Nutrition can be described as the provision of the necessary materials that are usually in the form of food to the cells and organisms. These materials are those that are necessary in supporting life. Nutrition goes hand in hand with a healthy diet where by a healthy diet can alleviate many common health problems. In the history of exploration including the space exploration, nutrition has been a key factor in this discoveries. Adequate nutrition thus becomes a very important aspect when this family is going to spend several months aboard in the space and therefore the family going to the mass need to equip themselves adequately so as to survive this space flight. So as to get the adequate nutrition aboard, the various individual nutrients that should be consumed by the father, the wife and the three children need to be determined prior to the flight so as to have these nutrients available in their space flight food system. The space flight nutritional requirements are greatly influenced by many of the physiological changes that usually occur during the space flight.
The space craft which is usually the environment in space along with the weightlessness all have an impact on the human physiology. So as to maintain a habitable environment there are several necessities that include clean air for breathing, clean water that is drinkable and a system that is effective in collecting wastes. In absence of the Earth’s atmosphere that can protect the family, they will be exposed to a higher level of radiation than those living on Earth. Every system in the body including the bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and the heart is directly impacted by weightlessness thus the various nutrients in the food that the family will carry should be greatly considered. The following are some of the impacts caused by the weightlessness in the various body systems and which should greatly affect the type of nutrition this family should have when onboard.
The blood system
During this space flight, there will occur a decrease in the mass of the red blood cells whereby the actual composition of the blood changes due to the fact that the amount of fluid decreases as well. This results in a decrease in the total volume of blood in the circulatory system. This does not affect the body functioning in any way. Newly synthesized cells are usually destroyed until a new steady state is reached which explains the occurrence of the loss of the red blood cells. During these red blood cells destruction, the released iron is now processed for storage thus the family should not carry food with too much iron as it may be harmful to their bodies during this flight.
Body weight loss is a common and consistent outcome that will occur during this space flight. These losses may be explained in a better way by the loss of body water but most body weight loss accounts to the loss of muscle and fat tissue. Weightlessness directly affects the loss of muscle mass and the muscle volume which results in the weakening of the bodies’ muscle performance especially in the legs. The body experiences a metabolic stress during the space flights and this contributes in a great manner to the muscle loss. Therefore resistance exercise should be carried out so as to help muscles and bones. The family should therefore carry foods rich in vitamin K and Potassium.
During this space flight, bone loss will also be a common outcome. Excretion of calcium in the urine is increased by the weightlessness which provides a risk of forming kidney stones. Calcium and vitamin D are some necessary nutrients that help in the formation of healthy bones in the body. Absorption of the calcium in the intestines greatly reduces during space flight and the consumption of extra calcium as a supplement does not prevent the bone loss during this space flight. Therefore the family should carry diet that is rich in vitamin D as their bodies will tend to produce vitamin D and exposed to the Ultraviolet light that is in the space. The family therefore should not also consume too much sodium during this flight as it may increase the amount of calcium in the urine and thus trigger an increased risk of formation of kidney stones. This means that it is very important for the family to take optimal diet and consume enough calories during the flight.
They should include foods that are higher in carbohydrates but low in fats as compared to the food that they were consuming prior to the space flight. The family should consume food that is lower in fat so as to avoid binding of the calcium, in their bodies, that could make it unavailable for digestion as their bodies would need digestible calcium so as to prevent bone calcium loss that commonly occurs in a space flight. They should carry with them enough fluids which will be sufficient in preventing dehydration and the kidney stone formation. They should also include food that is packaged in bite sized cubes, powder that are freeze dried and foods that are semi liquid. The bite sized food should be coated with plain gelatin so as to reduce crumbs that could clog their air handling system.
The family might also experience constipation probably due to the interference in the normal peristalsis, which is described as the contraction of the intestinal walls that provides the path used by food down the digestive tract. It may also occur due to the minimal intake of fluids in the climate control space flights and also from the space travel stress. So as to overcome these problems, the family should alter their diets and should also carry food that has high fibre together with large quantities of liquids.
They should also carry with them a diet that may protect them from the third phenomenon which is very common in space. This mostly occurs when their bodies are exposed to high levels of ionized particles. These are particles that can damage the DNA which is present in human cells and could result in cell death or could promote cancer. The family therefore should carry foods that are high in antioxidants which would protect their bodies against tissue damage from the ionized particles.
The family should be more vegetarian in terms of the diet that they carry along and the plant sources should be rich in calcium and the high antioxidants with high energy contents. Throughout their space travel, the family should simply have with them diet or food items that are stable.