Nattokinase: Fermented Food For the Win
Dr. Kara's Health Insights

Nattokinase: Fermented Food For the Win

by DK Kara MD on Sep 16, 2021

Long, long ago, a Samurai named Minamoto no Yoshie (1) and his men gathered around the campfire to eat a quick meal of rice and cooked soybeans.

Before they could finish their meal, word of an enemy approaching came to the troops. Quickly, they packed up their food and supplies, grabbed their horses and left.

After a couple of days, they pulled out their dinner of old to discover that the beans had begun fermenting. Perhaps the body heat and sweat of the horses they rode helped create the perfect environment for the beans to begin their transformation.

The men gave it a try, and to their delight they found the beans to be delicious! As time went on and the understanding of fermentation grew, Natto became more of a staple in Japanese diets.

Legends are fun, and it’s amazing how some of the best things in life happen by accident.

You’ve probably heard by now that fermented foods are great for your health. Filled with probiotics, these types of foods can help boost your immune system, improve digestion, and bring balance to your microbiome.

So where does Nattokinase fit in? This particular enzyme can play a big role in improving your health, especially where it relates to your heart. Let’s dive in further and start with the basics.                 

What is Nattokinase?

To understand Nattokinase, you first need to understand that it comes from the Japanese dish Natto – made from fermented soybeans. This dish has a strong smell, one that might make you think of cheese. It also has a sticky, gooey consistency.

Nattokinase is an enzyme that is extracted from this dish and used as a supplement. Enzymes help speed up certain chemical reactions in your body. They’re necessary for all kinds of daily functions, like digestion, growing, and healing from injuries (6).

How is it Made?

During ancient times, Natto was made from soybeans that were collected, cleaned, and then cooked until tender. They were then wrapped in rice straw (1) and left in a warm, moist environment for a few days. Natural bacteria were introduced to the soybeans through dirt and elsewhere, and before long the fermentation began.

Nowadays, Natto is made in a more controlled environment. Instead of letting natural bacteria enter the beans through the rice straw, a specific bacterium Bacillus subtilis is added to it in pre-made cultures. These are then stuffed into sterilized rice straw pockets. Then begins the fermentation process.

Nattokinase is created during the fermentation process of Natto. After the Natto meets acceptable processing requirements, the desired Nattoknase enzyme is extracted and purified.

Benefits

Nattokinase seems to be the most beneficial to heart-related issues. It has powerful clot-dissolving properties that are used either independently or paired with certain medications for conditions such as:

  • Lowers Heart Disease: While there are several different kinds of heart conditions that fall under this category, the common denominator has to do with how efficiently the heart is working. Because Nattokinase has clot-disrupting properties, it can help reduce risks of heart attacks, stroke, etc.
  • Improving Gut Health: If you consume Nattokinase through the food Natto, you’ll get a boost of probiotics because of the fermentation process. This is excellent for your digestion, immune system, and even your mental health.
  • Blood Pressure: Nattokinase seems to have the ability to inhibit what’s known as angiotensin-converting enzyme (3), which is known to narrow blood vessels. This could help lower blood pressure by keeping your blood vessels wide creating less resistance to flow.
  • Varicose Veins: Varicose veins are basically weakened vessels that let blood pool in certain spots rather than pushing it back towards the heart. It’s also thought to be related to higher blood pressure. Nattokinase can help lower blood pressure, which can help prevent the development of these types of veins.
  • Stroke: Broken or damaged blood vessels can increase the risk of a blood clot. Nattokinase can help reduce the number of clots, thereby potentially reducing the risk of a stroke.
  • Atherosclerosis: This term means the arteries are hardening. This is a problem because it can restrict blood flow (5), which can lead to heart attacks and chest pain. Nattokinase can help keep plaque and other material from building up in your blood vessels, reducing the hardening effects.
  • Poor Circulation: Plaque build-up, narrow blood vessels, or crossed fibers can make your circulation less than great. Taking Nattokinase supplements could help keep these issues at a minimum, thereby increasing better circulation throughout your body.

Risks

Although generally considered safe, you should reconsider taking Nattokinase if you take blood medications, such as blood thinners or blood pressure medication.

If you do experience symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, or passing out (fainting), stop taking it..

If you have a surgery planned, it’s advised to stop taking Nattokinase two weeks (4) before the surgery date. This is to prevent the potential excess bleeding.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, speak with your doctor before adding this to your diet.

How to Take Nattokinase

Food is always better than supplements. And because Nattokinase is taken out of the dish, Natto, that would be the best way to get the enzyme.

But Natto is not something that is readily available here in the United States. There are many recipes online if you prefer to make your own.

If this is not possible where you live, there are other options. Most forms of Nattokinase come in either tablets or capsules.

Be sure to check for reputable companies that offer third party testing. Quality is key, here.

Dosage: Suggested daily amounts are about 100 mg (2) per day.

Conclusion

Nattokinase is an amazing enzyme that comes from a Japanese dish of fermented soybeans, Natto. This dish has become a staple in Japan, and researchers are discovering the powerful effects of this extract.

This enzyme seems to pack a real punch in helping reduce a lot of different heart-related issues. Stroke, heart attack, varicose veins, and blood pressure all seem to share a common enemy: build-up or blockage.

Whether its blood clots, fibers, or plaque, Nattokinase helps to break this up and keep everything flowing like it should. That being said, you shouldn’t take this supplement if you’re currently on blood thinning or blood pressure medication, having surgery in the next 2 weeks, pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do you know someone who may benefit from this knowledge? Be sure to share with family and friends!

References & Disclaimers

(1) https://www.nyrture.com/blog/ancient-origins-of-natto

(2) https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-nattokinase#1

(3) https://selfhacked.com/blog/nattokinase/

(4) https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-nattokinase-89831

(5) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atherosclerosis/

(6) https://www.creative-enzymes.com/resource/enzymes-functions_2.html

✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author