Research press release


Scientific Reports

Space health: Healthier diets for astronauts on spaceflights may improve health and performance

宇宙飛行中の宇宙飛行士の食事として、標準的な宇宙飛行食より多くの種類と量の果物、野菜、魚を含む強化食を提供することが選択肢になるとした研究報告が、Scientific Reportsで発表される。今回の研究は、地球上に設置された宇宙飛行環境のシミュレーションチェンバーを使って、16人を対象として実施され、これによって得られた知見は、宇宙飛行士の健康と宇宙飛行における食料資源の優先順位に関する決定に対して重要な意味を持つ可能性がある。


今回、Grace Douglasたちは、2種類の食事が16人(男性10人、女性6人)の参加者に及ぼす影響の違いを調べた。宇宙船に長期間閉じ込められるという宇宙飛行環境のシミュレーションチェンバーが地上に設置され、これらの条件下でさまざまな食材を保存できるという実用性が付加された。今回の研究では、この実験施設で45日間のミッションが4回実施され、4人ずつ参加した。参加者は、強化食と標準食のいずれかを摂取した。強化食は、果物と野菜の提供回数と種類が多く、魚類とオメガ3脂肪酸の供給源が多く含まれていた。現在、国際宇宙ステーションでは標準的な宇宙飛行食が提供されており、この標準食がほとんどの要件を満たしているが、Douglasたちは、より多くの果物や野菜とオメガ3脂肪酸の供給源を提供するという選択肢を提案している。




Astronauts could be given an enhanced diet during spaceflights that includes a greater variety and quantity of fruits, vegetables, and fish to improve their health and performance compared to standard spaceflight food, reports a study published in Scientific Reports. Although conducted in a spaceflight simulation chamber on Earth with 16 individuals, these findings may have implications for astronaut health and decisions about food resource priorities on spaceflights.

Long-duration spaceflight is known to impact human health, and spacecraft size and power constraints limit what can be taken into space. The food astronauts eat may have the potential to mitigate some negative health changes during spaceflight, but in turn the food can be limited by mass, volume, shelf-life, and storage requirements.

Grace Douglas and colleagues investigated the difference in impact of 2 diets on 16 individuals (10 males and 6 females). Four individuals participated in each of the four 45-day missions in an Earth-based, closed chamber designed to simulate the confined spaceflight environment, alongside the practicality of storing different foodstuffs in these conditions. Individuals ate either an enhanced diet or a standard diet. The enhanced diet included an increased number of servings and variety of fruits and vegetables, along with 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 propose that it could use more sources of fruits and vegetables, and more sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

The enhanced diet provided more than six servings of fruits and vegetables per day and between two to three servings of fish per week, amongst other healthy foods. All foods were shelf-stable, which is a requirement to support the room temperature, extended storage conditions on current space missions. To simulate real spaceflight conditions, the food was stored in the chamber before the start of each mission. Individuals provided samples of saliva, urine, blood, and stool and completed cognitive assessment tasks throughout the missions.

The authors found that individuals who consumed the enhanced spaceflight diet had lower cholesterol levels, lower cortisol levels (suggesting lower stress), greater cognitive speed, accuracy and attention, and a more stable microbiome than individuals consuming the standard diet.

The authors conclude that an enhanced spaceflight diet has significant health and performance benefits for individuals and may be beneficial for astronauts, even on short space missions. Although further investigation is needed to assess healthier diets in space, these findings may help to guide food resource priorities on space exploration missions in future

doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-21927-5


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