June 30, 2016

Nutritional Yeast for Health

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

While searching for a topic for this week’s article, I came across a topic I’d never thought of before. Most of us have heard of active yeast used to make bread or beer, but have you ever heard of nutritional yeast and Brewer’s yeast?

Nutritional yeast, known as nooch, is popular with vegetarians and vegans as a source of non-animal protein. It contains all nine essential amino acids usually found in a meat diet. It is a great source of B vitamins, including added B12, which again is mainly found in meat.

This food is neither plant or animal…it is a fungus, like mushrooms. The yeast used for baking and brewing is the same type of yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) as nutritional yeast, with one big difference. Baking/brewing yeast is alive or active. Consuming active yeast can actually lead to an overgrowth of yeast in your body or to an infection. Nutritional yeast does not have these effects.

The supplemental nutritional yeast, in a dried flaky form, is inactive. You wouldn’t use it to bake bread.

 Nutritional yeast is typically grown on sugar beets, sugar beet molasses, or sugar cane molasses. When grown on these media, it is called “primary yeast”, or grown specifically for nutritional yeast.

Brewer’s yeast can mean it is a live yeast for brewing, spent brewing yeast, or primary grown yeast. This is where knowing the origin of the product you are buying is an essential.

Nutritional yeast is good for you because it contains B vitamins, amino acids, at least 14 minerals and 17 vitamins, phosphorus, chromium, and more. It does not naturally contain B12, but it is usually added.

Some conditions which nutritional yeast may be useful for include: Candida infection, chronic acne, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and immune system stimulation.

Runners and athletes who took one teaspoon daily cut their infection rate in half over placebo takers.

They say it has a taste similar to parmesan cheese, although it looks like yellow fish food in small granules. It can be sprinkled on salads, put into smoothies, or added to soups and stews.

According to Dr. Mercola, it is difficult to buy quality yeast. You need to know what it is grown on, specifically not on genetically engineered beets or cane. You should know what types of vitamins are added, natural or synthetic? And you need to ascertain if it is lead tested. It’s not that it is high in lead, but some tests on brands were done, and 3 of 8 showed some lead levels. You could eat 6-7 tablespoons a day and still be under the daily allowable amount. But no lead would be better than miniscule lead at any rate.

Nutritional yeast sounds like an interesting dietary supplement that can easily be added to your diet. Taking just three quarters of a teaspoon per day can give you the mentioned benefits, especially for the vegetarians and vegans.