Yeast and products made with yeast are fairly common in our food system. Bread and alcoholic beverages are the first two that come to mind. Reading the ingredients of many processed foods reveals many types of yeast products, as well, such as torula yeast. Baker’s and Brewer’s yeast are two common kinds of yeast used in cooking. However, another type of yeast product has gained popularity recently; this is nutritional yeast.
Nutritional yeast is also known as “nooch” in the United States, and as savory yeast flakes in parts of Europe. It is available primarily at health food stores, but its rise in popularity has made its availability more widespread. Nutritional yeast comes from a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is grown on sugar cane, molasses or beet molasses. It is heated to kill or “deactivate” the yeast, itself, so it is no longer alive when consumed. In this regard, it is fundamentally different from baker’s and brewer’s type yeasts, which are used in their live, active forms.
Nutritional yeast has a flavor and texture similar to Parmesan cheese, which is why it has gained so much popularity. Vegans and vegetarians often use nutritional yeast as a cheese substitute and use it to flavor all kinds of foods, salads and sauces.
Nutritional yeast is advertised as gluten free, dairy free, soy free and as a cheese substitute. The only “nutritional” component that is noteworthy in nutritional yeast is the high B-vitamin content. However, B-vitamins found in nutritional yeast are often added as a supplemental measure, not directly made by the yeast, itself. Nutritional yeast doesn’t yield a high B-vitamin content, naturally.
The Phase One and Two Diets exclude yeast and yeast products for a number of reasons. First, the goal of the diets is to starve any sort of pathogenic yeast infection within the body, and eliminate exposure to yeast, fungi and any potentially harmful byproducts they produce. Fungi and their byproducts––while not well-understood within the medical community––can cause serious, detrimental problems to human health.
While there is some evidence to suggest that nutritional yeast works to limit the deleterious effects of certain mycotoxins, these studies have all been in vitro. Given that nutritional yeast is, in fact, a yeast, and the fact that it is typically grown on sugar (which, itself, runs the risk of mycotoxin contamination and is disallowed on the Phase One and Two Diets,) nutritional yeast is not recommended on the Phase One or Two Diets. Nutritional yeast falls into the category that many foods popularized by health-types falls into––just because a food is considered “healthy” does not automatically make it approved for the Phase One and Two Diets.