Learning from the Japanese and Natto

Japanese Natto Food: Our recent article explored the benefits of fermented food, particularly foods like miso, and soy sauce. A deep-dive into another fermented food, natto, shows that this particular food may have many benefits that help women going through menopause. Natto, not nearly as popular as its “cousin” tofu, has been eaten in Japan for millennia. It is made of fermented soybeans, soybeans which are fermented with the bacteria bacillus subtilus. The beans are first cooked for hours before the bacteria are introduced in a temperature-controlled fermentation room. After a day or so, the beans are cooled and stored in a refrigerator for the flavor to mature.

The beans develop into a slightly sticky texture, though they still look like gooey chickpeas. Some complain that the odor of natto is not the most appetizing, ranging from exercise socks to paint thinner, from ammonia to Camembert cheese, and yet, depending how it’s prepared, the odor does not have to be overly pungent. It is certainly an acquired taste, but with that acquisition come all of the health benefits.

Health Benefits of Natto

The active ingredient in Natto is nattokinase. This enzyme not only helps aid circulation, but it also works to clean out the blood vessels which reduce the risk of hypertension, stroke and heart disease. It is also strong in K2, a vitamin that helps with bone health. The ability to bolster bone strength is one of the reasons why natto should be considered by menopausal and postmenopausal women. One study of Japanese women who were postmenopausal showed that those who consumed natto regularly were less likely to develop bone density loss which helped protect them against osteoporosis. In comparison to other soy products like tofu, there was no correlation between improved bone density and consumption.

Superfood Benefits
A healthy Japanese old woman with his white dog
A healthy Japanese old woman

When looking at the chemical breakdown of natto, it’s easy to see why it’s such a superfood. Natto has no cholesterol, and also contains lots of potassium and dietary fiber, two of the elements responsible for cleaning out the arteries. Because natto is fermented, the bacteria it contains helps to clean out the gut while the enzyme nattokinase cleans out the blood vessels. Vitamins, protein, and iron are all abundant in natto as well, making it not only healthy food to consume, but a good weight loss food that is both filling and nutritious.

Natto Recipe Preparation

When making a dish with natto, there are many methods for preparation. In Japan, it is commonly served with rice and fermented vegetables. This way of serving natto is a traditional breakfast in Japan. Another way to eat natto is to whip it with a fork, making it into a sort of fluffy paste, and then use apple cider vinegar, mustard, and cultured vegetables to add more flavor. It is, as mentioned above, an acquired taste, so finding a way to prepare it that works for you and your loved ones is best. 

As more evidence comes out that much of menopause is influenced by lifestyle, more so than genetics, it’s important to consider healthy diet and exercise choices that can minimize any difficult symptoms of menopause. Natto is one of the foods that can best alleviate negative symptoms while working to ensure healthy flow of systems in the body.

Fermented Soy: A History

When the word ‘fermentation’ comes to mind, one might think of alcohol, of sourdough bread, of pickles. It is a word that conjures up images of bubbliness, or strange scientific processes that can’t always be understood but tend to have healthy outcomes. Fermentation has been a hot topic in American media the last few years as many folks “rediscover” the health benefits of consuming fermented foods. There are festivals and restaurants that specifically fetishize fermentation. However, like many other trends, including that of “discovering” turmeric, the benefits of fermented foods have been around for millennia, and one of the places that best exemplifies those benefits is Japan.

For generations, the Japanese people have utilized the healthy benefits of fermented food to aid in flavor-enhancement and digestion. Two of the most popular soy products, miso and soy sauce, are staples in most meals, including breakfast. To ferment soy properly, or to ferment most foods, a careful balance of skill and practice is necessary. Fermentation can happen with many different types of bacteria. In its most simple definition, fermentation is the harnessing of microorganisms and bacteria in food. 

Since Japan is surrounded by water and enjoys a warm, humid climate throughout most of the year, fermentation began naturally and has been infused into daily practice. Some of the various fermenting agents include types of mold like aspergillus, yeast fungus, lactic acid bacteria, natto bacillus, and other fungi. 

Popular Fermentation

When it comes to two of the most popular condiments in Japanese culture — miso and soy sauce — the role of fermentation cannot be underplayed. Not only does the fermentation add flavor to these condiments and to the meals, but it also aids in digestive processes, amplifies certain flavors, diminishes some of the more intense smells, and regulates the stomach and intestines. Other typical fermented foods and beverages in Japan include mirin, a sweet rice wine, fish sauces, ishiru (a sauce made from entrails and heads of squid) and Shottsuru (made from the liquid of a fermenting fish). Another example is natto, made from fermented soybeans, a health food noted for nattokinase, an enzyme that can destroy blood clots, thin blood, and improve overall circulation. 

Mastering Fermentation 

The process of creating these perfectly balanced fermented foods is inherited through generations. Currently, there are more than 1500 local producers of soy sauce in Japan and more than 1,000 miso makers. When the tsunami and earthquake hit in 2011, many of the businesses and corporations that had their recipes for fermentations — balances and formulas of correct bacteria—were destroyed. Just like the famous sourdough bread of San Francisco that has been made with the same starter for decades, many of the recipes for fermented soy and other products are perfectly balanced formulas that have been carried for generations. As many Americans continue to learn about the benefits of fermented food, there is much we can incorporate from the Japanese culture, as well as others, that have used this method of preserving and cooking for millennia. Our digestive systems will thank us.

EFFISOY - For menopause relief and anti-aging

A Menopausal Diet

Menopause is a lifestyle change, a shift in the body and mind that requires attention, care and adjustment. As a woman ages, her body reflects the cellular aging, coming to a moment when it no longer needs to sustain the cycles of elevated progesterone and estrogen. Menopause starts as those estrogen levels begin o naturally fall. Along with symptoms like hot flashes, lack of sleep, reduced bone density and changes in mood, the body has to learn how to regulate without that constant level of hormones. This can sometimes result in changes to how the body metabolizes carbohydrates as well as how the body regulates cholesterol levels. A healthy, responsive diet to menopause is a great place to begin when those initial symptoms of perimenopause come on.

The Dairy Diet

In the United States, lactose intolerance has been on the rise. Between 30 and 50 million people report various levels of intolerance, and that number is much higher for African Americans, indigenous peoples, and Asian Americans. Researchers believe that white people of European descent have lower levels of lactose intolerance as they descended from European communities where dairy has been consumed for generations. The genetic mutation to digest lactase was passed on through those lineages.

While there are varying studies on the pros and cons of lactose, it has been proven that milk can increase bone density. As women go through menopause and age in general, their bone density can decrease significantly, and a study has found that consuming lactose has helped replenish that strength. Drinking milk or eating cheese before sleep also can help with sleeplessness due to the amino acid glycine, a building block for protein, which has also been used to treat people with schizophrenia, stroke, sleep problems, metabolic disorders, and other illnesses.

Possible Assistance from Fatty Acids

In studies done looking at the effect of fatty acids on regulating the menopausal symptoms of women, results were not always conclusive but still left room for encouraging experimentation. In one study, women who consumed omega-3 fatty acids did experience relief of symptoms. Scientists note women can experiment with and document intake of omega-3 fatty acids to see if there is an effect. Such foods would include fish like mackerel and salmon, as well as flax, chia and hemp seeds.

General Healthy Eating Tips during Menopause

Consuming lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and quality proteins are all methods of boosting the body’s overall strength, muscle mass, and bone density. Studies looking at the consumption of whole grains compared to processed flours and sugars have found correlation between heart health and diet. The healthier the heart, and other organs, the stronger the body can maneuver hormone shifts. Some studies recommend avoiding spicy food, hot food, alcohol, and caffeine, as these can be triggering for some women during menopause who are prone to hot flashes.

The greatest take-aways when it comes to a healthy diet during menopauseare to focus on what works for you. By recording what you eat and any side effects, as well as focusing on healthy eating habits, you can better understand what your body needs. Food is, of course, one of the greatest determinants of health, and access to healthy food is linked to socioeconomic status, region (where one lives), race, ethnicity, and many other factors. Therefore, the intentionality involved in finding and preparing healthy foods is not always easy, especially for women working multiple jobs, taking care of a family, and living in a food desert. To the best of one’s ability, for a woman going through menopause, trying to prioritize a healthy diet can ease a lot of the symptoms.

Menopause is a natural phase of women’s life and there are may ways you can deal with menopause symptoms but treating menopause naturally is the best way and a permanent solution. Therefore Juveriente® brings to you a natural Japanese formula to treat menopause naturally. Visit Juveriente’s amazon shoptoday.

The Wonders of Japanese Green Tea – Five health benefits of green tea. ™Juveriente’s Blog

We are all bombarded with health news all the time. Drink this, eat this, don’t eat this. It’s a bit confusing. Sometimes we just want some advice. One thing that we can do to help ourselves, is to look at cultures who are healthy and then look at what they eat and drink.

The Benefits of Green Tea
health_benefits_of_green_tea_2019

Green tea is a popular drink in Japan. The Japanese have known about the benefits of tea for over 1,000 years. In the writings of the 12thcentury Japanese monk Eisai, he encouraged the drinking of tea for good health. Tea plantations were then established in the Uji region of Kyoto in the same period. Japan has made an art form of preparing, serving and drinking tea, the world famous Japanese tea ceremony.

Although tea has been drunk for over a millennium, today’s scientists are only just discovering why the drink is so special. They are beginning to understand some of the benefits that underpin green tea’s success in remaining popular for so long.

The Health benefits of Green Tea
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There are two main categories of tea, green and black. Green tea is less processed and is therefore considered more healthy than black tea. Green tea plants are typically grown in higher altitudes. The sencha variety of green tea is the most popular in Japan and is made with whole leaves. Matcha tea used to be a preserve of the elite in Japan but is now readily available all over the world. It is made from green tea that is grown in the shade, so that it has higher proportion of chlorophyll in the leaves. This gives matcha its bright green color. Matcha team is stone-ground whole tea leaves.

There are many claimed benefits of drinking green tea. Five of these benefits are garnering more attention with more dollars being invested in studies to show their efficacy. Let’s take a look at these five benefits:

Anti Cancer

Because of anecdotal evidence there has been much interest in the properties of green tea that might prevent cancer. Studies have shown that substances within green tea can stop cancer cells from growing. Whilst this has been shown in the lab it is much harder to produce definitive evidence in the wider population. Green tea contains polyphenols and catechins which are anti-oxidants. It is these extracts that have been linked to reducing the incidence of cancer. Anti-oxidants mop up free-radicals, stopping them causing damage and deformations in the cells of our bodies.

5 benefits of Green Tea
Diabetes

One of the major concerns facing us in the States is the huge increase in the number of people developing Type-2 diabetes. It is possible that green tea can assist in the body becoming more sensitive to insulin which means that the body can react better to changing sugar levels. The results from studies have varied but in recent years studies have claimed that green tea can help you reduce the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 42%.

Weight Loss

Interestingly, in a society that historically has had less issues with obesity, Japan has also had an appetite for green tea. There is evidence that green tea can help maintain weight but also can help promote weight loss . Green tea is high in catechins, which numerous studies have pointed to be the active ingredient in weight loss. In a trial, those who drank green tea had a significant decrease in their body weight and also maintained their body weight after weight loss. This is significant as given the evidence from the Japanese population that they have less issues with their weight, it could be that this is linked to drinking green tea regularly.

Brain Health

The same catechins have been shown to improve brain health. Recent human and animal studies have shown that regular green tea drinking may decrease the incidence of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson disease. These neurodegenerative brain diseases impact the transmission of brain signals via the neurons. It is thought that the catechins in green tea could prevent these diseases as they have been shown to assist in the “firing” of neurons.

Aiding Sleep and Relaxation

Green tea also contains amino acids. One of these, L-theanineis known to help people get to sleep. L-theanine was discovered by Japanese scientists in 1949. The amino acid is important in the formation of serotonin and dopamine. This are important chemicals in our bodies, which assist in achieving a calm state and putting the body and mind into a relaxed condition.

So, should you drink green tea?
Tea_Farm_Tokyo
Tea Farm, Tokyo© Francisco Antunes

The Japanese continue to drink lots of green tea to this day. There appears to be a benefit for the rest of us to take up drinking it each day too. It is now easy to get hold of in the US and green tea has the potential to help keep our bodies fit and can also help with keeping our brains and minds in tip-top shape too.