U.S. Army wants you to eat MREs for 21 days straight

Image credit: Wikipedia commons.
Image credit: Wikipedia commons.
Image credit: Wikipedia commons.

The U.S. Army Institute of Environmental Medicine is looking for volunteers to participate in a study of the impact of Meals, Ready-to-Eat, or MREs, on gut health.

According to CNN, researchers want to learn how the MREs soldiers are given affect the bacteria in their digestive systems.

“Interactions between the millions of bacteria living in our gut and what we eat is a very important factor in gut health, but we don’t know how MRE foods interact with those bacteria to impact gut health,” said Holly McClung, a researcher working on the project.

“Ultimately, discovering how eating MREs influences gut bacteria and gut health will help our efforts to continually improve the MRE.”

One of the obstacles the research is currently facing is finding people willing to eat military food rations for 21 consecutive days.

Image credit: army.mil.
Image credit: army.mil.

A reason the researchers are having trouble finding volunteers is the fact that MREs aren’t very appealing.

People that have eaten MREs consider them to be tasteless, which isn’t surprising considering the requirements they must meet to guarantee shelf life.

MREs are required to have a minimum shelf life of three and a half years at 80 degrees Fahrenheit or nine months at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

“What is nutrition if you don’t consume the food?” McClung asked. “We need ways to keep warfighters interested in and excited about eating in the field after they have been training and eating MREs for several days.”

To make MREs more appealing, Army dietitians created a cookbook titled “MRE Recipes: A collection of recipes bringing a creative twist to your MRE experience.”

The cookbook provides combinations of ingredients available for MREs to make them taste better.

“We want to benefit the warfighter in as many ways nutritionally and physiologically as possible,” research dietitian Adrienne Hatch said. “We hope that the ideas offered in this book help entice Soldiers to eat the foods needed to sustain health and energy in the field and ultimately benefit them as they carry out their missions.”

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