How Eating Bugs Improves Gut Health (Really!)
June 19, 2023
If the idea of eating insects is disgusting to you, I understand. For most Americans the thought of eating bugs is not appetizing at all. However, in many cultures around the world, insects are consumed regularly and in some cases, they’re even considered a delicacy.
Now new research is confirming that the chitin ingested from consuming insects can help both gut microbiota and global health. Chitin is the basic structure and component found in insect exoskeletons and along with the healthy fats from other insect body parts appears to contribute to healthy gut microbiota. In addition, insects are also potent sources of protein and nutrients.
Chitin is a unique biomaterial found in many living organisms, including arthropods, fungi, and cephalopods. It serves a vital purpose in maintaining their structural integrity and functionality. In the realm of biological wonders, chitin stands out as one of nature’s most versatile and abundant biomaterials because it has so many uses. In addition to the previously mentioned function in the exoskeletons of arthropods, it is also found in the cell walls of fungi and the beaks of cephalopods.
When analyzed, chitin is a type of fiber, and we know that consuming foods high in fiber offers several advantages. In this case, chitin may contain certain fibers that act as prebiotics.
Prebiotics are indigestible compounds that promote the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut. If you’re reading this and would like to start eating insects, good for you!
As for me, I think I will continue to get my chitin the old fashioned way: from eating shellfish.
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