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Streptococcus thermophilus

Streptococcus thermophilus is a very important lactic acid bacterium that is


usually used to produce milk, cheese and other dairy products, generally for
commercial purposes. It hydrolyzes milk proteins and casein into nitrogen
compounds, used as starting cultures for food fermentation. Given the unusual
cell structure characterizing S. thermophilus, the bacteria can sustain high
temperatures making it ideal for industrial dairy processes that usually require
elevated temperatures.

Streptococcus thermophilus is a type of good bacteria that can be found in


yogurt. The amount of live microorganisms is pretty hard to determine from one
batch to another. When people take antibiotics for infections, they also affect the
intestinal flora killing good bacteria. S. thermophilus can help enhance the
immune response.

S. thermophilus is also responsible for the production of exopolysaccharides,


essential substances to the texture of fermented milk foods. Without them, there
wouldnt be low-fat dairy products that have the same features as the full-fat
ones. These bacteria can hydrolyze casein, the main protein found in dairy
products, and reduces it into smaller parts, amino acids and peptides useful for
the maturation of flavors and textures in low-fat cheeses.

Health benefits

S. thermophilus is the most used bacteria in the food industry, and according to
the USDA statistics from 1998, it was utilized to produce more than 1.02 billion
kg of mozzarella and 621 million kg of yogurt. Even though Streptococcus also
has pathogenic strains, the food industry uses the safest bacterium from all the
species, and it is even thought to have beneficial effects over the health.

S. thermophilus taken as live cultures help those who are lactose intolerant
digest dairy products. The bacteria have the function of breaking down lactose,
the sugar enzyme found in milk that lactose-intolerants cannot digest.

Lactose intolerance can be prevented with the help of lactobacillus and


Streptococcus thermophilus. This combination of microorganisms cultured in the

laboratory appeared to stimulate the production of disease-fighting cells. The


bacteria may also be beneficial in cancer prevention, since it seems to reduce
the amount of nitrite in the body.

The yogurt production process has several beneficial effects over the digestive
system. The good bacteria break down lactose, the sugar in the milk and
transform it into lactic acid, very well received by those who are lactose
intolerant. The lactic acid also diminishes pH levels and results in the milk
turning bitter and curdling. This also stops the development of bacteria that
produce food poisoning.

A recent research study had proven that children who took the supplements
based on these bacteria had a stable growth rate for a 6-month period, as
opposed to those who didnt take any supplement.