The Army wants volunteers for a study aimed at improving the packaged rations troops rely on out in the field.
Researchers are particularly interested in adding nutrition, examining what the current MREs (meal, ready-to-eat) are lacking in that space.
The researchers also want to examine how the MREs affect the trillions of bacteria housed in soldiers’ digestive systems.
“There’s a lot of interesting and new research looking at gut bacteria, and how those gut bacteria interact with the human body,” study head Dr. J. Philip Karl told the Army Times, adding that an “explosion” in research technology over the last decade allows researchers to “really get an understanding that we never have before.”
Karl believes that tweaks to MRE recipes could also stave off other digestive threats.
“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,” he said.
“Oftentimes, war fighters are overseas and they eat something off the local economy that can cause [gastrointestinal] distress. Potentially, what we could do by increasing the amount of beneficial gut bacteria is to help prevent some of that.”
Interested in volunteering? You must be willing to drive to Natick, Massachusetts on a regular basis and be willing to eat only MREs–and only drink water and black coffee–for three weeks.
The study also includes multiple blood draws and medical scans.
Volunteers will earn up to $200 for participating. Participants must be 18-62 years old and not have a history of gastrointestinal problems. To learn more, contact Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.