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about longevity research in his book The Prolongation of Life, the bacterial strain Streptococcus thermophilus was known to promote gastrointestinal health. Streptococcus thermophilus, along with Lactobacillus bulgaricus, soon became the starter strains used to make yogurt. Today, these two probiotics are still used in the production of true yogurt. Many of the yogurts sold in grocery stores are not this true yogurt. Some do not use the appropriate probiotic strains, as these are usually more expensive. Some do, but still pasteurize their product after the culturing process. Pasteurization destroys harmful bacteria, but it also destroys the beneficial organisms such as Streptococcus thermophilus. Consumers can look for the National Yogurt Association’s Live & Active Cultures seal on packaged yogurt. This means the product did contain live cultures when it was made, although it is no guarantee that the beneficial bacteria will still be alive after shipping and storage. By purchasing a starter of Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, yogurt can be made at home with a simple recipe. These probiotic cultures are available most health food stores, online, and even in the health food section of some grocery stores. Boil one quart of milk, preferably 2% or whole milk, then remove it from heat and cool to between 104 degrees and 114 degrees. It is important to use a sterile container to pour the milk into. Add a generous teaspoon—or the appropriate amount listed on the package instructions—of the yogurt starter. Stir, cover, and incubate at 104 to 110 degrees for six to ten hours. Refrigerate. This constant incubation temperature is a very important part of the process. Those that have trouble maintaining this temperature might want to consider purchasing a yogurt maker, which regulates temperature. The process behind this yogurt production is beneficial to digestive health in a couple of ways. The good bacteria ferment the sugar in the milk, also known as lactose. The lactose is transformed into lactic acid, which is highly effective in preventing lactose intolerance. The production of the lactic acid reduces pH and results in the milk curdling and turning tart. This also prevents the growth of bacteria that causes food poisoning. Streptococcus thermophilus is used as a starter culture for dairy foods besides yogurt, including Mozzarella cheese. It is considered one of the most commercially important of the lactic acid bacteria. USDA statistics from 1998 showed that more than 2.24 billion pounds of Mozzarella cheese and 1.37 billion pounds of yogurt were produced, for almost five million dollars in consumer value. Today’s 40 billion dollar dairy industry relies more and more on Streptococcus thermophilus and other probiotic strains. The cell structure of Streptococcus thermophilus allows the bacteria to endure elevated temperatures, such as the many industrial dairy fermentation processes that require high temperatures. Streptococcus thermophilus also lacks genes which contain surface proteins. This is important because harmful bacteria use these surface proteins to attach to mucosal tissues and hide from the body’s defensive actions. Ongoing research and experimentation have improved the Streptococcus thermophilus strain even beyond its natural beneficial state. This improved strain is responsible for the consistent taste and texture of many dairy products. It also provides stable fermentation and a resilience to bacteriophage. Streptococcus thermophilus also produces exopolysaccharides. These are essential to the texture of fermented milk products and also to the production of reduced-fat dairy products that maintain similar characteristics to their full-fat counterparts. One of Streptococcus thermophilus’ unique abilities is that it can break down casein, the protein in dairy products like cheese. It reduces them into small peptides and amino acids that are required for the maturation of textures and flavors in reduced-fat cheeses. Different bacterial strains produce cheeses with differing characteristics. Streptococcus thermophilus, for example, produces a low-moisture cheddar cheese with a minimal level of bitterness, good for very mild cheddar cheese. However, by combining bacterial strains with varying characteristics, a high quality, reduced-fat cheddar cheese may be produced that is very similar to regular, full-fat cheddar. In addition to the natural ability of Streptococcus thermophilus to prevent transformation of nitrates into cancer-causing nitrites, the bacterium has other exciting cancer-related applications. One strain which is undergoing exciting research is Streptococcus thermophilus TH-4. Chemotheraphy often causes intestinal mucositis, severe inflammation of primarily the small intestines which can be fatal. Although there are a variety of treatments for this condition, they often do not work.
A 2009 study in Adelaide, Australia has shown very positive results when Streptococcus thermophilus TH-4 was used to treat rats with mucositis caused by chemotherapy drugs. Rats responded to the treatment by showing a normalization of healthy cell function in the affected areas and a significant reduction of distress to the tissue of the intestines. As research continues to produce varied strains of Streptococcus thermophilus, the usefulness of this probiotic seems limitless. Its effects on digestive and overall health have already been widely documented. Its benefits to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are beginning to be understood. Streptococcus thermophilus is one of the many reasons probiotics are changing the health industry. References: Awad, S. et al. (2005). Journal of Dairy Science. Application of Exopolysaccharide-Producing Cultures in Reduced-Fat Cheddar Cheese: Composition and Proteolysis. European Bioinformatics Institute. (2009). Bacteria Genomes – Streptococcus Thermophilus. Taylor, John R. and Mitchell, Deborah. The Wonder of Probiotics. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2007. Trenev, Natasha. Probiotics: Nature’s Internal Healers. Garden City Park, New York: AveryPublishing Group, 1998. U.S. Department of Energy. Office of Science. (2009). Streptococcus thermophilus LMD-9. Whitford, E.J. et al. (2009). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Effects of Streptococcus thermophilus TH-4 on Intestinal Mucositis Induced by the Chemotherapeutic Agent, 5- Fluorouracil (5FU). http://www.probiotic.org/streptococcus-thermophilus.htm Streptococcus thermophilus is one of the most commercially important of all lactic acid bacteria Streptococcus thermophilus is a Gram-positive facultative anaerobe. It is a cytochrome-, oxidase- and catalase-negative organism that is nonmotile, non-spore forming and homofermentative. Streptococcus thermophilus is an alpha-hemolytic species of the viridans group. It is also classified as a lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Streptococcus thermophilus was once described as a bacterium "marked more by the things which it cannot do than by it's positive actions" (Sherman, 1937). Although it may be certainly be true that S. thermophilus is physiologically and biochemically less versatile than other lactic acid bacteria, the reality is that this organism is actually very versatile. Research during the past two decades has revealed that S. thermophilus has properties that make it one of the most commercially important of all lactic acid bacteria. Streptococcus thermophilus is used, along with Lactobacillus spp., as a starter culture for the manufacture of several important fermented dairy foods, including yogurt and Mozzarella cheese. The substantial increase in production of Mozzarella cheese and yogurt have led not only to increased use of S. thermophilus cultures, but also to new demands on their performance and production requirements. Industrial strains, for example, should be insensitive to bacteriophage, have stabile fermentation characteristics, and produce products having consistent flavor and texture properties. Although research on the physiology of S. thermophilus has revealed important information on some of these properties, including sugar and protein metabolism, polysaccharide production, and flavor generation, only recently has the genetic basis for many of these traits been determined. Currently, several traits in S. thermophilus have been targeted for strain improvement programs. S. thermophilus has an important role as a probiotic, alleviating symptoms of lactose intolerance and other gastrointestinal disorders. Immunologist lie Metchnikoff, spoke highly about the possible health benefits of the lactic acid-bacteria (LAB) Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus in his writings at the turn of the last century. He wrote in his book, The Prolongation of Life, that consumption of live bacteria, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, in the form of yogurt was beneficial for gastrointestinal health, as well as for health in general, and for longevity. Some recent research suggests that certain live microorganisms may have immunomodulatory and anticarcinogenic effects, as well as other health benefits. There is presently much active research focusing on the development of target-specific probiotics containing well-characterised bacteria that are selected for their health-enhancing characteristics. These new probiotics are entering the marketplace in the form of
nutritional supplements and functional foods, such as yogurt functional food products. The genome of S. thermophilus is 1.8 Mb, making it among the smallest genomes of all lactic acid bacteria. Hierarchy Description: • Genus: Streptococcus • Species: thermophilus • Strain: LMG 18311 Genome accession number: CP000023 EMBL reference • Taxonomy: 264199 • Genus: Streptococcus • Species: thermophilus • Strain: CNRZ1066 Genome accession number: CP000024 EMBL reference • Taxonomy: 299768 References: http://genome.jgi-psf.org/draft_microbes/strth/strth.home.html http://www.biol.ucl.ac.be/gene/genome/ http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/nutsupdrugs/pro_0034.shtml http://www.ebi.ac.uk/2can/genomes/bacteria/Streptococcus_thermophilus.html Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus (previous name Streptococcus thermophilus) is a Grampositive bacteria and a homofermentative facultative anaerobe, of the viridans group. It tests negative for cytochrome, oxidase and catalase, and positive for alpha-hemolytic activity. It is non-motile and does not form endospores. It is also classified as a lactic acid bacterium. S. thermophilus is found in fermented milk products. It is not a probiotic (it does not survive the stomach in healthy humans) and is generally used in the production of yogurt, alongside Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus. The two species are synergistic, and S. thermophilus probably provides L. bulgaricus with folic acid and formic acid which it uses for purine synthesis. Uses S. thermophilus is one of the most widely used bacteria in the dairy industry. USDA statistics from 1998 showed that more than 1.02 billion kilograms of mozzarella cheese and 621 million kilograms of yogurt were produced from S. thermophilus. Although its genus, Streptococcus, includes some pathogenic species, food industries consider S. thermophilus a safer bacterium than many other Streptococcus species. In fact, yogurt and cheese that contain live cultures of S. thermophilus are thought to be beneficial to health. Live cultures of S. thermophilus make it easier for people who are lactose-intolerant to digest dairy products. The bacteria break down lactose, the sugar in milk that lactose-intolerants find difficult to digest. Yogurt production As long ago as the early 1900s, S. thermophilus has been used to make yogurt. Many of the yogurts sold in grocery stores today do not contain many live cultures of S. thermophilus because pasteurization destroys these beneficial organisms. Nonetheless, S. thermophilus is required by law to be present in yogurt. Its purpose is to turn lactose, the sugar in milk, into lactic acid. The increase in lactic acid turns milk into the gel-like structure characteristic of yogurt. Nomenclature Streptococcus derives from a Greek term meaning "twisted berry" and refers to the way the bacterium is grouped in chains that resemble a string of beads. "Thermophilus" derives from the Greek term thermotita meaning "heat". It refers to an organism's ability to thrive at high temperatures.[ Research  Pathogenic potential The genus Streptococcus includes several pathogenic species, such as S. pneumoniae and S. pyogenes, but food industries consider S. thermophilus non-pathogenic. S. thermophilus is believed to have
developed separately from pathogenic Streptococcus species for at least 3000 years. Research teams have sequenced the genome of two strains of S. thermophilus, CNRZ1066 and LMG13811, and stated that the bacteria are not dangerous. When the S. thermophilus species diverged from its pathogenic relatives, it lost most of the genes acknowledged as being responsible for virulence. The species may have lost these genes because it adapted to a new, dairy-producing, environment in which it did not need these genes anymore. Genome analysis has also shown that by adapting to dairy production, the species has acquired genes that its pathogenic cousins do not have. For example, S. thermophilus can use the energy in lactose to help itself grow. Reduced-fat cheese S. thermophilus helps make reduced-fat cheese with similar characteristics to regular, full-fat cheese. In the experiment, two different strains of bacteria are used to make reduced-fat cheddar cheese: a strain of Lactococcus lactis and a strain of S. thermophilus. These bacteria are chosen because they produce exopolysaccharide (EPS) which give reduced-fat cheese a similar texture and flavor as regular cheese. However, cheese made from L. lactis yielded a different type of cheese from S. thermophilus. L. lactis produced cheese with higher moisture levels compared to other reduced-fat cheeses. On the other hand, S. thermophilus produced low moisture cheese and decreased the bitterness of cheese. It had been concluded that applying both L. lactis and S. thermophilus strains create higher quality reduced-fat cheese with similar characteristics to regular cheese. Cancer Chemotherapy often causes mucositis, severe inflammation of primarily the small intestines. Currently, there is no treatment to alleviate the symptoms of mucositis caused by chemotherapy. When rats were inflicted with mucositis by chemotherapy drugs, cells in the infected areas functioned more healthily and the tissue was less distressed. In her nutrition book, Jean Carper describes an experiment by Dr Joseph A Scimeca, in which commercially-available yoghurt containing S. thermophilus and L. bulgaricus was fed to mice. After these mice were injected with cancer cells, the incidence of lung cancer in the yoghurt-fed mice was one-third less than expected. Growth rate in children S. thermophilus supplements have maintained a stable growth rate in children. Children who received S. thermophilus supplements had better growth during a 6-month period than children who did not receive the supplement. Antiobiotic-associated diarrhea Strains of S. thermophilus have also reduced risks of AAD (antibiotic-associated diarrhea), an issue that results from taking antibiotics. Antibiotics can have the adverse effect of destroying beneficial bacteria and causing harmful bacteria to multiply, which invokes diarrhea. Adults who ate yogurt containing S. thermophilus while being treated with antibiotics had lower rates of diarrhea than the control group (12.4% vs. 23.7%).
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