About Yeast

All About Yeast

What is Yeast?

Yeast are single-celled fungi. As fungi, they are related to the other fungi that people are more familiar with, including: edible mushrooms available at the supermarket, common baker’s yeast used to leaven bread, molds that ripen blue cheese, and the molds that produce antibiotics for medical and veterinary use.

The scientific name for the yeast that baker’s use is Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, or
“sugar-eating fungus”. A very long name for such a tiny organism! This species of yeast is very strong and capable of fermentation, the process that causes bread dough to rise.

Sugar and Yeast
Yeast cells digest food to obtain energy for growth. Their favorite food is sugar! Here you'll see sugar in its various forms: sucrose (beet or cane sugar), fructose and glucose (found in honey, molasses, maple syrup and fruit), and maltose (derived from starch in flour).

How Yeast Works
The process, alcoholic fermentation, produces useful end products, carbon dioxide (gas) and ethyl alcohol. These end products are released by the yeast cells into the surrounding liquid in the dough. In bread baking, when yeast ferments the sugars available from the flour and/or from added sugar, the carbon dioxide gas cannot escape because the dough is elastic and stretchable. As a result of this expanding gas, the dough inflates, or rises. Thus, the term “yeast-leavened breads” was added to the vocabulary of the world of baking.
The ethyl alcohol (and other compounds) produced during fermentation produce the typical flavor and aroma of yeast-leavened breads.

Fermentation In Nature
Fermentation occurs naturally in nature. For instance, many berries break open in late fall when they are overripe and full of sugar. Natural yeast organisms, so small they cannot be seen with the naked eye, lodge on the surface of these berries, which then become fermented and alcoholic.

-Red Star Yeast

Yeast and Your Body
There are many kinds of yeasts. You use one type to make bread, another to brew beer. One called candida lives inside your body. If it grows out of control, you can get an infection. Yeast infections can strike your skin, feet, mouth, penis, or vagina. If your immune system is weak, you may be more likely to get one.

Yeast cells in the body.

How It Keeps Things Running
You can get plenty of proteins and B vitamins from yeast-rich foods. Yeast keeps your digestive system healthy and in balance. The right amount in your body helps your immune system do its job. Yeast is part of a healthy mix of bacteria in your gut. It can help you absorb vitamins and minerals from your food, and even fight disease.

Overgrowth of a yeast cell.

When It Gets Out of Balance
A little yeast in your body is good for you. Too much can cause infections and other health problems. If you take antibiotics too often or use oral birth control, your body might start to grow too much yeast. This often leads to gas, bloating, mouth sores, bad breath, a coating on your tongue, or itchy rashes.

Reaction to an overgrowth of yeast.

When Your Immune System's Involved
If your immune system isn’t at its best, yeast can overgrow in your body. Babies, older people, and those with diseases like diabetes or HIV infection can have weakened immune systems. Chemotherapy for cancer and steroids can zap your immune system, too. Sjogren’s syndrome, which affects your immune system, can raise your risk of yeast infection.

Reproducing yeast cells.

I'm Sure You've Heard About Candida
It's the yeast most often to blame for health problems. Candida albicans is the most common strain. But there are least 20 candida species that cause infections in humans. Candida auris is a new fungus in this family that’s a big concern. Hospital patients infected with it can get very ill and may not get help from anti-fungal drugs.

Candida yeast cells