Chitin

Okay, let’s start this with ‘what the hell does this guy know about chitin’.

When I started my PhD on the metabolism of ciliate protozoa living in the rumen of cattle and sheep, it was a hot topic. Three years later, I finished, and science had moved on. Rumen protozoa had become a niche topic and there were no openings for a new scientist. So, I diversified. What transferable skills did I have?

Well, I knew a lot about microbiology by then, having gained two degrees in it, and especially about anaerobic metabolism – and I had no qualms about working with stinky things. So my first job after the PhD was a three year post doc on… well this should explain.

That wasn’t the only paper to come out of that project but it was the main one. Anyway, yes, I do know a good bit about chitin and it’s important to know about it because if the idiots in charge get their way, you’re going to be eating a hell of a lot of it.

Its biochemical name is poly-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, a homopolymer (no it’s not gay, it’s a polymer of one type of molecule repeated over and over). Rather like cellulose or starch, except those are just polymers of glucose.

You can digest starch, mostly, but it comes in two forms. Amylose is just straight chains of glucose and very easy to digest. Amylopectin is straight chains but with branches coming off the chain, like a tree. If you have amylase enzyme you can digest it back as far as the branch points but you need a different enzyme to break those branch points. If you don’t have it, you basically shit out pollarded starch molecules. You’ll still get some energy from it.

‘Oh, so smartass knows all about starches too’. Indeed I do, since I returned to gut microbiology after three years of delving into stinky mud and, a few years later, supervised a PhD working on retrograde starch and its effects on pig digestion.

Cellulose is also poly-glucose but the chains are cross-linked. Humans can’t digest it, in fact neither can cows and other ruminants even though they live on it. Bacteria and protozoa can, and this is what the first stomach of a cow is for. The rumen (actually reticulo-rumen in case a pedant arrives) doesn’t secrete any enzymes. It’s a big bag of bacteria, protozoa and even anaerobic fungi. They do all the work of turning indigestible grass into highly digestible microbial protein and organic acids. The cow absorbs the organic acids and its liver makes glucose from them since the cow gets little to no direct sugar from its diet. The microbes get it first.

Then, once the microbes have turned the lousy food into every known amino acid, the cow moves a batch of them into its omasum/abomasum where they are digested. You can feed a cow with newspapers soaked in piss (bacteria will make amino acids from urea) and it’ll survive on that.

You can’t digest the stuff a ruminant eats. You don’t have a rumen. There are certain amino acids and vitamins you cannot produce and you have to get them in your food. Sure, you can eat grass but almost all of it will come out of the other end. The bacteria in your colon can use some of it, although we don’t all have cellulose degrading bacteria, but it’s the colon. The end of the digestive system. You can’t digest those bacteria.

So, humans can digest amylose starch, partially digest amylopectin starch, can’t digest cellulose. What has this to do with chitin and why should you care?

Chitin is the animal world’s version of cellulose. It’s tough and very hard to digest. Human digestive systems won’t touch it, colon bacteria might get something out of it but like grass, it’s mostly going right through. It’s what the exoskeleton (hard shell) of insects is made of.

So when you hear that insects contain more nutrition than an equivalent weight of beef, that’s discounting the fact that you can’t actually access most of that nutrition. The exoskeleton is made of a sugar, N-acetyl-D-glucosamine which is basically glucose with an amine group and an acetyl group tagged on. But it’s in a form you simply can’t digest, like the glucose in cellulose. Everything in beef is digestible. A large proportion of an insect is not. If you put both in a calorimeter to measure caloric content, the insects would win – but it’s not about how many calories a food contains. It’s about how many are actually accessible.

The ‘eat ze bugs’ pushers don’t care about that. Just like the Pharmers, your health is none of their concern. They just want the money.

Nobody is set up to eat insects. Ruminants can possibly digest them, they don’t hunt them but they probably get a few from eating the grass. It doesn’t matter to a ruminant. They just need a carbohydrate and a nitrogen source and their rumen microbes will make all they need. Human digestion will not work that way.

There has been some indication that too much chitin in your diet can lead to some serious problems. That’s possible – I have a small bottle of pure amylose (starch) that is marked as a potential neurotoxin in its pure form.

‘Oh, but some cultures eat insects all the time’. Sure. They do that because they live where there’s bugger all else to eat. And they generally eat grubs which are soft bodied and don’t have a chitinous exoskeleton until after they pupate. No humans, anywhere, eat insects unless there is nothing else.

We have, over millenia, put a hell of a lot of effort into keeping insects out of grains and flour storage. Why didn’t we just let them eat the grains and flour and then eat the insects? Because that makes us ill. We have known this for thousands of years.

Suddenly, insects are the food of the future. If you really believe insect food is your future, there is one thing you really should understand.

You have no future.

40 thoughts on “Chitin

  1. which is why ruminants turn grass into meat and milk. Its perfect. Why would the cow be venerated in Hindu culture ( and kept as pets) No insects are Powdered chitin is just insoluble shit.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Every time I hear about this it takes me back to college lectures on the digestive system, although nowhere near as in depth as a professional microbiologist. We got taught what kind of proteins were broken down in what part of the gastro-intestinal tract, but nowhere, anywhere in the course material or extended reading we were expected to do, was it stated or implied that it was a good idea to make human food from insects.

    They’re a starvation ration. Nutritionally poor and, as you rightly point out, hard to digest properly. Which is why any culture that subsists on this sort of foodstuff suffers from various forms of retarded growth and other malnutrition related disorders.

    Yet farmers are being asked to give up their livelihoods and cull herds of specifically bred livestock so that everyone (Apart from the ‘elites’ of course) can feed off what is effectively junk protein.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Pingback: This is important.  Chitin – The World as seen by Shvatio

  4. There’s a company in Canada called Actually Food that prides itself on putting insects in everything it makes – just snack foods as far as I know. But I’d suggest checking the labels on EVERYTHING these days.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. This sort of thing isn’t actually all that surprising. Insects are relatively easy for anything with a better nervous system to catch and eat, so it is obvious that they would have worked out a number of strategies to cope with this. One (which slugs and snails also use) is to limit the amount of available protein and energy in the insect so that only specialists can cope with living on a diet of insects.

    The problem with specialisation is that if the food the specialist species depends on isn’t about, then that specialist is in deep trouble. This is why periodic cicadas (look these up) always have gaps between the years when the adults emerge en-mass which are prime numbers; this is much more difficult for a predator to synchronise with.

    Rumen bacteria also explain why most animals which operate like this are herd animals; if you think about this then how is a juvenile of such a species supposed to pick up the initial dose of rumen bacteria that it needs? This is always going to be a lot easier for it if it is surrounded by sources of that bacteria in the herd. Jumping sideways a little, this also explains why dinosaur ecosystems were so amazingly weird.

    All dinosaurs laid eggs, and the maximum size for an egg is about 1.5 litres volume. That means that every single dinosaur, no matter how enormous it was to begin with, started out about the size of a smallish cat. Dinosaurs didn’t produce milk and although there is evidence of parental care in some carnivorous dinosaurs, there was no such care with herbivores.

    That then meant that whatever ecological niche the enormous adults were in, the juveniles would be in a completely different one (probably forest floor to begin with) and there would be way, way more juveniles knocking about than adults. Most of a dinosaur ecosystem would in fact consist of juveniles trying to survive to adulthood whilst other juvenile predators strove to eat them and remain uneaten themselves.

    Juvenile herbivorous dinosaurs would face especial challenges because they would have to go and seek out the dung of adults to eat it (don’t laugh; young elephants do this for the same reason) in order to get the right bacteria; doing so would be especially perilous for animals that would essentially be a tiny snack for predators.

    Liked by 2 people

    • No wonder my dog loved horse shit so much. I was told it was like yogurt for them. It certainly made her not get rid of too much grass in her poop.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I was reading around this latest insects as food nonsense, trying to find some actual scientific, cultural & historical context, but to no avail. And now you’ve published this. Excellent timing.

    It’s just the perfect food for the fully vaxxed, isn’t it. “To get their next boosters they must give up the roosters”. Or somesuch.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Coal has high caloric value.
    Therefore, eat coal.
    Except coal is evil.
    Seriously though, folks, Leggy you have done it again. Given us unbiased, uncorrupted information which allows us to make informed choices.
    A very sincere thankyou.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. NEXT UP!
    “SPIDER-WEB-PROTEIN” could be the next superfood… (experts suggest…)

    Everyone knows that spiders are hungry predators of modern humans’ main food supply – insects. Now, experts from Oxblood University (because the teachers are still reputed to be allowed beefsteaks at High Table) have developed a process to spin GM-spider-web-protein into almondmiilk-substitute, ersatz-butter-substitute, re-processed-substitute-cheese-substitute and even kale-substitute food products.

    These are all a grey-green colour and completely without any taste-sensation or nutritional-value, but there is hope. Dr KaoLin Alumino-Sillye, non-binary Leader of the “global build-back-project”, said, yesterday on the BBC: “We’re working with our strategic partners and colleague-improvers to render effectively-focussed cost-reduction programmes, leading to improved de-nutrtionalability and less exciting tastes sensations, for The Children, Going Forward.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lobsters and Prawns apart from their shells are delicious dipped in salted butter and or lemon mayonnaise Crab claws are ok. Crab shell meat is an acquired taste. And the way the Vietnamese and Cambodians cook lobster is divine.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I had prawns today. I didn’t eat the exoskeleton 😉
      Land insects are too small to ‘shell’ like that. The exoskeleton gets ground up along with the rest of it. An intact exoskeleton (if you eat the insect whole) should mostly pass through undigested – but I have no idea what finely powdered chitin might do in the gut.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My flippant comment was not meant to be accurate about the nutritional contents, but just to see if any others see the similarities between land insects and shellfish and therefore why we have this love/hate attitude.
        (My personal opinion is that lobsters and crabs are intelligent creatures capable of organised societies. They exhibit great curiosity about their environments, also feeling emotions and pain. I am distressed that these elegant and highly-evolved creatures are treated so cruelly – there are many humans with fewer abilities whom we wouldn’t consume…)

        Liked by 1 person

        • To get pedantic, crustaceans and insects are very different creatures, but I see your point. Crustaceans show much more self awareness than insects. The spiders though, a separate group again, show signs that they might dream, and Portia spiders have a fairly complex communication system.

          Still, crustaceans are going to get the short straw because they are edible, while the dim insects are not. Just like the dim people, I’d rather eat a sheep than a far dimmer ‘sheeple’.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. That *was* an interesting post, thanks, Leggy.

    “You can feed a cow with newspapers soaked in piss …”

    Does the Grauniad work best, because that already has a high bullshit content? 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  10. The ultimate plan is to move the remaining human serfs from the land to pack and stack them in cities connected by rail. We will be permitted to use the trains if we behave ourselves. Our diet will be tightly controlled, as will our income and spending, by measuring the size of our carbon footprints. The emptied land will be rewilded for the enjoyment of the elite sovereign citizens. I can’t think of what sort of activities they will get up to, probably something nasty involving children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Breeding will also be controlled. Only those with genetics useful to the overlords will be produced. They’ll be farmed.

      Have you seen ‘The Line’ adverts? It’s a city built long and tall and thin with a high population density. Those inside won’t be doing much of use, so their reason for existence can only be as spare parts for the ‘live forever’ elites.

      China already harvests organs from prisoners. It’s not a new concept…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did notice that projected building. What you say about spare organs reminded me of the film The Island, which was based around clones of the wealthy living in an underground complex. When their organs were required they would win the lottery to go to the Island, portrayed as a kind of Eden. Ah man, when truth is weirder than fiction you know our leaders are round the bend.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t considered the protein aspect, but then I’m not a nutritionist. Seems the insects have a high protein content but with an amino acid balance that is utterly useless for human nutrition. So sure, they are high in protein and calories but none of it is much use to human metabolism.

      Then there are the diseases and toxins they carry, which are not all removed by processing.

      I learned today that the dark parts of bird crap are generally seed hulls or insect chitin. Even insectivores can’t digest the chitin.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rhys, from that article, it’s possible that Chitin could be the final part to complete the effects of the mRNA poisons – eat insects, get VAIRS.
      I think we’ve underestimated Fauci’s virus trickery – there are bad prospects ahead for the immune-compromised.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know they can’t kill us outright – yet. But this is beyond sadistic. A vaccine that maims and kills – often over time – and poison food on top of it to make sure the job gets finished?

        I do not like to think how crazy, as well as evil, these people must be.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Brilliant exposé thank you very much. I studied Bio, Chem, Phys at ‘A’ level so got most of this. I was going to be a biochemist, but other things got in the way when i met Xerox, and became a corporate systems consultant in the 1970s and enjoyed a wonderful career analysing hundreds of businesses large and small.

    This gave me unique insights into the workings of the global financial system and I subsequently wrote a book about it following the banksters’ bank robbery in Cyprus in 2013 whilst no cops were in sight. I now write a weekly ‘Letter from Great Britain’ with focus on UK, global macroeconomics and associated geopolitics.

    I am sure Herr Schwab worries not about the intricacies of digesting insects; like all his postulations, it is merely theatre to capture and enthral CEOs and slobbering politicians feeding at the trough of the labouring masses. They all hope nobody will notice the shearing of the sheep by the robber barons which has been successful thus far, from the emergence of the Venetian banking system seven hundred years ago to the culmination of the crisis in 2008/9 But now they have overdone it – retribution will be swift and bloody IMHO.

    The elitist globalists are on the back foot now and I am sure will see even more desperate measures as their fantasy money tree wilts and dies.
    https://austrianpeter.substack.com/p/watt-counts-greta-is-gone-mega-strikes?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

    My book is linked at the end of my Letter.

    Like

  12. Pingback: AWED MEDIA BALANCED NEWSLETTER: We cover COVID to Climate, as well as Energy to Elections. - Dr. Rich Swier

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