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Can I stop cold sores happening before I get them?

Q: I'VE been feeling run down lately due to work stress and have been suffering with recurring cold sores. Is there any way to prevent cold sores from happening?

SUPPORTING immune function is central to the treatment and prevention of cold sores. The cold-sore virus is opportunistic, rearing its ugly head when our bodies are placed under stress. Unfortunately, carriers of the virus are carriers for life. However, there are a few simple steps that you can take to help prevent outbreaks and speed up healing.

A herpes outbreak often occurs when our immune system is down so it's important to support your immunity with vitamin C. Aim to eat at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables per day. Foods that are particularly high in vitamin C include strawberries, kiwis, peppers and broccoli. Try to avoid over consuming acidic foods such as dairy, wheat, sugar, preserved and processed foods.

There are two amino acids, found naturally in food, that influence herpes outbreaks: they are arginine and lysine. Lysine is an amino acid that prevents the replication of the cold-sore virus. Lysine-rich foods include: fish, chicken, kidney beans, eggs, fruit and vegetables.

Arginine is a food source for the virus -- it thrives on it. Arginine-rich foods include: chocolate, peanuts, seeds, oats and coconut.

So, I recommend eating a diet low in arginine and high in lysine. You might also consider taking lysine in supplement form if you are under increased stress or experiencing severe weather changes.

QI heard that eating seaweed is good for your health. I'd like to give it a try but I don't know where to start, any advice?

ASeaweeds can be an excellent addition to your diet. There is a great variety, some of which are harvested in Ireland. Some examples of popular seaweeds include: dulse, nori, wakame, kombu and arame. They have high mineral contents and can be useful for lowering cholesterol levels. They can also help cleanse the blood and strengthen liver function. Seaweeds also have high amounts of important minerals such as calcium, iodine and iron.

Dulse, harvested in Ireland, is high in iodine which is essential for proper thyroid function. It's also higher in iron than green vegetables. When soaked, it has a lovely purple colour and goes well with soups such as miso.

Kombu is also harvested in Ireland. When dried, it comes in hard, dark green strips. It has detoxification properties and promotes the growth of hair and a clear complexion. Kombu is delicious as deep-fried crisps which are easy to make.

Simply soak the Kombu in water for one hour then drain and wipe off excess liquid. Cut into one-inch pieces and deep fry in very hot oil until crisp. Drain and sprinkle with a little sea salt.

Elsa Jones is a qualified nutritional therapist. She offers one-to-one consultations to treat your individual health concerns. www.elsajones nutrition.ie