The Connection between Celiac Disease and Yeast Allergy

One of the most-asked questions I receive are about bread. It’s no wonder, either, since a delicious (and safe) bread is the number one desire of most people who must live gluten free.

One of the most popular recipes I’ve shared on my own website is for my gluten free Naan Bread. This traditional Indian flatbread is a delicious yeast bread that’s simple to make and versatile enough to fashion into homemade sandwich wraps.

It has also raised some terrific reader questions about consuming baker’s yeast on a gluten-free diet:

1)  Doesn’t yeast make flour glutinous?

2)  Can individuals who must adhere to a gluten free diet have gluten free breads made with yeast?

The short answers are:

1) Yeast does not make flour glutinous and

2) Unless an individual suffers from a yeast allergy, yeast is a-OK on a gluten-free diet.

Of course, as with most topics we discuss, there’s more to consuming yeast on our gluten free diet than these brief answers.

That’s because there is a connection between baker’s yeast allergy and Celiac disease (CD).

For individuals who continue to have negative symptoms of CD even after adhering to a strict gluten free diet, this information may provide the answer why.

 The Connection between Baker’s Yeast Allergy and Celiac Disease

When individuals with CD continue to have symptoms even after adhering to a strict gluten free diet, it is sometimes due to baker’s yeast allergy.

Baker’s yeast allergy and CD share common physical symptoms:

  • skin rash
  • fatigue
  • gastrointestinal upset

In addition, both conditions:

  • are hereditary
  • wreak havoc on intestinal lining
  • prevent nutrient absorption

Because individuals with autoimmune disorders like CD are more likely to have an allergy to baker’s yeast, researchers believe there is a connection between the two health issues.

So, what do you do if you believe baker’s yeast may be responsible for the uncomfortable symptoms you’re experiencing?

If you are on a gluten free diet and continue to have symptoms similar to those of CD, consider keeping a food journal.

This is a helpful tool when you speak to your physician about a possible food allergy. If a baker’s yeast allergy is suspected, the food journal will point to its sources in your diet.

Based on your symptoms and food journal recordings, your physician may order a blood test to measure certain antibodies (anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae mannan antibodies) that an individual with baker’s yeast allergy will test positive for.

But what if you don’t eat yeast breads on your gluten-free diet?

Even if you do not consume yeast breads, you may still be consuming yeast.

It’s true! Many of us take in yeast unknowingly through other foods we eat, even on our strict gluten free diet. Here’s how…

Surprising (and Sneaky!) Sources of Baker’s Yeast

In addition to showing up in the obvious places like yeast breads and even some “flat” breads (like my tasty gluten free Naan bread) and crackers, yeast is also a common food additive!

That’s right, baker’s yeast extract is often used as a flavor enhancer in foods like gravy mixes, marinades, and even some frozen meals.

This is just another reason we must be diligent about reading food labels carefully, even those on trusted gluten free brands we use often.

There is another hidden source of baker’s yeast that may shock you. Some vaccines contain yeast!

If you’ve been vaccinated for Hepatitis B, you may have been exposed to baker’s yeast.

According to manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline and Merck and Co., this common vaccine, given to children and adults, is made from baker’s yeast cultures, with yeast residual remaining in the final product.

For individuals with a baker’s yeast allergy, this could lead to an allergic reaction ranging from mild (hives) to severe (difficulty breathing and fatally low blood pressure).

This hidden source of baker’s yeast could also affect those with CD – even those without a yeast allergy.

According to research from 2008, the Hepatitis B vaccine containing yeast was ineffective in individuals with untreated CD.

If you have a yeast allergy or CD (or both), make sure to ask your doctor about being checked for Hepatitis B vaccine resistance.

Now, for those of us who are not allergic to baker’s yeast, it can enhance our gluten free baked goods and even provide an added source of nutrition.

Of course, I think we should be fully aware of what we’re ingesting. I mean, how many people really know what yeast is and how it is made? Let’s learn!

What is Baker’s Yeast and Where Does it Come From?

Baker’s yeast is a single-celled fungi similar to other fungi like mushrooms. It plays a crucial role in baking because it is capable of fermentation, which makes bread rise.

{fermentation ~ the process of yeast feeding on simple sugars and converting them to carbon dioxide and alcohol, which are important in bread making. In my How-To video for Naan Bread, you can actually see this happen!}

Baker’s yeast is cultivated in a laboratory setting so that it remains pure. Liquid yeast cultures are fed with molasses, fermented, and finally they are harvested. After harvest, the cultures are separated and dried. The dried product is made into the granules or cubes we see in the grocery store.

At no point is any form of gluten introduced to the yeast. The brands Red Star®, SAF®, and bakipan® report that they are free of wheat gluten or other cereal proteins that cause reactions in people with CD or gluten sensitivity. I successfully use Red Star® yeast in my gluten free breads.

I also mentioned that baker’s yeast can add nutrition to our diet. Here is the specific nutritional profile for baker’s yeast.

Nutritional Information for Baker’s Yeast

1 Tablespoon of Active Dry Baker’s Yeast contains the following:

35 calories

0.5 grams of fat

4.5 grams of carbohydrate

4.6 grams of protein

2.5 grams of dietary fiber

6 mg of sodium

240 mg of potassium

11% of the RDA of Iron

1% of the RDA for Calcium

Baker’s yeast contains NO cholesterol and NO sugars.

So, there you have it, another possible cause of negative symptoms and something to look out for, especially if you have CD.

If you’re feeling like it can get overwhelming to stay on top of all the potential threats to our health (many of them unseen!), you’re not alone. It can be daunting. That’s why I do my best to share information like this with you regularly.

If you find these articles valuable, please visit my website and sign up for my FREE eLetter, the “Daily Gluten Free Fix” the latest research, recipes and more!


Gigi 😉

About Gigi

Gigi is Founder and CEO of Gluten Free Gigi, LLC. Gigi's focus is making gluten free living easy and accessible for those who need it for medical reasons. She holds a master's degree in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Mississippi with a focus in chronic inflammatory pain and natural products research. Through Gigi's public appearances, her informative website (, published articles, and webinars shares her real-life experiences and extensive knowledge of gluten free living and special diets nutrition. Gigi has been gluten free for medical reasons for five years.

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