The Health Benefits of Nattokinase: All You Need To Know
Nattokinase is not a well-known word in the average household. However, in parts of the world, such as Japan, natto- its main source is a well-known and consumed food, helping the population to live healthier lives. But what is this nattokinase anyway, and what does it really do?
In this blog post, we’ll let you know all you need to know about this fascinating substance.
What is Nattokinase?
Nattokinase is a unique and potent enzyme that is found in natto, a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. The enzyme is produced by a type of bacteria called Bacillus subtilis, which is added to boiled soybeans and left to ferment for several days.
Over this time, the bacteria break down the soybeans and release various enzymes, including nattokinase.
Nattokinase is unique among enzymes because it has the ability to dissolve blood clots. It does this by breaking down fibrin, a protein that is found in blood clots and can cause blockages in the arteries and veins. By breaking down fibrin, nattokinase helps to prevent blood clots from forming and can improve blood flow throughout the body.
Nattokinase is often compared to other enzymes, such as serrapeptase and bromelain, which also have blood-thinning properties. However, nattokinase is generally considered to be more effective at dissolving blood clots than these other enzymes. It is also more stable and has a longer half-life in the body, which means it can stay active in the bloodstream for longer periods of time.
One of the reasons why nattokinase is so effective is because it is a serine protease enzyme, which means it is able to break down proteins more efficiently than other types of enzymes. This makes it particularly effective at breaking down the fibrin, which is a protein that is resistant to many other enzymes.
Nattokinase is also unique in that it has a relatively small molecular weight, which allows it to easily penetrate cell walls and reach areas of the body that other enzymes may not be able to reach. This makes it particularly effective at dissolving blood clots that may be located in smaller blood vessels or hard-to-reach areas.
Health Benefits of Nattokinase
Lowering Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a widespread health concern affecting millions of individuals worldwide. Uncontrolled hypertension is a leading cause of various cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.
Therefore, effective management of blood pressure is critical for overall health and well-being. One of the many benefits of nattokinase is its ability to potentially help lower blood pressure.
Nattokinase's effectiveness in lowering blood pressure can be attributed to its unique ability to inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). ACE is a key enzyme in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), responsible for converting angiotensin I into the potent vasoconstrictor angiotensin II, which narrows blood vessels and increases blood pressure. By inhibiting ACE, nattokinase promotes vasodilation, allowing blood vessels to relax and subsequently lowering blood pressure.
Additionally, the fibrinolytic action of nattokinase contributes to its blood pressure-lowering effects. By breaking down fibrin and dissolving blood clots, nattokinase improves blood flow and contributes to balanced blood pressure. This is particularly important for individuals with hypertension, as improved circulation can ease the strain on the heart and reduce the risk of hypertension-related complications.
The potential of nattokinase as a natural treatment for hypertension is promising, especially for those seeking alternative or complementary therapies. While nattokinase should not replace conventional blood pressure medications without consulting a healthcare professional, it can be a valuable addition to a comprehensive blood pressure management plan that includes lifestyle modifications, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction.
Reducing The Risk Of Stroke And Heart Attack
Cardiovascular events like strokes and heart attacks are leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. These life-threatening events often result from blood clots or the build-up of arterial plaque, both of which can obstruct blood flow and deprive vital organs of oxygen and nutrients. Nattokinase demonstrates a remarkable ability to reduce the risk of such events through its fibrinolytic activity and its aforementioned effects on blood pressure regulation.
By breaking down fibrin and dissolving blood clots, nattokinase effectively improves circulation and prevents clot formation. This is particularly important in individuals at an elevated risk of clot-related complications, such as those with a history of deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or atrial fibrillation.
The ability of nattokinase to lower blood pressure further contributes to a reduced risk of stroke and heart attack, as hypertension is a major risk factor for these events.
Moreover, nattokinase's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties play a vital role in reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack. These actions protect blood vessels from damage caused by free radicals and inflammation, key factors in the development of atherosclerosis – the build-up of plaque within the arteries.
By mitigating oxidative stress and inflammation, nattokinase not only supports healthy blood vessels but also contributes to a reduced risk of life-threatening cardiovascular events.
Optimal blood circulation is essential for overall health, as it is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the body's tissues and removing waste products. Poor circulation can lead to various health issues, ranging from fatigue and cold extremities to more serious complications, such as peripheral artery disease, varicose veins, and blood clots.
Nattokinase's fibrinolytic action directly improves circulation by breaking down fibrin, which can accumulate in blood vessels and impede blood flow. Furthermore, nattokinase stimulates the production of other fibrinolytic enzymes, such as plasmin, which work synergistically to dissolve clots and maintain healthy circulation.
In addition to its fibrinolytic effects, nattokinase's ability to regulate blood pressure also contributes to improved circulation. By inhibiting ACE and promoting vasodilation, nattokinase facilitates blood flow through relaxed blood vessels, reducing the strain on the heart and enhancing overall circulatory health. This improvement in circulation can help alleviate symptoms associated with poor blood flow, such as muscle cramps, numbness, and swelling.
Furthermore, enhanced circulation supports the delivery of vital nutrients and oxygen to tissues throughout the body, promoting cellular health and overall well-being. By maintaining healthy circulation, nattokinase can contribute to improved energy levels, better cognitive function, and a reduced risk of circulatory system-related health issues.
Preventing Blood Clots
Blood clot formation is a necessary physiological process for wound healing and preventing excessive bleeding. However, excessive clotting can lead to serious health complications, such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, stroke, and heart attack.
Nattokinase's exceptional ability to prevent blood clots stems from its fibrinolytic action, as it directly cleaves fibrin and fibrinogen, preventing clot formation and dissolving existing clots.
By stimulating the production of other fibrinolytic enzymes, nattokinase further enhances its ability to prevent blood clots.
This comprehensive approach to clot prevention not only safeguards against potentially life-threatening cardiovascular events but also supports overall circulatory health. Nattokinase is particularly beneficial for individuals at a higher risk of blood clot formation, such as those with a sedentary lifestyle, a history of clotting disorders, or prolonged immobility due to illness or injury.
Inflammation plays a critical role in the body's immune response; however, chronic inflammation contributes to various health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Nattokinase possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help mitigate the negative effects of chronic inflammation on the cardiovascular system.
By reducing inflammation, nattokinase contributes to the maintenance of healthy blood vessels and lowers the risk of atherosclerosis, which is characterized by the build-up of plaque within the arteries.
The anti-inflammatory action of nattokinase can be attributed to its ability to modulate various inflammatory pathways and signaling molecules.
For instance, nattokinase has been shown to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), which play crucial roles in the initiation and progression of the inflammatory response. Furthermore, nattokinase suppresses the activation of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB), a key transcription factor involved in regulating inflammation and immune response.
By targeting multiple aspects of the inflammatory cascade, nattokinase effectively dampens the harmful effects of chronic inflammation on blood vessels and cardiovascular health. As a natural anti-inflammatory agent, nattokinase can be an invaluable addition to an overall wellness strategy aimed at reducing inflammation and promoting cardiovascular health.
We also highly recommend using Field Of Greens to fortify the amount of natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants you get from plant-based foods.
Precautions When Taking Nattokinase
As with any supplement or natural remedy, it is important to be aware of potential precautions and side effects associated with the use of nattokinase.
While nattokinase is generally considered safe for most individuals, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating it into your health regimen, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications.
- Bleeding risk: One of the primary concerns with nattokinase supplementation is the potential for increased bleeding risk due to its fibrinolytic activity. Individuals who are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications, such as warfarin, aspirin, or clopidogrel, should exercise caution when considering nattokinase supplementation, as the combined effect of these medications and nattokinase may increase the risk of bleeding.
- Allergic reactions: Although rare, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to nattokinase, especially if they have a known allergy to soy or soy-based products. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, and gastrointestinal disturbances. If you suspect an allergic reaction to nattokinase, discontinue use immediately.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is limited information on the safety of nattokinase during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Due to the potential for increased bleeding risk, it is advisable for pregnant and breastfeeding to steer clear of supplemental nattokinase (although occasional natto should be fine).
- Interactions with medications: Nattokinase may interact with certain medications, including anticoagulants, antiplatelet drugs, and blood pressure medications. If you are currently taking any of these medications, it is crucial to consult your healthcare provider before incorporating nattokinase into your health regimen to prevent any potential adverse interactions.
- Dosage considerations: It is essential to follow the recommended dosage guidelines for supplemental nattokinase to minimize the risk of side effects or complications. The appropriate dosage may vary depending on factors such as age, weight, and overall health.
Where Can You Get Nattokinase?
Nattokinase is a widely available supplement that can be obtained through various sources. As a natural enzyme derived from the traditional Japanese food natto, it can be consumed as part of your diet or in supplement form for those who prefer a more concentrated and convenient option.
Here are some ways to incorporate nattokinase into your wellness routine:
- Natto consumption: Natto is a fermented soybean dish that has been consumed in Japan for centuries. Rich in nattokinase, it is considered a healthy and nutritious food with numerous health benefits. You can find natto in Japanese grocery stores, health food stores, or online shops specializing in Asian foods. As the taste and texture of natto may be unfamiliar to some, you can experiment with different recipes, such as mixing it with rice, vegetables, or in sushi rolls, to make it more palatable.
- Dietary supplements: Nattokinase is also available in supplement form, typically as capsules, tablets, or soft gels. These supplements offer a more convenient and concentrated source of nattokinase for those who may not enjoy the taste of natto or cannot easily access it. You can purchase nattokinase supplements at health food stores, pharmacies, or online retailers that specialize in vitamins and supplements.
- Functional foods and beverages: Some manufacturers incorporate nattokinase into functional foods and beverages, such as smoothies, energy bars, or protein shakes, as a means of providing additional health benefits. These products can be found at health food stores, specialty grocery stores, or online retailers. While these products may offer a more enjoyable and convenient way to consume nattokinase, it is essential to carefully read the labels and ensure that the product meets your dietary requirements and contains an adequate amount of nattokinase.
At this point in time, nattokinase “shows great promise”. What this means is that while studies have shown its potential in small groups of people, ideally, you would need a lot more studies to solidify these benefits.
However, knowing how these things go, that might mean years in the making. Considering that it is well-tolerated overall, and as long as you aren’t on that contraindicated list, go ahead and try some- your heart health may depend on it.