Streptococcus Thermophilus: Benefits & Side Effects

Streptococcus Thermophilus

If you’re delving into the world of probiotics, you might have noticed that there are many, many different kinds and each of them are better at supporting different aspects of your health than other strains. Streptococcus Thermophilus is one of the strains of probiotic that you may see pop up on your search for the best probiotic product for your health.

IN THIS ARTICLE: We take a detailed look into the main benefits and side effects of S. thermophilus so you can decide if it’s a strain you want in your daily routine.

What is Streptococcus Thermophilus?

S.thermophilus

Streptococcus Thermophilus (S.thermophilus) is one of the earliest probiotic strains to colonise the human gut and has even been found in infant microflora and breastmilk. It’s a gram-positive bacteria and a homofermentative facultative anaerobe – basically meaning it has thick cell walls and creates a crucial fermentation process inside the intestines.

It’s one of the lesser known and used probiotic strains, possibly due to the association of the name ‘Streptococcus’ with harmful bacteria. However, S.thermophilus is a beneficial strain that has no known side effects and is classified as safe for human consumption.

What can Streptococcus Thermophilus do for your health?

Like most probiotic strains, S.thermophilus’ strengths include improving digestion and supporting your immune system. Specifically though, this strain has been shown to assist with these areas of your health:

Helps other probiotics grow

This strain is most commonly used as a yoghurt starter ingredient as it’s great at encouraging the growth of other friendly bacteria due to its powerful fermenting abilities, especially with many highly beneficial strains of Lactobacillus species. It also continues this process in the intestines where trillions of friendly bacteria live. S.thermophilus doesn’t travel through the gut like other strains do, it hangs around and helps with beneficial fermentation processes instead, boosting the function of the friendly bacteria living there.

Stimulating the immune response in your gut

Protecting the gut is super important due to the fact 70% of your immune response originates there. S.thermophilus is able to stimulate cell regeneration, inhibit certain forms of diarrhea, decrease intestinal irritability and even boost the production of macrophages and T-cells that seek out and destroy harmful bacteria and any infected cells lurking around the body.

Protecting the gut lining

S.thermophilus does this by binding to the cells along your intestinal wall, strengthening them and preventing harmful pathogens attaching to them instead. It has a similar action with beneficial cells that live in the gut, binding to them to prevent harmful bacteria from otherwise doing so and causing illness.

Breaks down sugars in milk to assist with lactose intolerance

This is probably the most important and strongest ability of S.thermophilus and one that it has in common with many probiotic strains. It’s able to break down lactose into an easier to digest form of sugar, therefore alleviating lactose intolerance symptoms for sufferers.

Does Streptococcus Thermophilus have any side effects?

S.thermophilus is thought to be a very safe strain of probiotic, with no abnormal side effects. However, consuming probiotics in general can come with some uncomfortable side effects that you should be aware of.

Mild digestive issues

If you’ve just started taking a new probiotic supplement, it’s totally normal to feel a bit of mild digestive discomfort as your body gets used to it. You may notice some bloating and gas, however, these symptoms should stop after a couple weeks and can be avoided altogether by choosing a probiotic supplement with a lower colony forming unit (CFU) amount to begin with.

Allergic reactions

Some probiotic supplements, whilst uncommon, can contain common allergens like soy, dairy or egg. By carefully reading the ingredients list you should be able to avoid these easily.

Risk of infection

When choosing a probiotic supplement with S.thermophilus in it, you’re most likely going to be purchasing one that also has a bunch of beneficial Lactobacilli strains included as well. Unfortunately, about one in every million people will develop an infection from these Lactobacilli bacteria and the risk is heightened for those who have undergone recent surgery or been in hospital for an extended period of time. If you fall into either of these categories, steer clear of probiotics completely until your doctor gives you the green light.

If you’re concerned about any of the above side effects or you think your probiotic supplement may not be agreeing with your body, it’s always best to cease use and consult a doctor.

Top-rated Streptococcus Thermophilus probiotic product

S.thermophilus can be found in some of the top probiotic products on the market because of its beneficial nature, we’ve found a great all-rounder that contains it and analysed it below for your convenience.

NewRhythm Probiotics

This is an excellent probiotic supplement that ticks a lot of boxes. With 50 billion CFU, 20 different strains of probiotic including S.thermophilus, plus acid resistant and delayed release technology to make sure the beneficial bacteria get to where they’re needed, this product is formulated carefully and precisely to ensure you’re getting the full benefits.

S.thermophilus will be able to encourage the fermentation of prebiotics in the gut which are tiny indigestible fibres that feed your probiotics and allow them to multiply, strengthen and thrive inside your intestines. We’d recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a new probiotic product that packs a punch and covers all bases. For beginners you may want to try a product with a few less CFU to start out with.

Conclusion

S.thermophilus is a highly beneficial strain of probiotic that can assist with lactose intolerance, stimulating your immune system, strengthening your gut lining, helping other probiotics to grow through it’s fermentation superpowers, and more! It’s included in many highly rated probiotic products on the market right now due to it’s efficacy and we’d recommend considering adding it to your daily routine if you’re looking for an immune and gut health boost. As with all new health supplements, be sure to consult your doctor first if you have any questions about which product might be right for you.

What’s The Best Time to Take Probiotics? (According to Research)

If you feel as though you’re not getting the most out of your probiotic supplement, the time of day you’re taking it may have something to do with the problem! Read on to discover the optimal time to take your probiotics everyday to maximise your results.

Best time of day to be taking probiotics?

This topic is a pretty tricky one because you need to know how to navigate your stomach’s acidity to ensure as many probiotics survive as possible.

In each serving of your probiotic supplement, the amount of live and viable organisms is measured by Colony Forming Units (CFU).Not all of the CFU’s will reach your intestines and it’s estimated that around 1-10 billion CFU must reach your gut for any health benefits to be felt, so it’s important to take your probiotic at the correct time each day.

Optimal consumption window?

So how do we achieve this? For maximum survival rates, the most optimal time to take your probiotic is no more than 30 minutes before your meal or, preferably, right before you start eating.

This is because your stomach becomes extremely acidic whilst eating, so ingesting your probiotic 30 minutes before or right before you start eating allows it time to move through the stomach before the onslaught of acids and digestive enzymes hits. 

Whatever you do, don’t take your probiotic after your meal if you can avoid it. This 2011 research study showed that probiotics taken 30 minutes after a meal were not able to survive in high numbers, decreasing their potency.

Stick to taking your probiotics 30 minutes before or with your meal to get the most out of your supplement (and your money!).

Meal size and content

It also matters how big your meal is and what you’re eating. Optimally, you should be taking your probiotic with a light to medium sized meal as it will be digested the quickest and easiest, taking your probiotics on a swift delivery towards your gut. A larger meal will digest slower and hang around in your stomach longer, slowing down your probiotic and exposing it to harsher conditions for longer.

the most optimal time to take your probiotic is no more than 30 minutes before your meal or, preferably, right before you start eating.

As for the content of your meal, fattier meals are actually able to buffer the probiotic more as they require less acids to be produced by the stomach. Sugars and carbohydrates also have this effect on a lower scale. Additionally, if you’re taking your probiotics with foods rich in prebiotics, they will be fueled on their journey through your body. This includes everyday diet staples like garlic, bananas, onions and oats!

Capsule coating

The last thing to note here is to pay attention to the coating on your capsules. A good quality supplement should have an enteric coating on their probiotic capsules, this will protect the probiotic against harsh conditions in the body for longer so that it can get where it needs to be.

If you have this kind of coating on your capsule then it’s less important what time of day you take it at – but we always recommend following the ‘30 minutes before or with your meal’ rule, just to be safe.

Breakfast, lunch or dinner? 

This largely depends on the reason you’re taking your probiotics. If your main objectives fall under the umbrella of general health and digestive improvements then it’s best to take them with your first meal of the day so that you can feel the benefits throughout the day whilst your body and digestive system is most active.

However, if you’re taking probiotics for more specific digestive issues like bloating, gas, and lactose intolerance, then it’s best to find a probiotic that you can take just before every meal. Alternatively, you can take your probiotic with the meal that’s closest to when the issues generally occur.

If you’re taking your probiotic because you’re struggling with insomnia and other sleep issues, having it with dinner will help you feel the effects through the night.

In Summary: It’s all about figuring out the best timing for your specific health concerns along with the corresponding probiotic strains in your supplement and taking them with the meal that’s closest to when your issues arise.

How often do I need to be taking probiotics? 

Generally speaking, most probiotic supplements should be taken daily, allowing a steady influx of beneficial bacteria into your gut. Each supplement will have certain serving sizes which will dictate how many capsules you should be taking daily to get the correct amount of CFU’s, this will usually be 1-2 capsules daily.

Taking your probiotic daily as recommended means you’ll be able to help negate the everyday impacts on your gut microbiome, including your diet, toxins in the air and water, stress, antibiotics and more.

With the bacteria in your body outnumbering your actual cells by about 10 times, it’s important to do what you can to replenish and maintain your gut flora daily. It’s important to consult your doctor before trying anything new and always read the label as each supplement will be different.

When should I start feeling the effects of my probiotic?

Many individuals feel improvements within the first couple days of taking their new probiotic supplement. However, it’s recommended that you wait around 3-4 weeks to reassess your health to see if it or any other specific issues you were experiencing have improved. This allows enough time for your body to adjust to the supplement. 

In the first couple weeks you may notice mildly uncomfortable digestive side effects like gas and bloating, this is generally normal and should subside after the 2 week mark.

If not, it’s a great idea to speak with your doctor and see if they can recommend a better plan of attack for you and your specific health concerns. Remember, probiotics aren’t a ‘one size fits all’ kind of product and may take a little experimentation to get right. 

Conclusion

To sum it all up, the best time to be taking your probiotic is 30 minutes before or directly with a meal to avoid harsh stomach acids and give your beneficial bacteria a buffer to transport them through your body safely. Whether this is at breakfast, lunch or dinner is dependent on your health concerns – for overall health the best time is breakfast (or your first meal of the day).

Be sure to choose a probiotic with an enteric coating and take it with a light meal consisting of some fats to give your probiotic the best chance at getting exactly where it needs to be. And most importantly, remember to be patient and listen to your body. If you don’t believe your probiotic supplement is working the way it should be, have a chat with your doctor to figure out why.