Japanese Drinkable IV “Amazake”
Last October, American food professionals visited fermented food producers to deepen their knowledge of Japanese fermentation culture during the “Hakko Tourism in Japan” tour campaign. As part of the tour, organizers held a tasting session where guests gave candid advice from the perspective of the American market to food product manufacturers looking to enter the United States market.
Anyone sick knows the importance of fluids when you’re not feeling well. Drinking lots of liquids helps your body flush toxins and get the nutrients it needs to heal. Now, a new drinkable IV called amazake may help even more. Japanese people have enjoyed amazake for more than a thousand years, and amazake is a traditional Japanese fermented beverage that has been gaining attention recently for its beauty and health benefits. It is not only high in nutrients such as vitamin B, essential amino acids, and naturally occurring glucose but also boosts immunity, improves gut health, and has anti-aging effects. Amazake is made from fermented rice and is rich in antioxidants and probiotics. Some researches show that amazake has anti-inflammatory properties and can help boost your immune system. It’s been used as a traditional remedy for colds, flu, and other illnesses for centuries.
What is amazake?
Sake brewing begins by polishing brown rice into white rice. The polished rice is steamed, and the spores of Aspergillus oryzae (tane-koji) are then added on the cooked rice. Rice-koji is produced based on the growth of Aspergillus oryzae from the surface layer to the rice (rice-koji making process). Sake yeast is cultivated using cooked rice and rice-koji (Shubo making process). In addition, cooked rice, rice-koji, and Shubo are combined (moromi) for alcoholic fermentation. After alcoholic fermentation, the mash is pressed and separated into liquid and solid sake lees.
What Koji essentially does is that it breaks down long chain molecules into smaller molecules. For example, starch is made from small molecules of glucose. Koji would break these chains up and make glucose out of starch. The same happens with proteins, so the Koji breaks down all the protein molecules into amino acids. Because these long chain molecules are broken up, it’s easier for our bodies to digest. When drinking amazake, you don’t find starch sweet but find glucose sweet. Because the starch in amazake is broken down to glucose, the drink tastes sweet, even though no sugar has been added. So it’s like naturally sweetened.
The main components of amazake are glucose and sucrose, but they also contain more than 300 other ingredients. Koji amazake contains oligosaccharides, which serve as food for bifidobacteria. Bifidobacterium bifidum promotes defecation and prevents accumulated stool from rotting and making the stomach tight. In other words, it helps to keep the intestines healthy and functioning correctly. Amazake also contains glucosylceramide, which increases the number of good bacteria in the gut.
Sakekasu amazake has a resistant protein and α-ethyl glucoside, characteristic ingredients of each amazake. These traditional Japanese beverages are rich sources of probiotics and beneficial microbes that help maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut. Probiotics have been shown to promote gastrointestinal health and prevent digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome.
What’s in amazake?
What research says
What are the health benefits of amazake? There have been a lot of scientific studies done on koji and amazake. One recent study, published in the Journal of Fungi, found that amazake can improve bowel movements in healthy adults. The study found that participants who consumed amazake had more regular bowel movements and were less likely to experience constipation than those who did not consume amazake. The researchers believe that the Aspergillus oryzae cells in amazake may play a role in these benefits.
Would you drink guilty-free “sweet sake” to your lifestyle?
Kurahashi A. Ingredients, Functionality, and Safety of the Japanese Traditional Sweet Drink Amazake. J Fungi (Basel). 2021 Jun 10;7(6):469. doi: 10.3390/jof7060469. PMID: 34200668; PMCID: PMC8227387.
Kurahashi A, Enomoto T, Oguro Y, Kojima-Nakamura A, Kodaira K, Watanabe K, Ozaki N, Goto H, Hirayama M. Intake of Koji Amazake Improves Defecation Frequency in Healthy Adults. J Fungi (Basel). 2021 Sep 21;7(9):782. doi: 10.3390/jof7090782. PMID: 34575820; PMCID: PMC8470246.
Ueda, M. & Kitagawa, M. & Koike, S. & Yamamoto, T. & Kondo, S.. (2017). Effect of intake of amazake on skin barrier functions in healthy adult women subjects -A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Japanese Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 45. 1811-1820.
Nagao Y., Sata M. Effect of a late evening snack of Amazake in patients with liver cirrhosis: A pilot study. J. Nutr. Food Sci. 2013;3:1000223. doi: 10.4172/2155-9600.1000223.
Kashimura O., Uehara Y., Shimazaki A. Effects of amazake using rice koji intake in sports athletes on physical fatigue and subjective symptoms during exercise training. Jpn. J. Sport Health Sci. 2019;6:37–48.
Yoshizaki Y, Kawasaki C, Cheng KC, Ushikai M, Amitani H, Asakawa A, Okutsu K, Sameshima Y, Takamine K, Inui A. Rice koji reduced body weight gain, fat accumulation, and blood glucose level in high-fat diet-induced obese mice. PeerJ. 2014 Aug 26;2:e540. doi: 10.7717/peerj.540. PMID: 25237599; PMCID: PMC4157231.
Tateki Matsuda is the founder of Biohacker Center Japan, holding degrees in Applied Nutrition and Sports Movement Science. As a Professional MMA fighter in the UFC and health consultant in Boston, he combines his expertise in biohacking, nutrition, and athletics to optimize performance and promote holistic wellness.