NSS in Cooperation with MMAARS, Inc. Rolls Out 2021 Health and Diet Contest for Long Duration Space Flight
By Bill Gardiner, NSS Space Health and Medicine Committee Chair
Entrants are asked to write a short white paper to address the contest titled as “A Food and Nutrition Plan for Space Flight to Mars.” NSS again offers a $3500 grand prize, a $1000 second prize, and participation in Mars analog missions in Mojave, California, conducted by Mars-Moon Astronautics Academy and Research Science (MMAARS), Inc. Full details can be found at the NSS SpacEdge Academy website. There, Contest entrants can find full instructions and extensive help to prepare their entries. Last year’s winners, Alix Hughes, of Dublin, Ireland, and Stellie Ford, of Philadelphia, PA, were given high marks for thoughtful and innovative diet plans for long duration space flight. The continuing theme of the contest is to address the known health barriers to space flight with food, diet, and even different eating patterns like intermittent fasting. Research conducted by NASA has revealed specific genetic, nutritional and environmental factors bearing on these health issues. Accordingly, contestants are asked to submit a pre-flight diet, food and intermittent fasting plan to address insulin resistance, one of the factors identified by NASA, and estimated to affect up to 88% of the population in countries dominated by high carbohydrate low fat eating patterns, aka the “SAD diet”.
I’m guessing only qualifying nutritionists would likely win in this contest. However, the old tale of an Apple a Day keeping the doctor away is not the full story. Limited food diets appear dangerous seeming to cause pancreatic cancer later in life. A vegetarian and fruit diet without fasting at all feels smartest. Lots of water daily more than minimum needed is a given. I would add in ways of finding laughter every single day to offset any health risks by long term space travel along with exercise using resistance training (not weights) in strength training. Aerobics would be hard to manage without gravity, but if you used resistance in a way there could be a form that’s workable too.