Food selection, nutrition, nutrient timing, and lifestyle changes will be a blueprint to improve healthy lifespan ("healthspan") on Earth and Mars. The best blueprint will receive a cash award and a scholarship toward an MMAARS analog mission in Mojave, California, to test their blueprint.
The topic of the contest is "Blueprint Your Healthy Lifespan for Earth and Mars." We invite you to explore space flight to Mars and the challenges space flight poses. Are you ready to blueprint a healthy lifespan for our next adventure in outer space? Imagine yourself traveling in space for several months or years. What challenges might you encounter and how would you meet those challenges?
Metabolic syndrome severely limits healthspan. Dr. Benjamin Bikman, Professor of Pathophysiology, Brigham Young University Medical School, a renowned expert on ketogenic diet and insulin resistance, states "between 50% and 80% of the American public has one or more symptoms of metabolic inflexibility, otherwise known as metabolic syndrome." The hallmark of metabolic syndrome is insulin resistance limits our capacity for production and use of energy. Fats are a more efficient and less damaging source of energy for the body than sugars.
Cancer risk from radiation on exploration class space missions is high on the list of NASA's "red risks" for long-duration space flight. Reducing this risk is a major objective of this contest via changes in food composition, nutrition, and the timing and frequency of meals. They are considering varieties and variations of diets. Health professionals agree that composition of diet and the timing and frequency of meals is a key to a healthy life with potential for longevity. Presentations from health professionals who support these conclusions are in the Resources section.
As a place to start, look at the work of Professor Thomas N. Seyfried who, contrary to the conventional model of carcinogenesis, has demonstrated that cancer initiates in abnormally functioning mitochondria. He recognized the early work of Professor Otto Warburg who recognized cancer results from failure of tissues cells to use oxygen for metabolism. This is now broadly recognized as the Warburg Effect. The genetic damage commonly found in the nuclei of cancer cells is secondary to the mitochondrial dysfunction. The genetic damage is not entirely due to external factors like ionizing radiation and reactive toxins, but to food content we "voluntarily" or habitually ingest. Cancer initiates in abnormally functioning mitochondria. Professor Seyfried advocates intermittent fasting and/or reducing carbohydrates.
Dr. Robert H. Lustig, professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of San Francisco, has demonstrated through his clinical practice and research that processed foods high in such things as vegetable oils, fructose and other chemicals introduced with our food, cause injury to mitochondria in the cells throughout the body and compromise their energy generating capacity. NASA researchers in late 2020 published a paper: "Comprehensive Multi-omics Analysis Reveals Mitochondrial Stress as a Central Biological Hub for Spaceflight Impact."
In your paper you will answer a variety of questions including the question "What biomarkers of healthy metabolism associated with healthy lifespans might be monitored?"