Yeast is a microscopic fungus that grows on plant sugars. Friend or Foe?
Naturally occurring in soil, honey, tree sap, fruit rinds (or peelings such as grapes), yeast is a tiny, single-celled plant encompassing more than 350 different species. Beneficial yeast is pure and carefully controlled; wild natural yeasts may contain impurities or grow sporadically.
Yeast provides many trace minerals such as iron, phosphorus, and potassium. Yeasts are high in B-complex vitamins. Nutritional and food yeasts are 40-55% protein and contain all the essential amino acids for complete protein utilization. Brewer’s yeast and distiller’s grains are incorporated into equine diets as a protein supplement.
MOST COMMONLY CONSUMED YEASTS:
We are most familiar with baker’s/food yeast, brewing yeast used in making beer or wine, and nutritional yeast that is consumed by both humans and animals for its vitamin, amino acid, and enzyme content.
• Baker’s/Food yeast (including torulopsis utilis, or torula yeast, and Candida utilis) is grown on food-grade ethyl alcohol, a by-product of petroleum refining and paper making. It is used as a meat substitute and extender, and an additive to processed foods. Torula yeast is 55% protein, inexpensive and high in the amino acid lysine. Also marketed as torula yeast, Candida utilis tastes very bitter and may be grown on pine chips.
• Brewers yeast is left over from beer brewing, debittered (to rid hops flavor), then dried into a powder. It is grown on rice, corn, barley malt, hops, or corn syrup and is known to be a non-active (dead) yeast, but very nutritious.
• Nutritional yeast is usually pasteurized to stop further yeast growth, then dried and ground into a powder. It is a pale yellow color, needs no refrigeration, and has a distinctive pleasant aroma.
HHH: The key to restoring your horse’s body ecology is to STARVE undesirable yeast by eliminating all sugar. Avoid sweet feeds, and all feed containing molasses! Period. Sugar is the primary nutritional support for yeast. So, a sugar-free diet allows your horse’s body to start discarding dead yeast toxins. Assist cleaning your horse’s colon and add new colonies of friendly flora into your horse’s diet. Microminerals (both land and ocean), and/or high mineral content herbs such as kelp (also supports mineral balance), borage (high in mineral salts), fenugreek (esp. high iron and phosphates), and linseed may be included in your horse’s diet.
HHH: Friendly flora is the balance of bacteria in your horse’s intestines. Yeast cultures enhance the activity of good (beneficial) hind-gut activity in your horse. An equine diet may include apples and pears. Excess sweet fruits, however, can encourage an overgrowth of yeast. Low sugar, sour, acidic fruits like lemons, limes, unsweetened cranberries, and grapefruit do not create yeast overgrowth.
HHH: Flora busters (the bad guys):
• a rapid change in feed
• poor feed choices
• heavy metals (esp. mercury)
• worming (can lead to unhealthy gut activity)
• hormone imbalance
• too much sugar in the diet (molasses and high sugar fruits)
• antibiotics (kill both beneficial bacteria and harmful organisms)
• milk sugar from dairy products (feeds yeast, is mucous forming, and can quickly take over if overfed)
HHH: When fungi die off, flatulence increases. Antibiotic use can create gas in your horse. Drugs create side effects, one of which is gas caused by a change in your horse’s internal environment. Bioresonance therapy is used for allergies and fungal issues. Gastric issues can briefly worsen, stabilize, calm down, and then normalize with bioresonance therapy use.
HHH: Yogurt is an unlikely equine beneficial bacteria support. Choose “plain” organic yogurt that has multi-strains of live cultures such as acidophilus, bifidus, and lactobacillus, found at your local health food store. Add beneficial bacteria to your horse’s diet to counter digestive system upsets such as with antibiotic use. Add a small container to the feed or use a syringe. (Note: some horses can be dairy sensitive, just like humans.) Probiotics provide even more bacterial-specific support.
HHH: Yeast improves utilization of feed and inhibition of pathogenic organisms. The yeast saccharomyces has similar benefits to probiotic bacteria and reduces lactate and acidity in grain-fed horses. Research indicates horses who consume large amounts of grain gain improved fiber digestion when also fed yeast probiotics. Another yeast, aspergillus oryza (also well known as the source for many extremely beneficial digestive enzymes), is often given as a prebiotic and a probiotic as well. It actually produces lactic acid (the exact opposite of saccharomyces), and provides a source of food for many beneficial bacteria.
HHH: Yeast cultures are beneficial supports to probiotics. The main benefit of yeast cultures in conjunction with probiotics is to enhance the activity of hind-gut bacteria. Yeast cultures provide valuable B vitamins, boost metabolism and are beneficial on a daily basis (whereas probiotics should be given only as needed). Senior horses especially benefit from yeasts and probiotics to help them more easily digest foods. Probiotics can be given before and after worming, and also assist in maintaining healthy bacteria in the gut. Try to reduce the frequency you worm your horse by adding garlic to your horse’s diet.
HHH: Restore friendly flora with garlic. Garlic will replace harmful bacteria with good bacteria, as well as work to kill the harmful bacteria. It is also a very good support for yeast infections. Several equine garlic supplements are available, including Equilite’s Garli+C blend or Fly Away Garlic (800-942-5483). Garlic is an easy herb to grow in your pasture or garden. It can be picked and hung to dry for later use. Simply cut individual cloves into tiny bits and include them in daily feed. Besides the positive bacteria boost, garlic also supplies immune support.
HHH: Speed recovery rate and support your horse’s sensitive digestive system. Friendly bacteria are required for your horse’s gut to function properly. Nutrients found in common equine feeds, soluble fibers like pectins and psyllium, as well as complex carbohydrates, are known (in human studies) to increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. A population of healthy microorganisms (flora) ensures more complete digestion and faster recovery from illness.
Herbal Support for Symptoms of Imbalanced Flora:
Reduced immune function (gets sick easily; lies down a lot; low blood count)
Rose hip, poke root, garlic, echinacea (good sources: Silver Lining’s #24 Immune Builder, Equilite’s Equinacea and garlic products)
Irregular bowel movements
Parsley, licorice, dandelion, barberry
Loss of energy
Eluthro ginseng, gotu kola, kelp
Bee pollen, comfrey, Vitamins A, C, E, rose hips
Dry, flaky skin
Dandelion, Oregon grape, goldenseal, olive, barberry
Lack of concentration
Gingko, Gotu Kola
Any flora imbalance may result in:
• toxic lymph nodes
• transference of toxins to the blood and liver
• gradual toxicity in multiple body organs
The lymphatic system is crucial in eliminating toxins from the body. Lymphatic support includes barberry, fennel, dandelion, licorice, parsley, rose hips (check out Silver Lining’s #35 Lymphatic). To aid in blood purification and liver support, see Silver Lining’s #37 Kidney and #27 Liver.
Shari Frederick, BS, NMD, LE, a nutritional educator, assists horseowners in making healthier, more natural choices in horse care. She is an advocate of natural prevention and support for overall health, healing and stronger immune systems for both humans and animals. Shari is an independent author, international lecturer and self-styled naturalist. She is also a staunch supporter of "Truth in Labeling" for ALL manufacturers. Contact Shari at Shari@ktc.com and reference Holistic Horse in the subject line.