It is the power to
regain nature within us.
It is the power to
regain nature within us.
What is nature…
Shirakami-Sanchi, a world natural heritage with one of the world’s largest virgin beech forests that sustains precious ecosystems. It is said that even such a rich environment, however, will see the balance of nature erode without some human interference.
The same goes for us humans as well.
All the various stresses and unknown pandemics that we modern humans suffer from are thought to result from us cutting the cycle of nature off from our lives.
Humans are also a part of nature.
Searching for the potential to regain our connection with nature in Shirakami-Sanchi, where all manner of living things have coexisted since time immemorial.
Lactic Acid Bacteria from Forest Shirakami
These are plant-derived lactic acids that have been tempered and survived in the ancient forest where life has thrived for more than 8000 years. Borrowing power from nature’s bounty and giving it the forest in our stomach, i.e. our intestinal flora. Lactic acids for a New Age, given to all modern humans cut off from nature.
The lactic acids living in the world
natural heritage forest.
SHIRAKAMI – SANCHI
Shirakami-Sanchi, nicknamed the Diverse Forest, was the first world natural heritage in Japan.
The mountain range straddles Aomori and Akita prefectures, covering a vast area of around 130,000 hectares. Housing one of the world’s largest virgin beech forests almost devoid of any human interference, the range, with its ecologies of myriad flora and fauna, was globally assessed to have a universal value and was registered in 1993 as Japan’s first world natural heritage. While the beech forest that we see in the mountain range today is thought to have been formed at least 8000 years ago, it does not mean that the environment has stayed unchanged. Rather, it is a very active place that is still rising today. Because of this, the presence of geological strata of various types and ages as well as repeated landslides create an intricate topography. This geological and topographical combination forms a diverse soil environment which is intimately linked to the range’s biodiversity.
Museum showcasing the forest ecosystems of the Japanese endemic beech (Fagus crenata) species.
In winter, when moist air from the Sea of Japan covers the mountain range in snow, one can see many plants that have adapted to the snowy climate such as the Japanese beech and the Maruba-mansaku, a type of witch hazel. Over 500 species of plants grow here during the winter including the preeminent Aomori-mantema (Silene aomorensis), a species remaining from the ice age. On the other hand, in the western areas along the coast where the effects of the warm Tsushima current are strong, one can come across plants rare in the north such as colonies of Japanese camellia and broadleaved Machilus thunbergii as well as southern insect species. Animal life is also diverse, with 94 bird species including the black woodpecker and golden eagle, 14 mid to large mammal species including the Japanese bear and Japanese serow, and around 2000 insect species. The rich flora and fauna ecosystems centered around the beech forest used to be a constant sight in Japan. The value of Shirakami-Sanchi can be ascribed to the fact it remains so to this day.
Humans and nature – connecting the forest where all lives coexist to later generations.
The history of Shirakami-Sanchi is also the history of how it has been protected through its relationship with humans. Representative of this relationship are the Matagi. The Matagi are hunters who worship mountain gods and follow strict laws. Among them, those who have hunted in Shirakami-Sanchi for generations are called “Meya-Matagi.” They have their own distinctive tradition for interacting with the mountain. For example, they are only allowed to hunt bears during the first 2 weeks after hibernation. As such, they only take what is needed without overhunting, allowing the mountain to recuperate or “rest.” And this is not limited to bears. Wild vegetables in spring, river fish in summer, mushrooms in fall, and hare in winter; an unbroken cycle of hunting and gathering where the Matagi do not take too much from the forest, nor let it overpopulate. The living in harmony with the land is why the nature of Shirakami-Sanchi is so rich even today.
■ Animation of Shirakami – Sanchi
From the ancient
forest to our bowel.
LACTIC ACID BACTERIA
Looking for the microscopically small hard-workers that have sustained the natural environment of vast Shirakami-Sanchi. “Contributing to humanity’s health and the future of the area,” a timeless encounter between people and lactic acids ushered in through researchers’ passionate vocation.
The insatiable inquisitive mind of one researcher who unlocked the “Microbial Repository”
Shirakami-Sanchi, the Unknown Forest. In 2009, Hirosaki University established the Shirakami Natural Science Park near the world natural heritage site and began conducting research that made use of the park’s advantageous position. Professor Tonouchi, a microbial expert, is one of the researchers at the park. There are bound to exist untapped microbes that can be of use to us in the Shirakami forest, which until now has mostly remained unresearched. This inquisitiveness beckoned the professor to the deep and precipitous Shirakami-Sanchi, leading him to the discovery of the plant-derived rare “Lactic Acid Bacteria from Forest Shirakami.”
Unveiling Shirakami-Sanchi’s potential, the separation of plant-based lactic acids
Many lactic acids live in the bowels of animals. The trigger to attempt separation from plants, deemed as incredibly difficult, was reading in a research paper about a traditional Scandinavian yogurt-making method where you leave branches in milk overnight. Using this method in continuous trial-and-error, repeated sampling and screening of various foliage including Japanese beech managed to successfully separate a small amount of lactic acid from over 100 samples.
Expectation-exceeding functionality indication shown by the Amur cork-tree and Japanese beech strains.
These bacterial strains discovered in the forest of Shirakami-Sanchi as lactic acid are highly promising for their new functionality potential. Conducting functionality testing under the supervision of Associate Professor Maeda, an expert in food nutritional chemistry, confirmed functional indications useful for humans in 2 unique strains separated and cultivated from Amur cork-tree leaves and Japanese beech fruit. These were dubbed “Lactic Acid Bacteria from Forest Shirakami” and industry-university collaboration initiatives were launched aimed at practical application.
Expected to aid in the treatment of disorderly lifestyle habits from improving blood sugar levels to increasing muscle tissue.
Conducting functional testing of Lactococcus lactis separated from the leaves of the Amur cork-tree showed an increase in fecal matter as well as tendencies to lower blood sugar levels, reduce visceral fat, and suppress rising GPT value indicating abnormal liver function. Moreover, it showed a promising indication of increasing the amount of gastrocnemius muscle when used in combination with proteins. The calf muscle supports movements that require explosive power and is an important part of your body called “the second heart” for its function of pumping blood back to the heart. The Amur cork-tree bacterial strain is said to be effective in aiding health maintenance of modern people who invite various risks via their lifestyle habits, such as bad nutrition or lack of exercise.
■ Animation of The Amur cork-tree
Membrane barriers and skin function maintenance – for everyone living a healthy and beautiful life.
It takes over 50 years until the Japanese beech tree first bears fruit with a subsequent blooming cycle of once every 5 years, making it a very precious forest bounty. Testing the functionality of “Lactococcus lactis,” which was successfully separated from the fruit of the Japanese beech tree, also a favorite of bears, showed an increase in the amount of mucin that protects mucous membranes. It is expected to be useful in strengthening the barrier functions of the mucous membranes that prevent viruses from invading the respiratory organs as well as the intestinal membranes vital to the body’s tolerance. It has also exhibited the functionality of promoting the expression level of the antioxidant enzyme (SOD) effective in maintaining skin functions, making it a bacterial strain that has promising health and beauty effects.
■ Animation of The Japanese beech
Taking care of oneself together with “Lactic Acid Bacteria from Forest Shirakami” in the New Normal.
Due to the global spread of COVID-19, we have entered an era that requires people to be more active in how they take care of their own health. It is important to make the good bacteria in the gut dominant and to heighten the body’s tolerance in order to not only ward off direct virus infection but also to prevent lifestyle diseases which can result from changes in how one works as well as one’s lifestyle rhythm. Comfortably engage in everyday bodily maintenance together with “Lactic Acid Bacteria from Forest Shirakami.” Live everyday positively with this new lifestyle.
BUSINESS to BUSINESS
Universal advantages of plant-derived lactic acids.
The raw materials are sold with a focus on food product manufacturers with health, beauty, or sports appeal. It comes in a formulation readily combinable with general foodstuffs, beverages, and supplements. By adding the functionality of “Lactic Acid Bacteria from Forest Shirakami” to existing products, the value of the product is increased and it contributes to a society where everyone can enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Since plant-derivatives are domestically difficult to regulate and easy to gain religious trust when exported abroad, the “Lactic Acid Bacteria from Forest Shirakami” have a huge advantage in overseas markets as well.