Yeast is a type of fungus that you've likely heard of before. There are actually many varieties of yeast that have been discovered by scientists. One type of this microorganism is added to recipes to help dough rise, while other types can cause infections to various parts of the body. Other varieties are taken as supplements to promote good health and address specific health concerns.
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A popular variety of yeast used for supplements is Monascus purpureus or red yeast rice. This type of fungi is produced when yeast is allowed to grow on rice. The use of red yeast rice to promote health and well-being can be traced back thousands of years, as the organism has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Can Red Rice Yeast Lower Cholesterol?
Research into the benefits of red yeast rice has only just begun, but there have been some promising results with early studies. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database reports that red yeast rice may possibly be effective for lowering cholesterol levels.
What Is Monacolin K?
A chemical known as monacolin K found inside red yeast rice is believed to affect the body similarly to statin drugs that are commonly prescribed for individuals with high cholesterol. However, monacolin K can be eliminated when red yeast rice is processed into supplements, so if a particular product does not contain monacolin K, it is unlikely to provide any cholesterol-lowering benefits, explains the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
What Is Brewer’s Yeast?
Another variety of yeast used for supplementation is Saccharomyces cerevisiae or brewer's yeast. This microorganism gets its name from its importance in brewing beer from hops and other grains. There has been more research into the benefits of brewer's yeast, and physicians often recommend the yeast as a dietary supplement. One of the most common uses of brewer's yeast is for B vitamin supplementation in those with deficiencies since many doctors agree that the microorganism is rich in all B vitamins except B12.
Brewer’s Yeast and Blood Sugar
Chemical analyses of brewer's yeast have revealed that it contains large amounts of chromium, a mineral that is believed to play an important role in blood sugar regulation. Because of this, some scientists believe that the yeast may be beneficial for diabetics and those with pre-diabetes or insulin resistance. The supplement does not seem to be effective at managing blood glucose levels on its own, but it may be helpful as an additional therapy used along with insulin or an oral diabetic medications.
Brewer’s Yeast and Probiotics
Some studies have established that brewer's yeast is a probiotic, a microorganism that helps to balance the natural flora of the gut. Probiotics assist with digestion and help to reduce the harmful effects of bad bacteria and viruses that are found in the stomach. Research has found that probiotics may be beneficial for alleviating symptoms of digestive disorders and acute digestive issues like traveler's diarrhea.
drugstore.com has a variety of brewer's yeast and red yeast rice supplements to meet your needs. If you're unsure which product is right for you, consult a physician or natural health practitioner. No supplement can substitute for a doctor's care, and you may require additional interventions to help you meet your health and wellness goals.