We interviewed Doctor María Mimbrero, graduate of Medicine and Surgery from the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, and specialist in Cardiology from Hospital Clinic de Barcelona. Currently, she is working as a fellow of cardiac imaging in the very same centre. She spreads the word about plant-based, vegetarian, and vegan diets through her instagram account @veggybeats.
Dr. Mimbrero, what was living through the Covid-19 crisis like for you?
It was a shock to see how, suddenly, the whole hospital infrastructure altered to be able to take in all the infected patients. Almost all the floors and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) became space for those infected with Covid, and all the doctors, regardless of specialisation, became “Covidologists”. In one week I went from working as a cardiologist with stable patients, to working in a Covid-ICU with patients in a serious condition afflicted by a disease unknown to us all. Luckily, together we made a great team, and although I still felt uncertain and afraid, almost all our patients recovered, and that gave us strength to continue.
You say on your social media “My passion is to prevent, rather than cure”. How does that translate to your day-to-day medical practice?
Unfortunately, the majority of my patients come to me when their bad habits have already made a mark on their health in the form of atherosclerosis in the arteries of the heart. What I then do is educate them so that they can avoid further occurrences, making them responsible for their own health, and giving them the tools to learn to feed themselves better and do more exercise. These little changes can save their lives.
Your speciality is cardiology. Does what we eat affect our cardiac health, and if so, how can we improve it?
Our diet is clearly reflected in our health. Nowadays, a poor diet is the cause of cardiovascular death and cancer, that’s just a fact. The basis of a diet to prevent these types of diseases is vegetables, science confirms that. The majority of what we ingest on a daily basis should be derived from vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Let’s suppose that it’s too early to tell what factors have made the effects of a case of Covid-19 worse, but in your professional opinion what are the factors that should be investigated?
We have seen that being overweight, obese, and the risk factors associated with them (hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol) are factors which worsen the outlook for a patient with Covid-19.
Are you concerned that there may be another wave of the same virus?
Further outbreaks are talked about, but we can’t predict anything; we live day to day.
What can we do at a personal level to avoid future pandemics?
On the one hand, we can improve the diet of the population by taking measures so that everybody has access to a healthier diet based principally on vegetables. This would improve their immune systems and make them less vulnerable to future pandemics. On the other hand, we must reduce drastically the global consumption of meat so we can eradicate the intensive livestock farming industry. The overcrowding and mistreatment of animals creates a petri dish to generate new viruses.
Finally, on a more personal note, when did you become a vegetarian and decide to start spreading the word about health with diet as the focus?
I started to eat more vegetables for health reasons and progressively diminished the amount of meat. At the same time I learned about the effects of factory farming on the environment and animal abuse, and meat simply lost its appeal. I don’t want to eat cruelty and suffering. Discovering that we can avoid so many diseases and improve our planet with our diet made me decide to try and help people improve their diet, empowering them with quality information and delicious recipes.
If you would also like to know how to take pandemics off your plate and transition to a plant-based diet which respects other animals, you can try veganism for 31 days: click HERE.