Yeast Supplements Reduce Common Cold and Flu Incidence and Severity
The study was published in the European Journal of Nutrition. The research was conducted within seven German clinics during the winter months between 2010 and 2011. The researchers gave 162 healthy human adults, either a 900 milligram tablet of a beta-glucan yeast supplement each day, or a 900 milligram maltodextrin tablet.
The subjects’ were monitored and analyzed at the beginning and then every two months. Their cold episodes were reviewed and documented as well.
The yeast group had 25% fewer cold episodes during the study compared with the placebo group. And when they did have a cold, the yeast supplement group had 15% less cold severity as gauged by symptom scores. The group taking the yeast supplement also had significantly better sleep during their colds than did the placebo group.
The researchers concluded:
“The present study demonstrated that yeast beta-glucan preparation increased the body’s potential to defend against invading pathogens.”
The supplement used is called Yestimun, a European beta-glucan extract from brewer’s yeast – a culture of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae species. Similar commercial supplements have extracted the beta-glucans from baker’s yeast – also typically from the Saccharomyces cerevisiae species.
The extract is composed of (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-D-glucans. These are large polysaccharide molecules that are common within a variety of nutritional yeasts as well as medicinal mushrooms. Other research – as covered by Realnatural News – has found that mushrooms also stimulate the immune system, and many have concluded that their beta-glucan content is a significant contributing factor.
These beta-glucans are also available to the body when the yeast or medicinal mushroom is eaten in whole form.
Other research has found that a Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast extracts reduce cold and flu duration.
In a 2008 randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical study from the University of Michigan’s Medical Center, 116 adults were given either 500 milligrams of EpiCor (a dried Saccharomyces cerevisiae supplement) or a placebo. After twelve weeks, the the yeast supplement group experienced fewer sick days of cold and flu. The researchers also found that: “Participants receiving the yeast-based product had significantly fewer symptoms and significantly shorter duration of symptoms when compared with subjects taking a placebo.”
In this last study, interestingly, those taking the yeast supplement also had “a more favorable safety profile compared with subjects receiving placebo.” This of course runs contrary to most pharmaceutical studies, where patients must deal with a variety of adverse side effects.
Nutritional yeast is also typically produced from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Besides its beta-glucan content, brewer’s, baker’s and nutritional yeasts will contain numerous nutrients such as amino acids, B vitamins and minerals. Note that these supplements are typically produced from deactivated yeast cultures.
Auinger A, Riede L, Bothe G, Busch R, Gruenwald J. Yeast (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-glucan helps to maintain the body’s defence against pathogens: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicentric study in healthy subjects. Eur J Nutr. 2013 Jan 23.
Moyad MA, Robinson LE, Zawada ET Jr, Kittelsrud JM, Chen DG, Reeves SG, Weaver SE. Effects of a modified yeast supplement on cold/flu symptoms. Urol Nurs. 2008 Feb;28(1):50-5.
Moyad MA, Robinson LE, Zawada ET, Kittelsrud J, Chen DG, Reeves SG, Weaver S. Immunogenic yeast-based fermentate for cold/flu-like symptoms in nonvaccinated individuals. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Feb;16(2):213-8.
Adams, C. The Living Food Diet: The Ultimate Diet for Increasing Vitality, Losing Weight and Preventing Disease. Logical Books, 2011.