Natto

Natto

 

Natto is produced by a fermentation process by adding Bacillus natto, which is

beneficial bacteria, to boiled or steamed soybeans.

 

The nutritive  value of this food was so high that Samurai consumed it on a daily basis, and

even fed it to their horses to increase their speed and strength.

 

Much of the fanfare surrounding natto has to do with nattokinase, a fibrinolytic

(clot-busting) enzyme that was discovered by Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi, aka “Dr. Natto,”

in 1980 while he was working as a researcher at the University of Chicago. The

Bacillus natto acts on the soybeans, producing the nattokinase enzyme.

Dr. Sumi studied about 200 foods from around the world and found that natto has

the highest fibrinolytic activity of any food he studied. “There is no enzyme that

has a stronger fibrinolytic activity than nattokinase,” he said.2

 

Why is this so important?

Because blood clots that form inside your blood vessels restrict your blood flow,

and that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Whenever you are injured, your body naturally

releases compounds that convert a protein in

your blood called fibrinogen into fibrin. Fibrin

works like a spider web, forming long threads

that catch your red blood cells and other

substances to form a blood clot. If you’re

injured, this clot, or scab, stops the bleeding

and allows your body to heal.

After their work is done, your body’s clotting agents should disappear, and your

blood flow should return to normal. However, sometimes your body may form a

blood clot unnecessarily, and these are the dangerous kind.

Your body does produce an enzyme that breaks up fibrin naturally; it’s called

plasmin.

As you age, however, your body produces less plasmin and more fibrinogen. As

a result, your body will begin clotting more, and disintegrating the clots less, on

its own.

One of the most beneficial effects of nattokinase is that it has an extremely

powerful ability to disintegrate blood clots. The properties of nattokinase closely

resemble the fibrinolytic activity of your body’s natural enzyme, plasmin

 

You may have heard the misguided advice to take aspirin to prevent a heart

attack. This popular recommendation is based on the same principles, as aspirin is a blood thinner that may make your blood less likely to clot and block a

narrowed artery.

 

Natto Contains the Most Vitamin K2 of All Foods

Along with nattokinase, natto contains another amazingly profound nutrient

powerhouse: vitamin K2 (menaquinone).

Vitamin K2 is made by the bacteria that line your gastrointestinal tract, but as you

age, and also if you take antibiotics, the bacteria weakens and produces less

vitamin K2.

Vitamin K2, named for “Koagulation,” is essential for

proper blood clotting. It helps to prevent hardening of

your arteries, which is a common factor in coronary

artery disease and heart failure. Research suggests

that vitamin K may also help to keep calcium out of

your artery linings and other body tissues, where it can

be damaging.

Not only is vitamin K great for your heart, it’s absolutely

essential for building healthy bones as without it your

body will not optimally utilize calcium and vitamin D

and plug the calcium into your bone matrix.

 

The evidence supporting natto’s beneficial

impact on your bones, and its role in

preventing the bone disease osteoporosis,

is hard to ignore.

One 2006 study, for instance, found that

women who ate more than four packets of

natto per week (each packet contained

about 40 grams of natto) reduced bone

mass loss at the top of their thigh bone by

over 80 percent, and in their lower arm by 60 percent.3

 

Vitamin K2 is even more effective than calcium for your bones. In one study, 241

www.MERCOLA.com 4omen with osteoporosis were given either vitamin K2 or calcium each day for

two years. It turned out the women who received the vitamin K2 had maintained

lumbar bone mineral density, and experienced significantly fewer fractures.

So if you’re trying to fortify your diet with foods that will boost your bone health,

natto is quite possibly the best option there is. Eating one serving of natto is

actually the equivalent of taking eight capsules of the vitamin K2

 

Natto contains a bacteria called Bacillus Subtilis (B. subtilis), which is a powerful

probiotic (good bacteria). This is one of the primary reasons why I consume natto

on a regular basis as this is one of the best sources of this amazingly useful

bacteria.

Prior to World War II, the German army used this

probiotic to cure its soldiers of dysentery. While

Japanese soldiers also received this protective effect

(from eating natto), the German soldiers, during their

1941 African campaign, noticed that the local people

would eat warm camel and horse droppings to get rid of

the disease.

After testing the droppings, German scientists found

out why the droppings worked to rid the body of harmful

pathogenic bacteria: it was full of B. subtilis.

Cultures of B. subtilis soon became known as one of the best treatments for

dysentery and intestinal problems, and they were sold by prescription under the

name Bacti-Subtil until the early 1960s when synthetic antibiotics were

introduced.

Though B. subtilis is not widely used now in the United States, it is still being sold

by prescription in other countries such as Italy, France, Germany, and Vietnam.

Of course, you can get a hefty dose at a much lower price, and with no

prescription necessary, just by eating some natto. The benefits of B. subtilis are

many, and well make up for the pungent taste of the food

 

Soy products that are unfermented — soy milk, tofu, soybean oil, soy burgers,

and all the other processed soy products out there — are not health foods and I

strongly advise avoiding them.

In fact, unfermented soy products have been linked to everything from

reproductive disorders and infertility, to cancer and heart disease. If this surprises

you, please read my special report How to Get the Benefits of Soy… Without All

the Health Risks, available at www.Mercola.com.

Soy foods only become healthy after a long fermentation process, during which

the dangerous phytate and “antinutrient” levels of soybeans are reduced, and

their beneficial properties are made available to your digestive system.

 

The health benefits are found to be as good with natto, according to research conducted by a Japanese scientist who found natto had the highest fibrinolytic activity among 200 foods produced worldwide. About 15 years ago, that same scientist discovered an enzyme produced in the fermentation process, nattokinase, a powerful agent contained in the sticky part of natto that dissolves blood clots that lead to heart attacks, strokes and senility.

Natto also contains vitamin K2 and isophrabon, which help to prevent diseases such as osteoporosis and breast cancer and slow down the aging process.

first became a part of the Japanese culture

during the later part of the Edo Period

(1600–1868). During this period, soybeans

were packed in straw and buried underground for a week or more. A naturally

occurring bacillus in the straw facilitated

the soybean fermentation. The result was natto.

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