In the old days, NASA fed its astronauts plenty of military-grade MREs, or meals ready to eat. But over time, the agency determined that the MREs were geared toward young servicemembers who needed a lot of salt in their diet. Astronauts, however, found the meals were too high in salt and fat, so in 1998, NASA began developing its own thermo-stabilized products Today, Kloeris said, NASA produces 65 different thermo-stabilized meals, all of which would be unfit for public consumption by U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards, since they are officially considered “experimental foods.”
Despite moving the astronauts away from military MREs, NASA flight surgeons began recognizing an alarming trend around 2009 or 2010, Kloeris said. By that time, there had been astronauts aboard the ISS continuously since 2000, and the surgeons began noticing that some of the returning crew members were suffering from a permanent loss of visual acuity, she said, that was pinned on increased intercranial pressure — a pressure on the optic nerve.
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