Long-term space flight induces relevant changes in body composition, and almost invariably brings a one to five percent of body mass loss. Results from bed rest research, a model simulating the microgravity conditions of space on the human body, and from fewer studies during human space flight, shows the importance, and the effectiveness of nutritional intervention to counteract, or limit, the detrimental effects of microgravity on metabolism and skeletal muscle. Changes in fat mass, either loss or deposition, can accelerate muscle atrophy in microgravity.
A diet maintaining a near-neutral energy balance, and/or increasing protein intake, can limit microgravity-induced bone and muscle loss and insulin resistance. Moderate protein supplementation is currently prescribed to International Space Station (ISS) crewmembers, while energy requirements are typically estimated using standard equations, including the World Health Organization and Dietary Reference Intake. Monitoring changes in musculoskeletal fitness and body composition during space flight is crucial to optimize feedback nutritional prescriptions aimed to counteract microgravity negative effects.
The literature on this topic is limited to a few experiences. Even though the bioimpedance analysis has been carried out onboard the ISS in previous flights, it was never used to monitor and prescribe countermeasures during space flight. The Nutrition Monitoring for the International Space Station (NutrISS) investigation provides optimal monitoring and feedback tuning of nutrition requirements, to allow a sustainable metabolic control of adverse microgravity effects on the musculoskeletal systems in astronauts.
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Every month, the astronaut will measure their body mass and body composition via the Bio-Impedance Analysis (BIA) device. Data from body mass and composition is transmitted to the nutritional team on Earth via the European Space Agency's (ESA) EveryWear application running on the crew iPad. Transmitted data allows the calculation of fat mass and fat-free mass during flight. Changes in fat mass will trigger the recommendation to the crewmember for changing their energy intake, in order to maintain a neutral energy balance. Diet adjustment is triggered by a difference in fat mass equal to or greater than 1000g from the baseline. Based on these data, the nutritional team can provide energy intake changes suggestions if needed to the crewmember, in order to maintain his/her energy balance.
NASA does not have an agreement with International partners to archive their data. Therefore, results are not expected for this investigation.