Cricket Powder Is The New Gut Health Food!
Hello fellow crawly critter enthusiasts! What do crickets and a blossoming love affair have in common? The more we get to know them, the more we love them.
Just when we thought we couldn’t love them anymore, we discovered that, in addition to being nutritious, protein-rich, environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional livestock and high in vitamin B12, our favourite chirpy insects are also great for gut health!
How do Crickets Improve Gut Health?
Cricket’s exoskeletons contain Chitin, a unique fiber which acts as a prebiotic (food) for beneficial gut bacteria. Chitin is “considered an insoluble fiber with potential prebiotic properties that could benefit human health by selectively promoting the growth of beneficial bacterial species in the intestines”.
Most insects contain this gut-nurturing fiber, but the anatomy of crickets make them a particularly abundant source. This chitin works magic in the gut, as demonstrated by a double-blind crossover trial, where 20 healthy adults were fed 25g per day of whole cricket powder (integrated into their breakfast food) for two weeks, and then
fed cricket-free control foods for a different two-week period.
Image by Monika Grabkowska via Unsplash
The Gut-Loving Breakfast
The cricket-y breakfasts resulted in a 5.7-fold increase in abundance of the important probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis. This probiotic has been shown to boost immunity, protect against pathogenic gut infections (including E. coli), improve glucose tolerance, decrease fasting insulin, reduce inflammation, reduce BMI and improve blood lipid profiles. What a hard-working bacteria!
Ok! You’re convinced and keen to add cricket powder to your breakfast but you might be asking yourself: how do I add cricket powder to my breakfast meals? That’s soooo easy! Cricket powder is a very versatile and delicious ingredient. Just add a tbs to your favourite recipes, simple as that! We have selected our favourites breakfast recipes made with cricket powder for you to try at home: banana pancakes, banana bread, granola, bread and green detox smoothie.
Chitin and The Gut Microbiota
One study on mice found that chitin induces positive alterations to gut microbiota. In mice with metabolic syndrome induced by a processed high-fat diet, chitin consumption improved glucose control, suppressed mRNA expression of protein regulators related to obesity, hindered the damage to the gut barrier, and stimulated the growth of an array of beneficial gut microbes (including Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Akkermansia, and Bacteroides) while also decreasing the abundance of microbes linked with inflammation (such as Desulfovibrio). In layman’s terms? Chitin revamped gut microbiota that had been damaged through diet, so there was more of the good gut critters and less of the baddies.
Image by Belova59 from Pixabay
Additionally, a study on diabetic mice found that chitosan (a deacetylated derivative of chitin) consumption resulted in similar Akkermansia increases, as well as suppression of Helicobacte, a pathogen linked to peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.
A different study on mice where 300 mg/kg of bodyweight of dietary chitosan was consumed each day for two weeks resulted in increased gut microbiota diversity, and also induced a shift in the ratio between Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes to one associated with leanness rather than obesity.
Chitosan can also increase gut microbiome resilience. A study on diabetic rats revealed that ingesting 60 mg of chitosan/kg of body weight every day for eight weeks prevented undesirable changes in levels of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Escherichia, and Clostridia levels that would otherwise result from a high-sugar diet, while also reducing inflammation.
Image: Grilo Protein
The Gut Healing Diet
There we have it folks, just when we thought it wasn’t possible, crickets have gone and made us fall in love even more. Adding chitin-containing crickets into your diet (check out our cricket powder recipes!) may increases good gut bacteria and decreases bad gut bacteria; a feat that results in an abundance of health benefits. Treat your gut to some cricket goodness today!
Image: Grilo Protein
A big thanks to Courtney Franz for writing 🙂