The Secret To A Successful Space Mission? Red Wine

Science | By Sabrina Crosby | July 18, 2019

It seems that every year there is some new study performed about red wine being secretly healthy for you. These studies will tell you that a glass of red wine a day will keep you alive forever. While that may sound like great news, it also sounds like an excuse to drink red wine.

The fact of the matter is, there is a time and place for red wine. Bringing a gallon of it to the gym isn't one of those places. Even pregnant women will have a glass a day, often because some folk legend told them it will help their baby, but in reality, it's just a great way to relax after a day of foot cramps.

If there was ever a time to down a bottle of red wine, it would be when you're lost in the endless void of space. That type of solitude could certainly be helped by a bottle of wine, but that's not why scientists are saying that wine might be a useful tool for space travel. Read on to find out why.

To Infinity, and Beyond (with red wine)

As we slowly but surely destroy the habitability of Earth, more and more people are talking about sending people to Mars. Not just astronauts either, but normal people as well. Sending people up into space has never been an easy task. We usually employ the best of the best, so the thought of shuttling Joe Bob out into space with no preparation is a little scary. That's why NASA wants to heavily research what we can do to better prepare space travelers for their journey.

It's important that after a year of space travel to Mars, the astronauts are in peak physical condition for the work they will need to do. Surprisingly, scientists believe that red wine might hold the key to attaining that peak physical condition. No, you are not dreaming. Red wine might actually help.

Resveratrol is the Key

The research journal Frontiers in Physiology published a study examining a compound called resveratrol that is found in the skin of grapes and other berries. Not surprisingly, wine is chock full of resveratrol, which is why scientists believe it could be a useful beverage to take along on space travels. The main reason is that astronauts are not able to use their muscles heavily during their travel, which means that their muscles could lose mass and strength. The study was focused on seeing how resveratrol could help with that problem.

The combination of a year of travel in zero gravity, followed by landing on a planet with 40 percent the gravitational pull of Earth, makes it so that muscle fatigue is a big worry for astronauts. The study experimented on rats, putting some of them in an enclosure with gravity, and others in an enclosure that mimicked the 40 percent gravitational pull of Mars.

The Study Used Rats as Test Subjects

The study then gave half the rats in each group a supplement containing resveratrol while the other half was given nothing. As you can guess, the rats who received resveratrol sufferent much less muscle fatigue and muscle loss than the rats who did not receive the supplement. Dr. Marie Morteux, the lead author, said, "Resveratrol treatment promotes muscle growth in diabetic or unloaded animals, by increasing insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in the muscle fibers. This is relevant for astronauts, who are known to develop reduced insulin sensitivity during spaceflight."

In all seriousness, it's unlikely NASA will provide wine to future astronauts, but it may be a good strategy to provide the astronauts with resveratrol supplements. This is just another small step for mankind. Future generations of astronauts might have a bunch of very drunk rats to thank.



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