Brewer’s Yeast and Nutritional Yeast

256px-S_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopyWow! Contradictory statements abound out there about brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast.  Why does there have to be so much contradictory information?  (Topic change:  This makes me think fondly of my dad.  My dad would answer, “Just to make you ask stupid questions.”  Anyone else get that line as a kid?)  I had to try to sort this supplemental yeast thing out for myself, and I thought I’d type it up.  The next post or two will be about brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast supplements.  I have not blogged for the last month due to a wonderful family vacation and due to the vaccination wars, which caused me to continue reading on vaccines.  If you think you have vaccines all figured out, whichever side you are on, you are sadly mistaken.  The lines are gray.  Or is it grey?

What are brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast?

Usually, in health circles, when people talk about brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast, they are talking about yeasts which have been grown, inactivated and ground up specifically for use as a supplement.  They are typically distributed in powder form to sprinkle on food and drink, but they can also be used in pill form.  Proponents of nutritional yeast seem to argue that nutritional yeast is a distinctly different entity from brewer’s yeast.  Historically, from a nutritional standpoint, that idea has some truth.  However, in today’s world, I would argue that the lines have become crossed, tangled, and blurred, and this statement is false.  Microbiologically, they are one and the same.

I became interested in supplemental brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast when I read Minding Your Mitochondria by Terry Wahls, MD and also when I read up on folate and methyltetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) disorders, which actually are pretty common in the general population.  These supplemental yeasts are powerhouses of vitamins and minerals in food-like form.  Did you read that?  Food-like form.  Aaaah.  Food.  Anytime you don’t have to pop a pill and can eat food instead is nice.  But let’s carry on.  Even if they are not pills, they are still supplements which should be examined for their risks and benefits.  (Don’t use anything in this post or on this blog for medical advice.  Run everything by your doctor to make sure it will not harm you.  Supplements, even natural ones, can be harmful.)

Anecdotal Medicine

It is VERY fun to read anecdotes on the internet.  People are generous with their comments and reports.  When I start researching a supplement or topic, I like to read Amazon reviews, visit forums, and scour blogs to read all the reports and information (and MIS-information) out there.  I read the five stars and the one stars and all the stars in-between stars and the weird and sketchy stuff (what I love to call “the voodoo”).  I try not to accept any of this information as truth or non-truth until I have done my research, even if I read it in Wheat Belly and Grain Brain (where it’s all correct, you know)  or on Dr. Oz (where it’s all wrong, you know).  As I read the anecdotes, I explore all around and see what primary research exists to substantiate and refute some of these stories.   Sometimes, in opposite fashion, I see a supplement in a primary research article which then sends me to forums, blogs, and Amazon reviews.  My research usually (maybe always) requires me to brush up on some “basic science” (chemistry, microbiology, physiology, plant biology, and so on).  Anyhow, the point of this is to tell you what I found for anecdotes when I browsed around the internet regarding nutritional yeasts and why I even read them.  Anecdotes often give me super leads to buried research that already exists, and in the case of supplemental yeasts, my findings were NO different.

Internet anecdotes:  Who reported using brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast and why?

Upon skipping through the halls of the internet, I found that users of supplemental yeasts were:

  • People who wanted a strong source of B vitamins and minerals in a “food-type form” rather than a synthetic vitamin.
  • People who were vegan and wanted vitamin B 12. (Please note now, and I will elaborate later, that not all supplemental yeasts contain vitamin B 12.  Read all your labels.)
  • People who were diabetic and wanted chromium to help regulate blood sugars.
  • People who wanted their hair and/or fingernails to grow and shine.
  • People who wanted their pets’ fur to grow and shine.
  • People who wanted more energy.
  • Lactating women who wanted to improve milk production.
  • People who wanted to repel mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks naturally—both away from them and from their animals.
  • People who were looking to get more amino acids and protein.
  • People who wanted to relieve acne.
  • People who were sick often and wanted to support their immune system.

Today’s Closing Thoughts

I never thought I’d be researching this kind of stuff. Mosquito repellant?  Isn’t that Deep Woods Off?  Relieve acne?  Isn’t that Retin-A cream?   Control blood sugar?  Isn’t that insulin?  The idea of “supplements” gives me two feelings:  1)  That I’m becoming my grandma and 2) That I’m some kind of health freak.  I never wanted to be a health freak.  I just wanted my GI tract to move and my head to be clear and not achy (after I realized those tension headaches were related to food).  But let’s move on.  On we will move.  Next post I will type up more details on brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast for those who want to get to the bottom of the contradictory posts elsewhere on the internet.

Have a great day!  Help someone today, including yourself!  And never forget that there are two sides to every story.  Always make it such that you are informed enough to “walk around the elephant.”

Terri

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