Food donated to IDF soldiers is making them sick – health official

Science and Health

IDF soldiers have been experiencing an uptick in intestinal diseases likely caused by some of the food donations sent to the troops on the front lines, an Israeli health official said.

“Since the war with Hamas began, soldiers have been receiving food donations, but unfortunately, there has been a concerning rise in intestinal diseases, likely caused by inadequate sanitation of some of the food. Additionally, many of the packages sent to soldiers contain ultra-processed foods such as cookies and salty snacks,” warned Shir Alfi, a senior dietitian at Clalit Health Services.

She emphasized the need for better food quality and safety measures to prevent further intestinal illnesses among IDF troops.

How can IDF soldiers have safer, healthier food?

Alfi recommended the preparation of healthy and safe food packages, starting with individually packed bags of dried fruits with nuts and/or almonds. “Dried fruits provide soldiers with energy, dietary fiber, and minerals. Options such as figs, plums, dates, raisins, and dried apples can be used in a sealed package,” she explained.

Alfi clarified that nuts and almonds are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and soluble fibers, which help regulate the digestive system. They are also an excellent calcium source for vegan soldiers.

IDF soldiers seen in the Gaza Strip on December 19, 2023. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

She highlighted legumes as an excellent source of plant proteins and complex carbohydrates. Alfi suggested combining legumes with grains like canned corn or crackers throughout the day to ensure soldiers receive their required protein intake (not necessarily in the same meal).

Recommended legumes include lentils, white or brown beans, and chickpeas, among others. Additionally, tuna and sardines can help combat soldiers maintain muscle mass. A standard can of tuna provides around 25 grams of protein and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, promoting heart health and reducing inflammation. It also contains vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, necessary for calcium absorption, bone health, and heart function.


“Sardines, in addition to the benefits of tuna, are rich in calcium, which is vital for normal muscle activity, strong bones, and nervous system function,” she further explained.

To minimize exposure to contamination, Alfi suggested providing each soldier with a personal ration pack. This way, the soldier can open and consume it whenever they feel the need.

Alfi also advised including electrolyte powder in the pack to combat dehydration, as soldiers may neglect proper hydration. Electrolyte powder can be readily purchased at any pharmacy.