¿Probióticos o prebióticos? Diferencias, características y tipos

14 de abril de 2021 |
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¿Probióticos o prebióticos? Diferencias, características y tipos


Probióticos y prebióticos

Siempre vemos productos que dicen en letras grandes «con probióticos y prebióticos». Pero ¿qué son, para qué sirven y cómo deberían consumirse exactamente?

En primer lugar, no se puede hablar de probióticos y no de microbiota. El microbioma consiste en un conjunto de microorganismos benéficos y perjudiciales, que viven en relación simbiótica en el tracto gastrointestinal. Los probióticos y prebióticos permiten mantener un predominio de bacterias benéficas sobre las perjudiciales, evitando un desequilibrio que afecte el sistema inmune y la salud del tubo digestivo.

Principales diferencias y características

El término probiótico o ‘provida’ se aplica a bacterias vivas que son beneficiosas para la salud del huésped al ser ingeridas en cantidades y frecuencias adecuadas. Son naturalmente adquiridas por alimentos (yogur, kéfir, queso cottage, kombucha, tempeh o kimchi) durante los procesos de fermentación. Por su parte, los prebióticos son carbohidratos de cadena corta y larga no digeribles (alcachofa, legumbres, trigo, avena y patata, entre otros). Estos mejoran la salud del huésped al estimular el crecimiento selectivo de un número limitado de bacterias en el colon.

La fermentación de los prebióticos produce altos niveles de ácidos grasos de cadena corta (acético, propiónico y butírico). En consecuencia, hacen disminuir el pH del colon e inhiben el crecimiento de las bacterias dañinas, previniendo y mejorando las funciones del intestino. Así, se le atribuye al consumo diario de estas bacterias efectos nutricionales, preventivos y terapéuticos, potenciales o demostrados, en padecimientos. Algunos ejemplos son alergias, cáncer de colon, diarreas, enterocolitis necrotizante, intolerancia a la lactosa y fibrosis quística.

Carbohidratos de lenta asimilación
Carbohidratos de cadena corta y larga no digeribles

Vías de consumo

Las vías para el consumo de probióticos son: por administración oral de suplementos alimenticios, alimentos fermentados con probióticos naturales y alimentos fortificados, con adición industrial de bacterias probióticas, como es el caso de los productos pasteurizados que pierden las bacterias vivas en el procesamiento.

Tipos más comunes

Las especies más utilizadas como probióticos son Lactobacillus y Bifidobacterium. Sin embargo, también pueden encontrarse algunas levaduras enterococos y hongos. Estas cepas microbianas vivas deben cumplir ciertos criterios para ser consideradas probióticos: ser habitante normal del intestino; ser capaz de sobrevivir durante el proceso de producción, comercialización, distribución e ingesta y colonizar la porción distal del intestino (íleon y colon); y conferir beneficios comprobados para la salud del huésped; tener un tiempo corto de reproducción.

Probióticos
Tipos de probióticos

¿Por qué es importante confirmar la veracidad de la información comercial?

Es importante confirmar la veracidad de la información comercial, ya que la mayoría de los suplementos denominados «probióticos» y productos alimenticios fortificados con bacterias probióticas, no otorgan los beneficios que promulgan. Esto se hace verificando que cuente con estudios en humanos y que estén especificadas en la etiqueta las especies bacterianas que contiene (con nombre, apellido y número) y la concentración disponible del agente activo al momento del consumo.

¿Cuál es la mejor vía para la obtención de bacterias beneficiosas? 

Como todo en la alimentación, depende. En algunos casos, podría ser suficiente con multiplicarlas a través del consumo de fuentes de prebióticos y así evitar la ingesta innecesaria de químicos que viene con los suplementos y productos fortificados. Pero, dependiendo del estado de salud del individuo y disponibilidad de alimentos, podría ser necesaria una suplementación guiada por un profesional de salud. En este último caso, 4Doctors cuenta con diferentes programas de especialización en nutrición para poder asesorar correctamente sobre este y muchos otros conceptos. Si quieres conocer más, tan solo pulsa aquí.

posgrado nutrición

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