Martian astronauts can better manage the effects of zero gravity on bone mass and loss of muscle strength using an antioxidant found in red wine.
Resveratrol is an active compound found in the skin of grapes and blueberries. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and anti-diabetic properties that benefit Alzheimer's patients.
Results of the study using mouse models were published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.
Effects Of Zero Gravity
A 50 years worth of human spaceflight studies have shown the risks of zero gravity to human health. The lack of force binding the human body to the ground can lead to dizziness, loss of appetite, and vomiting.
Prolonged exposure to low gravity could lead to more serious conditions like cardiovascular diseases and weakened immune system. Astronauts staying in space for six months could experience muscle atrophy.
Experts said humans lose 1 percent of their bone mass for every month without gravity. Some also suffer altered vision.
"Force is what helps our muscles get stronger; force is what helps our bones to stay strong," said John DeWitt, a senior biochemist who works for NASA. "Force is what helps or heart to stay strong by having to pump the blood against gravity,"
The goal has been to provide astronauts with the equipment to maintain physical exercise even in space. NASA is building smaller all-in-one-type devices that would make an exercise possible without taking too much space.
The new study suggested that nutrition, aside from exercise, is crucial in maintaining health in hostile environments like Mars.
Researchers subjected rats to controlled and variable groups, where they administered doses of resveratrol. A group of mice was suspended from the ceiling of their cage to mimic Martian gravity.
Half of the rats were given resveratrol in their water supply, while the rest were left suspended for 14 days. The team analyzed the rats' paw grip force, calf circumference, and muscles.
They proved that reduced gravity negatively affected the animals' grip, muscle weight, slow-twitch muscle, and calf circumference. Contrary, muscle mass was protected in rats that were given resveratrol.
"Resveratrol treatment promotes muscle growth in diabetic or unloaded animals, by increasing insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in the muscle fibers," said lead author Dr. Marie Mortreux of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School.