Archive for January 2020


Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.  

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. 

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. 

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.



The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on the traditional cuisine of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Many studies have shown that people who lived in the Mediterranean area (especially around the year 1960) were healthier and lived longer than the average.

This simply means that if someone wants to improve his health and his overall quality of life he should eat the same things that those people ate during that time.Ahe health benefits linked to the Mediterranean diet are supported by scientific evidence. It is associated with lower all-cause mortality and morbidity (disease occurrence), and has been linked to numerous health benefits, including a lower risk of cancer, cognitive disease and cardiovascular disease as well as metabolic syndrome, obesity, and type 2 diabetes”.

According to “the Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries like Italy and Greece back in 1960. Researchers noted that these people were exceptionally healthy compared to Americans and had a low risk of many lifestyle diseases”.

According to the Mayo Clinic “it is recognized by the World Health Organization as a healthy and sustainable dietary pattern and as an intangible cultural asset by the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization”.

In Greece we have two similar words but with a different meaning. The word “dieta” which means an eating schedule focused on weight loss and the word “diatrofi” from the words “dia” (through) and “trofi” (food) which means way of eating.

The Mediterranean diet is a complete, healthy way of eating focused on your well-being and not just on weight loss (though it can certainly help you lose weight).


It is mostly a way of life and not a restriction of calories. The Mediterranean diet won’t make you weight your chicken or count how many almonds you’ll eat. It will train you to choose fresh, whole foods packed with nutrients and flavor, foods that will satiate your hunger and make you feel full. Foods that won’t make you feel guilty after eating them.

The goal here is not to feel deprived, but to enjoy the taste and the aroma of each bite you take. And remember: foods taste better when they’re local, on season and fresh.


I know that exercise is not considered to be part of a diet, but one of the reasons the Mediterranean people were so healthy is because they did a lot of exercise. They worked in the fields most of the day and also walked long distances to get from one place to another.

I know that exercise is not always easy, especially for those of us who live in the city. But we have to start from somewhere and the progress will come with time.

Maybe you can get a bike or get off the bus one bus stop earlier and walk the rest of the way home. Maybe you can start going to the gym or download one of those free apps for working out at home. Maybe you can walk your friend’s dog or stop using the elevator. Anything is better than nothing.


The last thing I really don’t want to neglect mentioning is being in contact with nature. I honestly feel that our modern way of life has driven us away from nature, and this comes at a great cost.

I still remember my shock one day when I realized that I hadn’t stepped on soil for over a month. Was that the reason I was feeling disconnected and not fulfilled? Probably it wasn’t the sole factor, but it certainly played its part.

Being in close contact with nature makes us value the natural, unprocessed foods more. It also reduces our everyday stress and our anxiety levels, calms our spirit, helps our body to detoxify and gives us the right perspective of things.


  • Eat whole foods, fresh and seasonal.
  • Incorporate beans and legumes in your diet as often as you can. They ‘re the best source of plant-based protein.
  • Try to incorporate vegetables and greens in all of your dishes. Also, have a salad with every meal!
  • Eat fish and seafood twice a week (be mindful that today we have to be careful of the fish we eat because of the heavy metals they may contain).
  • Eat white meat once a week.
  • Eat red meat once a week or once every other week.
  • Eat fruit for dessert. Limit desserts containing sugar to once a week (maybe on Sundays).
  • Eat dairy (yogurt, feta cheese, milk) and eggs in moderation.
  • Eat products made with whole grains and whole-grain sourdough bread.
  • Wherever you can add herbs and spices do it!
  • Drink lots of water and herbal teas without sugar or sweeteners (maybe add a bit of honey).
  • Drink one glass of red wine 3 – 4 times per week (ask your doctor first).
  • Walk as much as you can and exercise 3-4 times a week.
  • Try to reduce your everyday stress by being close to nature (hug a tree!)


Olive oil is the primary source of added fat in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat, which has been found to lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

If you live in a place where olive oil is too expensive and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, I suggest buying extra virgin olive oil and use half of it and half of another vegetable oil (like sunflower or corn oil) rather than buying a refined, lower quality olive oil. In this article you can find more information about the types of olive oil.

If you can incorporate other healthy sources of fat in your eating plan like nuts, tahini, avocado, feel free to do it.



  • Added sugar: soda, candies, table sugar and many others.
  • Refined grains.
  • Trans fats (a.k.a. hydrogenated fat) like margarine.
  • Refined oils.
  • Processed meat and processed foods in general.
  • Buying bottled lemon juice and bagged salad (of course it’s better to buy a packaged salad than not buying any at all).


Incorporating all those whole foods, vegetables and fresh fruit to your diet will increase your fiber intake something that can help you feel satiated with less food. Eating nutrient dense and unprocessed foods will also help you decrease the amount of calories you eat every day.

That’s why the Mediterranean diet has been linked to increased weight loss, decreased inflammation, and a lower risk of chronic disease. But keep in mind that as with every other diet, in order to lose weight you must be in a caloric deficit.


Yes you can! As long as you make a whole wheat pizza dough and use many vegetables and some feta cheese.


One glass of red wine 3 – 4 times a week is okay! But don’t forget to drink lots of water too!


One or two cups of black coffee per day are okay. Try to also drink some cups of herbal tea throughout the weak.

FODMAPs diet for irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects 1 out of 10 people in the United States each year.

With symptoms like cramping, diarrhea, gas and bloating, it’s no surprise that living with IBS can have a significant effect on a person’s quality of life.

Diet is one way people manage the symptoms of IBS. A common treatment approach is to avoid the foods that trigger symptoms. A new diet for IBS, developed in Australia, is showing promise in managing IBS symptoms. It’s called the low FODMAP diet.

What Is the Low FODMAP Diet?

FODMAP stands for:





And olyols.

These fermentable short-chain carbohydrates are prevalent in the diet.

  • Oligosaccharides: fructans and galactooligosaccharides (GOS)
  • Disaccharides: lactose
  • Monosaccharides: fructose
  • Polyols: sorbitol and mannitol

Researchers suggest that the small intestine does not absorb FODMAPs very well. They increase the amount of fluid in the bowel. They also create more gas. That’s because bacteria in the colon they are easily fermented by colonic bacteria. The increased fluid and gas in the bowel leads to bloating and changes in the speed with which food is digested. This results in gas, pain and diarrhea. Eating less of these types of carbohydrates should decrease these symptoms.

So far, studies have shown that a low FODMAP diet improves IBS symptoms. One study even found that 76% of IBS patients following the diet reported improvement with their symptoms.

Eat Less Of These Foods

  • Lactose
    • Cow’s milk, yogurt, pudding, custard, ice cream, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese and mascarpone
  • Fructose
    • Fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches, cherries, mangoes, pears and watermelon
    • Sweeteners, such as honey and agave nectar
    • Products with high fructose corn syrup
  • Fructans
    • Vegetables, such as artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beetroot, garlic and onions
    • Grains such as wheat and rye
    • Added fiber, such as inulin
  • GOS
    • Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and soy products
    • Vegetables, such as broccoli
  • Polyols
    • Fruits, such as apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, nectarines, pears, peaches, plums and watermelon
    • Vegetables, such as cauliflower, mushrooms and snow peas
    • Sweeteners, such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol and isomalt found in sugar-free gum and mints, and cough medicines and drops

Eat More Of These Foods

  • Dairy: Lactose-free milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, lactose-free yogurt; hard cheeses such as feta and brie
  • Fruit: Bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, honeydew, kiwi, lemon, lime, oranges and strawberries
  • Vegetables: Bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bok choy, carrots, chives, cucumbers, eggplant, ginger, lettuce, olives, parsnips, potatoes, spring onions and turnips
  • Protein: Beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs and tofu
  • Nuts/seeds (limit to 10-15 each): Almonds, macadamia, peanuts, pine nuts and walnuts
  • Grain: Oat, oat bran, rice bran, gluten-free pasta, such as rice, corn, quinoa, white rice, corn flour and quinoa

The idea behind the low FODMAPs diet is to only limit the problematic foods in a category — not all of them. (After all, they do have health benefits.) You may tolerate some foods better than others.

Meet with a registered dietician if you are considering this diet. It’s important to make sure your eating plan is safe and healthy. He or she will have you eliminate FODMAPs from your diet. Then you gradually add the carbohydrates back in one at a time and monitor your symptoms. A food diary and symptom chart may be helpful tools.

The Bottom Line

The low FODMAP diet has shown potential in helping people with IBS. Some health professionals believe it’s too restrictive. Proponents of the diet report that people stick with it because of how it improves their quality of life.

Inguinal hernia

An inguinal hernia occurs when tissue, such as part of the intestine, protrudes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles. The resulting bulge can be painful, especially when you cough, bend over or lift a heavy object.

An inguinal hernia isn’t necessarily dangerous. It doesn’t improve on its own, however, and can lead to life-threatening complications. Your doctor is likely to recommend surgery to fix an inguinal hernia that’s painful or enlarging. Inguinal hernia repair is a common surgical procedure.


Inguinal hernia signs and symptoms include:

  • A bulge in the area on either side of your pubic bone, which becomes more obvious when you’re upright, especially if you cough or strain
  • A burning or aching sensation at the bulge
  • Pain or discomfort in your groin, especially when bending over, coughing or lifting
  • A heavy or dragging sensation in your groin
  • Weakness or pressure in your groin
  • Occasionally, pain and swelling around the testicles when the protruding intestine descends into the scrotum

Signs and symptoms in children

Inguinal hernias in newborns and children result from a weakness in the abdominal wall that’s present at birth. Sometimes the hernia will be visible only when an infant is crying, coughing or straining during a bowel movement. He or she might be irritable and have less appetite than usual.

In an older child, a hernia is likely to be more apparent when the child coughs, strains during a bowel movement or stands for a long period.

Signs of trouble

If you aren’t able to push the hernia in, the contents of the hernia may be trapped (incarcerated) in the abdominal wall. An incarcerated hernia can become strangulated, which cuts off the blood flow to the tissue that’s trapped. A strangulated hernia can be life-threatening if it isn’t treated.

Signs and symptoms of a strangulated hernia include:

  • Nausea, vomiting or both
  • Fever
  • Sudden pain that quickly intensifies
  • A hernia bulge that turns red, purple or dark
  • Inability to move your bowels or pass gas

When to see a doctor

Seek immediate care if a hernia bulge turns red, purple or dark or if you notice any other signs or symptoms of a strangulated hernia.

See your doctor if you have a painful or noticeable bulge in your groin on either side of your pubic bone. The bulge is likely to be more noticeable when you’re standing, and you usually can feel it if you put your hand directly over the affected area.


Some inguinal hernias have no apparent cause. Others might occur as a result of:

  • Increased pressure within the abdomen
  • A pre-existing weak spot in the abdominal wall
  • Straining during bowel movements or urination
  • Strenuous activity
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic coughing or sneezing

In many people, the abdominal wall weakness that leads to an inguinal hernia occurs at birth when the abdominal lining (peritoneum) doesn’t close properly. Other inguinal hernias develop later in life when muscles weaken or deteriorate due to aging, strenuous physical activity or coughing that accompanies smoking.

Weaknesses can also occur in the abdominal wall later in life, especially after an injury or abdominal surgery.

In men, the weak spot usually occurs in the inguinal canal, where the spermatic cord enters the scrotum. In women, the inguinal canal carries a ligament that helps hold the uterus in place, and hernias sometimes occur where connective tissue from the uterus attaches to tissue surrounding the pubic bone.

Risk factors

Factors that contribute to developing an inguinal hernia include:

  • Being male. Men are eight times more likely to develop an inguinal hernia than are women.
  • Being older. Muscles weaken as you age.
  • Being white.
  • Family history. You have a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, who has the condition.
  • Chronic cough, such as from smoking.
  • Chronic constipation. Constipation causes straining during bowel movements.
  • Pregnancy. Being pregnant can weaken the abdominal muscles and cause increased pressure inside your abdomen.
  • Premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Previous inguinal hernia or hernia repair. Even if your previous hernia occurred in childhood, you’re at higher risk of developing another inguinal hernia.


Complications of an inguinal hernia include:

  • Pressure on surrounding tissues. Most inguinal hernias enlarge over time if not repaired surgically. In men, large hernias can extend into the scrotum, causing pain and swelling.
  • Incarcerated hernia. If the contents of the hernia become trapped in the weak point in the abdominal wall, it can obstruct the bowel, leading to severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and the inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas.
  • Strangulation. An incarcerated hernia can cut off blood flow to part of your intestine. Strangulation can lead to the death of the affected bowel tissue. A strangulated hernia is life-threatening and requires immediate surgery.


You can’t prevent the congenital defect that makes you susceptible to an inguinal hernia. You can, however, reduce strain on your abdominal muscles and tissues. For example:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about the best exercise and diet plan for you.
  • Emphasize high-fiber foods. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain fiber that can help prevent constipation and straining.
  • Lift heavy objects carefully or avoid heavy lifting. If you must lift something heavy, always bend from your knees — not your waist.
  • Stop smoking. Besides its role in many serious diseases, smoking often causes a chronic cough that can lead to or aggravate an inguinal hernia.