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9 Saccharomyces cerevisiae Benefits

Written by Biljana Novkovic, PhD | Last updated:
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Biljana Novkovic, PhD | Last updated:

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S. cerevisiae, also known as Brewer’s or Baker’s yeast, has great nutritional properties. It also has proven probiotic properties – it’s good for the skin and wound healing and combats various infections.

What is Saccharomyces cerevisiae?

Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the yeast commonly referred to as brewer or baker’s yeast. This microorganism has been instrumental to winemaking, baking, and brewing since ancient times.

The commercial product known as “nutritional yeast” contains the inactivated S. cerevisiae. This product is high in protein, fiber, and B vitamins, especially folic acid.

S. cerevisiae is a veterinary probiotic widely used in animal nutrition [1]. Although several S. cerevisiae strains have proven probiotic potential in humans, only the related S. boulardii is currently licensed for use as a human probiotic [1].

Health Benefits of S. cerevisiae

1) Produces Folate

S. cerevisiae is a rich dietary source of folate [2].

S. cerevisiae was shown to increase the folate contents of rye flour-water mixtures [3].

2) Degrades Phytate

Phytic acid (phytate) is found in many cereal grains, oilseeds, legumes, flours, and brans. It forms insoluble complexes with minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium, and lowers their bioavailability. Humans lack the enzymes for phytate complex degradation [2].

By degrading phytate, S. cerevisiae can improve the absorption of iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus [2, 4].

3) Degrades Mycotoxins

Agricultural products, food and animal feeds can be contaminated by mycotoxins, specific toxins produced by fungi. These toxins can lead to various diseases in humans and livestock.

Studies report that S. cerevisiae fermentation can degrade mycotoxins [2].

Furthermore, S. cerevisiae also possesses the ability to bind mycotoxins. S. cerevisiae improved weight gain and reduced genotoxicity of aflatoxin in mice fed with contaminated corn [5].

4) Beneficial for the GI Tract

S. cerevisiae strengthens epithelial barrier function [6].

Oral treatment with viable or heat-killed S. cerevisiae strain prevents bacterial translocation, protects intestinal barrier integrity, and stimulates immunity in mice with intestinal obstruction [7].

S. cerevisiae May be Beneficial in Cancer Patients with Mucositis

Gastrointestinal mucositis is a major and serious side effect of cancer therapy. S. cerevisiae reduces oxidative stress, prevents weight loss and intestinal lesions, and maintains the integrity of the mucosal barrier in mice with mucositis [8].

S. cerevisiae May Ameliorate IBS

In one clinical trial, S. cerevisiae reduced abdominal pain and discomfort in subjects with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) [9].

In another trial, however, S. cerevisiae had no beneficial effect on IBS symptoms and wellbeing. However, it seemed to have some effect in the subgroup with constipation [10].

S. cerevisiae May Ameliorate IBD

S. cerevisiae improved symptoms in mice with acute ulcerative colitis [11].

S. cerevisiae reduced inflammation, restored barrier function, and inhibited colitis in mice [12].

5) Combats Infections

Vaginal administration of S. cerevisiae positively influences the course of vaginal candidiasis by accelerating the clearance of Candida [13].

Treatment with S. cerevisiae decreases proinflammatory cytokines, inhibits weight loss and increases survival rate in mice with typhoid fever (caused by Salmonella enterica Typhimurium) [14].

S. cerevisiae beta-glucan reduces microscopic lung lesions and virus replication rate in pigs with pneumonia caused by the swine influenza virus (SIV) [15].

S. cerevisiae supplementation increased antibody titers and leucocyte counts and resulted in a decline in parasitemia in Trypanosoma brucei infected rats [16].

S. cerevisiae, when administered orally, colonizes the bowel of healthy volunteers and can potentially replace resident Candida species [17].

6) May be Beneficial for Dental Health

S. cerevisiae, as monotherapy or as an adjuvant, accelerated the tissue-repair process and ameliorated periodontitis in rats [18].

7) Good for the Skin

S. cerevisiae extract (SCE) is used in cosmetics, where it reduces oxidative stress and improves skin conditions. It was shown to enhance skin moisture and skin microrelief in volunteers [19].

8) Promotes Wound Healing

Topical treatment with a water-insoluble glucan from S. cerevisiae enhanced venous ulcer healing in humans. In a patient who had an ulcer that would not heal for over 15 years, this treatment caused a 67.8% decrease in the area of the ulcer [20].

9) Beneficial in Pregnancy

Preeclampsia is associated with an impaired antioxidant defense that results in pregnancy complications. S. cerevisiae scavenged nitric oxide radicals and decreased oxidative stress in red blood cells and alleviates stress status in the preeclamptic fetus [21].

Immune Interactions

  • S. cerevisiae can favor a Th1 response [1].
  • S. cerevisiae increases IFN-γ [1, 15], IL-5 [1], IL-10 [17, 18] and IL-12 [1].
  • S. cerevisiae both increases [1] and decreases [18] TNF-α.
  • S. cerevisiae both increases [1] and decreases IL-6 [11, 12, 22].
  • S. cerevisiae decreases IL-1α [22], IL-1β [1218], IL-8 [1, 22], CCL20, CXCL2, CXCL10 [22] and the neutrophil chemokine KC [12].
  • S. cerevisiae increases IgA [17], NO [15] and PPAR-γ [22].


S. cerevisiae is consumed on a daily basis worldwide. Although it is generally safe, in rare cases, S. cerevisiae may cause infections [23] and allergic responses [24].

Anti-S. cerevisiae antibodies (ASCA) have been found in many autoimmune diseases in which increased intestinal permeability occurs, including type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, and others [2526, 27]. High ASCA were also found in obesity [28].


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About the Author

Biljana Novkovic

Biljana received her PhD from Hokkaido University.
Before joining SelfHacked, she was a research scientist with extensive field and laboratory experience. She spent 4 years reviewing the scientific literature on supplements, lab tests and other areas of health sciences. She is passionate about releasing the most accurate science & health information available on topics, and she's meticulous when writing and reviewing articles to make sure the science is sound. She believes that SelfHacked has the best science that is also layperson-friendly on the web.

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