A new study finds eating crickets may be good for your gut — if you can stomach it


Forget Activia. Crickets may soon become the next probiotic trend.

According to a study published in Scientific Reports in July — the first clinical trial of its kind — crickets may actually increase enzymes in the stomach that aid metabolism.

The two-week study followed 20 men and women who consumed either a bug-free breakfast or 25 grams of crickets in a powdered form made into muffins and shakes. It ultimately found an increase in stomach enzymes as well as beneficial gut bacteria in stool and blood samples of those who consumed the insects.

Valerie Stull, lead author of the study, told the University of Wisconsin-Madison that though the trial is small, the viability of insects as a sustainable food source is worth exploring in the future. “It’s gaining traction in Europe and in the U.S. as a sustainable, environmentally friendly protein source compared to traditional livestock,” she told the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Given a global population that’s expected to grow to 9.6 billion by 2050, alternative and sustainable food sources like insects are key, according to the UN. The worldwide edible insect market is also anticipated to become worth over $710 million by 2024.

Stull has tried several alternative and sustainable food sources like caterpillars, cicadas and beetle larvae over the years. “People love flying termites in Zambia, which come out only once or twice a year and are really good; they taste like popcorn and are a crunchy, oily snack,” she said — and we’ll gladly take her word for it.

If you’re skittish about eating bugs, know that more than 2 billion people eat insects every day, and you may already be one of them. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website, the FDA establishes “maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods for human use that present no health hazard.” Natural defects, in this case, includes insects, which means the FDA limits the number of possible bugs in your food.

Peanut butter, for instance, is limited to an average of 30 insect fragments per 100 grams. Golden raisins are limited to less than 10 “whole or equivalent insects” and 35 Drosophila eggs, or flies, for every 8 ounces. And hops in beer are limited to an average of 2,500 aphids for every 10 grams. So, consider yourself a bug connoisseur — you may have already tried them all.