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Compounds from Olive Residues improve the Intestinal Flora

Compounds from Olive Residues improve the Intestinal Flora

2017/25/07 - Members of the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Group of the University of Jaén (UJA), together with researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela and the Lisbon National Laboratory of Energy and Geology have isolated substances from olive groves that are beneficial to our organism. The compounds obtained promote the proliferation of bacteria that cause the intestinal flora to properly fulfill its role in the assimilation of nutrients, as informed by the Fundación Descubre.

The method proposed by these researchers contributes to the use of the olive waste and, therefore, to the reduction of the pollution that this activity generates by the traditional methods. In the article "Bifidobacterial growth stimulation by oligosaccharides generated from olive tree pruning biomass" published in the journal Carbohydrate Polymers they detail these new possibilities in the context of a refinery based on the solid residues of the olive grove and the reutilization of the byproducts obtained as prebiotics.

The work of this research, according to the Foundation, opens the door to the introduction of this type of substances in a wide range of pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food products that promote intestinal bacterial development.

The Chemical and Environmental Engineering research group is based on biorefinery, that is, on the exhaustive use of crop residues. "We want to obtain useful products from what was recently considered trash. Through this study, we take advantage even more of the by-products that are erased in the generation of biofuel from the olive grove with which you can obtain a direct benefit for human health," explains the researcher Eulogio Castro of the University of Jaén, one of the authors of the article.


Fuels and digestion
The study starts from the use of pruning remains to obtain bioethanol, a substitute for gasoline. The process consists in the treatment of these residues so that two types of compounds containing sugars are obtained. Cellulose, on the one hand, from which glucose is obtained, which is transformed into ethanol, used as biofuel. On the other hand, hemicellulose, a compound that is also part of the plant cell wall, from which oligosaccharides are extracted -which can be used as prebiotics-, substances that help the intestinal bacteria to digest.

At first, the field wastes are crushed and sieved, at the same time as they are washed with hot pressurized water. Once the product is separated, a solid part is obtained, from which the fuel is obtained, and a liquid part in which the hemicellulosic sugars, including the oligosaccharides, are dissolved. As explained by the Foundation, there are many types, but the smallest are those used in the culture of bacteria to analyze later its beneficial action, as has also been demonstrated in this study.

The separation of the oligosaccharides to select the most suitable is done through a technique called gel permeation chromatography, with which the particles are separated according to the size of their molecules and thus to obtain the smaller ones. These are the ones that have been used in bacterial cultures, confirming the beneficial action in the proliferation of these microorganisms present in the intestinal flora.

Specifically, following tests on bacterial strains, the experts determined that low molecular weight xylooligosaccharides are the most suitable ones to become potentiators of the bacterial action in the organism.

The project has been funded by the National Research Plan of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the program to support R&D&I activities at the University of Jaén.


Reference:
Encarnación Ruiz, Beatriz Gullón, Patrícia Moura, Florbela Carvalheiro, Gemma Eibes, Cristóbal Cara, Eulogio Castro. "Bifidobacterial growth stimulation by oligosaccharides generated from olive tree pruning biomass". Carbohydrate Polymers

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