The other day a news piece caught my eye on the telly – it was the rather bizarre scene of three snails that had been placed on a poor woman’s face. I can only assume that she was subjecting her face to this “pleasure” for a particular purpose. Indeed, it turns out snail slime is the latest natural beauty treatment hailing from Japan!
Apparently snail slime has anti-ageing properties and this new treatment currently available only in one beauty salon in Tokyo (but coming to a high street near you soon, no doubt!) is known as an escargot facial.
Before I got carried away with trying to collect all the slugs, snails and ants currently inhabiting my garden and smearing them across my face (yuck!), I thought I had better research this topic a little.
Could insects have health benefits for us humans?
Well, I know about those tiny little fish (Garra rufa) used for fish pedicures – they obviously provide some benefit in the feet department, but then, they are not insects.
On the face of it, this seemed like a rather silly question. Aren’t we always told about how dirty cockroaches are? And how flies contaminate our foodstuffs? Ticks just suck our blood, and in worst cases transmit Lyme disease. What good can there be in insects? Well, it turns out, our main health benefits from insects may simply be derived from us eating them.
Ever heard of entomophagy? It is the practice of eating insects as food. Earlier this year, the UN urged people once again to eat insects to help fight world hunger. 100g of grasshopper contains more calcium and iron than 100g of minced beef. The surprising (to me) nutritional value of insects must certainly seem very appealing to dieters and health fanatics.
For example, if you are after a carb-free diet but still need to get your daily intake of protein and calories, why not try a hearty bowl of termites? Apparently crickets are good for healthy bones and just four of these insects contain as much calcium as a cup of milk! If you are fed up of taking vitamin supplements, insects could be a serious alternative. There is at least one restaurant I know of in London (there must be more) that offers chilli and garlic locusts and crickets – but surely anything tastes good with a bit of chilli and garlic, right?!
Jokes aside, I am sure that entomophagy will continue to grow over the coming years, though I don’t know how quickly. An estimated 2 billion people around the world already consume insects as part of their regular diet…it is us Europeans who need to jump on the “insect band wagon” so to speak. Perhaps a little more celebrity endorsement is required, like the one from Salma Hayek, who eats bugs for breakfasts.
Suffice it to say, there is no need to purposefully have insects crawling or sliming across your skin for any major health kick.