Research that supports the link between eating crickets and improved gut health and reduced systemic inflammation was just published, and the results are very encouraging. This is huge!
The research showed that a diet high in cricket protein produced higher levels of five gut bacteria, one of which was Bifidobacterium animalis, which has "been shown in clinical trials to improve gastrointestinal function, protect against diarrhea, reduce side effects of antibiotic treatment, and increase resistance to common respiratory infections.” The study also showed a reduction in plasma TNF alpha, which is associated with cancer, IBS and alzheimer's. Cricket consumption was associated with suppression of Acidaminococcus among participants. Although not a direct focus on this study, an increase in this bacteria has been associated with a decrease in growth deficits for infants in developing nations such as, Malawi and Bangladesh. The implications of cricket consumption extend globally as cricket consumption could play an important role in maternal and child health in low-resource settings.
The connection between your gut health and the brain is also incredibly important. There is a reason we have the long tradition of saying, “trust your gut.” A healthy gut impacts your mental health too, and with the rise of prescription drugs to treat disorders like depression or anxiety, it is interesting to consider how we can we look to our diet to help treat these issues in a natural way? Already, bug-eater Mag Islas shared that she got rid of her depression after eating a diet of only mealworms and rice for 40 days (discussed at 40:00 on the Ento Podcast). She attributes this to their high amount of Omega 3's and 6's.
We are undergoing a crisis related to the weakening of the microbiomes in our body, and this is caused by a number of reasons, with our diet being a major contributing factor. However, in addition to that, the use of antibiotics that we take directly or via animals we eat and decreasing contact with dirt and natural elements also add to this issue. The chitin in crickets, which is mostly found in the exoskeleton, contains fiber with positive prebiotic properties. Crickets also have a high bioavailability, which means that one can actually receive and absorb the full nutritional profile that crickets offer, which include protein, iron, calcium, omega 3’s and 6's, B12, magnesium and of course fiber. For the first time, research finally supports what our early ancestors likely instinctively already knew.There is a lot of information that has been published about how crickets are an environmentally-friendly food, but more research is needed to show how a diet high in crickets can not just support, but also improve our health. The good news is that researchers are continuing to work on this and there is even a new division at Tufts set up to help look into these topics further, including how edible insects could help slow signs of aging. They have even included Seek snacks as one of the cricket-based foods to be used in the studies, and we hope to support this important industry research in other ways too.