5 Streptococcus Thermophilus Health Benefits: Digestion, Skin And Immunity


Streptococcus thermophilus is found in the digestive tract and is a type of lactic acid probiotic bacteria that is commonly used when fermenting dairy foods like yogurts, cheese & kefir. Unlike Lactobacillus, it is thermophilic, meaning that it thrives at high temperatures.

S. thermophilus being a gram positive stain probiotic means it may also play a role in regulating the lactose digestion, gastritis, c. diff, skin health and immunity.

Here 5 health benefits of Streptococcus Thermophilus evaluated below.

1. Improves Lactose Digestion In Rats

Lactate refers to a byproduct of the fermentation process carried out by certain bacteria, such as Streptococcus thermophilus, that helps break down lactose into more easily digestible forms.

A 2011 study authored by Françoise Rul, found the presence of Streptococcus thermophilus in the gut can lead to the production of lactate. This lactate production may have a positive effect on the cells lining the colon. 

It suggested that Streptococcus thermophilus could potentially contribute to maintaining a healthy colon and promoting overall gut health. This can be beneficial for lactose intolerance, as it may make dairy products more easily digestible.

2. Prevents Chronic Gastritis In Mice

Chronic gastritis refers to a long-term inflammation of the stomach lining, often caused by factors such as infection, autoimmune disorders, or prolonged use of certain medications, and it can lead to digestive symptoms and potential complications if left untreated.

A 2009 study authored by C Rodríguez, found fermented milks made with certain strains of Streptococcus thermophilus that produce exopolysaccharide (EPS) can help prevent chronic gastritis.

When these fermented milks were given to mice before administering a drug known to cause gastritis, the mice did not develop gastritis and had a healthier stomach lining compared to those not given the fermented milks.

3. Improves Clostridum Difficle In Mice

Clostridium difficile, often referred to as C. difficile, is a type of bacteria that can cause infections in the colon, leading to symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and potentially severe complications, particularly in vulnerable individuals or those who have received antibiotics.

A 2012 study authored by Glynis L. Kolling, found that the production of lactic acid by Streptococcus thermophilus, a potential probiotic organism, can have a positive impact on Clostridium difficile infection.

The lactic acid produced by Streptococcus thermophilus showed a bactericidal effect on Clostridium difficile and decreased the expression and release of toxins associated with the infection.

The production of lactic acid by Streptococcus thermophilus was found to be inversely correlated with the abundance of Clostridium difficile, suggesting that it plays a role in improving the progression of the infection.

4. Improves Skin Dryness

Skin dryness, also known as xerosis, refers to a medical condition characterized by the lack of moisture and natural oils in the skin, leading to rough, flaky, and itchy skin.

A 1999 study authored by L Di Marzio, found the lactic acid bacterium Streptococcus thermophilus can increase the levels of ceramides in human skin cells and the outermost layer of the skin (stratum corneum). Ceramides play a crucial role in maintaining the skin's barrier function and preventing dryness.

The application of a cream containing Streptococcus thermophilus or purified bacterial sphingomyelinase resulted in a significant increase in ceramide levels, suggesting that it could improve the skin's lipid barrier and enhance protection against dryness (xerosis).

5. Improves Immunity

A 2011 study authored by Tasuku Ogita, found Streptococcus thermophilus ST28, can suppress the inflammatory response mediated by Th17 cells. Th17 cells produce a proinflammatory cytokine called interleukin-17 (IL-17), which is associated with various inflammatory diseases.

Streptococcus thermophilus ST28 was found to induce the production of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), which is an anti-inflammatory molecule. The increased IFN-γ production by Streptococcus thermophilus ST28 led to a suppression of IL-17 production by immune cells. This modulation of the Th1/Th17 balance is thought to contribute to the anti-inflammatory effect of Streptococcus thermophilus ST28.

It mentioned that S. thermophilus ST28 has the ability to modulate the immune response by suppressing the Th17 response and inducing interferon-gamma production. These immune-modulating effects could have beneficial Immunity benefits.

Is Streptococcus Thermophilus Safe?

Yes, Streptococcus thermophilus is generally considered safe. It is classified as a probiotic, which means it is a beneficial microorganism that can support the health of the gastrointestinal tract and other body systems. 

S. thermophilus is commonly used in the production of yogurt and cheese and is generally recognized as safe by food regulatory authorities. While some species within the Streptococcus genus can be pathogenic, S. thermophilus is regarded as a safer bacterium.

Is Streptococcus Thermophilus Pathogenic?

No, Streptococcus thermophilus is not considered a pathogenic bacterium. According to a the study titled "The genomic basis of the Streptococcus thermophilus health-promoting properties," S. thermophilus it is not considered pathogenic. 

The study authored by Emeline Roux, highlights the low occurrence of genes associated with antibiotic resistance and biogenic amine production in S. thermophilus genomes, which contributes to its safety status. 

The research emphasizes the potential health-promoting functionalities of S. thermophilus and suggests that its natural intra-species diversity could be harnessed for the development of fermented products enriched with beneficial components.

What Does streptococcus thermophilus Do in yogurt?

Streptococcus thermophilus plays a crucial role in the production of yogurt. It works together with Lactobacillus bulgaricus during the fermentation process to convert lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid, which gives yogurt its tangy taste. S. Thermophilus also produces acetaldehyde, a compound that contributes to the distinctive flavor of yogurt.

A 2006 study authored by Daniel M. Linares, found a novel strain of Streptococcus thermophilus (APC151) had the ability to naturally enrich yogurt with gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA), a bioactive ingredient with potential health benefits such as stress reduction and blood pressure regulation.

This finding suggests that Streptococcus thermophilus can be used to produce yogurt that is naturally fortified with GABA, offering an alternative means of delivering this beneficial compound to consumers. 

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, helping to regulate neuronal excitability and promote relaxation.

What Yogurt Has streptococcus thermophilus?

The Icelandic Provisions Vanilla Yogurt contains Streptococcus thermophilus islandicus as one of its probiotic strains. This yogurt is known for its rich, creamy texture and is made using traditional Icelandic Skyr cultures. It is a good source of protein and calcium, with lower sugar content compared to other alternatives.

What Does Streptococcus Thermophilus Do In Cheese?

In cheese production, Streptococcus thermophilus plays a crucial role in the fermentation process. This contributes to milk acidification, which is important for cheese flavor and texture development.

Streptococcus thermophilus also produces acetaldehyde, a compound responsible for the characteristic flavor of yogurt. In addition to its role in fermentation, Streptococcus thermophilus exhibits functional activities such as producing extracellular polysaccharides, bacteriocins, and vitamins. 

streptococcus thermophilus and bifidobacterium Bifidum

A 1994 study authored by JM Saavedra, found that supplementing infant formula with Bifidobacterium bifidum and Streptococcus thermophilus together reduced the occurrence of acute diarrhea and the shedding of rotavirus in infants admitted to the hospital.

Streptococcus thermophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are two different strains of beneficial bacteria commonly used in probiotic products. Streptococcus thermophilus is a thermophilic bacteria that thrives in high-temperature environments, making it suitable for the production of fermented dairy products.

It helps break down lactose, the sugar found in milk, making it beneficial for individuals with lactose intolerance. On the other hand, Bifidobacterium bifidum is an anaerobic bacteria that naturally inhabits the human gastrointestinal tract. It is known for its ability to promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, support digestion, and strengthen the immune system.

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