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Cricket protein offers high quality nutrients and additional health benefits that are actually quite remarkable. Incorporating cricket protein into a diet can support healthy gut microbiota, reduce intestinal inflammation, and increase nutritive value for noticeably positive effects on human health.
Most people are hyper conscious about what they eat, but we're not just feeding ourselves when we down that delicious green smoothie. We've got a whole bunch of helpers living in our gut that are more important than people realize.
A healthy functioning gastrointestinal (GI) tract helps to supply crucial nutrients to the body. Essentially, the digestive system breaks down food into even smaller particles of amino acids, fatty acids, glycerols, and glucose, which are utilized immediately in a molecular process or stored as fat cells.
The organs involved in digestion include: the mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, large intestine, small intestine, rectum, and anus.
An even more important microbial organ at work in the GI tract is the gut flora also known as the microbiome.
The body’s microbiome is a friendly microorganism colony, which includes bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea, and eukaryotes. Each healthy microbe in the flora benefits the body’s metabolic processes like immunity functions, nutrition absorption, and the manufacturing of neurotransmitters, enzymes, and vitamins.
Every single person is born with a unique gut flora, which continues to co-evolve after birth. Scientist estimate there is around 100 trillion cells in the human body’s flora with the gut’s flora having the most. Changes in the gut microbiome can be detrimental to overall health.
Gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel disease, colitis, and even obesity have been linked to corrupted microorganism colonies in the GI tract. Intestines with healthy gut microbiota can maintain a better immune system and metabolism, while reducing sources of inflammation.
It comes as no surprise then that diet is paramount in shaping gut flora diversity and behavior within the intestines. Consuming a diet abundant in fruits and vegetables increases the variety of microbial species by providing indigestible carbohydrates or fiber to microbes for energy. High fiber intake energizes the microbes to protect against inflammatory molecules associated with breast cancer, intestinal disease, and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, the westernized diet of processed foods and increased animal proteins limits variance of microbial species, which can lead to gut disorders.
Basically, the more diversified a microbiome is, the better it can aid in metabolic processes!
Not only do insects contain essential amino acids, B vitamins, and minerals, but also this fantastic dietary fiber. The prebiotic properties of chitin selectively support beneficial bacteria in the gut, further promoting a healthy balance of gut microbiota. Chitin also has the ability to prevent obesity caused by certain bacteria strains. Compared to fungi and shellfish, insects produce more chitinases, which are enzymes that hydrolyze chitin, than any other organism on the planet.
A healthy microbiota can help reduce the number of dangerous microorganisms to improve overall gut health. Diets rich in cricket protein reveal an increase in microbial species that provide probiotic benefits. A recent study looking at the effects of incorporating cricket protein into the diet found potential for improved gastrointestinal function, protection against diarrhea, reduced inflammation, reduced side effects of antibiotic treatments, and increased resistance to common respiratory infections.
The high protein content, quality, and digestibility are just a couple of reasons to incorporate edible insects into a diet. Insects are also a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In addition to offering all of the essential amino acids, high protein by weight means that cricket protein offers more protein by dry weight than soy, ground beef, or other animal protein sources.
With growing market acceptance of cricket protein, chitin from insects will become more accessible to the general public. Although other chitin producers are widely available, mushrooms and shellfish don’t always harmonize well with other flavors. Maybe adding a little cricket protein powder into meals will do the trick!