The term protein synthesis refers to the biochemical process through which the genetic information in DNA is converted into proteins that perform biological functions in the body. A process called transcription froms a strand of messenger RNA from DNA as a mold for the production of a protein.
Protein synthesis is part of a complex series of metabolic reactions that, by consuming energy, form complex molecules from simpler ones to repair and rebuild damaged tissues. The opposite reactions that degrade complex molecules thereby releasing energy are called catabolic.
Metabolism is characterized by a continuous succession of catabolic and anabolic reactions which vary depending on age, nutrition and environment .
Because our bodies synthesis protein in a regular and orderly manner it is necessary to provide the body with sufficient amounts of raw material, that is to say, dietary protein that will provide the necessary amino acids to turn into proteins. The amount of dietary protein varies according to the level of physical activity, and ranges from a minimum of 0.8 g per kg body weight for a sedentary person, up to 2 g for fit and powerful athletes. Furthermore, anabolic reactions are regulated by a number of hormones including insulin, growth hormone and testosterone which are influenced by food intake, type of physical activity and by the time between activity and recovery.
During a long space mission it is essential to continue stimulating protein synthesis to minimize catabolic reactions that load the muscle and bones. A balanced diet that ensures enough protein and a daily exercise program that offers intensive use of muscles with special tools to simulate weight training, logically impossible in orbit.
Dr. Filippo Ongaro
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