It may be hard to imagine eating crickets if you've never tried them before. But did you know that more than 2 billion people in the world consume insects on a regular basis? According to new research, these folks may be onto something: Adding crickets to your diet can actually be pretty good for your gut — if you can stomach them, that is.
The August 2018 study published in Scientific Reports analyzed 20 healthy adults who ate either a breakfast containing 25 grams of powdered cricket meal made into muffins and shakes or a control breakfast for two weeks. Next, all the participants ate their normal diet for the two weeks after the initial experiment. And then, researchers instructed those who started with the cricket breakfast to eat a control breakfast — and vice versa — for the two-week period after that.
In this first-of-its kind trial, the researchers were able to show that eating crickets was not only safe in high doses, but may also support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reduce inflammation in the body. For instance, the team observed an increase in a metabolic enzyme linked to gut health and a decrease in an inflammatory protein called TNF-alpha, which has been associated with serious health problems such as depression and cancer. On top of that, the researchers also noticed an increase in gut bacteria like Bifidobacterium animalis, a strain that has been linked to improved gastrointestinal function.
"This study is important because insects represent a novel component in Western diets and their health effects in human populations haven't really been studied," said co-corresponding author Tiffany Weir, PhD, in a press release. "With what we now know about the gut microbiota and its relationship to human health, it's important to establish how a novel food might affect gut microbial populations. We found that cricket consumption may actually offer benefits beyond nutrition."
If you're curious about eating crickets but can't stand the thought of scarfing one down that still looks like an actual insect, you might consider trying a flour like Cricket Flour: 100 Pure Cricket Powder, 114-gram ($11.95, Amazon) or a protein powder such as Cricket Powder Made of 100% Cricket, .22 lb ($12.95, Amazon).
Maybe it's time to "follow your gut" — literally!
If you're still not convinced that eating crickets is for you, check out the video below to see other tasty superfoods that can help you live longer: