The army is searching for people willing to eat nothing but army rations for 21 days

No, it’s not part of some insane diet — the army is actually looking for people who are willing to eat “meals, ready-to-eat” (MREs) for a full three weeks. Why? For their new study that could prevent soldiers from getting sick and improve the quality of their food.

The study, which is being run by the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine’s military nutrition division, is an attempt to figure out how the meals are digested by the soldiers and what possible nutrients could be missing. Then, by working with the Army’s Combat Feeding Directorate, they can incorporate those nutrients. “Research will give us some idea of what we think will work, we’ll go and test do make sure it’s doing what I think it’s doing, and at that point it starts to get incorporated into the rations,”study head Dr. J. Philip Karl told Army Times.

The study also aims to protect the soldiers’ “gut health,” which refers to the trillions of bacteria residing within the digestive system and can improve cognition, according to Karl:

Study heads are asking anyone interested and “within a reasonable drive” from the ARIEM’s location in Natick, Massachusetts to particpate in the study. But take note, this would be of proper army intensity: participants would consume only MREs, water, and black coffee, with no other food or drink, for the full 21 days, plus undergoing blood tests and other medical scans.

Of course, that might not sound like it would be particularly appetizing after several days let alone 21, but you’d also be given a book of recipes put together by Natick research dietitians Adrienne Hatch and Holly McClung that would allow you to get a little creative with the MREs (such as “Canteen Irish Cream Latte,” “Bunker Hill Burritos,” and “Fort Bliss-ful Pudding Cake.” Half of those who sign up would be part of the control group who would just be undergoing those medical tests and eating normally.

You can sign up here. Hey, it’d be an interesting way to start 2016!

(Images via Shutterstock.)