In this three-month study conducted by researchers in India, people with type 2 diabetes who took nine grams of brewer's yeast every day decreased blood sugar levels by nearly 50% — from 198 mg/dL to 104 mg/dL (a measurement that just barely qualifies for a diagnosis of diabetes). Those taking brewer's yeast also had drops in bad LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Unfortunately, the researchers concluded that the 42 micrograms of chromium in the brewer's yeast was the cause of the drop in blood sugar — a conclusion that is likely flawed. The theory is that chromium and glutathione (also found in brewer's yeast) are critical for proper functioning of insulin, the hormone that moves glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells. Yes, they are critical. But when I conducted a double-blind study back in the early 1980s supplementing diabetics with chromium and glutathione (versus placebo), the drop in blood sugar was very modest (though significant).
On the other hand, my medical school roommate Gerald Butrimovitz looked at brewer's yeast for his PhD research in clinical biochemistry. He found it to be an amazing source of nearly all trace minerals (minerals needed by the body in very small amounts, such as zinc, selenium, and manganese). Brewer's yeast probably has many other nutrients that we have yet to discover. I think that the unique combination of nutrients in brewer's yeast is probably behind its power to regulate blood sugar.
If you're diabetic, it seems likely that nine grams of brewer's yeast daily (at a cost of under 10 cents) may be more effective than diabetes medications, and much safer and much cheaper. (The one exception to that statement is probably metformin, a medication I consider excellent for diabetes.)
"Beneficial effect of chromium supplementation on glucose, HbA(1)C and lipid variables in individuals with newly onset type-2 diabetes," Sharma S, Agrawal RP, et al, J Trace Elem Med Biol, 2011 May 11; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: College of Home Science, MPUA&T, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India).
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of four research studies on their treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome From Fatigued to Fantastic! and his newer The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.