Edible insects, like crickets, are a great source of nutrients. This includes essential amino acids and fatty acids, B vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for your body and athletic performance. Another great nutrient is chitin. Read more to learn what chitin is, its health benefits and how you can incorporate it into your diet!
WHAT IS CHITIN?
Chitin is the second most abundant natural polysaccharide (many sugars), after cellulose, that is found in plants. It is a prebiotic fiber found in insects, particularly, their exoskeleton. Also, chitin can be found in crustaceans, like crabs and shrimps, and the cell walls of fungi.
Among all the sources, your best bet for the nutritional benefits of chitin are mushrooms or edible insects! This is because the chitin found in crustaceans are in their shells, which we do not typically consume. Ground crickets are a great example of edible insects that contain large amounts of chitin. In their dry weight, up to 7.1% constitutes chitin. Crickets are considered a superfood and you can find out why here.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHITIN?
Generally, consuming chitin increases your overall dietary fiber (DF) intake. There is abundant evidence that an increase in DF can decrease the risk of cardiometabolic diseases, which includes cardiovascular diseases, obesity and hypertension.
Here are 4 ways consuming chitin, especially from Cricket Powder, can benefit you:
1. Chitin helps with Gastrointestinal (GI) emptying
As an insoluble fiber, chitin is not easily digested in our bodies to supply energy. However, insoluble fibers do have mechanical benefits like giving your GI tract a push to alleviate constipation. This is because it promotes proper bowel movement by making your stools bulky.
Fiber helps solidify loose, watery stools and make them bulkier. The bulkier the stool, the easier it is to leave your body without constipation.
2. Chitin fuels your microbiota
Chitin is also known as a prebiotic. This means chitin is food to the good bacteria (i.e probiotics) in our intestines that promote a healthy digestive and immune system.
A study has shown that intaking 25g of 100% whole cricket powder for 14 days increases the growth of a probiotic called B.animalis. This probiotic can improve your GI function, protect against diarrhea and even from respiratory infections!
3. Chitin controls nutrient absorption
Lipids are one of the three major macronutrients your body needs for long-term energy. They are digested and absorbed in your small intestine. When you consume chitin, the absorption of lipids are affected. Some animal studies have shown that consuming chitin can lower LDL-Cholesterol. LDL-Cholesterol is often labeled as “bad” cholesterol because it can build up in your arteries and can lead to CVDs.
4. Chitin decreases inflammation
Chitin can be especially beneficial if you experience an inflammatory bowel disease. This is because chitin lowers the small proteins in your body associates with intestinal inflammation; these small proteins are called cytokines. Chitin targets the cytokine TNF-𝛼. Too much TNF-𝛼 in your body may also lead to CVDs, depression or cancer.
CONSEQUENCES OF CHITIN
It is important to remember that nutrition is personal; what works for someone else might not work for you. Although chitin does have its health benefits, you will want to note some cons of chitin as well.
As told above, chitin can control nutrient absorption, particularly lipids. This means that chitin also influences the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, which are Vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins need to bind to lipids to be absorbed by your body. Our tip: try to not over consume or spread out your chitin consumption!
If you are shellfish allergic, you may also be allergic to crickets. This is because shellfish, like shrimps and crabs, and crickets have the same protein that causes allergic reactions. Be sure to check if you are allergic to crickets before adding them to your diet!
HOW TO CONSUME MORE CHITIN:
Once you find out if you can consume chitin and avoid allergic reactions, the next question is how to incorporate chitin into your diet. You’re in luck because we can gladly help you do so!
You can start small by trying our Näak ULTRA Energy bars with cricket powder. Choose between our Banana & Chocolate and/or Almond & Chocolate flavours and experience the benefits of chitin. Our bars will also give you long-lasting energy, no digestive issues and help us conserve our playground.
Don’t feel like going small and want to go big? Try our Näak ULTRA Recovery Protein Powder or Cricket Powder to add and mix into your favorite recipes! If you need a bit of inspiration, you can check some out here.