When you hear the word “yeast,” does your whole body seem to stiffen up? You’re not alone. Most of us have been conditioned to believe that yeast is bad news, and infection-causing. Similar to the word “bacteria,” our minds immediately go to the negative meaning of the word, but now we know that there are hundreds of thousands of ‘good’ bacteria too.

Similarly, most of us can think of some ‘good’ yeasts, such as those used to bake bread or brew beer. Fortunately, yeast has many benefits outside of the kitchen too, and we’re going to show you which yeasts to fear and which to welcome.

What are the ‘Bad’ or Pathogenic Yeasts?

The negative connotation of yeast generally reminds us of yeast infections. Pathogenic yeasts, such as different strains of Candida, are types of yeasts that can cause infections throughout the body.  

Dr. Amanda Bradbery, FullBucket’s Equine Nutritionist states, “Yeast is often misinterpreted as solely referring to pathogenic yeast such as Candida yeast infections, which are not uncommon in a clinical setting. However, there exists beneficial yeast, just like how there are pathogenic bacteria and beneficial bacteria.”

It is important to note that, similar to bacteria, ‘bad’ and ‘good’ yeasts naturally reside in the body. The issues that result in disease arise when the balance of ‘bad’ and ‘good’ is disrupted. 

The balance can be thrown off when the immune system is already compromised due to stress, poor environmental hygiene, long-term and broad-spectrum antibiotic use, other underlying health conditions, and more. 

What are the ‘Good’ or Beneficial Yeasts?

While there are multiple beneficial yeasts, one of the most studied in peer-reviewed research is a non-pathogenic yeast called Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii). 

 S. boulardii differs from pathogenic yeast strains, such as Candida, in several key ways:

  • Non-pathogenic nature: S. boulardii is non-pathogenic, meaning it does not cause disease or harm to humans when ingested. 
  • Probiotic properties: S. boulardii has probiotic properties, meaning it can confer health benefits to the host when ingested. It is used to prevent and treat various gastrointestinal issues such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea, Clostridium difficile infection, and inflammatory bowel diseases. Pathogenic yeast strains do not have probiotic properties and can instead cause infections and disease.
  • Resistance to gastric acidity and bile salts: S. boulardii has natural resistance to gastric acidity and bile salts, allowing it to survive passage through the gastrointestinal tract and reach the intestines where it can exert its probiotic effects. Pathogenic yeast strains may not possess this level of resistance, making them less likely to survive passage through the digestive system intact.
  • Competitive exclusion: S. boulardii can compete with pathogenic microorganisms for nutrients and binding sites in the gut, thereby helping to prevent colonization and overgrowth of harmful pathogens. Pathogenic yeast strains do not have this beneficial effect and may actually compete with beneficial microorganisms, leading to dysbiosis and potential health problems.

Overall, Saccharomyces boulardii is a beneficial yeast strain. Dr. Bradbery sums it up in this manner:

“S. boulardii will NOT cause yeast infections. In fact, S. boulardii provides many different benefits to our animals. One example of this is to protect against pathogenic microorganisms including some yeast and bacterial infections.”   

What is Saccharomyces cerevisiae? Is it the Same Thing as Saccharomyces boulardii?

Most people have seen the strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae on some kind of probiotic label (including FullBucket’s!). There is much confusion in the gut health world about S. cerevisiae and how it is related to other strains, like S. boulardii. Let’s clear this up.

First, the scientific name for S. cerevisiae is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The scientific name for S. boulardii is Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii

If you think back to elementary school science class (we know, yikes), you might remember the taxonomic system of Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Order-Family-Genus-Species.

In the case of S. boulardii, Saccharomyces is the genus and Cerevisiae is the species. Boulardii is a subspecies or “strain” of Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Simply put, S. boulardii is more specific for gut health benefits than the broader S. cerevisiae

While they are part of the same genus, they have shown different strengths in application. 

Saccharomyces boulardii is primarily used as a probiotic supplement for supporting gut health and preventing or treating gastrointestinal issues. 

Saccharomyces cerevisiae, on the other hand, has found its niche in food and beverage production, such as baking bread, fermenting beer, and making wine. 

While certain strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae have been studied for potential health benefits, they are not as effective or as researched as Saccharomyces boulardii in a probiotic setting.

What Regulations Must We Follow When Creating Animal Supplement Labels? 

One reason for the common confusion about S. cerevisiae and S. boulardii is due to how supplement labels are regulated. 

Animal feed labels are tightly regulated, and part of the regulatory guidelines results in limitations on label claims and ingredient names. Much of this is to protect consumers from false/exaggerated label claims and to standardize ingredient names. 

However, an unintended consequence is consumer confusion when ingredient names are not fully described. In the case of S. boulardii, the only approved ingredient name is S. cerevisiae. This means that in order for a probiotic that contains S. boulardii to be approved for sale by authorities, it MUST be labeled as S. cerevisiae.

Regardless if a product contains the premium ingredient of S. boulardii, the company is required to name the ingredient S. cerevisiae on the label.

In an attempt to combat this confusion, products that contain S. boulardii often indicate elsewhere on the label rather than in the tightly regulated ingredients list and Guaranteed Analysis table. 

You can also call the supplement manufacturer and ask them more specific questions about which strain of S. cerevisiae they use. If they do not have a candid and honest answer, take that as a sign to move on to another supplement. 

In Summary

Saccharomyces boulardii is a premium, beneficial yeast that offers a wide range of benefits to your horse, dog, and cat. 

Rest assured, ALL FullBucket products are formulated with S. boulardii. We believe in transparent labeling and only providing the best for your furry loved one. 

Check out our dog products here.

See our cat products here.

And horse products here

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