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11 Reasons To Eat Natto (Japanese Soybeans)

11 Reasons To Eat Natto (Japanese Soybeans)

Never heard of natto? Don’t worry, it hasn’t taken off in America the way sushi or sake have! Even so, this fermented soybean dish, traditionally eaten as a breakfast food in Japan for over 1,000 years, has a lot of health benefits to offer. Here are a few of those benefits.

1. You Get A Ton Of Protein

A single serving of natto will provide you with 15 mg of high-quality protein. This makes it a great choice if you follow a vegan diet, since protein can be harder to come by when it comes solely from plant-based sources.

2. You Will Load Up On Vitamin K

Vitamin K is an important nutrient, but there are few natural sources of it — and natto is one of the best. One of the most important functions of vitamin K is that it reduces the chances of abnormal blood clots which can lead to serious events like heart attacks and strokes.

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3. You Will Fill Up On A Probiotic-Rich Food

Many people have a growing interest in fermented foods because they are a rich and natural source of probiotics — the healthy bacteria that lives in your gut and helps not only to improve your digestion, but also to strengthen your immune system, making it easier to fight off illness and disease.

4. You Can Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is a big problem for many Americans. It can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Natto has been shown to help decrease inflammation and strengthen the immune system, making it a great choice for people with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

5. You Can Eat It Even If You Are Sensitive To Soy

Some people love soy but find that it is hard on their stomachs. These people should definitely try out natto. This is because the fermentation process has helped to break down those hard-to-digest proteins and this makes it a great choice for people who are sensitive to other forms of soy.

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6. You Will Have Stronger Bones

Natto is a rich source of a specific form of vitamin K called K2. Vitamin K2 is especially important for women who want to keep their bones strong and healthy, and it has been shown to reduce post-menopausal bone loss by a whopping 80%. This is because vitamin K2 makes it easier for calcium to move into the bones.

7. You Will Have A Healthier Heart

Natto can help your heart in many ways. The vitamin K2, which moves calcium into the bones, also moves it out of the heart. Compounds in natto have also been shown to help lower blood pressure and prevent abnormal clotting of the blood.

8. You Will Also Get A Ton Of Calcium And Iron

Calcium and iron are arguably two of the most important minerals for your health: calcium helps your bones and teeth stay healthy and strong, while iron goes into making the hemoglobin in the red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. For vegans, this is another reason to load up on the natto — calcium and iron can be difficult to get from an entirely plant-based diet.

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9. You Can Eat It On A Gluten-Free Diet

If you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, relax! This soy product is naturally free of gluten and is a great addition to the diet if you have either of these conditions.

10. You Will Load Up On Fiber

Dietary fiber is incredibly important for your health: it helps to improve your digestive system and avoid problems like constipation. A high-fiber diet has also been associated with better heart health and a reduced risk of colon cancer.

11. You Can Make a Ton of Dishes From It!

Whether its bruschetta, veggie burgers, California rolls, or sandwiches, there are an amazing variety of dishes you can make from this unusual food. Some of these recipes are traditional and some have been adapted for Western tastes — but they all taste great!

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So, now that you know about all the amazing health benefits of natto, get out to your local health food or Asian food store and try some today. It truly is one of the healthiest foods you can be enjoying right now.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

“Why am I so tired?” is a question that people ask themselves pretty frequently. Everyone gets tired at one point or another, particularly after something like an illness, a long night up with a sick child, or a busy week at work. When tiredness is persistent, however — when you feel tired as soon as you wake up in morning or when sleep doesn’t seem to help, no matter how much rest you get— it may often indicate a deeper, underlying problem.

While there are a lot of possible reasons for tiredness, here’re some of the most common causes of fatigue:

1. Dehydration

If you want to boost your energy levels, first check whether you are dehydrated. The human brain is 85% water, and needs to maintain this level in order to perform its essential functions.

If you fail to drink enough water, the brain extracts fluids from your blood to compensate for the deficit. As a result, the oxygen levels in your blood drop, reducing the amount of energising oxygen available to your organs and tissues. Fatigue and sleepiness set in rapidly, leaving you more vulnerable to the 2 pm post-lunch crash that many of us experience.

You cannot cure this crash with caffeine – the only long-term, effective solution is to drink hydrating fluids throughout the day.

2. Lack Of Exercise

A workout will surely leave you feeling even more tired, right? Wrong! As counterintuitive as it may sound, physical activities have an energizing effect. Moving your body releases endorphins, increases your heart rate, and boosts your concentration.

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Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of medium-intensity exercise every day. It’s easiest if you can make this part of our everyday routine, either as soon as you wake up or right after work.

3. A Poor Diet

The food you eat has a direct impact on sleep quality and the amount of rest you get every night. For maximum energy, stick to protein, slow-release carbohydrates, and a moderate amount of healthy (unsaturated) fats. The majority of your food should be plant-based, high in fiber, and low in sugar. These choices will prevent blood sugar fluctuations, which can leave you feeling exhausted.

An easy way to make sure you stick to a good diet is through meal preparation. It’s easy to just get take-out when you’re tired after work, but if you have a meal ready for you in the fridge, you’ll be less tempted by pizza or cheese.

Find out more about healthy meal prep here: 10 Meal Planning Apps You Need To Have To Get Healthier Easily

4. Skipping Breakfast

Physician Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan advises that eating breakfast is key to maintaining a good level of energy throughout the day. When you eat breakfast, you are sending calming signals to the areas of the brain responsible for avoiding danger, along with those that instruct the body to conserve as much energy as possible.

Ingesting food signals to your brain that there is enough food available to ensure our survival. This encourages it to stay relaxed, which in turn, promotes restful sleep.

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Some great ideas for a healthy, filling, and make-ahead breakfasts include overnight oats, smoothies, and freezer-friendly breakfast burritos.

Or if meal-prepping isn’t your think, stock up on easy but healthy breakfast foods like multigrain cereal, yogurt, and fruit: 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

5. Poor Quality Of Sleep

We all know that it’s important to wind down a couple of hours before bed. But did you know that it’s what you do throughout the day that promotes good-quality sleep? It’s not just about the number of hours you sleep, but how restful and deep that sleep is.

TO feel rested, try to regulate your everyday routine to make your sleep deeper and better. Get up at a regular time in the morning to ensure that you get regular sunlight.

Eat nutritious foods in moderate amounts, and make sure you stay hydrated. Go to bed at the same time. And before bedtime, avoid screens that can give off harmful blue light and also keep you stimulated when you need to prepare for a restful night.

Read more about how to develop a routine that will get you better sleep: Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

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6. Sleep Apnea (A Person’s Airways Get Blocked off While They Are Asleep)

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where a person’s airways get blocked off while they are asleep, causing their oxygen levels to drop while they are asleep. This often causes people to stop breathing at night and then to jerk themselves awake (this can happen over 30 times an hour).

Because of this, people with sleep apnea can feel short of breath and have low energy levels. Mouthpieces and other devices to aid in breathing as well as the use of a special breathing machine to keep oxygen levels in a safe zone.

If you feel tired all the time and think you might have sleep apnea, consulting with a doctor is important. Do a sleep study, as this can often reveal if there is an underlying problem causing your tiredness — and once a diagnosis is made, treatment to help you get your energy back begins.

7. Depression

Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States (and in many other countries of the world as well). It is marked by persistent feelings of sadness or unhappiness but has physical symptoms, too. Apart from fatigue, people may also experience changes in sleeping and eating habits and difficulty concentrating.

Treatment can often center on anti-depressants, counselling and lifestyle changes like stress management to help manage this condition. You can take a look at these 15 Ways To Overcome Depression And Sadness.

Many people also benefit from activities like yoga and meditation, which help regulate both the body and mind.

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8. Hypothyroidism

If a person has hypothyroidism, their thyroid gland does not produce adequate levels of these important hormones— and the result can be a persistent and unrelenting fatigue, even if someone is getting enough sleep. Other common symptoms of this disorder include mood swings, weight gain and feeling cold all the time.

Fortunately, simple blood work can reveal if there is a problem and it can be treated with artificial thyroid hormone pills like Synthroid. Check here for signs of having a thyroid problem. If you suspect that you might have hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor.

9. Anemia

People with anemia are not able to make enough red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the their bodies. This is often due to a lack of nutrients like iron or B-12 and can be caused by problems such as heavy periods, bleeding in the digestive tract or pregnancy (due to the increased demands of the growing baby).

However, in most cases, this can be resolved with treatments like changes in diet, iron supplements or B-12 shots.

While here are some drinks you can try to relieve symptoms of Anemia, it’s best to do a blood test and consult your doctor in case of any hidden medical conditions.

10. Cancer

While you shouldn’t be freaking out about cancer just because you are tired, it is a fact that fatigue is one of the symptoms of cancer. Other common symptoms can include unexplained weight loss and the presence of palpable lumps or growths. This disease is marked by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells that can do damage to surround tissues and possibly spread to other parts of the body.

Diagnosis is usually by biopsy and treatment often focusses on radiation, chemotherapy or surgery— and generally when a diagnosis is made early, the outcomes for the patient are better.

Featured photo credit: Lily Banse via unsplash.com

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