Eating insects, for many people in the western world, is massive no-no. But in many countries, particularly in Asia, insect consumption (entomophagy) is widespread and even highly valued. About 2 billion people in the world would be entomophagous! And while they may put some Westerners off, insects are indeed a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.
Suffice to say that insects are beneficial to our health and a recently published study seems to prove it! In fact, according to an American study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, eating locusts would improve the human microbiota by promoting the growth of good bacteria. Not only would this be good for your health but it would also reduce inflammatory processes!
To investigate the effects of entomophagy, Valérie Stull and her colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recruited 20 healthy adults aged 18 to 48 years, whom were divided into two arms. For 2 weeks, one arm ate either a control breakfast foods and the other ate a breakfast of 25 grams of powdered locust meat turned into muffins or shake. Then, all the participants followed a normal diet for 2 weeks. Then, for 2 more weeks, the roles were reversed: those who had the control breakfast were entitled to the locust powder and vice versa.
The participants also had to answer questions about their “gastrointestinal” comfort three times: just before the study, after the first 2 weeks and after the last 2 weeks.
For their part, the researchers analyzed blood and fecal samples. As a result, no significant changes were reported, both for the participants and the analyzes performed. Nevertheless, the researchers observed an increase in a metabolic enzyme and a decrease in a blood inflammatory protein called TNF-Alpha (targeted in particular in certain anti-cancer treatments).
In addition, they also observed an increase in beneficial Bifidobacterium animalis bacteria. This bacterial strain has already shown its benefits in improving digestive comfort and other health measures.
These encouraging results must be confirmed by larger and larger studies, admitted by the researchers themselves: “this tiny study shows that this is an area that is worth working on. Especially in the future, it will probably encourage the consumption of insects as a sustainable source of food.”
Indeed, in the face of the depletion of natural resources, insect consumption is often presented as a sustainable and economical source of food.