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Eat an insect to improve gut health

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Will we all be crunching down on insects for lunch sometime soon?  They’re a great source of protein and they help keep our gut healthy, a new study has discovered.

Insects are also rich in fibre—known as chitin—which isn’t found in other animal meats, and they also have higher amounts of omega-3 than plants have.

These added benefits can help improve gut health and reduce intestinal inflammation—and eating insects is also good for the planet, say researchers from Colorado State University.

Although insects aren’t regularly eaten in the Western diet, more than 3000 ethnic groups in 130 countries eat a range of insects that have been harvested in the wild, and beetles, caterpillars, wasps, bees, ants, grasshoppers, bugs and termites are eaten to supplement diets.  Their bioavailable animal protein contains all the essential amino acids that humans need, says researcher Tiffany Weir.

In earlier research, Weir showed that eating 25 g of cricket powder every day increased levels of good bacteria in the gut.  They added cricket chitin to designer chocolate patties, which they say could be a good prebiotic to treat gut problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

There don’t seem to be any bad reactions from eating insects, the researchers say, and this may because our cells produce enzymes that can break down chitin.

Nature Food, 2023; doi: 10.1038/s43016-023-00728-7
Article Topics: healthy gut
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