Header image by Md Asif from Pixabay
Felice Jacka, Deakin University and Dorit Donoviel, Baylor College of Medicine
Feeding astronauts on a long mission to Mars goes well beyond ensuring they have enough nutrients and calories to survive their multi-year journey.
Providing astronauts with the right diet is also paramount in supporting their mental and cognitive health, in a way unlike previous missions.
So we need to radically rethink how we feed astronauts not only on a challenging mission to Mars, which could be on the cards in the late 2030s or early 2040s, but to prepare for possible settlement on the red planet.
That includes acknowledging the role of microbes in mental health and wellbeing, and providing astronauts with the right foods and conditions for a variety of these beneficial microbes to grow. Our research aims to do just that.
Here’s why a healthy balance of microbes is important under such challenging conditions, and how we could put microbes on the menu.
Deep space missions will expose humans to immense physical and psychological challenges. These include prolonged isolation from loved ones, extreme space and resource constraints, and the difficulties of microgravity.
Disruption to astronauts’ circadian rhythms, prolonged radiation exposure and dietary changes can also lower their cognitive performance and wellbeing.
The hazardous conditions, combined with the psychological toll of potential spacecraft failures, can all contribute to mental health problems.
We already know the quality of people’s diet not only influences their physical health, but also their mental and brain health.
Diet quality is consistently and independently linked to the risk of depression or anxiety. Clinical trials show improving dietRead more on theunconventionalgardener.com