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Nutr Hosp. 2015 Feb 7;31 Suppl 1:99-118. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.31.sup1.8715.

[Prebiotics: concept, properties and beneficial effects].

[Article in Spanish; Abstract available in Spanish from the publisher]

Author information

Departamento de Bioactividad y Análisis de Alimentos, Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias de la Alimentación, CIAL (CSIC-UAM) Madrid..
Departamento de Ingeniería Química, Universidad de Vigo. Facultad de Ciencias, Campus de Ourense, Ourense..
Servicio de Aparato Digestivo, Hospital Vall d'Hebron, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Barcelona..
Grupo de investigación en Microbiología aplicada y medio-ambiental, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Campus de Bellaterra, Barcelona..
BENEO. Connecting nutrition and health, BENEO-Ibérica Barcelona..
Unidad de Gastroenterología, Hepatología y Nutrición Pediátrica, Dpto. Pediatría, Hospital Clínico Universitario de Santiago, Área de Gestión Integrada de Santiago, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela..
Grupo de Investigación de Biotecnología y Terapia Experimental basada en Nutraceúticos (BITTEN), Instituto Universitario de Oncología del Principado de Asturias (IUOPA), Universidad de Oviedo, Facultad de Medicina, Oviedo..
Departamento de Nutrición y Bromatología II, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid..
Grupo de Biocatálisis Aplicada, Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica, CSIC, Madrid..
Departamento de Microbiología y Bioquímica de Productos Lácteos, Instituto de Productos Lácteos de Asturias - (IPLA-CSIC) Asturias..
Departamento de Metabolismo y Nutrición, Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos y Nutrición (ICTAN-CSIC) Madrid..
Departamento de Nutrición y Bromatología II, Bromatología, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid..
Departamento de Análisis Instrumental y Química Ambiental, Instituto de Química Orgánica General (CSIC), Madrid..
Departamento de Fisiología y Bioquímica de la Nutrición Animal, Estación Experimental del Zaidin (CSIC), Granada. España..


in English, Spanish

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients (oligosaccharides) that reach the colon and are used as substrate by microorganisms producing energy, metabolites and micronutrients used for the host; in addition they also stimulate the selective growth of certain beneficial species (mainly bifidobacteria and lactobacilli) in the intestinal microbiota. In this article, a multidisciplinary approach to understand the concept of prebiotic carbohydrates, their properties and beneficial effects in humans has been carried out. Definitions of prebiotics, reported by relevant international organizations and researchers, are described. A comprehensive description of accepted prebiotics having strong scientific evidence of their beneficial properties in humans (inulin-type fructans, FOS, GOS, lactulose and human milk oligosaccharides) is reported. Emerging prebiotics and those which are in the early stages of study have also included in this study. Taken into account that the chemical structure greatly influences carbohydrates prebiotic properties, the analytical techniques used for their analysis and characterization are discussed. In vitro and in vivo models used to evaluate the gastrointestinal digestion, absorption resistance and fermentability in the colon of prebiotics as well as major criteria to design robust intervention trials in humans are described. Finally, a comprehensive summary of the beneficial effects of prebiotics for health at systemic and intestinal levels is reported. The research effort on prebiotics has been intensive in last decades and has demonstrated that a multidisciplinary approach is necessary in order to claim their health benefits.

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