Tag: challenge

How lipid fat can be good: omega-3 as a source of energy.

Imagine you ate nothing but fast food for a whole month, three times a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), you could even stop all exercise. Do you think it is impossible? It can be done but it certainly is bad for your health. In the 2004 documentary “Super Size Me” Morgan Spurlock, did exactly that to show the physical and psychological effects of such a diet. At the end of the experiment, the director put on 11 kg (his starting weight being  84 kg) increasing his body mass by 13%.

This is an extreme scenario, but disturbing nonetheless, especially when you consider that many people regularly eat so-called junk food. However, it would be equally wrong to completely give up fat. In fact, “good” fats form an important supply of energy for the body and play different roles in our body; for example polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3 are essential for the proper functioning of our nervous system.

The good fats are beneficial both on Earth and in space. Without adequate precautions, spaceflight can have many negative effects on human physiology, such as loss of muscle and bone mass. However, a diet rich in food that contains omega-3 (such as oily fish), can slow this mechanism and help maintain bone mineral density.

Beyond the preservation of muscles, bones and immune function, omega-3 may play a role in cancer prevention and in countering the effects of radiation during long-duration missions. The first studies on animals seem to show a positive outcome in this regard. Furthermore, depression and personality disorders have been associated with the lack of such fats. In fact, these fatty acids could affect not only the cognitive functions, but also mood and emotional state.

Dr. Filippo Ongaro

Challenge | Fats and cardiovascular risk


More “muscles”, more life

When it comes to muscles people often think of the sculpted bodies of athletes or bodybuilders.

But muscles are necessary to us all, just as the heart, brain, skin and bones, and we all have them. Few people know however, that after the age of 35, our muscle mass will decrease by  up to 1% each year. Once you reach the age of 75 years old if nothing is done to slow this process, you may find yourself with 40% less muscle mass! This muscle loss causes a loss of strength and autonomy that iss very often the basis of the downward spiral that leads to frailty of old-age that is marked by weakness, loss of balance and difficulty leaving home. In turn this can lead to psychological changes that lead to isolation and consequently even the slowing down of cognitive functions. Muscles health is not the only factor of course but remember that strong and healthy muscles help regulate glycaemia, blood pressure and even mood.  Muscles help keep strong bones and this is why they are a central aspect being in good health. There is no need to engage in extreme activities to avoid this downward spiral but make some  space in your weekly routine for some training with weights or resistance bands or a simple workout  coupled with a healthy dose of aerobic activity such as walking, running, swimming or cycling. Remember that to maintain  healthy muscles you need to absorb adequate protein by eating fish, vegetables and lean meats. If working out for cosmetic reasons is not your thing, before you dismiss exercise outright, remember that more muscle equals longer life. Dr. Filippo Ongaro to learn more: http://www.filippo-ongaro.it/ In the cover image: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet training on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Columbia Center, 16 September 2014.

Challenge | Protein and muscles