Eat Natto To Protect Your Heart and Bones!
By Neenah Payne
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider.
Note: Natural Blaze does not receive commissions from sales related to any products or services mentioned in this article; they are strictly presented only as personal recommendations from this article’s author. Books do contain Amazon links from Natural Blaze.
My article “Why You Need Vitamins D3-K2 Urgently!” discusses the revolutionary book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life by Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue. The book explains that Vitamin K2’s role is to guide calcium to the bones and teeth and away from the arteries. She warns that people who don’t take a Vitamin D3/K2 supplement risk having calcium deposited in their arteries where it can cause a sudden heart attack or stroke. At the same time, their bones may be deprived of the calcium needed to prevent osteoporosis.
Dr. Kate explains the critical role Vitamin K2 plays in preventing:
- Heart attacks
- Various cancers
- Kidney disease
- Fertility problems
- Difficult childbirths
- Need for braces
- Varicose veins
Vitamins D3 and K2
My article “Why You Need Transdermal Magnesium!” features the book by Dr. Mark Sircus on magnesium and includes the products he recommends — which I use every day. I also follow Dr. Sircus’ recommendations on iodine and read his daily articles.
However, in his article “Light Deficiency as a Cause of Cancer,” Dr. Sircus recommends high doses of Vitamin D3. Even many great alternative doctors like Dr. Sircus are not aware that Vitamin K2 must be used with Vitamin D3 because it acts as the “intelligence – telling D3 where to deposit calcium.
Dr. Daniel Nuzum is the author of Detox for Life: How to Minimize Toxins and Maximize Your Body’s Ability to Heal. Dr. Nuzum is an NMD, a naturopathic physician, mechanotherapist, naprapath, medical massage practitioner, tui na practitioner and Native American healing practitioner. When Dr. Nuzum received his natural medicine license at age 20, he was the youngest Licensed Naturopath in U.S. history. He has been formulating supplements for more than 17 years, and is one of the leading researchers of fulvic and humic acid.
Dr. Nuzum’s website says:
He holds seven PhDs in various medical fields, three doctorates, and is currently completing his MD. He is one of the top formulators of natural health supplements in the world as well as a toxicologist, professor, scientist, researcher and author. He is dedicated to formulating the best line of supplements using only the highest quality ingredients.
In the Organixx podcast Episode 4: Multi-Vitamins: Hype or Healthy?, Dr. Nuzum explained that there is a trend now to prescribe 50,000 to 100,000 units of Vitamin D3 once a week. However, that never corrects a deficiency even over the course of a year! However, when the person is put on low doses – 5,000 units – twice a day, within 2-8 weeks, the Vitamin D3 deficiency is corrected. So, lower doses of Vitamin D3 work better – and it must be used with Vitamin K2. Dr. Kate says magnesium is essential for the absorption of Vitamin D.
Natto: Best Source of Vitamin K2
All the MDs mentioned in the article “Why You Need Vitamins D3-K2 Urgently!” agree that natto (fermented soybeans) is the best source of Vitamin K2. However, they ALL say that natto (a Japanese food) is difficult for Americans to find — and that it tastes so bad it’s impossible to eat!
However, my article shows that New York Natto which comes in four flavors is very palatable and is available online, on Amazon, and in some health food stores. Since writing that article, I have found Rhapsody Natto which comes in two sizes and is also available online, on Amazon, and in health food stores — and costs about half as much. However, I like the fact that New York Natto comes in glass jars!
I eat natto with eggs for breakfast and with rice for dinner. You need just a teaspoon a day. When I add soy sauce, scallions, and sea salt to the rice, I can’t taste the natto. It’s a delicious, nutritious meal.
Natto and Healing the Gut Microbiome
Natto is joining the better-known probiotic foods (kimchi, kefir, and kombucha) as the importance of the health of the gut microbiome is becoming more widely recognized. Dr. Pedram Shojai was interviewed in the Organixx podcast Episode 26 “Achieving Optimum Health by Healing Your Gut and Microbiome.”
Dr. Shojai hosted the free nine-part online docuseries Interconnected: The Power To Heal From Within in May. It is available for purchase now. It explains that the microbiome is the next frontier in medicine, a revolutionary game-changer, a new paradigm. The article Is The Gut Microbiome The Key To Curing Chronic Diseases? says: “With chronic diseases on the rise across the world, the gut microbiome is now front and center in this epidemic.”
Part 3 was devoted to the role of probiotic foods in healing the gut and restoring the microbiome.
Although the series recommended several probiotic foods, it failed to even mention natto – the probiotic superfood! Natto is still being overlooked by many top alternative doctors! All of those who do mention natto have failed to say that it is now readily available in the US in very palatable forms.
Video #1: What Is Natto? shows how sticky natto is. The video has a recipe with rice. It says natto “is a much-loved, protein-packed Japanese food standby. It’s also made of slimy, stinky soybeans. By popular request, this week Reactions is all about the chemistry of natto.”
Video #2: In Making the Stinky, Sticky, Slimy Beloved Superfood of Japan: NYrture Natto , Microbiologist Dr. Ann Yonetani, founder and owner of NYrture Natto, shows how New York Natto is made. She explains that natto is a Japanese “cheese”. Dr. Yonetani says, “If there’s any food on Earth that truly deserves to be called a ‘superfood’ – it’s natto!” She explains that written documentation describing natto goes back for over 1,000 years! Yet, in America, natto is still virtually unknown.
Ann points out that natto has three unique properties that make it unlike any other food on Earth: 1. Natto is probiotic. It is fermented with bacteria not found in any other fermented foods in the West. 2. Natto is THE most concentrated food source of Vitamin K2 which is essential for both bone health and cardiovascular health. Natto beats any other food as a source of Vitamin K2 by an order of magnitude.
3. The nattokinase enzyme in natto is a natural blood thinner that can break down blood clots.
Video #3: Trying Natto for the First Time (Fermented Soybeans) says that millions of Japanese people eat natto every day. The video shows people from the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, France, and Thailand trying natto for the first time! Their consensus is that natto tastes great – often to their own surprise! The video says: “Natto is fermented soybeans and is a staple of breakfast for many Japanese. Although it’s super healthy and considered a super food, it takes some getting used to. Today we’ve invited our friends from around the world to try Natto for the first time.”
Video #4: NATTO – Trails to Oishii Tokyo says: “This episode features natto, a fermented soybean product known for its powerful smell and sticky texture. Both economical and nutritious, natto is a staple Japanese breakfast food. Mito, north of Tokyo, is the natto capital of Japan. See how traditional, organic natto is made, and have a look at a variety of unique dishes that feature natto.”
Video #5: Natto: Japan’s Probiotic Superfood features microbiologist Dr. Ann Yonetani who worked for over 15 years as a bio-medical research scientist in labs at Columbia University, Harvard Medical School, UCSF, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and the Basel Biozentrum. She also enjoyed cooking in restaurants and soup kitchens in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Boston. Dr. Yonetani received her BA in Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, MS in Biochemistry from the University of California, San Francisco, and PhD in Microbiology from Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons.
Dr. Yonetani was a professor of Food Studies at The New School in New York City. In 2016, she combined her interests in food and science to found NYrture Natto and introduce natto to America.
Dr. Yonetani explains that, as a microbiologist and food science professor, she was deeply interested in how fermented probiotic foods made with microbes impact the human microbiome and health. She gave her lecture at The Japan Society with her Dad in the audience.
Dr. Yonetani is Japanese American and was raised in Philadelphia by Japanese parents. She visited Japan as a child. Dr. Yonetani doesn’t remember her first experience of natto there. She explains that tradition says natto was discovered accidentally about 1,000 years ago in eastern parts of Japan where it remains most popular today. Mito is the epicenter of natto culture in Japan. She said that to her knowledge, the natto her company makes is the only one packaged in glass jars.
Japanese supermarkets carry dozens of brans of natto. It is very popular and ubiquitous in Japan. Even after consolidation, there are still over 200 natto companies in Japan – a country the size of California. In March 2018, Dr. Yonetani went to Japan to participate in the annual natto competition. The nattos are judged anonymously for taste, smell, texture, and appearance. Over 200 varieties competed.
Dr. Yonetani first learned how to make natto in Japan from a fifth-generation natto maker in Tokyo. Good natto cannot be made from just any soybeans. It has to be made from very special varieties that are specifically bred for the purpose of making natto. They are GMO free and are not soybeans that are used for making tofu, soy sauce, or any other soybean products.
Japan consumes hundreds of metric tons of natto each year. Most of the soybeans used in Japan to create natto are grown in the US because there is simply not enough land in Japan. About 80% of the natto produced in the world is made from US soybeans.
Fermentation transforms soybeans into natto. Fermented foods are made with the help of friendly micro-organisms – bacteria, yeast, or other forms of microbes. Fermented foods are found in every culture around the world. Fermentation was an ancient way to keep food edible longer, to help preserve food before refrigeration. Fermentation also makes foods more digestible. In the case of natto, fermentation actually creates new nutrients.
Dr. Yonetani says natto is a true superfood. It is vegan, gluten-free, GMO-free, with zero additives. New York Natto has no added sugars or chemical preservatives. It is an excellent source of potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium, and fiber. Natto is an amazingly rich source of plant-based protein.
Dr. Yonetani discussed the three things that are unique to natto that put it in a class by itself:
- Probiotic: Natto contains live micro-organism beneficial to health. The healthful bacteria Bacilus subtilis is a key member of the human gut microbiome. Each tablespoon of her natto contains a billion of the Bacillus subtilis, a count that is “orders of magnitude greater than what you would find in a typical probiotic food.”
- Vitamin K2: Natto is incredibly rich in Vitamin K2. A single heaping tablespoon of New York Natto contains approximately 300 micrograms of K2, about seven times the minimum daily requirement. Vitamin K2 is an essential micronutrient important for both bone health and cardiovascular health.
- Nattokinase: A natural blood-thinning enzyme that may prevent strokes and heart disease.
Importance of Probiotic Foods
Dr. Yonetani points out that not all fermented foods are probiotic. For a food to be probiotic, the micro-organism that fermented it must still be alive in the food and must have been shown to be of benefit to human health. She explains that probiotic foods are important because they can help replenish our gut microbiome – a collective term for the thousands of species of beneficial micro-organisms that live symbiotically with us mostly inside us, but also on our skin. In fact, we can’t live without them.
The human body contains many more bacterial cells than human cells – possibly by as much as a factor of 10. The majority of these micro-organisms live in our gut. It is not yet clear what the role is for each of the micro-organisms. However, as a community, they have a profound impact on all parts of the body. That includes not just digestion and metabolism – which is what was originally thought – but also mood and mental health, cardio-vascular health, bone health, immune health and allergies, reproductive health and post-natal health, as well as inflammation, allergies, and autism.
Dr. Yonetani says that the study of the impact of the microbiome on human health is one of the most exciting studies in biology and medicine today. It’s a field that is exploding with new knowledge year after year. Including in our diets the nutrients that those micro-organisms need may be a critical part of our own health and well-being. Natto is chockful of probiotics – particularly Bacilus subtilis. Dr. Yonetani has been collaborating over the last couple of years with scientists at Harvard University and Tufts to look at the biology in New York Natto. It was discovered that three tablespoons of her natto contain tens of billions of viable probiotic cells.
Natto’s Microbes and Spores
Natto contains a mixture of live Bacilus subtilis cells and spores. As part of its natural lifecycle, Bacilus subtilis can go into a dormant state and form a spore — which is analogous to the seed of a plant. Most bacteria don’t form spores. What’s great about spores is that, like seeds, are highly-resistant to all kinds of harsh environmental conditions. Spores require no food, light, water, or oxygen. So, spores can wait almost indefinitely until conditions improve. They can then wake up and function as normal living cells.
This is really important with respect to probiotic foods and supplements for two reasons. Most of the live bacteria that are ingested are killed by the acidic conditions of the stomach which are designed to protect us from infection and sickness. So, when you consume probiotics, only a tiny percentage of microbial species are likely to survive and make it into your gut. The spores, on the other hand, should be resistant to stomach acid. So, natto may be able to deliver microbes to the gut more reliably.
Since cells are primarily water, they don’t survive freezing and thawing which cause the contraction and expansion of the water. All natto that comes from Japan is frozen during export. So, if you’re eating imported natto, it has been frozen and thawed at least once before it’s gotten to you – probably more than once. So, the majority of live cells have probably been killed in frozen natto, but there are probably also spores in there.
Vitamin K2: Key to Bone and Heart Health
Dr. Yonetani says that Vitamin K2 is a micro-nutrient that you are going to be hearing more and more about because it is essential for both bone health and cardiovascular health. Many cardiologists in the US are jumping on the Vitamin K2 bandwagon – recommending Vitamin K2 supplements because too much calcium in the bloodstream can cause cardiovascular disease.
Decades of encouraging people to eat more calcium and take more calcium supplements has led to an increase in cardiovascular disease because most Americans do not have enough Vitamin K2 in their diet. Without Vitamin K2, calcium is deposited in the arteries which become more stiff and hard. With sufficient Vitamin K2, there are no calcium deposits and arteries are more elastic and soft.
Vitamin K2 functions in calcium transport and bone growth, bringing calcium from the blood to bones. Clinical studies show a correlation between natto consumption and increased bone density and reduced bone fracture rates.
Natto is by far the best food source of Vitamin K2. A serving of natto contains more Vitamin K2 than most K2 supplements – and almost all of it is in the form of MK-7, the most bio-active form of Vitamin K2. For people on a plant-based or vegan diet, natto is the ONLY food source of Vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 (shown in blue on the chart) comes from leafy green vegetables. It helps clot the blood and is not a factor in bone or heart health. Vitamin K1 is not readily converted to Vitamin K2 in the body. So, green vegetables are NOT a source of Vitamin K2. Natto is the green line in the chart – soaring above all other foods as a source of Vitamin K2.
Natto: Super Food
Nattokinase Enzyme: Natural Blood Thinner
Dr. Yonetani explained that nattokinase is an enzyme in natto that is a natural blood thinner which breaks down blood clots. This affects the outcomes and mortality rates of strokes and heart disease. Some people take nattokinase in a supplement form. It is a milder and more natural blood thinner than pharmaceuticals like Warfarin, the most popular drug. It is a preventative against strokes and cardiac events. Natto is al less expensive source of nattokinase – and you get all the other benefits of natto.
Unfortunately, many articles confuse Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2 – even some that purport to clarify their roles! Vitamin K1, in green leafy vegetables, helps clot the blood. It was discovered in 1929 by Dr. Henrik Dam, a German doctor who named the vitamin “K” for “koagulation” – the German word for coagulation/clotting. Vitamin K2, which was discovered later, is found in natto and is a blood thinner.
Dr. Yonetani says that with so many compelling reasons to eat natto, it’s surprising that more Americans are not eating it. It is her mission to change that! Dried natto is so popular now in Japan that it is served on Japanese airlines instead of peanuts. In Japan, natto is traditionally eaten for breakfast with white rice, scallions, soy sauce – and maybe a raw egg. However, that might not appeal to most Americans.
So, Dr. Yonetani showed photos of many other ways to enjoy natto.
In the Q&A, Dr. Yonetani explained that the sticky part of natto is called “neba neba”. It is the biofilm that the microbes create to protect themselves, move, and communicate. Creating a biofilm is a common function of microbes, but Basilis subtilis, the microbe in natto, is a particularly prolific biofilm maker. In Japan and much of Asia, that sticky texture is quite revered.
However, it is not common in the West and may pose an initial barrier for most Americans. Okra is the only American food that has a similar slimy texture. Dr. Yonetani recommends that Americans mix the natto with guacamole or hummus to dilute it and hide some of the stickiness. She also recommends that people start with the black New York Natto because it has a milder flavor and is less sticky.
Miso, Tempeh, Natto & Other Tasty Ferments: A Step-by-Step Guide to Fermenting Grains and Beans, a book published in June 2019, shows that natto is beginning to catch on in the US now!
“Health Benefits of Natto” lists 10 additional benefits of natto and Vitamin K2 including:
Vitamin K has been shown to help prevent neurological degeneration, in turn helping to ward off diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. If this isn’t enough to impress you, Vitamin K also helps prevent the formation of kidney stones….The fermentation process creates the enzyme nattokinase which has plenty of medicinal applications. Regular consumption of this enzyme can help treat many autoimmune disorders like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Additionally, consumption of the enzyme has shown to help aid treatment for cancer, endometriosis, muscle spasms, vitamin B deficiency, and uterine fibroids….
Natto is high in Vitamin PQQ which has been linked to skin health. The only source of Vitamin PQQ is diet, and given its superpowers, it is worth finding a steady source. Natto is packed with the vitamin and will help you restore elasticity to your skin….High intake of Vitamin K helps to lower the risk of cancer.…. Natto offers a completely natural cure for constipation.
Share This Information Widely Now
Information about the importance of Vitamin K2 and natto should be all over the corporate media, in every school, and in every doctor’s office – but it is not. Even many top alternative doctors seem unaware of the importance of Vitamin K2 and natto. When they do know about natto, they don’t know that it is readily available now on Amazon, on at least two websites, and in health food stores.
Dr. Dennis Goodman is Chairman of the Department of Integrative Medicine at New York University. He is double-board-certified in cardiology and holistic integrative medicine. Dr. Goodman is the author of Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient for Heart and Bone Health. He recommends a teaspoon of natto per day to get 180 micrograms of Vitamin K2.
The 2017 article “Everything you need to know about vitamin K2” by Dr. W. Gifford-Jones discusses the work of Dr. Goodman. Although the article was published in 2017 and New York Natto was founded in 2016, the article does not mention that natto is easy to find in the US now and tastes okay. Yet, that’s one of the MAIN things people need to know about Vitamin K2! I have not found ONE article, interview, book, or video by any American doctor (other than Dr. Yonetani) which explains that natto is easy to get in the US now and is palatable. That is critical life-saving information!
About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death. In addition, it is estimated that more than 200 million people suffer from osteoporosis. Recent statistics from the International Osteoporosis Foundation show that worldwide, 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 and 1 in 5 men will experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime.
I plan to contact all the doctors in my earlier article to ask them to invite Dr. Yonetani to speak in NYC, Canada, Australia, Hawaii, etc. Sharing the information in this article widely now can help many people and help save many lives. If the corporate media and even alternative doctors are not telling people this key information, it will be spread now only by social media. Make this information go viral now!