A characteristic element of wine, resveratrol, may be the key in a dietary response to muscle mass deterioration like the one that will suffer the astronauts who travel to Mars.
Researchers at Harvard University have proven that resveratrol, in a moderate daily dose, substantially preserve muscle mass and the strength in rats exposed to the effects of gravity wear on simulated Mars.
In space, without being challenged due to gravity, muscles and bones weaken. "After only 3 weeks in space, the human soleus muscle of the leg is reduced by a third," says Marie Mortreux, lead author of the NASA-funded study at Harvard Medical School. "This is accompanied by a loss of slow contraction muscle fibers, which are necessary for resistance. "
To allow astronauts to operate safely on long missions to Mars, whose gravitational effort is only 40% of the Earth, it will take mitigation strategies to avoid muscle mismatch.
"Dietary strategies could be key," says Mortreux, "especially because astronauts traveling to Mars will not have access to the type of exercise machines deployed on the Space Station."
A strong candidate is resveratrol: a compound that It is commonly found in grape skin and blueberries and that has been extensively researched for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antidiabetic effects.
"Resveratrol has been shown preserves bone and muscle mass in rats during complete discharge, analogous to microgravity during spaceflight. Therefore, the hypothesis that a moderate daily dose would help mitigate muscle decondition in an analogue of the severity of Mars. "
As the study describes, published in Frontiers in Physiology, to mimic the severity of Mars, the researchers used a method first developed in mice, in which the rats were placed with a full body harness and suspended by a chain from the roof of the cage.
Thus, 24 male rats were exposed to normal load (Earth) or 40% load (Mars) for 14 days. In each group, half received resveratrol (150 mg / kg / day) in water; the others got only water. Otherwise, they fed freely of the same food.
The calf circumference and the grip strength of the front and back legs were measured weekly, and at 14 days the calf muscles were analyzed.
As expected, the 'Mars' condition weakened the rats' grip and reduced their calf circumference, muscle weight and slow contraction fiber content. But incredibly Resveratrol supplementation almost completely rescued the front leg grip and rear on Mars rats, at the level of non-supplemented Earth rats.
In addition, resveratrol completely protected muscle mass (soleus and gastrocnemius) in Mars rats, and in particular reduced the loss of muscle fibers from slow contraction. However, the protection was not complete: the supplement did not fully rescue the average of the cross sections of the fibers of the soleus and gastrocnemius, or the circumference of the calf.
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