There is a renewed interest in gastrointestinal health, which is why we frequently hear the following words: intestinal bacteria, intestinal flora, probiotics, symbiotics, gut-brain axis, Etc.
Today, I would like to talk about the relationship between lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and natto bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria is one of the most widely used probiotics with proven health benefits. What is not well known is that B. natto can help to increase the amount of LAB in the intestine, and consequently increase its positive effects.
The golden balance ratio of intestinal bacteria
A wide variety of more than 1,000 types of bacteria live in the human intestine. The intestinal bacteria population exceeds 100 trillion.Source: Yakult Central Labo HP, Bacterial Encyclopedia
Intestinal bacteria are classified into good bacteria, opportunistic bacteria, and harmful bacteria. Their optimum population ratio is 2: 7: 1.
If the good bacteria are active, the opportunistic bacteria will side with them and behave as good bacteria. However, if the harmful bacteria predominate, the opportunistic bacteria support them. As a simplified inference, increasing good bacteria is a shortcut for supporting a healthy intestinal environment.
①Good neighbors. Bacillus natto and lactic acid bacteria habit different parts of the intestines.
Bacillus natto (Bacillus subtilis) and lactic acid bacteria are good bacteria that habit adjacent opposite sides of the intestine. The different location of each bacteria in the intestine is because they consume different nutrients.
Bacillus natto becomes active in aerobic conditions (abundant oxygen); conversely, lactic acid bacteria proliferate in anaerobic conditions (lack of oxygen)
Therefore, Bacillus natto thrives in the first half of the small intestine, which is relatively aerobic. Lactic acid bacteria populate in the latter half of the intestine, which is relatively anaerobic. Both species live harmoniously on different parts.
② Bacillus natto produces “food” for the lactic acid bacteria.
Bacillus natto secretes a large amount of starch-degrading enzymes, breaking down starch into oligosaccharides. Lactic acid bacteria use oligosaccharides to sustain their activity.
In this way, Bacillus natto makes supports lactic acid bacteria increase through oligosaccharides production.
③B. natto can degrade substances that inhibit the growth of lactic acid bacteria
Hydrogen peroxide is a respiration byproduct that inhibits lactic acid bacteria growth. The lactic acid bacteria are unable to decompose hydrogen peroxide. However, Bacillus natto secretes catalase, an enzyme that breaks down hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water.
The reduction of hydrogen peroxide by the Bacillus subtilis creates favorable conditions for the proliferation of lactic acid bacteria.
It is interesting to know about the excellent relation between Bacillus natto and lactic acid bacteria and how these good neighbors work tirelessly for our gut happiness!
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.