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Yeast: A ‘better’ probiotic in treating and preventing gut disease?

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Research has linked probiotics to a healthy gut system, which leads to good digestion, immunity and overall well-being. And with today’s wellness-focused consumers more willing to spend on nutritional diets and maintenance of healthy microbiota, it is no wonder that the demand for probiotic supplements has rocketed in recent years. In fact, a report by BCC Research estimated the global market for probiotics at $39.2bn in 2017, and that is expected to rise to $57.2bn by 2022.

Most probiotic supplements in the market include bacterial strains, of which Lactobacilli​ and Bifidobacteria​ are most widely used globally. Saccharomyces boularldii​ from yeast is another probiotic contender that is increasing in popularity and has gained recognition from the medical and scientific community. What are their differences, and which one performs better for gut health? Let us find out.

S. boulardii: The inside story

It was in 1923 when French microbiologist Henri Boulard – who was in IndoChina searching for new strains of yeast that could be used in fermenting processes – stumbled upon a microbial discovery. There was a cholera outbreak during his visit when he noticed that the people who drank a certain kind of tea did not get infected with cholera. The tea was made from the peel of tropical fruits, including lychee and mangosteen. Boulard isolated and identified this strain of yeast, a probiotic, which was later named ‘Saccharomyces boulardii’​ (S. boulardii​).

Extensive research has been conducted since the isolation of the strain and more than 400 relevant studies have been published so far. In 1962, the strain was approved to be used for the treatment of diarrhea as a prescription drug. Fifty years later, it has become available in dietary supplement form; and today S. boulardii ​is available in over 80 countries.

Advantages of yeast over bacteria probiotics​    

More than 50 clinical trials (more than 8,000 subjects involved in total) have been conducted to date regarding the efficacy of S. boulardii ​and its effectiveness in the prevention and treatment of intestinal symptoms, specifically antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD), diarrhea due to clostridium difficile infection (CDI), traveller’s diarrhea and acute diarrhea and persistent diarrhea. Studies showed several advantages of consuming S. boulardii ​over bacteria probiotics in treating such gastrointestinal diseases (see Table below). 

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  1. Safety for all age groups: S. boulardii ​is a yeast that can be safely consumed as a food and is an effective antidiarrheal biotherapeutic agent with a remarkable safety profile. It has been proven to be safe for all age groups, including infants. This is a major advantage over bacteria probiotics as diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under 5 years old (525,000 deaths of children under 5 every year). Globally, there are nearly 1.7bn cases of childhood diarrheal disease every year.
  2. Survival at gastric acidity: S. boulardii ​probiotics have developed molecular mechanisms to respond to adverse conditions. The yeast survives passage throughout the upper gastrointestinal tract, showing a good viability indispensable for its probiotic activity.

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These results indicate that no significant decrease in culturable yeast cells occurred during the stomach incubation phase and small intestinal incubation phase.

  1.  Steady-state concentration: ​When given orally, S. boulardii ​achieves steady-state concentrations within three days, and is cleared by the body within three to five days after it is discontinued. It is also one of the few yeasts that survives best at human body temperatures (37°C). This means it has the capacity to compete with other microorganisms in the gastrointestinal ecosystem.
  2. No antibiotic or antifungal resistance: ​AAD is observed as a side effect in approximately 20% of patients who receive antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics act on not only pathogenic bacteria but also all bacteria in the intestine and kill good bacteria, so the balance between the good bacteria and bad bacteria will be damaged (the main cause of AAD is clostridium difficile overgrowth and toxins produced by it). Because S. boulardii ​is not bacteria but yeast, it is less influenced by antibiotics. The incidence of diarrhea is significantly reduced when antibiotics are taken together with S. boulardii​, compared to taking antibiotics alone.
  3. Barrier effect against pathogen colonization: S. bourlardii​ does permanently colonize the colon and does not easily translocate out of the intestinal tract. Therefore, it is eliminated after supplementation is stopped.
  4. Other benefits:​ Of all the probiotics, only S. boulardii ​is particularly effective against Clostridium diarrhea. Moreover, unlike other probiotics, it is highly stable and there is no need for refrigerated storage, making it ideal as a supplement for those with diarrhea and constipation during travel.

Yeast Probiotics Powder from Angel

As the biggest supplier of yeast derivatives in the world, Angel Yeast has more than 30 years of experience in yeast product R&D and production. The company has developed its Yeast Probiotics Powder that has been proven effective in resolving gut problems, such as general acute diarrhea caused by rotavirus infection, intestinal flora disturbance, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, traveller’s diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. The main strains of this product are Rhamnose Lactobacillus LGG, Animal Bifidobacterium BB-12 and Saccharomyces Boulardii ​BLD-3.

Last September, Angel’s Yeast Probiotics Powder won the coveted "Probiotics Product of the Year" at the recently held NutraIngredients-Asia Awards in Marina Bay, Singapore​. This was no easy feat as more than 100 entries were submitted to compete for 12 categories.

The probiotics category was a highly competitive one and Angel Yeast’s victory is testament to the company’s range of products spanning all life stages. It is a worthy winner of our Probiotic Product of the Year award​,” said NutraIngredients-Asia editor-in-chief Gary Scattergood.

Saccharomyces Boulardii BLD-3 has been proven to be an effective yeast probiotic strain for anti-diarrhea. We are doing some clinical tests to ensure its effectiveness on other health problems and we expect to find some new mechanisms soon​,” said Dr. Yan Zhang, CTO of Angel Nutritech. 

Besides S. boulardii​, Angel Yeast also produces other functional yeast ingredients for human health solutions, such as Yeast Beta Glucan, Selenium-enriched Yeast, Brewer’s Yeast, Nutritional Yeast Flakes, Yeast Protein AnPro, Yeast Peptides AnPep, Zinc-enriched Yeast, Chromium-enriched Yeast, Glutathione-enriched yeast, etc. All of Angel Yeast’s factories in different parts of the world have ISO9001, ISO14000, ISO22000 and BRC certifications, among others.

For more details information about Angel functional yeast ingredients, please visit Angel’s website here​.