Why is There Yeast in My Digestive Enzymes?

8 minute read

We often consider yeasts to be fungi that we try to remove from our bodies. In particular, we’ve heard quite a bit about Candida, which can cause numerous health problems when there’s overgrowth. Is there any circumstance where we’d want yeast in a supplement?

The truth is that certain strains of yeast can actually be a beneficial component of a digestive enzyme supplement. As you may know, digestive enzymes, either produced by the body or derived from food and/or supplements, help break down the food we eat so we can access nutritional components and energy.

The number of digestive enzymes manufactured in the body decrease with age. If we were to add enzymes through diet alone, we’d have to eat primarily raw foods, which may not be convenient or possible. Therefore, you may choose to supplement with a digestive enzyme product.

Sources Of Digestive Enzymes

All digestive enzyme supplements obtain the enzymes from one or more of three sources:

Animal-Based Enzymes: These enzymes, commonly listed as pancreatin, come from the pancreatic tissue of pigs or cows. Obviously not preferred by vegetarians and vegans, they are also not effective at lower pH levels, which impacts the way they work within the digestive process.

Fruit Enzymes: Typically sourced from pineapple or papaya, these enzymes can be used to address some symptoms but are considered too weak for those who need more effective support or who have more substantive digestive issues.

Plant-Based Enzymes: Derived from a highly purified Aspergillus fungus, a yeast, these enzymes are the most durable, surviving all stages of the digestion and can address a broader spectrum of issues.

What Source is Best?

There are many digestive enzymes on the market. Should you choose a fruit-based enzyme? An animal-based enzyme or a plant-based enzyme? If you are a vegetarian or vegan, the choice is simple. But even if you are an omnivore, plant-based enzymes are more effective. Here’s why.

Per numerous studies, plant-based enzymes can be anywhere from 10 to 100 times more potent at supporting protein, fat, and carbohydrate digestion. Animal-based supplements must be coated to survive the acidic environment of the stomach.

In contrast, plant-based enzymes, which come from fungal or microbial enzymes, can sustain a broad pH range that encompasses both the acidic environment of the stomach and the alkaline intestines.

| Related: Probiotics, An Ideal Complement To Your Digestive Enzyme Regimen |

Saccharomyces Boulardii, Probiotic Yeast

The addition of the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii to a supplement helps to eliminate toxins and gases, as well as to stimulate the body’s own enzyme production.

This beneficial form of yeast has been proven to improve digestive function, as well as to support the immune system and reduce inflammation throughout the digestive tract.

A balance of probiotics and pathogenic microbes in our gut benefits our health. S. boulardii is included in probiotic supplements to address gastrointestinal issues such as acute diarrhea. Its anti-inflammatory properties enable S. boulardii to treat bloating and upset stomachs or IBS.

In addition, the probiotic yeast can fight bacterial infections such as vaginal Candida.

How Does Saccharomyces Boulardii Work?

S. boulardii works by a method known as 'competitive exclusion'. This means that it competes for resources against pathogenic bacteria in the gut, and usually wins. When you have a high enough ratio of healthy probiotics to harmful bacteria in your gut, the growth of infection-causing bacteria can be prevented. S. boulardii exhibits both antimicrobial and anti-toxin properties that allow it to prevent pathogenic bacteria from taking over.

Pathogenic bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella like to adhere to S. boulardii,which means they cannot attach to intestinal structures. Because they are not able to gain a foothold in the gut, they are forced through the digestive tract and expelled with the waste.

Additionally, during E. coli infections, this yeast secretes a pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin. This interrupts inflammation signals and can, therefore, help alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases.  

| Related: Lipase Enzyme is a Vital Warrior for Those Battling IBS |

Conditions Helped By S. Boulardii

Acne: Studies have found that 80% of people taking S. boulardii experience complete or considerable healing from acne.

Clostridium Difficile: This bacterial strain lives within many of our intestines. In a small percentage of people, this strain can cause serious secondary infections which are common after receiving antibiotic therapy. Given that antibiotics can be the cause of this problem, it is difficult to treat however; S. boulardii has been shown to reduce the rates of C. difficile infections.

Diarrhea: In cases of acute diarrhea, which are those lasting no more than two weeks, this yeast has been shown to be an effective remedy. It helps to restore the intestinal bacteria that are required for healthy and normal bowel movements. It is especially helpful with traveler’s diarrhea because it can help to regulate your bowel movements so you can enjoy your travels. 

Additionally, it does not need to be refrigerated, so it can go anywhere with you.  

Helicobacter Pylori: A common bacteria that is responsible for causing stomach and small intestine ulcers  In certain susceptible individuals, it has also been linked to stomach cancer.  S. boulardii has been shown to eradicate this bacterial strain.

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome): This chronic condition causes severely uncomfortable intestinal symptoms. S. boulardii can help to relieve pain caused by bloating, cramping and frequent bowel movements.

IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease): This category consists of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's diseases, both of which are very painful and cause damage to the intestinal react. S. boulardii acts as an anti-inflammatory agent to soothe your intestines and prevent flare-ups and overly frequent bowel movements.

Fighting a Leaky Gut

This yeast has shown a lot of promise when it comes to healing a leaky gut. It is able to strengthen the junctions between intestinal cells and therefore strengthen the walls. This makes your intestinal walls better suited to guard against infection.

Additionally, S. boulardii increases Immunoglobulin A levels. This is one of the most important antibodies protecting our intestinal tract from infection. For a number of reasons, Immunoglobulin A can become weakened or depleted and S. boulardii is able to replenish levels, keeping the intestinal barriers strong.

Disaccharides are sugars that are difficult to digest when our gut is not functioning properly.  There is usually a lack of disaccharides, which is the enzyme needed to break those sugars down.  People with this impairment have difficulty digesting fibrous carbohydrates like beans and vegetables.

The levels of this enzyme can be increased by adding S. boulardii to your diet. The yeast also helps your intestines to repair from leaky gut. It reduces inflammation and allows the intestines time to heal and rebuild the villi needed for nutrient absorption.

The Bottom Line

Yeast is a beneficial component of digestive enzyme supplements. Plant-based enzymes may be sourced from Aspergillus fungus, which can withstand a broad spectrum of pH environments, from the acidic stomach to the alkaline intestines. When used in a plant-based enzyme supplement, the probiotic yeast S. boulardii provides additional health benefits.

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