A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggests that a diet of MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) may contribute to a dwindling frequency of bowel movements among U.S. service members in the armed forces.

The study included more than 60 volunteers from military and civilian backgrounds who, over a period of 21 days, provided gastrointestinal data to the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. The volunteers were divided into two groups—one cohort was instructed to consume an MRE-only regimen of two to three meals per day, while the other was directed to maintain a normal diet of relatively equal caloric intake. Meal types were tailored to each participant to avoid significant weight fluctuation, and both groups were asked to maintain a preestablished level of physical activity. In addition, the MRE participants were asked to drink mostly water but were allowed two to three cups of black coffee per day.

Participants documented their 21-day trial using food logs that were reviewed by the researchers, who also collected fecal, blood, and urine samples to study the diet’s impacts on intestinal health. Data was analyzed over a two-year period from 2015 to 2017.

At the conclusion of the three weeks, the authors reported that participants in the MRE group averaged one fewer bowel movement per week than the non-MRE group. The researchers attributed this to the MRE’s lack of good bacteria found in the sort of fresh foods, such as fruit or yogurt, that help bowels process food.

Despite the strict diet of non-perishable MRE items contributing to fewer bowel movements, participants in the MRE group fared just as well as their non-MRE counterparts when it came to gastrointestinal health. In fact, gastrointestinal irritation or inflammation was indistinguishable between the two groups. According to the researchers, these findings are likely indicative of an American diet increasingly devoid of fresh foods.


In This Article

  1. Diet and Health

More News right arrow

Asia needs $800 billion investment to meet growing food demand

A report produced by consultancy PwC, Rabobank, and Singapore state investor Temasek finds that Asia’s food and agriculture industry needs investment of $800 billion over the next 10 years to meet the region’s growing food demand.

Simplifying restaurants’ foodservice ware may encourage composting

A new study, conducted by the non-profit Zero Waste organization Eco-Cycle, finds restaurants can play a crucial role in diverting food waste away from U.S. landfills.

Bimbo Bakeries USA commits to 100% sustainable packaging by 2025

Bimbo Bakeries USA has announced that it is committing to 100% sustainable packaging for its entire product portfolio by 2025.

Nutrient density remains unclear to most U.S. consumers

In a new survey, the IFIC Foundation found that nearly two in three people have heard of nutrient density, but far fewer can explain what it means.

Cornell partners in $10 million poultry science grant

Cornell University is co-leading a $9.95 million, five-year U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant that aims to transform nutrition and water use in the poultry industry in order to improve its environmental impact and enhance human health.

IFT Weekly Newsletter

Rich in industry news and highlights, the Weekly Newsletter delivers the goods in to your inbox every Wednesday.

Subscribe for free