Streptococcus thermophilus is classified as a ‘lactic acid bacterium’, the organism's ability to convert lactose to lactic acid is harnessed in the manufacture of a number of dairy products such as yoghurts and cheeses.
Streptococcus thermophilus are used as so-called "probiotics," the opposite of antibiotics. "Friendly" bacteria such as Streptococcus thermophilus can help us break down food, absorb nutrients, and fight off "unfriendly" organisms that might cause diseases such as diarrhea.
Streptococcus thermophilus is a type of probiotic bacteria. These are "friendly" bacteria that normally live in our digestive, urinary, and genital systems without causing disease. Streptococcus thermophilus is commonly used to produce fermented dairy foods such as yogurt. It is also used in dietary supplements.
Streptococcus thermophilus is most commonly taken by mouth to treat and prevent diarrhea, constipation, diabetes, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
- Jäger R, Purpura M, Stone JD, Turner SM, Anzalone AJ, Eimerbrink MJ, Pane M, Amoruso A, Rowlands DS, Oliver JM. Probiotic Streptococcus thermophilus FP4 and Bifidobacterium breve BR03 Supplementation Attenuates Performance and Range-of-Motion Decrements Following Muscle Damaging Exercise. Nutrients. 2016 Oct 14;8(10):642. doi: 10.3390/nu8100642. PMID: 27754427; PMCID: PMC5084029. [L]
- Nopchinda S, Varavithya W, Phuapradit P, Sangchai R, Suthutvoravut U, Chantraruksa V, Haschke F. Effect of bifidobacterium Bb12 with or without Streptococcus thermophilus supplemented formula on nutritional status. J Med Assoc Thai. 2002 Nov;85 Suppl 4:S1225-31. PMID: 12549799. [L]
- Corrêa NB, Péret Filho LA, Penna FJ, Lima FM, Nicoli JR. A randomized formula controlled trial of Bifidobacterium lactis and Streptococcus thermophilus for prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in infants. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2005 May-Jun;39(5):385-9. doi: 10.1097/01.mcg.0000159217.47419.5b. PMID: 15815206. [L]
- Saavedra JM, Bauman NA, Oung I, Perman JA, Yolken RH. Feeding of Bifidobacterium bifidum and Streptococcus thermophilus to infants in hospital for prevention of diarrhoea and shedding of rotavirus. Lancet. 1994 Oct 15;344(8929):1046-9. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(94)91708-6. PMID: 7934445. [L]
The thermophilic lactic acid bacterium Streptococcus thermophilus is widely and traditionally used in the dairy industry. Despite the vast level of consumption of S. thermophilus through yogurt or probiotic functional food, very few data are available about its physiology in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT).
Studies show that Streptococcus thermophilus is best used in combination with other probiotics such as Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus paracasei.
Although probiotics, in general, are considered safe, there are concerns about their use in certain cases. Some people, such as those with compromised immune systems, short bowel syndrome, central venous catheters, heart valve disease and premature infants, may be at higher risk for adverse events. Rarely, the use of probiotics has caused sepsis in children with lowered immune systems or in those who are already critically ill.
One study showed that Streptococcus thermophilus was identified to be depleted in patients with colorectal cancer [L].
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