Dr Elyane Brightlight is a naturopath, acupuncturist and medical herbalist, in practice for 40 years. The author of two books, Natural Childcare and Natural Recovery, she maintains clinics in both Bondi Junction in Sydney, and Murwillumbah on the NSW North Coast, near her wild 120-acre property (where she breeds horses in her spare time). In this interview, Dr Brightlight discusses the benefits of including yeast in your diet.

Q: Why do we need the B Vitamins?
Dr B: The B group vitamins (which includes B1, 2, 3, 5, 6, folic acid, biotin, choline and inositol) are very important because they are all necessary for numerous functions such as: heart and skeletal muscle functions as well as brain chemistry and nerve function; metabolism of protein, fats, sugars and carbohydrates; maintaining the property fluid balance in the body; proper functioning of the digestive system and mucous membrane health.
Many of them help the absorption of other nutrients (such as B12 helping absorption of Iron). They are very important to help combat stress. Most of them are destroyed by drugs, alcohol, caffeine and cooking. The best sources of B vitamins are liver, organic meats, eggs, nutritional yeast and whole grainsThe best natural concentrated source of B vitamins is not in a pill: it’s in yeast.

Q: What about Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional yeast has been incorrectly maligned in recent years because of one of its relatives: Candida albicans. This has sent people into such a panic that some won’t even eat fresh mushrooms!
Back to nutritional yeast: Candida utilis is not only one of the best sources of all the B vitamins, it is also an excellent source of protein. It contains 16 amino acids, 14 minerals and 17 vitamins. Also, it’s the best source of Selinium, a mineral important for property functioning of the immune system. Its only drawback is its high level of phorphoros. It’s therefore necessary to keep the right level of calcium.
So when you take supplementary yeast regularly, make sure you keep up your calcium levels. Daily intakes of yogurt, cheese or milk will do the trick.

Q: How much yeast should I have?
A couple of teaspoons of yeast flakes a day in water, juice or milk will almost cover your necessary B intake. If you are particularly busy or are training, you could have an extra yeast shake per day, possibly half an hour before the gym/run/argument with your horse.

Q: What’s the best source of yeast?
Consider putting yeast on the menu and adding it to your food, rather than gulping it like medicine. Yeast in flake form is actually rather flavoursome. You can put it on buttered crackers or toast, add it to soups or stews, include it in shakes, on porridge, over fruit salads.

Q: What about the Engevita savoury yeast condiment with Vitamin B12 and Zinc?
I already was a fan of the original Engevita yeast but the new one really ticks all the boxes. The addition of B12 is a boon for vegetarians as B12 is the supplement that is most lacking in vegetarian and vegan diets.
B12 deficiency causes a host of health issues including immune system and neurological problems, therefore this is a very welcome natural supplement that is in fact a food.
The new formula also contains zinc which is also a supplement lacking in most modern diets, vegetarian or not.
Of course this formula is still the best provider of B complex and an excellent source of additional protein.
All the above would be wasted if it were not for the delicious taste. The fact that the new Engevita is actually really delicious makes it easy to use and therefore easy to keep up with all the above supplements.
I remember when one used to have to hide yeast in fruit juices and then hold one’s nose when drinking it and shiver!
This new yeast is delicious on toasts, crackers, in yoghurt, added to soups or stews or stir fries and you can also put it in smoothies and in muscle enhancement shakes for muscle building and endurance work.
A really pleasant and flavoursome way to make this particular food be your medicine.