I know the name of the strain of bacterial used to ferment natto, the Japanese soybean dish full of vitamin k2, is Bacillus Natto. I can find cultures of it available online. However I would like to use it to ferment another type of food than soybeans. Would starchy tubers that are first steamed be a good resort? I know that heat, carbohydrates, and sterility are all conditions that should be considered when making a fermented product, but do the carbohydrates and acidity of any commonly attainable and consumed Paleo foods fit the bill for a good substitute for soy beans? (my next move will be to look up the macro-nutrient composition of those starchy phytoestrogen factories).
I have some supplements for vitamin k2 mk-7, however, supplements are expensive and i have a hard time trusting the people who produce them. I'd also like to take moderately large doses as I want to acquire more vitamin D and A from my diet and want to reep the most benefit.
I know eating grass-fed foods is a good source of mk-4, but that is not going to happen at the present time. Also i have a allergy to eggs and cheese.
I don't need advise on how to spend my money, arrange my shopping list, or companies to buy trust worthy supplements from, i just want to know if anyone has any legitimate knowledge pertaining to what I'm trying to find out.
Also, what would happen if you supplemented with pure Bacillus Natto and allowed the culture to colonize your gut, thus making your own k2 in the small intestine where it can be utilized by the body (as opposed to it being produced in the colon absent of bile that would allow the vitamin to be absorbed into the body)? (sounds like sort of a bad idea, but if it were feasible, i think it would be a great way to get ample amounts of vitamin k2 with every meal)
the only article i could find pertaining to my last question was this, and i only vaguely understand the results.
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The jury is still out on whether MK-4 is better or MK-7, but many have still made up their minds and claim their favorite is best. Here are the bullet points of their arguments. Blood levels of K-2 go up much faster, more, and longer with MK-7, so it must be be better (or worse because it's gone to work and is not sloshing about in the blood). Some Japanese (and other) research showing remarkable health benefits was done with MK-4, so that must be best. Weston Price's and many other indiginous diet conclusions are based on animal produced K-2 (MK-4), so that must be best. We have many hundreds of years of experience with MK-7 (natto in Japan) that clearly demonstrates that that is best. One thing that is clear to both camps is that it takes much larger amounts of MK-4 to get a similar effect to MK-7 and there is nothing in the natural world to compare with natto for quantity of K-2 (actually there are a few, but if you think natto is not appealing, these would really gross you out).
The ammonia odor is influenced by fermentation time and substrate. One of the purposes of the slime produced by natto is to break down protein, and it can really pump it out when it is working on soy protein. Nattokinase, the enzyme made by natto, breaks down protein and happily it also degrades blood clots and biofilms like those that surround and protect the bacteria that causes Lymes disease. Vitamin K-2, nattokinase and other beneficial compounds are found in natto's biofilm, so it makes sense to value natto that is very slimy. But the natto that we eat should continue to make K-2 and nattokinase, etc., while traveling through our gut and should be well absorbed in the large intestine. I don't know of any data or research that quantifies these considerations. The biofilm produced by natto can be increased about 40 fold if the substrate is glutamic acid. I have not yet tried adding some glutamic acid to a bean substrate, but I do usually add some sugar and biotin, which are also food to natto. Your idea of adding some liquid is an interesting one and very worthy of experimention. You also mention mixed beans, which I've wondered about as well. I think it would be a very interesting experiment. If the beans don't have the same cooking times, they could be cooked separately, then mixed. There are some Japanese techniques for crushing the cooked soy beans and other modifications, but always it is important to provide adequate exposure to oxygen and sufficient moisture. I don't know what the Ph implications are, but adequate oxygen and even more so moisture are both important for developing the film. One more consideration is that the biofilm is produced during the period of rapid exponential growth, usually from hours 10 to 14. During this stage the metabolic activity can cause overheating and a loss of stringiness (and oxygen depletion), so if you have a timer on your incubator you may want to turn it down during this period, watch the temperature and make sure it doesn't dry out. You may be able to get something that has a heavy biofilm and low ammonia odor by stopping around hour 14.
Some of the stringiest natto I have made has been dry dog food. It makes sense, as it is high protein and fat, like soy (I use no soy dog food). I steam/boil the kibble for a few minutes to get it wet, hot and kill bacteria, then inoculate and ferment. My dog loves it and usually gets a few spoons full with each meal.
You can make natto with a number of other beans and seeds. For best results, you are looking for high protein and high fat content. The biofilm produced by the natto bacteria contains enzymes (nattokinase) to break down the (soy) protein as well as large amounts of vitamin K-2. The ammonia smell is the result of partially broken down protein. You can get more detail on how and why to make natto, recipes and alternatives to using soy at:
FWIW, Rachel, I subsequently/recently tried culturing some green peas this way. I zapped the usual frozen green peas in my microwave for a few minutes to heat them up enough to kill off whatever might have been on them, if anything, added some starter natto culture that I bought at a health food store, and placed them in my yogurt maker for about 24 hours.
They came out great, if I do say so myself. Lotsa ooey-gooey natto goodness. So it looks like we can add green peas to the list of natto-able (or perhaps I should more accurately say "subtilis-able"?) foods.
In general (since peas aren't your fave, I know), my understanding is that B. Subtilis prefers a combination of fiber and protein. Whatever food you wish to culture should really have both.
I would love to try to make natto. Scientific papers state that MK-7 is not the same as MK-4, but there is no denying that the longest lived people on the planet (Okinawans) do very well with a near vegetarian diet - and natto. And the nutrient density would make it ideal for breakfast. I hypothesize that doing natto with a substrate containing less proteins will cut down on the ammonia odor. Obviously one can not mix two different substrates (chickpeas and soybeans), but maybe liquid additions that do not change the pH much can be tried.
There is an alternative. You can make as much K2 as you need right inside your large intestine! K2 is made by beneficial gut bacteria, eat to support healthy guts and the K2 is taken care of.
If I'm not mistaken, black bean natto refers to black soybean natto, much as black bean paste refers to black soybean paste (all as opposed to making these things from yellow soybeans). You can also make natto from "regular" black beans if you prefer, the kind you'd find in a taco. I know because I've done it and it seems to work out just fine.
I think the slime has all the good stuff anyway, the K2/MK7. I make mine in a yogurt maker, the fermenting temps are about the same.
And here's a guy whose kid got into it as a science project. The kid made it from beans, from cheese, from corn, from mushrooms....
It looks like black beans work well: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Microbial_Nutrition/message/15279
And azuki beans or kidney beans: http://www.jafra.gr.jp/eng/sumi.html
Another person (don't have the link, sorry) said she did it with chickpeas but didn't like the taste as much as with soy.
Edited to add: here's a picture of black bean natto. One commenter said:
Black bean natto also has slightly higher content of MK-7 according to a paper by Kamao et al. 2007 Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology.