The next hottest superfoods will be from genetically modified microbes.
It comes as no surprise to me that a new superfood revolution is underway. It’s also not surprising that they will be made from microbes. Whole food-based nutritional supplements, like B vitamins and vegan vitamin D3, are already made that way. They are organic, gluten free, non-GMO, have no magnesium sterate, and are made from yeast.
Made from Microbes
Brewed in stainless steel vats from modified yeast, whole food supplements have been around for a while. The yeast of choice is common brewer’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This most useful of all yeast species is employed in baking, winemaking, brewing beer, and for growing vitamins and minerals.
It’s also ancient. Researchers estimate it being more than 600 million years old. In 1996, it was one of the very first living organisms to have its genome completely sequenced.
In addition to yeast-derived nutrients, whole food supplements may also have polyphenolic compounds from vegetable, fruit, and herbal extracts.
Medicines Made in the Lab
Because of its versatility, Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been called the Swiss Army Knife of useful organisms. It makes our bread fluffy and our drinks buzzy. It has been used in food processing for hundreds of years. In recent times, it’s manipulated into making medicines like artemisinin, a powerful anti-malarial drug.
Sweet wormwood, the natural source of artemisinin, is farmed in Asia, but there’s not enough grown to keep up with the demand for anti-malaria treatments. To help research along, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided $42 million for the gene hunt to make artemisinin in the lab from yeast. The research pace was furious, and by 2006 yeasts were turning out artemisinic acid, which is easily converted into the artemisinin.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is not only used to make nutrients and drugs, it also produces beta-glucans for immune boosting.
Immune effects of dietary beta-glucan:
- Accelerates wound healing
- Immune boosting benefits for HIV infection
- Increases resistance to cold and flu
- Increases survival time of cancer patients
- Lowers cholesterol
- Maintains healthy skin
- Prevents post-surgical infections
- Protects against radiation
When you buy beta-glucan-derived immune boosters like BetaMax or Epicor, you are ingesting a type of dried brewer’s yeast. These specialized yeast forms help balance immunity by strengthening skin and mucous membrane defenses, boosting immune cell activity, and increasing T-cells and B-cells.
An immune boosting yeast combined with probiotics, Micro-Procell, is used in Korea as an additive to animal feed and water to improve digestive activity and enhance the health and production of poultry. Another Korean health product—a secret mix of fermented grains and yeast, and enzymes—is also used for human digestive immune health.
The New Superfoods
Yeast is not only used to make bread, beer, drugs, and immune boosters, but microbe-derived superfoods are just around the corner. Resveratrol, the compound found in red grapes that extends lifespan, and sold as a superfood health supplement, can now be made with yeast. It’s still too expensive for the marketplace, but look for it soon in your health food store.
Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. In Chinese medicine, it’s used as a tea to clear the acupuncture meridians and cleanse toxins, reduce blood clots, and reduce pain. The Swiss company Evolva created a yeast process that can make three of saffron’s key medicinal compounds.
Evolva developed a proprietary fermentation process that allows radically different approaches to the production of ingredients for the food, beverage and consumer health sectors. They are working on other compounds, including stevia and a compound derived from pomegranate to treat fungal infections.
Safety and Use
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is generally recognized as safe for human use. However, it produces “killer toxins” against competing strains of yeast. Researchers believe this toxin poses no risk to humans. Once processed, the yeast becomes inactive, and is considered harmless to those who are mold or yeast sensitive.
I consider yeast-derived beta-glucan one of the most effective immune-boosting natural medicines, and have used it with thousands of patients for at least twenty years. During that time, not a single patient had an adverse reaction. However, as with all substances, it’s possible that individualized allergic reactions may occur. The same caution applies for the new superfoods made from yeast.
Read supplement labels carefully. If you see S. cerevisiae, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Yeast-Derived Fermentate, or Saccharomyces Food Culture (SFC)—all the same thing by different names—it’s laboratory-grown baker’s yeast.