Army Seeks Volunteers To Participate In Paid Study: Can You Eat MREs For 21 Days Straight?

The United States Army is looking for a few good men and women to volunteer in an important research project that will help people in the Armed Forces live a happier and healthier life while deployed, and they are paying the volunteers for their efforts.

The United States Army hopes to seek volunteers willing to live on a Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) diet for a full 21 days, followed by 10 days of his or her normal diet. The meals will be provided at no cost and will feature a variety of MRE food, as well as water and coffee.

The goal of the study is to move toward MREs that are healthier and tastier for the men and women of the Armed Forces. The United States Army states that the civilian volunteers will provide data on how the MREs react to the individual's health and well-being, according to WTHR.

"A research study at the US Army Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, MA is being conducted to determine the effects of eating the Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) military ration on gut health."

Although there may be weight loss benefits to sticking with the MRE-only meals, the United States Army stresses that weight loss is not part of the study.

The United States military has made a conscious decision to create better tasting and healthier MREs for their soldiers. In the past, MREs have earned the nicknames "Meals Rejected by Everyone" and "Materials Resembling Edibles," to name a few. However, many military men and women have claimed to enjoy their MREs.

While they are not the most appealing meals when viewed in their sterile state, they are essential for survival in a combat situation. Therefore, most military personnel are happy to have them at their side when needed, not really caring what they taste like and just happy to have food when needed. Still, their taste and health benefits have been debated for many years by the men and women of the military.

Throughout the course of the study, the United States Army has five main goals to accomplish, according to the Army Times. The first is to learn how the MREs impact the bacteria that live in our guts. Dr. J. Phillip Karl claims that healthy bacteria in the gut can promote overall well-being and health, which is essential for everyone, especially military men and women in combat situations.

"There's a lot of interesting and new research looking at gut bacteria, and how those gut bacteria interact with the human body."

The second goal is to determine what nutrients are lacking in the MREs and add those nutrients in the future. Third, it is hopeful that men and women of the military will combat illnesses from overseas foods that may be contaminated with unknown bacteria, essentially receiving a level of healing from the MREs.

"We think we can manipulate the bacteria in a way that helps the bacteria fight foreign pathogens — things that could cause food-borne illness, for example."

Fourth, the military will gain valuable health information from the participants via blood draws, fecal samples, medical scans, and other tests. Finally, the United States military hopes to gain valuable information that will result in an MRE makeover, including potential recipes for military men and women to customize their MRE experiences.

The United States Army is only accepting 60 volunteers for the study. Some of the volunteers will be asked to eat their normal diets and act as a placebo. The others will be forced to eat the MREs for 21 days, followed by 10 days of his or her normal diet.

Testing on the volunteers will occur at the lab in Natick, Maryland, and military personnel will meet the individuals at their home or work three days per week for approximately 30 to 60 minutes.

Compensation for the study will be $200.

If you would like to volunteer, click here to find out more.

[Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images News]