Bring up yeast in a conversation and most people refer to the yeast used in baking. But while there’s yeast used for baking, there’s also yeast that occurs in nature – and not all yeast is good yeast. This is where it pays to learn about microflora – the beneficial bacteria and yeast that are essential parts of digestion and your immune system.
Understanding the Bad Yeast – Candida Albicans
It’s estimated that more than eighty percent of Americans struggle with an imbalance in the yeast within their body, primarily due to a pathogenic yeast called Candida albicans. This single cell organism is found growing throughout our bloodstream and organs and is a cause for much of the inflammation that disrupts the normal operation of our organs and bodily functions.
Like all yeasts, it thrives on sugars that are abundant in the modern western diet, and while it feasts on these sugars, it also robs your body of essential nutrients that are necessary for your body top function normally. Foods that are heavy in sugars as well as dairy, glutinous grains and all processed foods send our digestive systems off-kilter and allows for an overgrowth of not only yeast, but bad bacteria as well.
If Candida albicans is allowed to go untreated, it slowly overgrows and dominates your digestive system and can hamper your immune function. Common symptoms include:
• Hormone imbalances
• Genital itching and infections
• Upset stomach
• Lack of focus
Now, while this type of yeast is considered harmful, it’s important to know that not all yeasts are bad. There are other varieties that are beneficial to your health. The key is finding a balance in your diet to eliminate the food sources of bad yeast while getting healthy doses of good yeast.
Remember that yeast – even Candida – is one of over 80 types of yeast that occur naturally within our bodies. They live off the food we consume and when kept in check, they post no significant health risks. The problem comes from a poor diet that allows yeast to grow unchecked.
Different Types of Yeast
- Bakers Yeast – A live yeast that is typically purchased in packets or in a compressed brick
- Brewers Yeast – A live yeast used in the brewing of alcoholic beverages like beer (or other malt beverages)
- Nutritional Yeast – Nutritional yeast is no-longer alive. It has similar nutrients and amino acids but no sugar content. It has a taste similar to cheese which is why vegetarians commonly use nutritional yeast flakes in recipes to make vegan cheeses, on pizza, or sprinkled over pasta or popcorn.
- Candida Yeast – The bad yeast that thrives in our body.
Controlling Yeast in the Body
You don’t have to completely cut out yeast entirely, as it can be beneficial and it occurs naturally as part of the normal flora in our digestive system. Your focus should be on keeping it in check. If you are susceptible to yeast infections, remember that Candida thrives on sugar. Many of the foods made using traditional yeast ingredients often contain high amounts of sugar and possible preservatives. You will want to avoid these recipes and foods. Instead, look for gluten-free foods that use natural sweeteners (like agave and stevia) that have a much less dramatic impact on your glycemic index (sugar levels).
If you are experiencing regular yeast infections or you’ve been diagnosed with Candidiasis, then speak with your nutritionists or family physician about switching your diet over to reduce your sugar intake as well as other foods that could trigger growth in the Candida (such as refined carbohydrates like flour and starches).