Healthy gut microbes key for space travellers to reach Mars:
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Gut microbes have an immense benefit and now, new research reports that promoting a healthy gut microbiome could protect travellers from the rigours of long space travel.

If humans are to ever walk on Mars, they will need to endure a long space flight, but space travel can have negative impacts on health, potentially limiting how far we can go.

The microgravity environment can result in muscle breakdown and reduced bone mass. It can cause nausea, meaning that sometimes space travellers struggle to eat enough (space food isn't all that nice either). The change in diet aboard a spaceship can disrupt the gut microbiome, leading to further health issues.

The review, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Physiology, discussed a variety of studies suggesting that disruptions in the gut microbiome occur during space travel.

For instance, one study found that the microbiomes of space travellers on the same mission became more similar to each other during the journey.

As simple as nutritionally balanced meals, with lots of fibre, could kickstart microbial metabolism in the gut.

Other options could be more targeted, including microbial supplements, such as bacteria that secrete immune-boosting substances, or those that synthesize vitamins required for bone growth.

"The well-being of the gut microbiome of space travellers should be among the primary goals of long-duration exploratory missions," said Professor Martina Heer of the University of Bonn.

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