natural immunomodulators something that can help regulate our immune system without side effects has been sought for centuries and all the while they’ve been sitting in the produce aisle plants produce thousands of active compounds many of which modulate our immune system enough to protect us from infection but we can’t forget the fungi mushrooms have been used for centuries as folk remedies and for good reason some have been shown to boost immune function as well so much so a type of fiber found in shiitake mushrooms is approved for use as adjunct chemotherapy injected intravenously to help treat a variety of cancers by rallying our immune defenses more than 6000 papers have been published on the so called beta glucans but almost all the data about preventing infections has come from petri dish or lab animal studies until a few years ago when a series of experiments on athletes showed beneficial effects but that was in like marathon runners what about the rest of us we didn’t know until now beta glucan fiber found in baker’s brewers and nutritional yeast helps to maintain our body’s defense against pathogens even in non athletes according to this double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial reducing the incidence of infections by the common cold by 25% those that ate the equivalent of about a spoonful of nutritional yeast a day and had fewer cold related sleeping difficulties if they did get sick what about half a spoonful of day’s worth still worked big drop in comical incidents and reduction in symptoms as well why though this study found that not only were upper respiratory infection symptoms diminish but that mood states appeared to be improved like a like a significant boost in feelings of vigor so if they suggest maybe the yeast fiber is able to counteract the negative effects of stress on the immune system terms of side effects two folks reported stomachaches but they were both in the placebo group unlike antibiotics and antivirals which are designed to kill the pathogen directly the yeast compounds instead appear to work stimulating our immune defenses and as such don’t share the same antibiotic side-effects they stimulate our immune defenses presumably because our body recognizes them as foreign but if it’s treated like an invader might it trigger an inflammatory response turns out it may actually have an anti-inflammatory effect suggesting nutritional yeast may offer the best of both worlds boosting the infection fighting side of the immune system while suppressing the inflammatory component so oral intake can be considered safe and effective note they said oral intake though it would not recommend injecting nutritional yeast into your veins no matter how much you like the stuff yeast is high in purines so those with gout uric acid kidney stones a new organ transplant recipients may want to keep their intake to less than a teaspoon a day but for everyone else is there any downsides well if you look at some packages as nutritional yeast in California some are slapped with prop 65 warning stickers suggesting that there’s something in it exceeding cancer or birth defect safety limits I called around the companies it turns out the problem is LEED California state law says a product cannot contain more than a half a microgram of lead per daily serving so I contacted the six brands and knew about and asked them how much lead was in their products Cal originally said lessen the five parts per million but then when we call back they said less than three parts per million but even if it’s three that translates into less than 45 micrograms per serving nearly a hundred times more than the California limit but perhaps better than Bob’s Red Mill or frontier co-op who evidently didn’t test at all at least they got back to me red star brand failed to respond to multiple attempts to contact them now Foods said of course we test for lead that’s nice unclaimed at least their recent batches meet the less than half a microgram california standard unfortunately despite repeated requests they did not provide me with documentation to substantiate those numbers my favorite response was from Bragg’s who sent me the analysis certificate from the lab showing less than 0.01 million which means that most less than half the California standard which I believe is the most stringent in the world to put the numbers in context in determining how much lead manufacturers can put into candy likely be frequently consumed by small children the Food and Drug Administration would allow like 2 micrograms a day in the form of lollipops but as far as I’m concerned the less lead the better you