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The advantages of a Mediterranean Diet

Posted by Xanit Internacional Xanit Internacional | Posted in Pediatrics | Posted on 17-09-2015



It is certain that we will have over indulged with our food during the summer. Therefore, now that we are in September we are interviewing Dr. Rafael Estrada, a dietician at Vithas Xanit in order that he can offer us key points on how to eat well, and to discover more about the mediterranean diet.

The summer is a period of many changes in our routine, particularly when it comes to diet. Could you give us some advice as to how we can return to our normal weight?

Although the ideal scenario is that our weight remains constant throughout the year, the best way to lose the excess gained during the summer is to reduce our calorie intake and to take part in physical exercise. Other useful advise is to consume carbohydrates throughout the day in order to stabilise our glycemic index. This means that we will not be overly hungry between meals. We should choose to eat unrefined foods, in order to increase the consumption of fibre, and to keep us more satisfied.  In order to reduce the number of calories consumed, we also need to reduce the quantities of general fat in our diet.

We should avoid fried and battered foods, as well as sauces, and opt for grilled and  roasted food, and ítems cooked in greaseproof paper. After the holidays it is also important to get back into the habit of daily physical excercise in order for the elimination of fat to be effective. It is recommended that we take part in aerobic excercise, such as walking or running at a gente trot (in this way we avoid injury to the body).

Why is the mediterranean diet so ideal and complete?

The mediterranean diet is a way of life. It combines ingredients grown locally, recipes, individual cooking methods in each area, the sharing of food, celebrations and traditions. These methods combined with moderate daily physical excercise, and a favourable climate make up this style of living which modern science encourages us to adopt in order to benefit our health, making it an excellent model for a healthy life. Furthermore, apart from the simplicity and variety of the diet, the cultural heritage has resulted in a balanced and complete combination of foods, based upon fresh and local produce, which whenever possible are seasonal.

It is characterised by an abundance of natural products, such as bread, pasta, rice, vegetables, pulses, fruits and dried fruit; olive oil as the principal source of fat; a moderate consumption of fish, seafood, free range poultry, dairy products (yogurt, cheeses) and eggs; as well as the consumption of small quantities of red meat accompanied by wine generally consumed during  mealtimes.

 What are the advantages of a mediterranean diet?

This type of diet is not only important for our health because it is blalanced, varied and supplies adequate macronutrients, but also because of its low levels of saturated fatty acids, and high levels of monoinsaturated fats, as well as the complex carbohydrates and fibre. Furthermore, the derivatives are also rich in antioxidents.

Why is it important to eat 5 times a day?

One of the main reasons why it is important to eat five times a day is that we should not leave such a long period between eating, as is the case if we only eat three times a day. Our bodies require more nutrition, and our appetite increases as we approach the next mealtime, as well as our anxiety levels which leads us to overindulge when we sit down to eat.

This form of compulsive eating is not recommended as we ingest large quantities of food without realising,  and our brains do not register that we are satisfied for at least 15 minutes after we start to eat. During this we have already eaten a lot of food with the intention of satisfying our hunger. The reality is that if we eat gradually throughout the day we consume less food, and don’t feel hungry.

Furthermore, this situation also results in our bodies accumulating more fat as the hunger prevents us from continuing with our daily activities. In order that this doesn’t reoccur, our bodies store reserves of fat, and our metabolisms adapt to our eating habits. If the body does not receive the energy that it requires from food, it stores reserves. Each time we eat, our reserves are stored to use later on.

Furthermore, if we are charged with energy our performance will be better over the course of the day., both in our daily lives and also when we are partaking in sporting activities. For this reason Vithas Xanit recommends that we consume five meals per day Furthermore, this is a good way of distributing the food, and not eating more than necessary.


Here are 10 tips to ensure that we are following  an adequate mediterannean diet…

  • Use olive oil (rich in vitamin E, beta-carotenes and monoinsaturated fatty acids) as the main source of fat. This has cardioprotective properties.


  • Consume vegetable based products in abundance (fruits, vegetables, pulses, mushrooms and dried fruits). The antioxidents and fibre in these foods prevent cardiovascular diseases and some forms of cancer.


  • Eat bread and cereals on a daily basis. These provide us with the necessary energy levels required to carry out our daily activities.


  • Increase the consumption of unprocessed, fresh and seasonal foods,


  • Consume dairy products on a daily basis, particularly yogurt and cheeses.


  • East meat at least two times a week as this contains proteins, iron, and animal fat in variable quantities.


  • Fish should be consumed in abundance, and eggs in moderation: Blue fish helps to protect us against cardiovascular diseases, and eggs contain important proteins, fats and many vitamins and minerals.


  • Fresh fruit should be consumed as the usual dessert choice. Cakes and pastries should only be eaten occasionally.


  • Water is the preferred drink in the mediterranean. Wine should be consumed in moderation, and during meals.


  • Physical excercise should be carried out daily, as this is just as important as eating an adequate diet: It is important to remain physically active, and to partake in physical excersice which suits our capabilities each day in order to conserve good health.


Dr. Rafael Estrada.

Dietician at  Vithas Xanit International Hospital

Caring for your heart

Posted by Xanit Internacional Xanit Internacional | Posted in cardiology with heart | Posted on 02-09-2015


Cuida tu Corazón

In 2013 under the leadership of the World Health Organisation (WHO), all 194 member states agreed upon a series of worldwide measures in order to reduce the inevitable costs associated with certain diseases. Two of these illnesses are related to cardiovascular diseases. The measures are designed to:

  • Reduce the worldwide prevelance of high blood pressure by 25%
  • Provide pharmaceutical treatment and advice (including checks to control glucemia levels) for at least 50% of people who require it. The objective being to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Prevention is one of the key factors in order to achieve these objectives.  There is no specific age at which we should begin to pay attention to our heart.  If there are no symptoms associated with cardiovascular disease it is recommended that the patient has a check-up of their heart between the ages of 45-50 years.  Furthermore, it is recommended that they repeat these tests every five years.  If the person practises sport on a regular basis then they should have a check-up when they are between the ages of 40-45 years, and a follow-up check every five years after this if there are no symptoms. Professional sportsmen and those persons participating in high intensity excercise on a regular basis should have cardiovascular sports check-up.

Sport is one of the best methods of preventing health problems. Training our heart reduces the risk of cardiopathies and all types of cardiovascular diseases. However, just because the persons practises sport regularly, this does not mean that they shouldn’t be aware of other lifestyle factors and their implication upon cardiovascular risks. These include following a diet which is low in fat and giving up smoking. These are two fundamental aspects of caring for our heart.

By practising moderate sport or exercise and following a healthy lifestyle the patient can see an immediate reduction of risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, obesity and hypercholesterolemia.  When practising sport the cholesterol levels generally reduce and the HDL increases (the good colesterol). This is also beneficial to patients with type II diabetes as the cells are more sensitive to the insulin.

Furthermore, physical exercise inproves the capacity of the heart, reducing the need for oxygen, and reducing blood pressure. In this way there is less need for medication, and an improved quality of life. It is recommended to carry out aerobic excercise between three and five times a week, in sessions of no less than 30 minutes, and to control the cardiac frequency in order that it is maintained within moderate levels. Those activities which are most recommended are: fast walking or running at a gentle pace, riding a bicycle or swimming. It is recommended that the intensity of this excercise is moderate, and involves moving major muscle groups.

Furthermore, by taking part in sport the person can better control their calorie intake, which results in weight loss, and improves the persons quality of life. This in turn has an influence on bad habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and a bad diet.

The following are healthy dietary recomendations in order to care for your heart:

  1. Reduce the consumption of dairy products. Between 2-4 portions of skimmed or remi-skimmed products per day, which do not account for more than 30% of the total calorie intake.
  2. Olive oil as a main source of fats. This is a monounsaturated and heart-healthy fat.  Extra virgin olive oil contains vitamin E and polyphenols (antioxidents) which prevent ageing and build up our defenses;  improve blood pressure, lower the bad LDL cholesterol, and increase the good HDL cholesterol. It is recommended to have 3 – 5 portions a day.
  3. Small amounts of meat products; a high consumption of fish and pulses as the main source of protein. Pulses contain very little fat and have 3 times more fibre than fruit. It is recommended to eat pulses 2 or 3 times a week as a main meal.  Fish is a source of high biological value protein, it contains few calories and little fat, except for blue fish which has the good polyunsaturated fats. It is recommended to eat fish 2 or 3 times a week. Red meat contains saturated fats which can increase cholesterol and tryglicerides when eaten in excess. Therefore it is recommended to only eat this occasionally
  4. Consume abundant quantities of cereals. It is recommended to eat between 4-6 portions per day in an unrefined form (bread, rice, pasta) as this has a higher concentration of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Unrefined cereals help to prevent diabetes and obesity as they enter the bloodstream in a progressive form, and do not provoke rises in insulin.
  5. High qualities of fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables provide us with vitamins and minerals (these stimulate the immune system and protect us against diseases). These contain fibre which has beneficial effects on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, as well as antioxidents, polyphenols, pytosterols, water, enzymes, etc.  These also prevent us against cardiovascular illnesses, prevent and improve diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. This is because the fibre adequatly metabolizes the fatty acids. It is recommended to consume 3 portions of fruit per day, always including some citrus fruit which contains the vitamin C which our bodies require, as well as 2 portions of vegetables per day, one cooked and the other raw (salad).
  6. Wine in moderate quantities and during mealtimes. A glass of wine with meals is good for the heart. Wine contains antioxidents which have an antiinflammatory and vasodilator effect. This also prevents vascular damage.
  7. Drink at least 1.5 – 2 litres of wáter per day.
  8. Reduce the consumption of salt to 3-5 gramms per day, give up smoking and moderate alcohol consumption.
  9. Limit the consumption of those products high in refined sugars, such as desserts, sweets and fizzy drinks.

Advice to care for our heart

  1. Give up smoking as soon as possible
  2. Maintain a healthy and balanced diet
  3. Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day
  4. Early detection of risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or hypercholesterolemia through regular medical check-ups.

Dr. Fernando Cabrera

Cardiologist at Vithas Xanit International Hospital