When it comes to our
cardiovascular health, many of us don’t have a high awareness of the prevalence
and risks of developing blood clots. There is a tendency to focus on the health
issues we can see, not on those we can’t.
When plaques build up on the
walls of an artery it can become blocked, and eventually rupture. The resultant
blood clot can deprive vital tissues – the heart, brain, or peripheral arteries
– of vital oxygen. Some signs of blood clots are chest pain, light headedness,
being out of breath, leg tenderness and leg swelling.
Factors for Blood Clots
Although some risk factors for blood
clots are beyond our control (age, gender and family history), many of them are
preventable, including smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol,
obesity, diabetes and poor nutrition. A healthy diet can help lower these risk
factors when combined with exercise and heart-healthy living habits. We are
excited about one natural substance in particular, which has been clinically
shown to break up abnormal blood clots and normalize blood flow, and that
substance is nattokinase.
Nattokinase – What
Nattokinase is an enzyme produced during the fermentation of a traditional
Japanese condiment called natto. Natto is derived from boiled soybeans that
have been fermented with a type of probiotic bacteria (Bacillus subtilis.)
Although it’s been extensively studied in Asia, only relatively recently has
this powerful enzyme been studied for its clot-dissolving
properties in North America.
To understand how nattokinase
helps to stop clots, we need to understand what a clot is. The process of
clotting is actually fundamental to our bodies. It repairs tears in blood
vessels, skin and mucous membranes and helps to stop us from bleeding out in
the event of an injury. The hemostatic system is what causes us to stop
bleeding by introducing certain clotting factors including protein polymers
called fibrin. When we no longer need them, our bodies break down the fibrin
polymers that make up the clots in a process called fibrinolysis.
What’s excellent about
nattokinase is that it not only degrades blood clots on its own but it also
increases the body’s own enzymatic ability to break them down. Human trials
indicate that nattokinase consumption has been shown to increase total
fibrinolytic activity significantly, and decrease the time needed to complete
the clot-dissolving cycle by half. The authors of a recent research review indicated that “ …
nattokinase is a unique natural compound with several key cardiovascular
benefits”. That’s pretty impressive for a condiment!
For those who are at risk due to genetic or lifestyle factors, or who have diets that are high in iron, supplementing with Nattokinase may help to minimize the risk of abnormal or problematic blood clots by acting as a “blood thinner”, enhancing fibrinolysis and generally improving circulation and blood flow. This fantastic enzyme is derived from vegan, fermented soy, a whole food product that’s a natural choice for heart health.