What is Yeast?

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What is Yeast?

Yeast is a general term that refers to over 1500 species of micro organisms that belong to the fungi kingdom. Most yeast is single celled and reproduces asexually through budding or in some cases through binary fusion.  Yeast reproduces very quickly and under the right conditions can go from a single cell to a huge cluster in a matter of minutes. The ideal conditions for yeast to reproduce in will vary according to species though most will do well in moderate neutral environments.  Though we mostly know of yeast being used in the baking of bread and fermenting alcoholic beverages, it actually has many other medical, industrial as well as dietary uses.  Yeats can also cause infections in animals and plants.

Yeats is found in all kinds of habitat around the world and is highly adaptive. There are conditions under which it may be subdued but there are almost always several species in any given place regardless of the conditions in that particular habitat. Most species of yeast feed on sugar in its various forms and will carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol which is what happens when brewing or baking. The rising of dough is caused by the carbon dioxide produced by yeast which has consumed sugar from the starch in the flour. Yeast does not require sunlight to grow and will thrive in neutral or slightly acidic environments.

There are several yeast infections that affect human beings though under normal conditions the immune system is able to control yeasts that are present in the body. However when there is a problem with the immune system, yeast infections can manifest in several ways. There are yeast infections that affect the skin, mouth and throat, blood stream and reproductive organs in both men and women. All these yeast infections can be a source of great discomfort though they are easily treated by using the proper medication, eating healthy foods to maintain a strong immune system, managing any conditions you may have such as diabetes and observing simple hygiene.

Yeast has been used by man since biblical times where the Israelites are recorded to have been eating leavened bread. There is also evidence of ancient Egyptians having used yeast to process their bread. Today the use of yeast has gone beyond this original application in baking, yeast is used in the production of fermented alcoholic beverages such as beers and wines, industrial production of ethanol for fuel and other uses, production of nutritional supplements for those in need of protein and vitamin and also in the production of treatments for several ailments. This has been made possible by advances in science and technology that has allowed scientists to manipulate yeast is various ways.

Yeast just like all other organisms that exists in our world has many uses and also poses several challenges. Knowing how to make use of its positive attributes and being able to counter and protect from its negative effects is a continuous endeavor for us and generations to come.

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