Natural Yeast: The Heartburn Cure

My interest in the health benefits of natural yeast started when my heartburn ended.

I was introduced to natural yeast when my co-author, Melissa Richardson, brought a warm loaf of natural yeast, whole wheat bread to my writing class one evening. She passed out slices with butter and it was wonderful. When she mentioned that it was made with natural yeast, I was beyond interested. I had always wondered how bread was made before the invention of grocery store yeast, and I had never been able to find the answer. That evening, the answer walked into my classroom. The next week, Melissa brought me a start of natural yeast. We have been using it ever since at our house.

To her credit, Melissa tried to tell me some of the health benefits of natural yeast, but I had ZERO interest. I assumed she’d read some internet rumors about natural yeast, and I didn’t care. What I did care about was that natural yeast is self-sufficient. If I could master it, we would never have to buy grocery store yeast again (and we haven’t).

Before I ever met Melissa and her yeast, I had been taking Prilosec for massive heartburn for about 12 years. When you go to the doctor with terrible heartburn, the doctor says you have acid reflux disease, take this little purple pill everyday for the rest of your life. What the doctor didn’t tell me is that the longer you take the pill, the less it works. Very slowly, your heartburn starts to return -- at least that is what happened to me. Even with the pill, I couldn’t eat pepperoni, or anything with mint in it -- gum or ice cream..

At one point in 1999, I was rushed to the emergency room with radiating chest pain. Doctors initially thought I was have a heart attack even though I was in my late 20s at the time. But it turned out to almost be worse. What I really had was an esophageal ulcer, created by heartburn (stomach acid) beginning to burn a hole into my esophagus. This is considered pre-cancerous. The doctor said if I didn’t cut out everything in my diet that caused heartburn, the ulcer would grow, turn into throat cancer, and that would be that. Next patient, please.

No one told me there was another option.

Back to Melissa and natural yeast. One day, months after me and my wife had switched over to using the natural yeast, I realized it had been a week since I had taken one of those little purple pills. I had completely run out of my prescription, but because I had no heartburn, I hadn’t thought about it. (Back in those days, Prilosec was as prescription medication.) It had been a week, and I panicked.. I had never been a week without a pill -- if you have ever had chronic acid reflux, you know that if you go more than a day or two without your medication, your body immediately reminds you with terrible heartburn.

I told my wife to take me to the emergency room. My wife, who is calmer than I am, suggested we assess the situation. Did I have heartburn that moment, she asked.

No.

When was the last time you had heartburn, she asked.

I couldn’t remember. Come to think of it, it had been a very long time. Months. This was very, very unusual.

She started assessing what had changed in my diet, because she was sure that my lack of heartburn was diet related. The only thing that we could think of that had changed was that we had switched to natural yeast. But at that time, we didn’t know a single thing about the health benefits of natural yeast, so we both dismissed that as even a possibility.

Long story short, I have never had a heartburn pill since that day. It’s been more than three years now.

Not one pill. And I have not had a single moment of heartburn. Not one.

As I started doing research, I learned about other people like me, who had first switched to eating whole wheat instead of white flour to reduce their heartburn, and had then switched to natural yeast.

Suddenly, I became very interested in natural yeast. What is this stuff? How is it different than grocery store yeast? Why is it different? Where does natural yeast come from? What other benefits have been documented?

I’ve now given lots of speeches about the health benefits of natural yeast, and lots of demonstrations about how to bake with it. It almost sounds like a multi-level marketing pitch -- buy this yeast and your heartburn will be cured! Except that we give the yeast away for free.

It doesn’t cost anything to try it for yourself. You don’t have to buy our natural yeast cookbook to get our free yeast -- we mail it to anyone who asks. Give it a try. If you would like a free natural yeast start, just send me an email at calebwarnock@yahoo.com. And if you want to look at our cookbook, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast, you can find it here.

-Caleb

5 comments:

  1. That's amazing. Gotta try some of that stuff. I've tried making bread before without much success. Maybe I'd have better luck with natural yeast.

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  2. I have started researching ways to become self sufficient and just a few weeks ago I started wondering where does yeast come from. I knew it was more than something you go to the store to get considering people have been making bread for thousands of years now. Then last week my wife and I were at the local Costco when my wife noticed a book she thought would interest me. I looked at the title, "The Art of Baking With Natural Yeast", I opened to the index only to discover it was exactly the information I was looking for.

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  3. Are brands like Hodgson Mill, Fleischmann's Yeast, and Red Star not considered natural even if they say "All natural"?

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  4. I totally believe in natural yeast. I send your link to everyone who even mentions they have gluten issues. Here is the answer. Countries that have bread with every meal DO NOT have gluten issues....why you ask? Because they do not use commercial yeast. They use natural yeast! I have given away more than a dozen of your cookbooks, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast!Thank you, Caleb & Melissa for writing this awesome book!Linda

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  5. I love the book on natural yeast and baking bread. I was interested because it was natural, and to find out that it will cure my acid reflux (Prevacid, 10 years) is a miracle. I just hope I can get mine to grow!!

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