Do you like bugs in your food… literally?
You’ve probably seen news reports about the edible insect industry and its attempts to make an eco-friendly impact on the foods we eat in America.
An increasing number of companies are using insects — crickets are the most popular but locusts and mealworms are also on the menu — as substitutes for the proteins and fiber farmers typically grow for food for eco-friendly reasons (reduced water, space and greenhouse gases).
Everything from cookies and protein bars to chips and pet foods are being formulated and sold with insects in mind. There’s even a registry for restaurants and food products called BUGSfeed that can help you locate restaurants and stores specializing in edible insects.
We know insects may be something you actively avoid, especially in your foods, but they are a staple in the diets of some 2 billion people worldwide, according to the United Nations.
A group of scientists from the University of Wisconsin, Colorado State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently investigated the benefits of eating foods made with cricket-based flour on human gut health.
The controlled study, which appeared in Scientific Reports, measured the effects of feeding breakfast foods (muffins and smoothies) prepared with cricket flour on 20 health adults over a four-week period.
Although there were no side effects reported, scientists discovered some benefits to human gut health, namely reductions in a key inflammatory protein linked to cancer and depression, as well as increases in a strain of Bifidobacteria.
Still not convinced? The study’s lead author, Valerie Stull, who has eaten a lot of insects in her travels around the world, makes a good point about how American cuisine has shifted more recently to embrace a greater variety of foods.
“Food is very tied to culture, and 20 or 30 years ago, no one in the U.S. was eating sushi because we thought it was disgusting. But now you can get it at a gas station in Nebraska.”
So, eating foods made with insects may become mainstream as well as OK for your gut. But it’s important to pay attention to how they are prepared.
In this study, cricket flour was used in muffins and smoothies made with milk or sugar, ingredients that could negate its gut health benefits.
Yes, insects may be trendy food picks, just like fermented foods, on grocery store shelves. However, taking a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic that contains multiple strains of beneficial bacteria plus a natural prebiotic may be a better, more effective way to help your gut and your overall health too.