Brewer’s Yeast – Not Just for Making Beer

Reblogged from my holistic health site:

It’s a little bit ironic. When we think of “natural” health and nutrition, often the first thing we do is reach for manufactured, processed and refined vitamin supplements. Some argue that the extra vitamins are just excreted by the body wasting time, money and effort. Others question just how well vitamin pills are absorbed by our digestive tract in the first place.

The best way around this nutritional irony is to eat an unprocessed, healthy, balanced diet. With a diet like that, most people can get all the vitamins and minerals they need. But as we all know, our fast-paced and busy lifestyle makes that kind of diet is easier said than done. Sometimes, because of dietary deficiencies or health concerns, extra supplements really are needed. Instead of isolated, processed vitamins, there are whole, natural plant (or in this case, fungus) sources for the extra vitamins and minerals we sometimes need. Brewer’s yeast is a good example.

Brewer’s yeast has been helping mankind for literally thousands of years. Beer was made in Egypt as early as 5,000 BC. Natural Healers have used brewer’s yeast for fatigue, constipation, skin conditions, overweight and poor nutrition for almost as long. Modern science has discovered the reasons for its usefulness. Brewer’s Yeast is rich in B-complex vitamins (but not B-12, so it isn’t  useful for vegans looking for a non-animal source of B-12). It also has a variety of minerals, including iron and chromium piccolinate.

The chromimum piccolinate content has won brewer’s yeast a lot of attention lately. In 2011, a study was done with type 2 diabetics. Their medicine, exercise, and diet were all kept the same except for one change: half of the group was given natural brewer’s yeast with chrominum piccolinate and the other half was given “debittered” (slightly processed) brewer’s yeast that had the chromium removed. The group that received the chromium-containing version showed much improved blood sugar control. (Chromium group HbA1c reduced from 9.5 to 6.8, while the non-chromium group decreased less than 1 – if you want to be technical about it). The cholesterol slightly improved in the chromium group as well. Granted, this is just one small study, but it goes to show how helpful chromium in brewer’s yeast can be, and how processing can muck things up with vitamin supplements.

If you would like more information about brewer’s yeast, University of Maryland Medical Center has a detailed page of information and a long list of supporting research sources. It provided much of the information for this post and the link is provided in the source list below.

The down side: You can’t get brewer’s yeast by raiding the kitchen cupboard. Bread-making yeast is a different strain and doesn’t have the same proteins, vitamins and minerals.  Brewer’s yeast is available as a powder or in tablet form in health food stores and the dietary supplement sections of many grocery and department stores. You have to be careful to avoid the “debittered” version if you want the benefits of chromium. Brewer’s yeast is generally safe, but can interact with a few medications (MAOIs, demeral). Diabetics should use brewer’s yeast or chromium piccolinate  under a doctor’s supervision because it can affect the blood sugar (in a good way) and their medication may need adjusted to avoid low blood sugar episodes. For the rest of us, brewer’s yeast might give you a little gas and upset stomach in the beginning (kind of like beans.)

The up side: Brewer’s yeast is natural, inexpensive, rich in B-vitamins, iron, chromium piccolinate and other trace minerals. It can help sugar metabolism, possibly acne / eczema, cholesterol levels, energy levels as well as contribute to general health.

The really up side: It tastes vaguely like beer. Kind of like a nice, dark, hoppy extra stout if you ask me.

If you want to get some extra vitamin support, the closest bottle of multi-vitamins may not be the best choice. Eating well is the best option. The next best choice would be to choose a supplement that is as whole, natural and unprocessed as possible, on the order of our fungus friend, brewers’s yeast.

Sources:

Ronda Snow has a Ph.D in Natural Health, B.S. Med.Sci, is a Reiki Master-practitioner and is the author of “Triquetra: The Dance of Worlds” on amazon.com for Kindle and “Modern Oracle Tarot Blog” on WordPress.com. Please visit www.RondaSnow.com for more information. 

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