The hotter it becomes, the faster MREs begin to deteriorate. If they’re properly stored, the shelf-life can last between three and five years, but proper storage is not as easy as it sounds. These ready-to-eat meals can also be destroyed in freezing conditions, as packaging can delaminate, causing the prepared food to become inedible. In other words, hot or cold, there’s a good chance the MREs you’re eating are not the safest for ongoing consumption. Here is the low-down on whether or not MREs are healthy to eat at all.
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Sodium and Fat Count
MREs have an enormous sodium content, with one meal containing around 3800 milligrams. MRE’s are designed to feed people who are prepared to be on their feet and are always ready to hit the ground running. If you’re not going to be partaking in such high amounts of physical activity, you might not be smart to eat. The meals are also high fat, with around 52 grams and five grams of trans fat per serving. You’re more likely to gain weight and become dehydrated by consuming MREs if you are sedentary or only engage in mild or occasional exercise.
MRE Canada Sellers
Mind you; not all MREs are created equal. Some sellers do all they can to preserve the safety and edibility of MREs by offering the best storage and shipping options available. Many of these quality sellers can be found on MRE Canada sites. With the right precautions, the temporary consumption of MREs can be a good thing during a crisis, but even the best of the bunch should not be consumed long-term.
Frequent Gastrointestinal Complaints
People who eat MREs regularly, including those in the military, often complain of gastrointestinal upset from the prepared meals. MREs wreak havoc on gut health, leading to uncomfortable issues like constipation, fatigue, bloating, and nausea. You might also get the runs! Next time disaster strikes opt to go for the everyday foods you find in your pantry; these are preferred over MREs. These you can save for years on end and still enjoy safely during an emergency. The same can be said about freeze-dried foods and dehydrated foods.
Diseases on the Rise
Others have suggested that consuming MREs regularly could lead to autoimmune issues like Celiac Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Diabetes. The gut-brain connection is serious science, so consume MREs with caution. If you’re stuck in a situation where MREs are all you have to eat, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get as active as possible. Slow-digesting components found in these meals will be processed better if you move your body enough to compete with these meals’ high fat and high caloric content. Exercise also improves your digestive system’s strength, which will encourage better digestion and elimination patterns as a result. Remember to drink as much water as possible to compensate for the high salt content in these foods. Your body will need replenishment, and water can aid in the digestion process.
Slight Improvements, Same Conclusions
Today’s MREs have improved since they were first created in the 80s. An average meal contains about 1250 calories. While still high in calories, if an active individual only consumes two of these a day, they will only have consumed about 2500 calories. If they engage in a high-intensity exercise like ruck marches on 50-pound packs, they’re likely burning around 500 or more calories an hour which more than compensates for the meals’ high-calorie content. This setup makes today’s MREs a healthier option for ranger school students, but still not so beneficial for the average person trying to stay alive during a natural disaster, storm, or what have you.
Gut Health Problems
Research has also confirmed that eating MREs for more than 21 days may result in nutritional deficiencies. The army also strives to provide regular cooked food to soldiers as often as possible. It’s common knowledge that MREs are a temporary food source and are not considered a nutritional equivalent to everyday foods.
MREs are cooked much more thoroughly than typical food, which is bad news for your gut flora. The gut needs a healthy balance of alive bacteria. When food is cooked this long, you’re not providing your gut with the bacteria it needs to do its job. The result? Diarrhea and constipation. MREs are also super low in fiber and water, both of which promote constipation as well. A lack of fiber is also associated with other health issues like high blood pressure, cancer risks, and leaky gut syndrome.
Nutritional Deficiency and Side Effects
Nutritional deficiency is another side effect of poor food assimilation brought on by a lack of good and bad gut bacteria. Nutritional deficiencies cause a whole range of health issues, from muscle spasms and aching joints to anemia and even starvation. There is a reason why 21 days is the limit. Processed foods are notoriously bad for you. In addition to sitting out forever, these foods contain preservatives to prevent bacterial growth from taking place in the pouches. Unfortunately, the preservatives also damage the bacteria in the gut lining, causing great difficulty for your bacterial balance to survive, thus promoting gastrointestinal issues.
MREs Lack Fermentation
To have balanced bacteria, it’s smart to eat fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi. Fermentation is also a natural process that occurs during caramelized cooking techniques and during natural digestion of fruits and vegetables. Since MREs offer none of these things, it’s clear that a lack of fermentation negatively affects gut health and the overall wellness of the person eating the MREs for an extended period.
MREs are better than having contaminated food or no food at all to eat. If they’re all you’ve got, we don’t recommend kicking them to the curb in emergencies. If and when you have other options, we suggest you choose foods that provide the same shelf-life convenience without the negative health consequences. That’s right, canned beans and dried fruits might save your gut lining.