Streptococcus thermophilus is a type of bacteria, specifically a lactic acid bacteria. It is commonly in use for the production of dairy products, such as yogurt. It interacts synergistically with Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus, with S. thermophilus providing the Lactobacillus species with folic and formic acids, which it needs to thrive.
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Exploring Streptococcus Thermophilus
Streptococcus thermophilus is generally considered a probiotic bacteria. In manufacturing, it is in use to produce dairy products such as cheese. With other probiotic types of bacteria, S. thermophilus helps regulate the immune system and immune responses through its action on different cytokines, such as Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha and Interleukin-6.
Research has shown that this bacteria is one of the first bacteria to colonize the gastrointestinal tract. As such, it may affect the development of the intestinal lining after birth.
Streptococcus Thermophilus Benefits and Uses
More research needs to be done into the potential benefits of Streptococcus thermophilus but studies show that it may have a variety of beneficial effects. For starters, as a probiotic, S. thermophilus may help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Unfortunately, using antibiotics is associated with an increased risk of Clostridium difficile infections: using S. thermophilus was linked to fewer episodes of diarrhea and lower levels of toxin build-up.
S. thermophilus is also associated with other methods of improving gastrointestinal health. In several studies, it is linked to alleviating episodes of mucositis, which is inflammation of the mucous membranes. This bacteria also shows protective benefits in mice treated with long-term aspirin usage, where it reduces the inflammation and helps to prevent chronic gastritis.
Benefits also include improvements to ulcerative colitis or IBD, where S. thermophilus improves intestinal lesions and suppress Th17 immune responses. It also improves hematocrit and hemoglobin concentrations. This case is not the only time hemoglobin levels have been increased by S. thermophilus: folate-rich fermented milk products produced by S. thermophilus have been shown to increase the hemoglobin levels in mice.
S. thermophilus may help with lactose intolerance. Together with Lactobacillus delbrueckii, the bacteria produce lactasa, which is an enzyme that is linked to cleaving lactose, a milk sugar. S. thermophilus improved lactose digestion in mice, suggesting it may be a viable alternative for people who suffer from lactose intolerance.
One area of interesting study with S. thermophilus relates to oral health. Within a test tube setting, this bacteria inhibited the growth of another bacteria, P. gingivalis, and helped decrease the number of volatile sulfur compounds that are connected to halitosis.
Interestingly, there are studies that link S. thermophilus with improved skin health. Ceramides are a component that has an important role in forming the skin barrier and maintaining its moisture balance. Using a cream with S. thermophilus appeared to increase skin ceramide levels, increase hydration, and decrease symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
Immune System Benefits
Like other probiotics, Streptococcus thermophilus is believed to have some effects on the immune system. In one study, it was shown to exert an anti-inflammatory effect because it suppressed the Th17 response in certain white blood cells. Another study showed that it stimulated macrophage and T-cell cytokine production. It has also improved immune defense mechanisms within the human stomach, according to more research.
Speaking of probiotics, S. thermophilus is considered a beneficial probiotic supplement and is in use along with L. delbrueckii spp. bulgaricus for yogurt producing purposes. The viability of L. brevis in milk is also improved by using S. thermophilus.
Streptococcus Thermophilus Dosage
When giving probiotics, the generally acceptable dose of probiotics that is considered to be effective is a daily dose of 10,000,000,000 to 100,000,000,000 organisms. It’s hard to get that amount of organisms by simply eating yogurt. In fact, you’d need to eat roughly 3.5 cups of yogurt with Streptococcus thermophilus strains in it each day to get that amount. Instead, you can easily take a probiotic supplement that contains the desired amount of organisms in it.
What You Need to Know About the Forms of Streptococcus Thermophilus
You can obtain S. thermophilus in several different forms. First, it can be consumed live in dairy products, such as milk and yogurt. It’s hard to intake it at an effective dose as an oral probiotic, however.
S. thermophilus can also be taken as an oral supplement. Probiotics are usually taken in capsule form, and S. thermophilus is no exception.
Research has also been done into topical formulations, like a cream, with S. thermophilus in it. In studies, these show improvements to ceramides in the skin and improve the skin barrier’s ability to retain moisture. It is also in use to decrease clinical signs of atopic dermatitis, such as itching.
Streptococcus Thermophilus Side Effects
S. thermophilus tends to be very well tolerated. It is commonly used within the dairy industry and tends to be safe for consumption. That said, the bacteria produce low levels of histamine and tyramine. As such, people that have a histamine intolerance should avoid products made with S. thermophilus, including probiotics, fermented foods, and some dairy products.
Things to Keep in Mind When Using Streptococcus Thermophilus
Probiotics, including those that contain Streptococcus thermophilus, should be used in caution with people who are immunocompromised. Other people who must use probiotics carefully include people with a dysfunctional gut barrier or those with organ failure. In these cases, probiotics may actually cause infection.
While probiotics are generally safe, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should discuss anything you are taking with your medical care team to ensure there are no potential consequences.
In Summary, Streptococcus thermophilus is a bacteria that is in use in oral and topical products, particularly probiotics. It is a generally safe medication and is in use to combat health issues such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea and mucositis. The bacteria are also in use to control inflammatory responses and the immune system, as well as improvements the skin barrier in certain studies with a topical product. The bacteria is commonly in use in the production of milk, yogurt, and cheeses, especially in conjunction with Lactobacillus delbrueckii.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.