NASA ScienceCast 293: A Successful Mission Starts With Nutrition

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The successful mission starts with nutrition. Presented by science at NASA. Centuries ago. Large wooden ships explored the seven seas but often ship that began its voyage with the crew of hundreds could return with tens the silent killer scurvy a disease that occurs. When there's a lack of vitamin c in the diet on the other extreme explorers of the north and south poles could fall ill by eating the liver of polar bears and seals exposing them to toxic levels of vitamin A. Centuries of exploration have taught us there is a vital relationship between a successful exploration, mission and balanced nutrition and nowhere is that lesson. More vital than in the extreme fastness of outer space, NASA, nutritionist and manager for nutritional biochemistry, Scott, m Smith PHD notes were studying nutrition aboard the international space station, or I assess by tracking what astronauts eat and how their body mass and health change over time in microgravity. Menus that lack variety and busy schedules can impact the astronauts dietary intake and insufficient intake leads to weight or mass loss bone and muscle loss, cardiovascular effects and more the foods on our all shelf stable there is no refrigerator or freezer for food right now. We're lucky because we're able to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to the station, but think about the first human trip to Mars and back, which may take thirty months or more. How do we maintain optimal nutrition for our astronauts over that much time? The challenge is clear in space, the astronauts environment impacts, their nutritional needs, astronauts have higher radiation exposure, higher atmosphere levels of carbon dioxide, low humidity and microgravity which can all have effects on their health, having a balanced nutritious diet is important to help counteract spaceflight effects. On the body. These can have short term consequences like on mood and performance and kidney stone risk and raises. Long-term concerns such as bone and muscle loss. Cardiovascular degradation impairment of the immune function and vision changes Smith says the foods, we give them we'll be of utmost importance for counteracting these affect s-, which is why we need to find ways to keep the food palatable nutritious and safe even after it stored for months or years keeping an eye on intake will be important to currently on ISS, astronauts, use an ipad app to track intake, and this gives them real time information on their diet the nutrition team and flight surgeons also watch this information to help provide feedback to astronauts. This attention to astronaut nutrition is also paying dividends for those on earth. Smith notes that astronauts on board the space station have already delivered a plethora of nutritional data that can be applied to all people. He says we've gained new insights into how nutrition can have affected on all human systems, including dietary effects on bone loss, which affects the elderly in particular, and how to better treat that condition and others. Of course, says Smith a simple start for people on earth to maintain optimal health is the same as it's been for centuries. Keep eating your fruits and veggies for more science from the international space station. Go to WWW dot NASA dot gov slash ISS staff. Science for more appetizing information about space exploration. Visit science dot NASA dot gov.

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