One of the most powerful strains of probiotics is Streptococcus thermophilus. Even though you might immediately think of “strep throat” when you see the name of this bacterium, it’s not the same thing. It is true that Streptococcus thermophilus shares the same genus as the Streptococcus pyogenes bacterium that causes the dreaded disease, but that’s where the similarities end. Streptococcus thermophilus actually delivers a large number of benefits to the human body.
Here are 11 of the more significant health benefits of Streptococcus thermophilus.
- Improved Digestion of Lactose
You’ve no doubt heard the term “lactose intolerant,” which is a condition that occurs when a person’s digestive system is unable to process lactose – a sugar commonly found in dairy products. This can lead to bloating, gas, and other uncomfortable issues. The Streptococcus thermophilus bacterium helps the body to break down lactose and transform it into lactic acid.1
- Decreasing Acute Bouts of Diarrhea
Streptococcus thermophilus has been shown to help reduce acute diarrhea, especially in babies. According to a study that was published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, a total of 157 children between the ages of six months and three years were given two different formulas. Eighty of the children were given formula containing the Bifidobacterium lactis and Streptococcus thermophilus probiotic bacteria, while the other 77 were given formulas that contained no probiotic supplements. Researchers found that 16 percent of the children given the probiotic formula suffered diarrhea, while 31 percent of the children taking the non-supplemented formula developed the condition.2
- Improved Skin Health
One of the more significant benefits of the Streptococcus thermophilus bacterium is that it has been shown to increase the levels of ceramide in the skin. Ceramide helps keep the skin hydrated and also forms a barrier against damaging ultra-violet (UV) rays. A study showed that the skin of women who were given a cream containing the bacteria not only showed increased hydration, but also higher levels of ceramide.3
- Enhanced Kidney Dialysis Treatments
Streptococcus thermophilus has also been shown to increase the efficiency of a form of experimental kidney disease treatment known as enteric dialysis, which is a less expensive alternative to traditional dialysis. Research indicates that Streptococcus thermophilus is effective in breaking down urea, a toxin that cannot be eliminated by people with kidney problems. Further research is necessary, but initial findings indicate that Streptococcus thermophilus could eventually be used to reduce the need for dialysis treatments – and potentially even eliminate the need for dialysis altogether.4
- Reducing Baby Colic
When a baby is said to have “colic,” that simply means he or she is crying a great deal more often than normal. A baby is thought to be “colicky” after having repeated episodes of crying that last for hours at a time. Doctors don’t know the cause of this problem, but it is thought that gastrointestinal distress can play a role. Streptococcus thermophilus, when used in baby formula in combination with other probiotic strains, may help increase the number of good bacteria in the gut, reducing colic episodes.5
- Improve Digestion
Probiotics help improve the digestive process as well as enhance overall gut health. Streptococcus thermophilus is a “good” bacterium that fights harmful microbes that can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, indigestion, and a host of other digestive issues.
- Reducing “Leaky Gut” Symptoms
“Leaky gut,” also known as intestinal permeability, is a condition that occurs when waste products move through weakened intestinal walls and enter the bloodstream. It is a contributing factor to problems such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease. Probiotics such as Streptococcus thermophilus can strengthen the walls of the intestines and reduce the chances that leaky gut will occur please visit heartland nutrients to learn more.6
- Reduction of Symptoms Associated with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can be frustrating – and in some cases even debilitating – digestive issues. Studies involving mice have shown that Streptococcus thermophilus can substantially reduce the inflammation that contributes to these conditions.7
- Strengthening the Immune System
Streptococcus thermophilus is commonly found in yogurt, which can help the body fight off infections. Researchers suggest this happens because the bacteria may boost the immune system.8
- Fighting Clostridium Difficile
Clostridium difficile is a “superbug,” or a pathogenic bacterium that has proven to be resistant to antibiotics. It is increasingly appearing in hospitals and nursing homes, causing not only severe diarrhea but also potentially life-threatening colon inflammation. Streptococcus thermophilus is one of the probiotics that have been shown to lower the chances of Clostridium difficile development in medical environments.9
- Decreasing Bad Cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is one of the leading causes of hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Probiotics such as Streptococcus thermophilus bind to LDL cholesterol molecules, keeping them from entering the bloodstream.10
Streptococcus Thermophilus Side Effects
Streptococcus thermophilus, like most probiotics, can have some minor side effects. These include cramps, rashes, gas, diarrhea, and others. But these side effects are actually often an indication that the probiotics are doing their jobs in helping offset the harmful bacteria in the gut and detoxifying this area of the body. If you experience these issues when taking a probiotic, you can help reduce symptoms by drinking more water and reducing the number of pills you take each day.
As with any probiotic, talk to your doctor to make sure you can safely take products that include the Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria.
Researchers are only beginning to uncover the health benefits of Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria and other probiotics as they learn more about how they function. It has been used for helping ensure the safety of milk, cheese, and other products in order to increase shelf life as well as nutritional value, and scientists are experimenting with artificial strains that may eventually bring even further benefits.