Bacillus natto is a familiar name for almost all Japanese people.
Recently, the name “Natto Bacteria” is gaining popularity overseas as well. The scientific name of Bacillus natto is “Bacillus subtilis var. natto”.
This bacterium native to Japan has remarkable effects. Let’s talk about them in detail.
Why is Bacillus natto so strong? Is it true that it reaches the intestines alive, surviving the stomach acid?
Everyone in Japan knows that natto is good for your health. However, if you ask what are natto components and how do they work for your health? Surprisingly, just a few people can explain it. The secret lies in the natto probiotics, the Bacillus natto. This unique bacterium produces numerous healthy compounds during the fermentation of the soybeans into natto.
Bacillus natto creates an almost indestructible barrier (a spore) to protect itself in harsh environments. In spore state, Bacillus natto can reach the intestines alive, passing through the stomach acid unharmed.
The amazing “life force” of spore-shaped natto bacteria
The unmatched survival power of Bacillus natto in spore state lies in the spore resistance.
The B. natto spore, a multilayered protective structure composed of more than 70 proteins, is strong enough to withstand air vacuum, acid environments, temperatures higher than 100 ° C or lower than 0 ° C, deep-sea equivalent pressure, and space radiation exposure.
Thanks to its spore, Bacillus natto has no problem reaching the intestines, breaking the spore, and reproducing.
Natto is NG at food manufacturing sites! ?? Bacillus natto fertility outpaces other microorganisms.
Bacillus natto proliferation rate is astonishing. It has no sexual differentiation. Therefore, B. natto reproduces by copying its genetic material, dividing, and multiplying.
The process is speedy! B. natto takes about 30 minutes to duplicate his body. In other words, the population will duplicate after 30 minutes, quadruplicate after 1 hour, and grow exponentially 16 times after 2 hours. Due to this fertility rate, food manufacturing sites forbid natto to avoid uncontrollable B. natto growth.
Compounds produced by Bacillus natto that are useful for health
Once Bacillus natto breaks its spore and reproduces in the intestine, it starts to produce a lot of substances that are good for our health. Let’s have a look at some of them.
- 5-Aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA)
5-ALA is a natural amino acid, considered a primary component of human, animal, and vegetable cells. One of its roles is producing the energy necessary to sustain life. Due to its importance, 5-ALA is known as the “source substance of life.” You can learn more about 5-ALA (5-aminolevulinic acid) in a very educative program from Nagasaki University (Cited by TBS NEWS)
Polyamine is a sirtuin, a signaling protein related to longevity. It works to slow down the aging rate of cells and to support gene (DNA) replication and protein synthesis in cells.
Nattokinase is an enzyme produced solely by Bacillus natto. Numerous researches suggest nattokinase may play an essential role in cardiovascular health due to its fibrinolytic agent properties.
- Natto peptide
Nattokinase breaks down soybean protein into natto peptides. Peptides are smaller versions of proteins that may be easier for the body to absorb.
- Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 works like an adhesive that helps to fix calcium to bones and teeth, strengthening them.
- Poly-γ-glutamic acid (polyglutamic acid / PGA)
PGA confers natto its stickiness. It is an effective moisturizing ingredient that also helps to strengthen bones and prevent dry mouth. Other usages include water-absorbing material for diapers and desert greening.
- Oligosaccharide / dietary fiber
Bacillus subtilis breaks down starch contained in soybeans into dietary fiber and various oligosaccharides. These compounds, in turn, become food for intestinal bacteria.
- Bacillus natto
Bacillus natto is a potent probiotic. It produces functional ingredients in the intestines and prepares the intestinal environment. Several intestinal regulator products contain natto bacteria as an ingredient.
Eating natto is an efficient way to get high-quality protein and lipids that are less likely to cause obesity. The multiple functional ingredients produced by Bacillus natto will constitute a base for a healthier life.
Bacillus natto and lactic acid bacteria work in perfect synchrony
What is the symbiotic relationship of Bacillus natto and lactic acid bacteria and other good bacteria? Bacillus natto thrives in the presence of air, so it works in the first half of the small intestine. The lactic acid bacteria adapt better to anaerobic environments, inhabiting the latter half of the small intestine. Other good bacteria such as bifidobacteria occupy the large intestine. In this way, all species live separately on different parts of the intestine without competing for resources.
As mentioned before, Bacillus natto produces oligosaccharides and dietary fiber that serve as food for lactic acid bacteria.
In addition, Bacillus natto decomposes hydrogen peroxide, a harmful substance for lactic acid bacteria. The decrease of hydrogen peroxide creates an intestinal environment where lactic acid bacteria can thrive. The ability of Bacillus natto to create conditions that support the activity of other bacteria in the intestine makes it an essential microorganism for human health.
Bacillus natto is environmentally friendly
Bacillus natto produces a sticky substance (polyglutamic acid) useful for water purification and desert greening. It is used overseas for purifying groundwater into drinking water. In the desert, polyglutamic acid is buried in the sand to retain moisture and support plants growth.
Bacillus natto is a small giant who is kind to humans and our planet.
Sonomono Inc. Academic Advisor
Mr. Ogasawara graduated from Kumamoto University Graduate School of Medical Education. He actively researches and develops functional raw materials such as nattokinase. His professional experience as a researcher over more than 35 years includes microbiology, fermentation, enzymology, and bacterium.