Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bakers Yeast Allergy (ASCA): Lesser Known but Just as Nasty

It's Curious Role In Crohn's, Behcet's, Celiacs and Autoimmunity

As with all of my posts, if you want to get right to the research and skip my babble, just scroll down. I am not a doctor, I draw stuff for a living. This blog is my interpretation of the research. Please research these things on behalf of your health that of your loved ones, and discuss them with your doctor or nutritionist.

It seems as though Gluten and Casein are getting alot of attention these days. This is great news. Many folks have been suffering months, years, decades with mysterious afflictions only to find out it was something they ate. There are many reports that children with Autism and ADHD seem to have trouble with at least one of these. Both of these have also been known to be genetic in some families, but not always.

For years the traditional medical community has strictly considered "allergies" to consist of hives, redness, swelling of the face or throat, and involve something called IgE antibodies produced by the immune system. Allergists would usually use skin prick tests to find these allergens. Researchers, however, would sometimes wind up scratching their heads (no pun intended). Some foods, or other items, where clearly causing a negative reaction in some people, but they were not able to get a response to a skin scratch test. They knew something else was going on. We now know that IgG antibodies were probably involved. They are an immune response with a different type of antibody, and tend to can cause more internal grief that can sometimes take a few days to develop, making them difficult to track down, or even suspect. IgG responses can cause a runny nose, chronic inflammation, migraine headaches, reflux, joint and muscular pain, digestive problems, canker sores, behavior problems, and the list goes on.... and you can develop IgG allergens to almost anything. They cannot be detected on a typical skin scratch test, but IgG's to food can be detected with a very simple blood test called an ELISA IgG Food Panel. One vial of blood can be run against 80 to 120 foods, depending on which labratory is used.

In 2007 Austrian researchers studying metastic renal cell carcinoma, a.k.a.kidney cancer, wanted to see if any cereal grains may be causing problems for these patients. They did an ELISA IgG Food panel for 113 foods and found one ingredient that stood out from the rest, and it wasn't a grain at all. Those with anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae mannan antibodies (ASCA), a.k.a. bakers yeast allergy, had their median survival rate cut in more than half. The study concluded that ASCA alone was a source of "immune deviation and impaired immunosurveillance in predisposed RCC patients".

Although it does not have the notoriety of casein and gluten, bakers yeast allergy, known as anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae mannan antibodies (ASCA), justly deserves a spotlight all it's own. In 1999 the commercial test for IgG ASCA became available. Since then researchers have been finding it in lots of places, especially in autoimmunity, and it's not always an innocent bystander. ASCA can be especially destructive in the GI tract. Just as a banana allergy can cross react and cause an allergy to latex, ASCA can cross react and make an individual allergic to yeast found in their own intestinal flora. ASCA appears to be one of the markers for Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disease. While not all Crohn's patients have ASCA, studies have found up to 65 to 80 percent of them do. What's more, numerous studies have found that early age of onset plus having ASCA makes a patient at high risk for a severe course of the disease and a high chance of surgery. A 2003 study from John Hopkins School of Medicine, found that "ASCA titer was significantly associated with stricturing and penetrating CD".

ASCA has also been showing up in other bowel disorders as well, including Ulcerative Colitis and Celiac's Disease. Many researchers have come to the conclusion that anytime blood work reveals ASCA,and the patient has any gi tract issues, further testing for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, needs to be done.

Behcet's disease, an autoimmune disorder with chronic canker sores, vasculitis, and sometimes gi tract involvement, also tends to have ASCA. Another condition also plagued by canker sores is called Reccurent Aphthous Stomatis (RAS). Unlike Behcet's and Crohn's patients, RAS folks typically have canker sores and usually no gi involvement. Researchers, looking for a way to distinguish between Behcet's and RAS looked into ASCA, but found it in both. What's interesting is that Crohn's and Celiac's patients can be prone to canker sores and throat ulcers as well. Anyone plagued by frequent canker sores may want to consider the possibility of a bakers yeast allergy (or just get an ELISA IgG Food Panel to find any other food culprits).

ASCA is also showing up in other areas, although it's role may not be as clear: cystic fibrosis, acute myocardial infarction, autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, ankylosing spondylitis, infertility. It can also show up temporarily during a bacterial or viral infection in healthy individuals.

There are different ways folks can acquire a bakers yeast allergy. In Celiacs disease it seems to go hand in hand with the amount of intestinal damage one has acquired, and it seems to lessen on a gluten-free diet. A Finnish study noted "that serum levels of ASCA correlated with the grade of mucosal morphology, as the ASCA serum levels declined in accordance with mucosal healing". Researchers have also found that infections from another strain of yeast, Candida albincans, can also cause ASCA, perhaps due to cross reaction. Candida is normally present in a healthy gi tract in small amounts, but can become pathogenic when given the opportunity. Modern day diet and medications have contributed to thriving Candida. The healthy bacteria in our intestines keep the Candida in check, but when antibiotics kill off these bacteria, there is nothing to stand in the way. Combine that with the modern high sugar and processed diet (a buffet for yeasts) and liken it to feeding stray cats...they multiply and poop all over your flower beds.

ASCA can also be inherited, much like a gluten allergy is inherited in Celiacs. There appears to be a genetic predispostion in Crohn's and Behcet's disease. There have been several studies finding ASCA in healthy relatives of these patients. What's more, the genetic mechanism that may be responsible is something called Mannan Binding Lectin (MBL) deficiency. Mannan Binding Lectins are a part of the Innate Immune System. They look similar to bouquets of tulips. The tulip portion is designed to latch on to the carbohydrate surface of yeasts and certain bacteria. Once latched on they can sweep the particle away or call out to other components of the immune sytem to help with disposal. Roughly 55 percent, or so, of the population has adequate MBL, about 40 percent of so are lower on MBL and roughly 5-10 percent are deficient. When an individual is low, another part of the immune system steps in to take up the slack, and it's usually antibodies that do this. And if I understand correctly (again, I just draw stuff for a living) this may also put one at a higher risk for autoimmunity. MBL sweeps the particles away, where as an antibody may just charge on the spot, also attacking the tissue (again, I might not be getting the correct jist, just my interpretation). MBL deficiency is found in Crohn'patients and their healthy relatives. Swiss researchers concluded "enhanced mannan exposure stimulates specific immune responses in a subgroup of CD patients with genetically determined low MBL concentrations. This enhanced exposure contributes to the generation of ASCA."
Low MBL is also found in Lupus, otitis media, and a slew of other health issues. (I will devote a future post to MBL's).

Research points to avoidance of Bakers Yeast as a good thing to do for those with ASCA's. But as with most food allergies, you may have to read between the lines to find out where it's hidden. First of all it's in most yeast breads. Sourdough breads, however, can have different strains of yeast, which some folks with ACSA can tolerate and some cannot. Bakers yeast also tends to show up in crackers and many other "flat" baked goods ( I found this list). Many broths, gravy and sauce mixes, marinades, frozen dinners, etc will also have yeast extract as an ingredient, this has been shown to cross react with ASCA's. There is also another source of bakers yeast that, surprisingly enough, even some doctors are not aware of: the hepatitis B vaccine given to newborns, and at six weeks of age and again at six months. The two brands of hep B vaccines used are Merck "RECOMBIVAX HB"! and the GlaxoSmithKline "ENGERIX-B" While it is not my intent to discuss vaccines, from a food allergy stand point it does raise some cause for concern, as ASCA seems to play a curious role in autoimmunity. There has also been some interesting research on untreated Celiacs and a non-response to this vaccine. Here's an interesting article link atCeliac.com I have a few links at the end pertaining to the Heb B virus.

Sometimes just avoiding Bakers Yeast is not enough and one can have problems with many yeasts. Avoiding sugars that feed intestinal yeasts and avoiding fermented foods that harbor other strains of yeast might be required. This is often known as a Yeast-Free diet. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is highly recommended for rebalance of intestinal flora.


Serum antibodies against Saccharomyces cerevisiae : a new prognostic indicator in metastatic renal-cell carcinoma

Antibodies to Saccharomyces cerevisiae in Crohn's disease: Higher titers are associated with a greater frequency of mutant NOD2/CARD15 alleles and with a higher probability of complicated disease

IBD serological panels: Facts and perspectives

Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies in patients with Crohn's disease

Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibody (ASCA) positivity is associated with increased risk for early surgery in Crohn's disease.

Serologic testing with ANCA, ASCA, and anti-OmpC in children and young adults with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis: diagnostic value and correlation with disease phenotype.

Diagnostic role and clinical correlates of anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies (ASCA) and anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (p-ANCA) in Italian patients with inflammatory bowel diseases.

Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies, anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies, and specific IgE to food allergens in children with inflammatory bowel diseases.

Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies in inflammatory bowel disease: a family study.

Clinical significance of anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibody (ASCA) in Korean patients with Crohn's disease and its relationship to the disease clinical course.

Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies status is associated with oral involvement and disease severity in Crohn disease.

Predictive value of serologic markers in a population-based Norwegian cohort with inflammatory bowel disease.

Familial expression of anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae mannan antibodies in affected and unaffected relatives of patients with Crohn's disease.

Seroreactivity against Saccharomyces cerevisiae in patients with Crohn's disease and celiac disease

Diagnostic value of anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae and antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies for inflammatory bowel disease: high prevalence in patients with celiac disease.

Elevated serum anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae, anti-I2 and anti-OmpW antibody levels in patients with suspicion of celiac disease.

Serological responses to microbial antigens in celiac disease patients during a gluten-free diet.

Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies in coeliac disease.

Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies in Behçet's disease--a familial study.

Comparison of Behcet's Disease and Recurrent Aphthous Ulcer According to Characteristics of Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies - A novel serologic
marker for Behçet’s disease

Frequency of ASCA seropositivity in children with cystic fibrosis.

Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies in acute myocardial infarction.

Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae IgA antibodies are raised in ankylosing spondylitis and undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy

Yeast Antibodies Predict More Severe AS

Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae as unusual antibodies in autoimmune hepatitis.

Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies in primary biliary cirrhosis.

Autoantibodies and prediction of reproductive failure.

Autoantibodies in nonautoimmune individuals during infections

ASCA: genetic marker, predictor of disease, or marker of a response to an environmental antigen?

Candida albicans is an immunogen for anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibody markers of Crohn's disease.

Colonization of mice by Candida albicans is promoted by chemically induced colitis and augments inflammatory responses through galectin-3.

Candida albicans is an immunogen for anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibody markers of Crohn's disease.

Microbial mannan inhibits bacterial killing by macrophages: a possible pathogenic mechanism for Crohn's disease.

Pathogenic agents in inflammatory bowel diseases.

The dyspeptic macrophage 30 years later: an update in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease

Association of Deficiency for Mannan-binding Lectin with Antimannan
Antibodies in Crohn’s Disease: A Family Study

Food-induced immune responses as origin of bowel disease?

Serum mannose-binding lectin levels are decreased in behcet's disease and associated with disease severity.

Association of HYPA haplotype in the mannose-binding lectin gene-2 with Behçet's disease

Association of mannose-binding lectin gene variation with disease severity and infections in a population-based cohort of systemic lupus erythematosus patients.

Genetic variants of the mannan-binding lectin are associated with immune reactivity to mannans in Crohn's disease.

Mannose-binding lectin deficiency is associated with early onset of polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis: a cohort study

Concurrent HLA-related response factors mediate recombinant hepatitis B vaccine major adverse events.

The development of rheumatoid arthritis after recombinant hepatitis B vaccination.

Humoral response to recombinant hepatitis B virus vaccine at birth: role of HLA and beyond


  1. Thank you!
    I just got my allergy tests back. I have been on a gluten free diet for 3 years. It helped a lot, but something was still bothering me. I tested positive for a yeast allergy baker and brewing in addition to many other foods. I still don't know if I have celiacs and yeast allergy or just yeast allergy the diet helps. I only worry about what I passed on to my kids, and how best to feed them. I find it very difficult to get helpful or any advice from my medical professionals. Thank you for site it is helping me figure out another piece to the puzzle! Faeriedragonfarm@gmail.com

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  2. I was just told to follow a baker's yeast free diet. It was very confusing because there isn't much on it. I see you use honey. I assume that is ok on this diet. I'm a rookie, only 3 weeks onthe diet. Do you have other foods to avoid? I have read to avoid vinegar.

  3. I think apple cider vinegar may be ok, but you may want to look into it. There are a few diets that are bakers-yeast free and may be a good recipe source for you. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet and The Paleo Diet. I think the GAPS diet might also be as well. Candida diets are also bakers yeast free. http://www.elanaspantry.com is a great website for recipes. Kim at her site http://thefoodallergycoach.blogspot.com/ may be able to answer questions you may have as well as yeast-free recipes. As for cookbooks, any Specific Carbohydrate Diet books, "Special Diet Solutions" by Carol Fenster (out of print but you can get it used on Amazon), "The Candida Albicans Yeast-Free Cookbook" by Pat Connolly, and once you are familiar with what you can/can't have LowCarb Diet cookbooks may be helpful, I love Dana Carpenders "500 Low Carb Recipes". I wish you the best of luck. It's hard at first but hang in there and you'll get the hang of it and feel much better!

    1. I'm jumping on this thread a bit late, but wanted to comment about vinegar. There are a lot of mixed camps out there. The candida books say that it's good to eat things like apple cider vinegar, miso, and fermented foods. They are addressing a gut problem with candida overgrowth, and NOT a true yeast allergy. A true yeast-free diet does not line up with a candida diet, even though it is often promoted as such. When I say 'yeast-free' here, I meant allergies to multiple kinds of yeasts, like baker's and brewers.

      People who are allergic to yeast have a different set of foods to avoid than those on an anti-candida diet. I was diagnosed with a severe yeast allergy - both skin and blood tests showed it. I already knew it was an issue because I had major heart problems if I ate anything with yeast extract and hadn't been able to stomach bread since I was a child because of the yeasty smell. I also had lots of testing done for candida overgrowth and my gut health was in really good order - no problems with candida. So I have a "true" yeast allergy but no problems with candida. I've discovered most of the websites out here (NOT this one, by the way, it's very well done!) use the word 'yeast allergy' interchangeably with candida problems, and I believe it does a real disservice to people trying to figure out what to eat to be yeast-free. Nobody wants to say they have a yeast infection, so they generally just say they have a yeast allergy when they don't, and then the misinformation starts...

      My doctor, who has done a lot of research on yeast allergies, told me that all vinegars harbor yeast and need to be avoided, with the exception of distilled vinegar. This is because vinegar is fermented with yeast (same for miso and other fermented foods, which are staples of the candida diet). All vinegars, especially apple cider vinegar with the mother (it's the worse) contain yeast remnants. Apparently these are brewer's yeast remnants. They may not be living or whole any more but can still cause a reaction. The distillation process removes these remnants. It is the same for wines - they contain yeast, except for champagne (which is distilled). I was one of those people who ate miso and apple cider vinegar daily thinking I was helping myself. I can't tell you how good I felt after I stopped eating them. It was so much easier to wake up in the morning. Soy sauce (fermented soy) in this list of things to avoid. Grapes and any dried fruit are also typically covered with yeast. The white powdery stuff on grape skin - that's yeast. It ends up in wines and vinegars too. It may be that it's a wild yeast, but I was told not to eat grapes or raisins either.

      My doctor also said that in her research, there's not a connection between yeast allergy and candida. Phew. But there is a clear connection between celiac disease and yeast allergy.

      There is a silver lining here. My doctor explained that there is a difference between cultured foods and fermented foods. Cultured foods are good for your gut, and generally safe if you are allergic to yeast (unless there is a contamination problem at the place that does the work). Culturing is done by bacteria. Fermentation is done by mold, or yeast. Yogurts are cultured, and sauerkraut is cultured. I can't remember if kefir is fermented or cultured.

      There is a lot of mislabeling out there - some things say they're fermented because it's now the big buzz word, but in truth they aren't - they're just cultured. Other products claim they are 'yeast-free' when they have apple cider vinegar.

      For those allergic to baker's yeast, if you are also allergic to brewer's yeast - the candida diet should be taken with a grain of salt. Research fermentation and brewer's yeast.

      Thanks for a very interesting article!

    2. Amazing!It is now 2017 and I wanted to scream at the www because it is so hard to find any info about bakers yeast allergy.Every search took me to Candida. I have know idea what half this stuff means yet but I am happy to know that it is here! I have been sick for over a year and was just diagnosed with this allergy and Im angry at the world because I dont understand why food cant just be food. Thank you...

  4. Great post! I just recently ordered a caprylate complex, which is an antifungal and could help with yeast issues. I also ordered a Thorne's Perma Clear complex, which contains probiotic that is helpful for gut flora. But I have the best success when cutting out or cutting down on sugar. I have found that too much honey can feed yeast as well.

  5. Nice post, thanks for sharing this wonderful and useful information with us.

    Green Tea

  6. OMG, I am so glad I found this article. After 5 years of no Crohn's symptoms, I got vaccinated for 7 things (including the HepA/B twinrx vaccine) in one day as preparation for an overseas trip. 1 day later I was in the worst flare of my life. Since I had moved 2 years before, I had to find a new gastroenterologist, etc... And I demanded the patented ASCA (and other antibodies) test to prove I actually had Crohn's. My ASCa numbers were off the charts. I mentioned to my gastro about bakers yeast being in the Hep vaccine, and he went on a tangent about how safe vaccines were, and I just had a crohnic condition. Then he said he had never read any data to suggest a yeast allergy contributed to Crohn's. I was like "Ummm, do you know what ASCA stands for?"
    I tested negative for the celiac antibody, but I rarely eat bread and processed foods anymore. I will also be staying away from vaccines for a very long time. After suffering for 3 months and losing 10 lbs, Humira got the antibodies under control, and I was able to wean myself off of the shots after about 6 months. I have been symptom free and med free for about 9 months, 100% diet/lifestyle controlled.

  7. Amy, most of the links to research here on Crohn's and ASCA I have also printed out and given to our gi, ped & allergy doctor. The allergy doctor was surprised to see it, the issues with ACSA just show up in the gi journals, not the allergy journals, so it was news to him and he was very glad to get the info. I have found this is the best method to get the info across. The will listen to a medical journal before they will believe anything a patient has to say.
    Best of luck to you.

  8. Does removing yeast from your diet reduce your ASCA antibody levels (assuming you have high levels)? Or if you are an RCC patients with high serum levels, does it mean that you are a goner whether you eat doughnuts or not?

  9. Just based on my own experience, since my yeast issues are related to my crohn's. I still had high yeast antibodies on my ELISA IgG food allergy panel a year after the dietary changes (although I was not tested before the dietary changes). However, I can tell you how much better I felt. More energy, I quit having severe throat ulcers and over time my immune system seemed to get better, less susceptibility to every bug that came along. I also had to give up the gluten for Celiac's as well, however, a typical gluten-free diet can also bring on some canker sores and fatigue, so I have to eat minimal gf grains (And even better when I can avoid them altogether) and severly limit sugary sweets. I'll get retested this spring and I'm curious to see if my yeast antibodies have gone down.

  10. Great information
    I am a GP with positive ASCA and I need to know if you have had a test for Blood Total IGA?

  11. Mehrdad,

    No I have not had that bloodtest. However, our gi doc wants to check all of that on my son the next time we do his blood testing, to look at all of his immunoglobins (spelling?)

  12. My 5 y/o just tested positive for an allergy to Baker's Yeast- [and now we are testing my younger son as well-He has 15-20 allergens already!] Love your article. Thank you for the research. You can check out my Blog/page too if you like- http://multiplefoodallergyhelp.com/ I would love to add you to my blog roll, and link to your page when I get my Yeast Allergy research done and page ready to go up! Thank you very much for your research and info! It's a lot to take in! ~Sincerely, Jenny

  13. Thanks Jenny, I will definately check out your blog.

  14. Thanks for this post. It's hard to find info. I'm gluten sensitive and then discovered yeast sensitive through an elimination diet. I was getting terrible canker sores that would last 14 days and would really knock me out. Anytime I accidentally bit my lip or cheek it would turn into a bad canker sore.

    As I've eliminated foods with gluten and yeast (citric acid, btw) I've also found a few things that helped control my canker sores to the point of almost not noticing (I'll list what I've done, which may or may not have played a direct role):

    1) supplementing with Vitamin C at higher levels when I get the canker sore. My lymph nodes would get sore/swollen when I would get canker sores, which would lead to headaches. Supplementing with 5grams or more of Vitamin C helped. For the most recent occurrence I took about 20g/day (see Titrating Vitamin C at Bowel Tolerance)

    2) Supplementing with B-Complex daily (or 2x/day). I read things that suggested canker sores might be related to vitamin B deficiencies. I was taking it for other reasons, but have definitely noticed a dramatic reduction in the time it takes to heal the sores and how painful they are. This wasn't the only variable, but something to consider.

    3) Black licorice root extract is also helpful a few times a day on the sore.

    1. Thanks Brandon, I have discovered the Vitamin C and daily B complex also helps. But I had not heard of the Black licorice root. I will have to remeber to try that. Also, using a toothpaste that is Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS) free helps, it's the stuff that makes regular tooth paste foamy and is a membrane irritant (which makes perfect sense to put in tooothpaste right????).

    2. I tend to get a lot of canker sores, even when using most SLS-free toothpastes. However, one particular SLS-free toothpaste, named Biotene, does prevent most of the sores. I also tolerate the one tooth powder I've tried, Dabur Red.

      Daily flossing and mouthwash (Biotene) also help. Very recently I've started experimenting with "oil pulling", which may be helpful and certainly is not doing any obvious harm.

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