Dietary fiber and the gut microbiome: the role of prebiotics, probiotics and metabiotic

A diet rich in fiber is essential for a healthy lifestyle, to maintain gut health and to boost our immune system. When we consume foods rich in fiber we help the gut microbiome to flourish, perform its important functions, and give us health.

However, across the western world, our dietary fiber intake is steadily declining. Only a small percentage of the population consume the recommended daily intake of 28-35 grams – the majority consume significantly less fiber.

Fiber is found in a range of foods, but it is mainly found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds and pulses. It is therefore important to include such foods in our daily menu.

Unlike other macronutrients in food, such as fat and protein, fiber is not broken down, absorbed or assimilated by our body and digestive enzymes. Instead, they pass through intact by the time they reach the large intestine or colon. There, the gut microbiome breaks down some of them, digests them and uses them to fuel itself, the gut wall and other important processes throughout our body.

Types of fiber

There are over 100 different types of fiber in plant-based foods, but scientists have gone on to group them into two main categories:

  1. Soluble fiber: This form of fiber dissolves in water and helps lower cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood.
  2. Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber promotes mobility in the digestive tract and increases stool volume. It helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids.

The importance of fiber for the health of the gut microbiome

Fibre is also important for maintaining the health of the gut microbiome. Essential (good) gut bacteria feed on fibre, allowing our microflora to thrive and grow. But when there is a lack of fibre, these bacteria begin to break down the layer of mucus in our gut and use it as an energy source. This process poses risks to our health, as, the layers of mucus and the gut wall are essential for controlling inflammation, and for preventing digestive problems – even controlling chronic conditions such as autoimmune diseases and bowel cancer.

Our gut microbiome is a constantly changing system, so optimizing our diet and lifestyle can help change it for the better. The development of our gut microbiome is based on fibre, which improves our gut in three key areas:


Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics, since they cannot be digested by the human body. They help maintain a healthy digestive system and are found in whole grains, bananas, asparagus, garlic, garlic, legumes, oatmeal, honey and onions.

Prebiotics also help reduce obesity, reduce the risk of diabetes and reduce the risk of several chronic diseases.


According to the World Health Organization, probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in “adequate quantities, provide health benefits to the host.” Essentially, they are live beneficial microbes that we add directly to our gut.

Consuming probiotics can help boost the number of healthy microbiomes in our gut. This in turn promotes microbial diversity and helps keep pathogens under control.

Probiotics and the chemicals they produce are responsible for regulating many of our body’s functions. They can help with digestion and boost our immune system. Probiotics are mainly found in fermented foods such as tempeh (made from fermented soybeans), miso paste, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kefir, and many other foods.


When the body consumes prebiotics and the microbes in our gut digest them and use them for their own energy needs, they also produce certain by-product molecules known as metabolites. These molecules, along with dead cells, are known as postbiotics. These provide our body with a number of health-protecting benefits, including:

  • Vitamin B and K
  • Short-chain fatty acids that maintain gut wall health and support metabolism
  • Antimicrobial molecules
  • Bacterial fragments that boost the immune system

As long as you take enough prebiotics and probiotics, you are helping your gut microbiome create the metabiotic needed for a healthy gut.

Hemorrhoids: invasive and conservative treatment – natural remedies

Hemorrhoids are a normal and necessary part of our body (veins and arteries that exist in the anus to ensure continence and tightness), but it has become common to say “I have hemorrhoids” when we actually mean “I have hemorrhoid disease”.

This condition in hemorrhoids is not dangerous in itself (unless there is anemia and a lot of bleeding), but it is very embarrassing and can be accompanied by pain. When hemorrhoids develop hemorrhoidal disease, this means that they swell and prevent the bowel from functioning properly, with regard to stools. But they also hinder outside the toilet, as – depending on whether they are external or internal – they can cause discomfort and/or discomfort, in a sitting position.

When hemorrhoids are in an early stage, conservative treatment and/or natural remedies are used to treat them. If the hemorrhoids are chronic and cannot be treated otherwise, then the patient should seek treatment through the least invasive method.

As the safest and most effective, I recommend laser surgery, which I have successfully applied to thousands of cases, as it leaves the sphincter intact and immediately restores the hemorrhoids to their previous normal state, shrinking the swelling by “hitting” them with thermal energy.

Before referring to the pharmaceutical and physical treatment of hemorrhoids, it is important to clarify in a clear and unequivocal manner that:

  • No modern treatment for hemorrhoidal disease allows their removal. Deformed hemorrhoids are treated, not removed
  • With mildly invasive laser surgery, performed by an experienced surgeon, the treatment of hemorrhoiditis is completely safe and does not cause any kind of complication
  • The laser, with the right method applied, can treat any case and scale of hemorrhoidal disease

Drug treatment for hemorrhoids

If the hemorrhoidal disease is low grade (level 1 or 2) and has not become a chronic condition, then we start with conservative treatment and/or natural therapies. Medication treatment includes applying special creams to the affected area.

Natural treatments for haemorrhoids

Natural treatments for hemorrhoids, if, as mentioned above, haemorrhoidal disease is not a chronic condition, aim to relieve symptoms and include the following:

  • Hydrobaths: Relieve itching and irritation and are done as follows
  • Cauterization and pain relief stimulants and fiber intake through diet and supplements (with plenty of water) to soften the stools and make them easier to expel, reducing bleeding and inflammation

Take steps to prevent flare-ups

Do not delay going to the toilet. This causes congestion in the stools, pressure and straining in the bowel, and therefore an exacerbation in hemorrhoids.

Sit properly. Do not sit on the toilet for hours. This pushes the hemorrhoids out and makes them swell. One way to help the situation is to place your feet (while sitting on the toilet) on a stool. This position changes the position of the rectum, making it easier for stool to pass through. Also, avoid sitting on a chair or hard surface because it exacerbates the swelling. If you can’t avoid it use a pillow.

Maintain hygiene of the area. After each bowel movement, you can gently wipe the anal area with an amalgam pad (see below what it is), a soothing baby wipe or a cotton cloth soaked in warm water until it is completely clean. If you feel irritation after voiding, apply petroleum jelly or Aloe Vera gel to the area.

Hemorrhoids and herbs

The treatment of hemorrhoids using herbs is nothing new. Already since ancient times, and in various cultures, herbs have been widely used by physicians of the respective times. What should not surprise us is that modern research also seems to confirm the therapeutic properties of certain herbs for the treatment of hemorrhoids.

The most important of the herbs used for the relief of hemorrhoids are:

  • Oak bark: oak bark has been used as a haemostatic agent in the past. It has the ability to stop or slow down bleeding, has anti-inflammatory properties, serves as an astringent and relieves itching. It has been reported that adding oak bark to bath water has a soothing effect on painful hemorrhoids.
  • Achillea: Achillea millefolium (yarrow) is another plant, which has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. After boiling it we can apply it to the area.
  • Butcher’s Broom: it comes from the plant Ruscus Aculeatus, and for the treatment of hemorrhoids we use the root of the plant. It has anti-inflammatory properties and stimulates blood circulation in the vessels.
  • Hamamelis: Hamamelis is a plant that is widely used for the treatment of hemorrhoidal disease. In fact, it is the key ingredient in several commercial creams that we purchase for the relief of hemorrhoids. A combination of the leaves and root of the plant is used, and can be used for both internal hemorrhoids (suppository) and external hemorrhoids (ointment).
  • Aesculus hippocastanum: Aesculus hippocastanum is a plant with anti-inflammatory action, which facilitates blood circulation. It strengthens the capillaries and reinforces the permeable walls of veins, so it is used to relieve symptoms in varicose veins, varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

The use of herbs and plants for hemorrhoids may prove to be a good alternative to medicines and ointments. However, even natural ingredients such as herbs may have side effects and undesirable effects. Therefore, it is recommended that you consult an expert before using any of the above.

Note 1: There is no point in sticking to conservative treatment if it does not work.

Note 2: In any case, always remember that not all cases of hemorrhoids are the same. This is why their classification in grades has prevailed. For some cases, surgery is the only solution to permanently get rid of the discomfort of hemorrhoids, always by treating (shrinking with laser thermal energy) them and not by removing them.


Stress: How you can reduce it with simple daily changes

Stress refers to your body’s reaction to challenges and demands. It can be positive or negative, it can be temporary or prolonged or even become chronic!

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. We all experience stress, which can be triggered by a range of events, from minor daily inconveniences to major changes such as divorce or job loss. The reaction to stress varies from anxiety to fear or anger, and can of course be accompanied by physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. Although we often think of it as negative, stress can also come from positive changes in your life, such as a promotion at work or having a new baby.

How can we manage stress in healthy ways?

Stress serves an important purpose: it makes us react quickly to threats and risks. However, prolonged exposure to stress can have effects on our mental and physical health. A plethora of research confirms that elevated levels of stress prevent the body from coping with a physical ailment. Getting rid of stress completely is not possible, but it is possible to manage it in healthy ways, such as the following:

  1. Eat right. It sounds obvious, yet it is not as important as it should be. A truly proper diet, tailored to our needs and with proper vitamin supplementation where it may be needed, is key to proper hormonal balance and a good mood. (Overeating and drinking may only temporarily mitigate stress, but in the long term they exacerbate it).
  2. Exercise regularly. This too sounds obvious, yet it is also not as important as it should be. Our bodies were not made to sit. It needs daily exercise. If you can’t do aerobic exercise, which has been shown to help us secrete endorphins (hormones that make us feel better), weights or yoga, and simple daily walking is a great solution. Especially if you’re hitting the 7,000 steps a day.
  3. Do not smoke and do not use nicotine products. Nicotine users claim that this substance relieves their stress, but it actually does the opposite as it stimulates the body and reduces blood circulation and breathing.
  4. Study and practice relaxation techniques. Taking time to relax every day helps manage stress and protect the body from the effects of stress. You can choose from a variety of techniques such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation. There are many online and smart phone apps that provide guidance on these techniques – although some involve a cost to purchase, many are available for free.
  5. If you are like most people, your life can be filled with too many demands and too little time. Usually this results from choices we make and poor time management. So you need to manage your time better by prioritising and asking for a helping hand when it is needed. In general, take the time you need and take care of yourself.
  6. ΜDon’t do things that go against your values or force you to make compromises you are not comfortable with. The more your actions reflect your beliefs, the better you will feel, no matter how busy your daily life is.
  7. Claim your space and time. It’s perfectly okay to say “NO” to stressful demands that require your personal time and energy. You don’t always have to meet the expectations of others.
  8. Set realistic goals and expectations. It’s okay – and healthy – to realize that you can’t be 100% successful at everything at the same time. Be aware of the things you can control and try to accept what you can’t control.
  9. Encourage yourself and have healthy self-confidence. In stressful situations, always remind him that there are things you can do well, and identify what they are.

If the stress you are experiencing has become chronic and you can no longer reduce it in the ways mentioned above, then you should seek the help of a mental health professional to help you in a more effective way.

Chronic constipation: Is your gut trying to tell you something?

Chronic constipation

Chronic constipation is a phenomenon that is seen quite often, especially in Western societies. There are several criteria by which constipation is defined, the most important of which are:

  1. Difficulty in voiding at least once in 4 stools
  2. Difficulty in passing stools at least once in every 4 stools
  3. Two or fewer stools per week for several weeks
  4. Feeling that the bowel movement is insufficient at least once in every 4 stools

Usually, constipation is a transient and mild symptom. However, when we are talking about chronic constipation, the symptoms are more intense and their impact on the quality of life of the person is more decisive.

How lifestyle and diet can cause constipation

If you suffer from constipation, it is likely that it is caused by your lifestyle and diet. Poor diet, lack of exercise and insufficient hydration are the most common and important causes of constipation. Therefore, before anything else, try to regulate these three factors.

Some things you can do immediately to help with the issue of constipation are:

  • πLimit your consumption of dairy products, fatty meats and sausages
  • Limit your consumption of processed foods and sugar
  • Eat more fiber-rich foods
  • Make sure you keep your body sufficiently hydrated
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine
  • Start gentle exercise for at least 30 minutes every day
  • Do not postpone your visit to the toilet

If you make all these changes and still have constipation problems, it is possible that your symptoms are caused by another condition. In particular, if the constipation is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vision problems, hair loss, fatigue, sudden weight changes, abdominal cramps, etc., then it is even more likely that you have another condition, and it is necessary to see your doctor immediately.

The most important of these possible conditions are:

1. Hypothyroidism

When your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, it can have a drastic effect on your metabolism. A slow metabolism results in a slowing down of the entire digestive process, which leads to constipation.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism develop slowly over time and, in addition to constipation, may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Weight gain
  • Irregular menstrual periods in women
  • Thinning hair
  • Brittle nails
  • Impaired memory
  • Swollen face

2. Diabetes

Like hypothyroidism, diabetes is also a hormonal problem. In diabetes, your body stops producing enough insulin, a hormone that allows the body to break down blood sugar.

The high blood sugar levels seen in type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage. Damage to the nerves that control the digestive tract can lead to constipation.

It is imperative that diabetes is diagnosed as early as possible. The symptoms of diabetes will worsen if not treated. Along with constipation, watch out for other symptoms such as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive and persistent thirst
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

3. Irritable bowel syndrome

Constipation can be the result of a bowel disease known as irritable bowel syndrome. The exact cause of the syndrome is not yet clear, but it is thought to be the result of problems arising from the way the brain and the gut interact with each other.

In addition to constipation, other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Occasional diarrhea (urgent)
  • Presence of mucus in the stool

4. Stress

When you are anxious or stressed, your body goes into what psychologists call “fight or flight” mode.

Our autonomic nervous system is tasked with regulating our involuntary bodily functions (digestion, cardio respiratory activity, excretions, etc.). It consists of two parts, which counteract each other in order to maintain a balance: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

When we feel anxiety, stress, worry, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. With its activation, bodily functions such as digestion are put on hold.

If this state is maintained for a long time and the stress does not subside – also called generalized anxiety disorder – then the digestive process of the body is affected.

Other symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Excessive anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

5. Depression

People who suffer from depression quite often experience symptoms of constipation. The cause is not the depression itself but is due to changes in their lifestyle and diet due to depression. Most of the time these people reduce physical activity (they may stay in bed all day) and start eating more foods that are high in sugar and fat.

Other symptoms of depression are:

  • Feelings of despair, worthlessness, hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced appetite

6. Pregnancy

Of course, pregnancy is not a medical condition. But it is included here among the causes that can cause constipation because it is common in pregnant women. It is estimated that at least 40% of pregnant women suffer from constipation during their pregnancy.

This is due to the fact that their body produces more of the hormone progesterone, which makes it difficult for the muscles of the bowel to contract.

Other conditions associated with chronic constipation

There are other conditions associated with constipation, such as:

  • Hypercalcemia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Colon cancer
  • Injury of the spine
  • Stroke
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Low potassium (hypokalemia)
  • Rectocele
  • Prolapse of the Rectum

Some of these conditions are very serious and require immediate medical attention.

Celiac disease: The gluten intolerance that is important to detect in time – See the most common symptoms

Celiac disease (gluten intolerance) is a relatively common small bowel disease caused by gluten consumption. Gluten is a type of protein found in cereals (wheat, oats, rye, etc.). When these foods are consumed by people with this particular intolerance, an immune response is triggered in the body, which in turn causes inflammation and damage to the small intestine.

This is a disease that mainly affects Europeans and the countries of America and Oceania, where the descendants of European immigrants make up a large proportion of the population. In the USA, for example, it is estimated that 1% of the population suffers from gluten intolerance, while in some European countries the figure is even higher.

It is still not known why some people develop this intolerance but it seems that there must be a genetic background for it.

Celiac disease is a serious disease which can cause serious symptoms, including malabsorption of essential nutrients. Generally, it affects each individual differently and symptoms and their intensity may vary.

The most common symptoms of celiac disease

The most common symptoms and signs of celiac disease are:

  1. Chronic diarrhea
  2. Flatulence (increased gas in the gastrointestinal system)
  3. Constipation
  4. Gas
  5. Fatigue
  6. Weight loss and vomiting
  7. Iron deficiency anemia
  8. Anxiety / Depression
  9. Hives rash
  10. Osteopenia / Osteoporosis
  11. Infertility (sterility in men and recurrent miscarriages in women)
  12. Loss of enamel on teeth
  13. Growth problems in children
  14. Joint pains

Is celiac disease dangerous for the life of the person?

In people who develop the disease, and if they continue to consume gluten, damage to the lining of the intestine occurs. The consequence of the destruction of the mucous membrane is the inability to digest food properly and the non-absorption of nutrients that are essential for the health of every human being. This results in chronic malnutrition of the individual and deficiencies of essential nutrients such as proteins and vitamins. Therefore, gluten intolerance is dangerous to human life and people suffering from it should avoid eating it.

Is celiac disease curable?

There is only one cure for celiac disease and that is to remove gluten from the patient’s diet. Once the patient starts eating only gluten free foods (Gluten Free), the lining of the intestine will gradually begin to repair itself. Most people will see an immediate partial resolution of their symptoms, but it may take 1 to 2 years after removing gluten from the diet to fully repair the damage done to the gut.