It is well documented that insects are nutritious, filled with quality protein, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and many other minerals. But the effects of insect-eating on gut health is something that was never explored, until now. A new clinical trial looked at what happens to the gut microbiota of people who start eating insects, and the results are really promising!
Did you know that there are about 3x more bacterial cells than human cells in your body? It’s true, most of them reside in your gut and they influence your physiology, metabolism, and gene expression when it comes to immune function, energy, and even mood. And the interesting thing is that this microbiota changes in response to what you eat (1).
A clinical trial with cricket flour
The authors of this study (2) used crickets as their insect of choice, because they contain a lot of chitin and chitosan, the types of fibre that can influence gut health. They selected 20 participants ages 18 – 65 and changed up their breakfast. They got a pumpkin spice muffin and one dry mix chocolate malt shake. One group received a chocolate shake with 25 g of whole cricket powder, the other group had a regular chocolate shake without crickets of a similar macronutrient composition. After 14 days the groups switched for another two week period.
More beneficial bacteria and less inflammation
The researchers collected blood and stool samples before and after each segment of the trial to measure the changes and they concluded:
“Cricket powder supported growth of the probiotic bacterium, Bifidobacterium animalis, which increased 5.7-fold. Cricket consumption was also associated with reduced plasma TNF-α. These data suggest that eating crickets may improve gut health and reduce systemic inflammation; however, more research is needed to understand these effects and underlying mechanisms.”
Even if this is just the first study of its kind, we are excited! It seems that the benefits of eating insects are reaching beyond just the obvious protein content. Yet another reason to make insect eating the new normal.
1) Plotnikoff G. A., Riley D., ‘The human microbiome.’ Glob Adv Health Med. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24891987/
2) Valerie J. Stull et al., ‘Impact of Edible Cricket Consumption on Gut Microbiota in Healthy Adults, a Double-blind, Randomized Crossover Trial’, Sci Rep. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30018370