Corona Success In Japan, How Did They do It?

May 24, 2020

Reference: The Guardian, NYture, Weston Price Foundation,

Just a month or so ago Japan was mired in Olympic cancellation controversy and foot-dragging over their response to the COVID-19 threat.  Dire warning about an upcoming disaster with headlines of doom were common.   Now, they have only had 16,000 cases and 784 deaths out of 126 million people, most of them much older than us.   That's on the order of 5% of what's happened here in America with similar demographics. Last week in Tokyo, with 14 million people, Japan had just 3 new cases one day. New York is celebrating being under 100 deaths. How did they do it?

Now many large public venues like theaters and sports venues shut down earlier than in most countries. Prime Minister Abe even took heat for closing school sooner than most countries. Japan did move to stop crowding and the confined spaces early, which is remarkable when you consider their subways and trains with hired pushers to force extra riders to fit in. But most of the credit is being given to the natural instincts of Japanese to their own personal habits of polite public behavior and personal discipline. When folks have a cold in Japan or even a slight hint of spring hay-fever, they don a mask in public. That's just expected!

But there is some conversation in Japan going around that suggests it's also Japanese food and their inclination to eat natto. This may not be as crazy as it sounds. Follow this thread. Natto is a unique Japanese food. It is made from fermenting soybeans in wheat-straw that is a rich source of Bacillus subtilis, a bacteria that naturally makes lots of Vitamin K2. I mean really lots. One teaspoon of natto has 150 mg of K2, some 150 to 200 times the content of any other food. There is a quaint legend about its discovery 1,000 years ago when soldiers, cooking soybeans were called into battle. They dumped the half-cooked beans into some straw and left. Five days later, starving and exhausted, they remembered those beans and returned to the scene. It had rained. The beans were fermented, all gooey and stringy. They tasted delicious and natto was born. It is a unique Japanese dish and not all outsiders find it delicious. (Google Youtube "Eating Natto for the first time.")

Now K2 is slightly complex in its biology. K1 is well-known from dark green leafy vegetables. It helps clot blood. Animals that eat dark green grass make K2 (actually MK4) from the K1 in their gut. Guess what happens when you move your animals off the pasture into a feedlot and feed them corn and beans! You get virtually no K2 in their meat. The food chain from green grass, to animal's gut bacteria to human consumption relies on being grass-fed. In America we get little K2 at all unless we make a real effort to buy grass raised animals, never fed beans and corn. Now K2 has very little blood clotting effect and plays a dramatically different role in calcium proteins, both in bone and coronary arteries. Weston Price even noticed, over 100 years ago, that heart attacks declined during the season when butter and milk from grass-raised cows was available. K2 and D were part of his Activator X which he felt helped control many illnesses and was a critical component of healthy populations.

But was does K2 have to do with COVID-19? We aren't sure but there is this curious link with K2 and D and immunity. And then there is Japan with its amazing, serendipitous salutary response to COVID-19. And finally we know there is a strong effect of Vitamin D with COVID-19, and K2 appears to augment or make synergy with Vitamin D. Hmm.

www.What Will Work for me. Now, in my world, I maintain that everyone should be taking K2 for bone health and heart disease prevention. I take it. But K2 explains to me why Japan has done so well with COVID. There remains unexplained physiology about immune response and K2. Vitamins don't work in isolation. They work in complex webs in association with other nutrients. It is complex to parse out the separate actions. I'm awestruck at Japan's disciplined public behavior. Compare that to our bar scenes and boardwalks on the news. That just doesn't happen in Japan. But K2 is one simple intervention you should be undertaking just on general principles. If you take D, you should be on K2 as well.  Time will eventually tell.  Oh that I had 30 more years to track that data.  I want to live long enough to see Weston Price proven right.  

Pop Quiz

1.  Vitamin K2 comes from where?    Answer: either from animals that eat green plants, like grass, or from fermented foods like natto and sauerkraut.

2.  American K2 has done what in the last 70 years?   Answer: dropped some 80-90% because all of our animals

3.  What did Weston Price observe about K2 and D?    Answer: they were synergistic with each other.  He didn't even know it was "K2".  He just found the effect of grass raised butter was pretty potent.  Even cured cavities.

4.  Have you ever tried natto?    Answer:   ____________. Should you?  Well, how about some grass raised meat.  Or heck, just take the K2, MK4 form and be done with it.  Rest of your life.  100 mcg a day.

5.  What might be Japan's other secret weapon?    Answer: Strong public ethic of self-responsibility and consideration for others.  That we should have a little of that!