Brewer’s yeast, a potential probiotic?

Probiotics are increasingly becoming well-known for their health benefits. Common sources of probiotics include yogurt and kimchi, but one study, published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, provided evidence on the probiotic properties of brewer’s yeast, an essential ingredient to making beer and bread.

Researchers at Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) investigated the potential probiotic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties of a strain of brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) isolated from fruit.

In the study, brewer’s yeast was revealed to be tolerant to various temperatures and pH, high concentration of bile salt and sodium chloride (NaCl), gastric juice, intestinal environment, alpha-amylase, trypsin, and lysozyme. It also has the ability to produce organic acid and exhibited resistance against drugs, such as tetracycline, ampicillin, gentamycin, penicillin, polymyxin B and nalidixic acid.

It can absorb cholesterol and can produce killer toxin, vitamin B12, glutathione, siderophore, and strong biofilm. Moreover, it demonstrated moderate auto-aggregation ability and cell surface hydrophobicity, which are essential properties of probiotics.

Brewer’s yeast can also produce enzymes, such as amylase, protease, lipase, cellulose, that enhance nutrient utilization in the gut. It also demonstrated better antibacterial activity against gram-negative bacteria than gram-positive. In addition, it exhibited potent antioxidant activity, reducing power, nitric oxide and hydroxyl radical scavenging activity, significant brine shrimp cytotoxicity and acute toxicity, and metal ion chelating activity.

Ingestion of brewer’s yeast was also considered safe as it did not cause any toxic side effects based on the results of toxicity tests. When administered to mice, it improved lymphocyte proliferation and cytokine production.

The researchers conclude that brewer’s yeast possesses promising probiotic, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties.

The benefits of brewer’s yeast

Brewer’s yeast is an ingredient used to make beer and bread. It is a byproduct of the fermentation process. Despite its slightly bitter taste, it is commonly used as a nutritional supplement. Listed below are some of the health benefits that brewer’s yeast offers:

  • Improves blood sugar – Chromium is a trace mineral that aids in the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats for energy, and brewer’s yeast is one of the greatest sources of chromium. In fact, it provides one of the highest quality and most easily absorbable forms of chromium of any food. Brewer’s yeast offers approximately 4.7 micrograms (?g) of chromium per gram (g). In a study published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, participants who consumed 9 g of brewer’s yeast per day for 40 days experienced a 42 percent decrease in fasting blood sugar levels and a 28 percent decrease in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a measure of average blood sugar over a three-month period. They also experienced a 17 percent drop in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol.
  • Fights against cancer – According to a cell culture study published in the journal Cytotechnology, brewer’s yeast can prevent some forms of cancer as its beta-glucan content prevented DNA damage from ultraviolet light. Another study, published in the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, demonstrated the anti-cancer properties of brewer’s yeast. In the study, brewer’s yeast prevented structures at the ends of the chromosome from becoming eroded, a process that can result in cancerous cell division.
  • Boosts immune function – Brewer’s yeast may also enhance the immune system as it was found to inhibit Clostridium difficile, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause diarrhea, and food-borne pathogens Salmonella and Escherichia coli.
  • Provides many nutrients –Brewer’s yeast is composed of 52 percent protein, making it a great low-fat source of protein. It is also a decent source of certain minerals, such as selenium and chromium and B vitamins. (Related: Brewer’s yeast is rich in protein, B-vitamins and beneficial bacteria.)

Read more news stories and studies on the health benefits of probiotics by going to

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