As NASA slowly inches towards the day when it can finally send human travelers to Mars, scientists are doing their best to make sure those first adventurers are ready for the journey. One of the greatest challenges is to ensure that astronauts who spend the better part of their year on their way to the Red Planet are in good shape when they arrive, and a new study suggests that the red wine may hold the key
, which was published in Frontiers in Physiology focuses on resveratrol, a compound that is found in the skin of some berries, including grapes.
As the study of how resveratrol affects the muscle mass during long periods of reduced muscle use,
As space travelers leave Earth and head for Mars they will spend up to nine months in a very low-gravity environment. When the reach of Mars, which has only 40 percent of the gravitational pull of Earth, their muscles will not be given the same kind of strain as they would experience on Earth, potentially leaving them weak and impacting their endurance
For the test, the team used two dozen male rats split into four groups. 1
Rats who were subjected to reduced loading without supplementation showed significant muscle loss and reduced grip strength, as anticipated. However, the "Mars" rats that received the resveratrol supplement showed dramatic improved grip strength as well as less muscle mass loss, while not affecting the overall body weight.
The researchers believe this is due to how the compound affects the body's sensitivity to insulin. "Resveratrol treatment promotes muscle growth in diabetic or unloaded animals, by increasing insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in muscle fibers," Dr. Marie Morteux, lead author of the study, said in a statement. "It is unlikely that NASA will be stowing away bottles of red wine on future space missions, but the compound contained therein may well play a role