Innovation is a key driver for us at Quality Global Supply – we’re always thinking of new and exciting uses for our high-quality products. Recently, among the many uses and benefits of honey powder, a new one has arisen: food for astronauts and space travellers.
What makes honey powder perfect for space travel?
Dry, light and compact
When it comes to space travel, space is of the essence – meaning that only necessary items are taken, they need to be compact and light, and they need to be non-perishable.
One of the biggest benefits of honey powder is that it’s dry and light while maintaining the properties of honey. Honey powder can be easily transported and it doesn’t take up much room.
Moisture is also removed from space-travelling foods to give them less weight – a step that wouldn’t be needed as that’s what honey powder is (honey without the moisture).
A long-lasting natural preservative
In addition, honey powder also acts as a dry, natural preservative. Due to the high concentration of natural sugar, it forces the water out of contaminating yeasts and bacterias, drying them out so that they don’t spoil the food. (Scientifically it’s known as “osmosis”.)
It’s an ideal preservative as honey never ferments or goes bad due to the natural sugars. (In ancient times, long before artificial ingredients, it was common practice to use honey as a preservative.)
Mental health benefits
While it’s the adventure of a lifetime, it can be lonely in space. Space travellers are as far away from their families as one can possibly get, and often it’s for an extended period of time
Currently, there are studies being done to test the therapeutic effectiveness of honey on mental health. So far, results have been very positive. Studies found that honey improved symptoms of depression and anxiety, crediting it to honey’s natural antioxidant and antibacterial properties. More rigorous studies are set to be conducted, however there is a strong link between honey and positive mental wellbeing.
Not only could this be a huge factor for space travellers, who will undergo a lot of mental stress and strain on their journey, but the familiar taste of food from home (and from nature!) could do wonders for homesickness.
Space travellers can travel for years before returning to earth, meaning they’re physically away from medical professionals and need to look after their health. Maintaining a healthy gut is an important part of overall body health.
Manuka honey (a type of honey powder that we produce) is great for gut-health, as it:
- Promotes good bacteria and helps maintain healthy bowels
- Has antibacterial properties that can fight stomach issues (such as food poisoning and ulcers)
- Can be effective in reducing inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)Multi-purpose ingredient
Honey powder is a diverse ingredient that can be used in a wide range of foods, as well as for different purposes:
- An ingredient when cooking foods to give them flavour and sweetness
- A preservative (as mentioned above)
- An additional sweetener to add to things like tea and coffee
Meaning honey powder could be used in foods that are taken to space, as well as be used separately by space travellers while in space.
Space food isn’t always the most nutritious, as the focus is on sourcing compact and non-perishable foods. As there are no refrigerators in space, foods need to be able to be stored and remain unspoiled without refrigeration, which cancels out a lot of healthy foods.
Honey powder is packed full of natural antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (including calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium) and can provide a much-needed nutrition boost to space foods.
Moving forward, we’ll start working with organisations as part of the Space Future Science Platform projects.
We’re incredibly excited for the future of honey powder and the endless possibilities – honey powder will be going, in the words of one famous space traveller, “to infinity and beyond!”
- Honey: Food for Yeast or a Natural Preservative, published on 26 December 2008, viewed on 10 November 2020, https://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/honey-food-yeast-natural-preservative.php
- Bee Honey as a Potentially Effective Treatment for Depression: A Review of Clinical and Preclinical Findings, published on2 September 2018, viewed on 10 November 2020, https://juniperpublishers.com/jojnhc/pdf/JOJNHC.MS.ID.555764.pdf
- FOOD IN SPACE, viewed on 10 November 2020, https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/apollo-to-the-moon/online/astronaut-life/food-in-space.cfm
- How Manuka Honey may help your gut health, published on 25 February 2019, viewed on 10 November 2020, https://www.manukadoctor.co.uk/blogs/content/how-manuka-honey-may-help-your-gut-health
- Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story