronauts tend to lose their bone mass at roughly 1% per month, the amount that osteoporosis sufferers lose in a year osteoporosis sufferers lose in a year Travelers. Astronauts tend to lose their bone mass at roughly 1% per month, the amount that people living with osteoporosis lose in a year.
They also found that diets with more fruits and vegetables were beneficial to bone strength. Conversely, large intakes of iron and sodium served to speed up bone loss. Subsequent evidence showed that astronauts who ate well, had enough vitamin D, and exercised hard did not suffer any bone loss during a six-month space mission.
Paving the way
As we approach the sixth decade of human space travel, we stand at the beginning of humanity's forays into space. The accompanying health risks are significant, and nutrition could provide the key for a keylogger.
More distant missions to other planets such as Mars. They need to use and expand our 21st Century knowledge of nutrition, to unite medical and scientific teams to enable future exploration, while simultaneously benefiting humanity.