Yeast is a significant unicellular organism that finds application in the process of baking and alcoholic beverages production in the modern world. Originated millions of years ago, yeasts belong to the fungi family. Being a eukaryotic, yeast is the most researched and domesticated microorganism. The important characteristics of yeasts include their ability to reproduce asexually by budding or fission and the existence of 1500 species under yeast category. While one of these species becomes a product of an eatable in everyday human life, another specie generates electricity in microbial fuel cells and yet, another specie is a pathogen that causes infection in humans. Due to such involvement of yeast, its impact can be positive or negative depending on the kind of yeast species.
Positive effects of yeast:
Yeast grants numerous benefits in following sectors.
Yeast has a valuable role in the production of wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages. The alcoholic beverages include ethanol, produced by fermentation i.e. metabolizing carbohydrates with the help of yeast under low oxygen conditions. In wine making, yeast converts fructose in grape juice into ethanol. Therefore, yeasts have a larger hand in the expanding monetary value of the industry.
Various yeast species produce numerous drugs including insulin vaccine and human serum albumin. Also, it helps in developing several chemicals such as phenolics and alkaloids. In this way, yeast contributes to the better health with its appreciable role in pharmaceuticals.
Yeasts gave wider cell structure idea of a eukaryotic cell including cell division and metabolism. The learning of different cells provides the knowledge of human cell functioning. Yeast, being a simple cell, has contributed to the study in biology and in turn, human body education.
Food additive or flavors
Yeasts add flavor to a large variety of packaged food. Such products include frozen meals, snacks, gravy, and crackers among others. A common name given to this food additive is yeast extract. Yeast extract contains glutamic acid which helps in protecting the brain from toxic effects of ammonia and improves short and long-term memory. In this way, yeast perks up brain functioning.
Yeast converts the sugar in the dough into the carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide helps in the dough expansion, which gives spongy texture to the bread when baked. Thus, yeast is a prime raw material in the production of baked food products.
Yeast contains minerals, vitamins, and amino acid. As these components are crucial for a better health, yeast plays an important role in complementing a balanced diet. Being a valuable source of nutrition, yeast ensures well-being in an individual and contributes to the health maintenance.
Yeast constitutes a high concentration of the antioxidants, which neutralizes harmful elements in the environment. It’s moisturizing and soothing properties help in maintaining and improving skin quality. Due to all these factors, the cosmetic sector employs yeast as a basic ingredient in their products.
The feed industry utilizes yeast to provide required nutrition to the animals. They use yeast as a probiotic, to supplement animal feed. People have been using this concept for ages and due to the desired results and enhanced cattle health, governments across the world has approved such consumption.
Negative effects of yeast
The risk arising from yeast on human health is high due to its greater employment in consumption and exterior use.
By appearing in the food with low pH, yeast spoils the food due to its property of metabolizing food components. One can often see yeast on the surface of cheese or meat as it grows in the high fructose food and other products containing ethanol, acetic and benzoic acid. The consumption of such food products can create health problems.
Yeasts ability to grow in food containing high sugar and fructose poses the great threat to a human health. As a pathogen, it can cause infection in a human being with a weak immune system. Yeast is responsible for candidiasis, an oral and vaginal infection in humans. Two other species of yeast cause cryptococcosis. Cryptococcosis is a fungal disease that appears in HIV/AIDS patients and thousands of people die with the disease. Thus, yeast poses a great threat to a healthy human life.
In today’s world, yeast is an invisible but a crucial part of a daily life. Yeast itself isn’t a risk but a person’s ignorance to it, is a risk. To limit poor consequences, a person must realize its importance and negative impacts. Also, scientists are trying to evacuate more about yeast, which might prove beneficial to humans as well as the entire ecosystem.