Corn in the morning, corn at noon, corn in the evening. Corn as bread, groats, porridge and soup. The corn eaters in Louisiana state are getting sick. Around 1920, the Washington Department of Health sends Dr. Joseph Goldberger, a bacteriologist, to the Mississippi. But it is not bacteria or viruses that have contaminated corn and make people sick. Goldberger gives people brewer’s yeast as a supplement to corn and they get healthy. The meager, one-sided diet was to blame. At that time it was not known that vitamins and trace elements were bringing the cure.
Yeasts are one of the microorganisms. Louis Pasteur was the first to see the spherical unicellular organisms under the microscope. On the one hand, these microorganisms are autonomous and maintain an independent cell metabolism. On the other hand, they are very dependent on a highly nutritious solution in order to multiply. In the case of brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cervisiae) it is the germinated grain or molasses. Diverse enzymes make the dormant grain during germination a highly vital food that benefits the yeast cells.
Brewer’s Yeast – An Ancient Nutrient of Humanity
The nutritional value of brewer’s yeast was already known in the high culture of the Sumerians. Beer was considered a nutritious drink. It has not been so thoroughly filtered as nowadays, and the containing yeast sediment was drunk together. The Egyptians even considered the beer sludge as a medicine. And in the Middle Ages, the friars used barley juice as medicine. Today we can examine the ingredients of brewer’s yeast in the laboratory. We are also no longer tied to the brewery to make brewer’s yeast. It is grown on other nutritious solutions. Nutritional Yeast, grown this way has a milder taste compared to the slightly bitter taste of Brewer’s Yeast. The yeast is grown on molasses, wood sugar, beer or whey basis. The yeast milk is then dried on rollers and more or less crushed or ground. In contrast to baker’s yeast, nutritional yeast dried in this way is no longer a raising agent.
Ingredients of Nutritional Yeast
Let’s start with the vitamins that have helped our corn eaters on the Mississippi so well to fight the dreaded pellagra disease. It is mainly the vitamins of the B group: B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, but also pantothenic acid and folic acid that make yeast so valuable. B vitamins are essential for the entire metabolism, for the brain and nerves, skin and hair, as well as bone and tooth formation. Yeast provides numerous trace elements. They are needed for coenzymes along with vitamins. Zinc is needed for the immune system, chromium for glucose tolerance factor in sugar utilization; Selenium for the capture of free radicals; Iron and cobalt are needed for blood formation. In addition, there is a lot of phosphorus, sodium, potassium, calcium and even iodine in nutritional yeast.
Alpha-lipoic acid is one of the most versatile free radical scavengers because it can hunt down dangerous free radicals in both fat-soluble and water-soluble media, protecting cell components, enzymes and genetic information from damage. Free radicals are involved in the development of most diseases. Glutathione, a sulfur-containing compound, is also part of the antioxidative protection system. Beta-glucans from the yeast cell walls have an immune-stimulating effect, especially in the digestive tract.
A Smart and Clear Mind Up to Old Age
Another substance in nutritional yeast is choline. The body can produce this substance in the liver itself. However, this self-synthesis must be supplemented by dietary choline. Choline is essential for the elastic structure of the cell walls, but also for signal transmission from cell to cell and for the formation of messenger substances. Declining brain performance and poor memory in old age are associated with reduced choline synthesis. The targeted supply of choline leads to an improvement in nerve and memory performance. The various substances in nutritional yeast, which we have already got to know as radical scavengers, also act as a protective factor. Glutathione in particular is considered a miracle weapon against premature aging and chronic ailments. The number of Alzheimer’s patients is constantly increasing. A lot can be prevented here with a targeted diet rich in active ingredients. Nutritional yeast is a real powerhouse of active ingredients!
A Variety of Yeast Products
In what form can we consume nutritional yeast? One form is yeast extract, a brown, spicy paste. It is made from yeast cultures, with or without added salt or added spices. The taste and composition vary depending on the production method. Yeast extract is superior to meat extract in taste. You can use yeast extract as a spread, to flavor soups and sauces. It can be used as a supplement when there are deficiencies in B vitamins. However, the nucleic acid content is very considerable. In the case of gout, you should use it sparingly because of its relatively high purine content. Drinking a lot of water can help so that the uric acid can be excreted properly.
Yeast flakes are becoming increasingly popular. I use them regularly as an addition to salads. My guests will always ask what is the special twist of my salads. It is “only” the yeast flakes that taste very special – slightly nutty. Yeast flakes can also be stirred into soups, sauces, soy milk or into muesli and yoghurt. You shouldn’t cook them. Yeast flakes are mixed into homemade spreads, be they sweet or savory. Nutritional yeast is also available in liquid form.
In the form of yeast tablets, nutritional yeast has also established itself as a dietary supplement. Some of them are enriched with vitamins and minerals. Even in animal husbandry are they being used. Yeast tablets are used as a cure for skin blemishes, for beautiful hair and for a lack of B vitamins. Diabetics and those with liver disease also benefit from a yeast cure.
Baker’s yeasts are live yeasts that are offered fresh or dried. Such living yeasts are fermentable used to raise the dough of bread and pastries. Baker’s yeast is a pure yeast culture and does not contain any brewer’s yeast. For humans, they have no nutritional value because their cell walls are indigestible and the nutrients present in the interior of the cells can not be utilized.
Nutritional Yeast for Beauty
Nutritional yeast helps with skin blemishes. A simple peeling can be made with one tablespoon of yeast flakes and 2 tablespoons of cream. Mix well the two ingredients. The face needs to be cleaned with lukewarm water. Now the mixture is applied by hand, massaged in and then washed off again with lukewarm water.
A honey yeast flake mask is made from two tablespoons of vegetable oil, which is gently warmed in a water bath. Then dissolve in it one tablespoon of honey and add two tablespoons of brewer’s yeast. Mixing everything very well you apply the mask with the hand on the face and decollete. They are allowed some time to dry and then rinse off with lukewarm water.
It’s amazing how versatile nutritional yeast is. They should be used much more often in the kitchen, in animal husbandry and in skin care. Initially, it was hailed as a high-quality protein. Of these, we have more than enough anyway. Today it is used as what it really is: a high-quality food supplement.
Nutritional Yeast Salad Dressing
2 tbs Olive Oil
3 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 tbs oregano
1 tbs minced parsley
1 tsp salt
Mix well and toss into your favorite salad.
Esther Neumann studied Nutrition at the University of Vienna. Since then she served as an author for the health magazine “Leben und Gesundheit” and conducted health lectures in various locations of Austria.
Abigail Abandoh-Sam says
Many thanks for this exhaustive article on nutritional yeast. It has encouraged me to start using it again after I stopped using it more than 20 years ago when I first became a vegetarian. I didn’t even know it had such important nutrients like glutathione which I try to buy as a separate nutrient but because it is so expensive I don’t use it often.
Your article about flakes was very informative. Did you mean Brewer’s yeast, or Nutritional yeast flakes? Both were mentioned and I wasn’t sure which was what we need to put in salad dressing, and helps skin blemishes, etc. I would appreciate clarification.
Martin Neumann says
Both have similar properties and are based on the same yeast specimen. The difference is just in the media they are grown at. Nutritional Yeast is normally better in taste and is the preferred option nowadays.