Smart Chocolate for Spaceflight Exploration
Space flights, particularly of long duration, cause significant health challenges. From weightlessness and body fluid shift to impairment of the circadian rhythm and sleep deprivation, all of these result in a build up of systemic stress, subclinical oxidative damage and subclinical inflammation. The longer the flight the stronger the challenges – loss of skeletal and bone mass, fatigue, mental strain, possible development of visual and taste disruption, myocardial atrophy, arrhythmia, immune-depression, anaemia, etc.
A healthy balanced diet, which would be sufficient to support health on Earth, would not be enough to address the physiological challenges in space. Hence there is a need to develop functional food, which would have specific and systemic physiological targets, and would help to support these challenges and mitigate their changes during space expedition.
Compact, convenient and delicious, Smart Chocolate, in combination with other nutritional bioactive molecules, can be used as a dedicated platform for functional food to support and boost physiology, and to mitigate health challenges in space expeditions.
Since subclinical oxidation and subclinical inflammation are universal, intrinsic parts of metabolic stress, including the physiological challenges described above, Lycotec Ltd., http://www.lycotec.com has chosen dark chocolate with its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as a platform for space functional food due to molecules called flavanols. Chocolate has one of the best track records as a food which supports and boosts health, and has been used in European medicine for more than 400 years for anti-fatigue, for cardiovascular support, etc. Even before this it was a potion for Aztec’ elite warriors and high priests. If they could use it for physical endurance and mental performance astronauts could use it too.
However, to achieve significant health benefits, the intake of the dark chocolate should be 50g or even more per day. Since this is unsustainable, especially for a long duration, Lycotec has developed ‘Smart’ Chocolate. The technology can protect and increase the efficacy of cocoa flavanols, so that a piece of 5-10g has the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of 100g of dark chocolate.
Compact, convenient and delicious, Smart Chocolate has been used as a platform for combination with other food bioactive molecules, with established physiological properties, to develop and clinically validate prototypes with different functionalities – cardiovascular, cognition, retina and vision, physical performance and skeletal muscle health, support of which is critical in space expeditions.
The miniaturisation technology which was used to develop this new range of functional food products can also be applied to other compact food and beverage matrixes.
Last week, this Smart Chocolate as a platform for space functional food was selected to be presented at the UK Space Conference in Liverpool.
Dr Ivan Petyaev, the director of Lycotec and the inventor of the technology, was delighted to introduce Smart Chocolate, which may contribute in helping astronauts to accomplish their missions and bring new worlds to us all.