Over the past 5 years, I have used food to help combat stress, anxiety, and heartburn. While my quest has been extremely successful in many regards, I still have constant battles, which led me to take a food sensitivity test to get to the crux of the matter. Wouldn’t you know that I actually have a moderate intolerance to bakers and brewer’s yeast?
To be honest, I’d never really thought about yeast, but once I started reading, a whole new door into health-related symptoms opened.
I discovered that yeast is a fungi protein that is used to get bread and baked goods all fluffy and puffed up. It’s also used in those gut-friendly fermented foods. What else is yeast included in? The list is extensive including most condiments such as soy sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, and anything that uses vinegar. For those that have recently found out they have an intolerance, have known for some time, or think they may, here’s a little information to help you manage it!
What is Yeast?
Fungi are “living organisms that are distantly related to plants, and more closely related to animals, but rather different from either of those groups.” Basically, they’re related to both plants and animals but aren’t exactly either. They are characterized by five distinct features: they have nuclei with chromosomes, they can’t photosynthesize, they absorb food, their bodies are spreading networks of filaments called hyphae, and they reproduce via spores.
Yeast are single-celled fungi – only visible under a microscope — and “they are related to the other fungi that people are more familiar with, including edible mushrooms available at the supermarket, common baker’s yeast used to leaven bread, molds that ripen blue cheese, and the molds that produce antibiotics for medical and veterinary use.”
Humans have used yeast for centuries. Yeast naturally digests “food to obtain energy for growth” and its favorite food is sugar. This is why yeast is essential for baking and fermentation processes. As yeast digests sugar it releases carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol, which makes dough rise and grains to ferment into alcohol.
Wild Yeast versus Commercial Yeast
Due to the need to mass produce foods to meet the growing demand of population growth, yeast that once was produced in the wild has been turned into a commercial product. The difference between commercial and wild yeast is wildly different. Some people intolerant of yeasts find they can actually still consume wild yeast.
Wild yeast was used thousands of years ago to leaven bread and ferment foods. Instead of containing a single strain — such as baker’s yeast — wild yeast is a combination of strains. It has a higher nutritional value and doesn’t react as negatively with our bodies. In fact, some wild yeast products are actually still gluten-free, depending on how the cook uses it. With wild yeast, “leavening comes from the air and the grain, not from a store-bought packet.”
In the mid-1800s, this leavening agent was actually identified and first seen under a microscope, which led to the creation of commercialized baker’s yeast. Specifically, baker’s yeast is an isolated “single strain of yeast from [a] wild yeast culture.” This single strain yeast offered a quicker leavening process and added flavor, which met the demands of the commercialized bread industry. Baker’s continued to change bread making by adding sweeteners and sugars, which not only made bread more appealing, but it also sped up the baking process.
With that said, the more we messed with the wild form of yeast, the more our bodies reacted to it. Hence yeast intolerance.