September 2, 2013

Is yeast a culprit?

Introduction post 

Someone I know used to get 2- and 3-day headaches whenever a storm came in. In this climate that means at least 2 or 3 times a month through spring, summer and early fall. I also got symptoms from storms, but not as bad as hers. Last winter she read a book by someone who believes wheat is bad for people because it's been cross-bred and hybridized since the early 1900's, and she stopped eating wheat products.
A few weeks later, in February, a very low-pressure, very damp storm came in and I wasn't feeling well. I asked her if she had a headache and she said no, she felt fine. She said she had stopped all wheat products except breaded items like fried chicken. She hadn't had any bread. She was yeast-free.
I was so impressed I decided to try avoiding yeast and stopped eating yeast breads. I found that many crackers also contain yeast. I ate yeast-free crackers and corn pasta. After I few weeks I began eating wheat pasta again with no ill effect except it seems harder to digest than rice, my other starch. (I recently learned that wheat and white flour contain chains of fructose molecules, and sugars upset my stomach. So now I'm trying a wheat-free diet.)
I've noticed a big difference with my yeast-free diet! My sinus symptoms improved by about 70 - 80% and my sensitive stomach got a bit better. The nagging sinus pain I've had frequently all my life is almost gone - I've only had it a few times since February.
With summer and hot humid weather I noticed sinus pressure and pain from mold allergy, but not as bad as usual. So far it's 70 - 80% less than when I was eating yeast. And now that it's ragweed season that percentage is holding - I notice symptoms from the ragweed but much better than before.
Is it too much of a coincidence that both I and someone I happen to know would be allergic to yeast? Is there some other mechanism involved in this? Is it a common reaction? How could we tell when every American eats yeast bread every day from babyhood? Any reaction would seem normal and the symptoms attributed to other causes, like my mold allergy.
I'd like to find out. So far I've learned the same yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is used in both bread and beer.
Back in the day I used to get sinus pressure after drinking beer. I eventually stopped and since there are no ingredient labels on alcoholic beverages I couldn't determine the cause. Now it seems it may have been the yeast. I've known others who got symptoms from beer - they could try avoiding yeast and see what happens.
S. cerevisiae a unique organism with a structure unlike that of other yeasts or of any known organism.
Antibodies against S. cerevisiae are found in 60–70% of patients with Crohn's disease and 10–15% of patients with ulcerative colitis (and 8% of healthy controls). 

A specific antibody to S. cerevisiae is ASCA, a marker of intestinal inflammation. It is elevated in certain schizophrenic populations.

  • I wonder if it's elevated in other populations, such as those of us with allergies?

  • A concentrated dose of S. cerevisiae modulates immune system response involving T-cells and Natural Killer cells (lymphocytes)

  • A 6-year-old boy had allergic reactions only to fresh-baked bread and pizza (yeast in the pizza crust).

  • Commercial breadmakers add cysteine to bread to have it rise in ten to twenty minutes instead of three to four hours.
    Does the cysteine do something to change the way our immune systems respond to the yeast? I don't have time to make homemade bread and try it. It would be interesting to see if a person who gets symptoms from commercial yeast products gets symptoms from homemade bread made with unaccelerated yeast. 
    I'm so happy with the big improvement in my symtoms! Wheat and yeast are relatively easy to avoid, unlike my other allergens. I'm hoping to learn more, and I hope this preliminary information is helpful.
    Julia Baresch