Natto (Chung-gook-jang) for Stomach Health
I don’t know if any of you have stomach problems, but back in my omnivore days, I used to have frequent stomach problems. From irritable bowel syndrome whenever I got really stressed to really painful diverticulitis. Once, the doctor thought I had accute appendicitis, so I went into surgery, and it ended up not being the problem – it was diverticulitis! Anyway, now you know how important the condition of my stomach is to me.
So one of the best things that I’ve discovered while trying to follow Korean macrobiotic guidelines as much as possible, is “Natto” (in Japanese) or “Chung-gook-jang” (in Korean). They are fermented beans and they aren’t the yummiest things in the world, but they are really medicinal. Natto and Chung-gook-jang are very widely used in Japan and Korea for their amazing healing strength for stomach cancer as well. It is a very widely known that doctors of oriental medicine have stomach cancer survivors eat fermented beans everyday – for the rest of their lives!
These are the fermented beans, and the white, stickiness is where the medicinal benefits are. Some people just can’t take the stringiness, it’s just too gross for them. But for me, I think it’s great. The Japanese eat Natto for breakfast, wrapped in Nori (seaweed). How cool is that, sticky fermented beans for breakfast! I remember visiting Kyoto and Tokyo, and all the nice hotels that we were staying at served breakfast with Natto. I still remember my mom saying she couldn’t eat it. I thought it was good.
These days, I hardly get sick. After following macrobiotic vegan guidelines as much as possible, I’m really rarely sick, which is the most amazing thing in the world, given how often I used to get sick. But once in a while, when I’ve been sitting on my desk for 8 hours straight working on a research paper for too long, I start having stomach problems – I start feeling a bit gassy or nauseus. I take a spoon of Natto, and usually within 10 minutes, my stomach starts feeling better. Obviously, if you just take it regularly, that is the best. I try to have some every other day or so. Just a spoonful or two. And it’s been really great for me.
So if you have been having any stomach problems, you might want to consider Natto in your fridge. You can get it at almost any Japanese or larger Asian grocery stores. I’ve seen some Korean and Chinese grocery stores carry them too. If you can, try to get organic, and really make sure to get the kind without any MSG (different for everyone, but MSG gives me 8 hours of an intense headache)!
I also get the kind that “Does not contain seasoning” (as you see in the picture below), as the seasoning often contain MSG. You can still find ones that don’t. I often add the mustard (as you see in the picture above) and a drizzle of agave nectar, and it tastes great! Who knows, you might think it’s good too. If you’d like to see improvements in your stomach health, you might want to consider Natto!