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Streptococcus thermophilus is a Gram-positive bacterium which is also classified as a lactic acid bacterium. It is often found in fermented milk products such as yoghurt, cheeses and milk drinks. It is just one of the many beneficial bacteria that is added to food and drinks to enhance a person’s immune system functions and to help keep a healthy colon too.
The ability of Streptococcus thermophilus to survive is simple, it has a thick cell wall that can help survive in extreme temperatures. Dairy products are heated for processing up to 100 degrees Celsius and these bacteria can withstand these extremes in temperature very well.
History and Origin
The name Streptococcus is derived from the Greek word which means “twisted berry” it is seen under the microscope as a chain that resemble a string of beads. Thermophilus is a Greek term which means heat, referring to an organism that is able to survive extreme cases of heat.
The use of beneficial bacteria like Streptococcus thermophilus for disease prevention and for keeping a healthy colon was not heard of during the ancient times. Ancient cultures mainly ate well to keep healthy. Gastrointestinal illnesses were treated with herbal remedies; stomach pain, intestinal parasites, diarrhea, constipation, etc, are the most common illnesses that used herbal treatments.
In modern times, the use of Streptococcus thermophilus is to fight the spread of harmful bacteria in the gut. This method is called Probiotics treatment. Live strains of Streptococcus thermophilus and other good bacteria are placed in milk products such as yoghurt and milk based drinks to fight bad bacteria, yeast, fungus and toxins in the body.
Having a healthy digestive tract gives many benefits to the entire body. Proper nutrient absorption is encouraged making food nutrients available for the different bodily systems to use. The immune system is also reinforced plus energy from food is also used effectively. Killing beneficial bacteria is usually done through prolonged antibiotic use and also through chemotherapy. Thus eating yoghurt and milk drinks fortified with Streptococcus thermophilus can help people who are undergoing cancer treatment and antibiotic treatment. It can also prevent yeast infections and the growth of opportunistic organisms in the various parts of the human body.
Children who receive supplements with Streptococcus thermophilus were seen to have a higher growth rate as compared to children who just relied on regular milk drinks.
There are no side effects in taking food and drinks that have live cultures of Streptococcus thermophilus. Even pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to eat yoghurt and drink milk fortified with beneficial bacteria.
Some people who have just taken foods fortified with Streptococcus thermophilus have mild symptoms of stomach pain and gas. These are just minor side effects and are just present on initial intake of said food products and will disappear with time.
Children are encouraged to drink milk and eat yoghurt with Streptococcus thermophilus. Streptococcus thermophilus can also act as a milk replacement for people with lactose intolerance. If you wish to take supplements to replace milk because of this condition, your doctor can advise you on the best alternative for milk for your particular needs.