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Ask Elsa on nutrition

Q I've been reading about low-carb diets and food combining lately and would like to know your opinion on them. I'd love to lose some weight as well as boost my mood and energy. Any advice?

A Food-combining diets separate protein foods from carbohydrate foods. Nature doesn't. Beans, lentils, nuts and seeds all contain both and the healthiest nations of the world are the nut, bean and seed eaters.

Combining protein with carbohydrate slows down the release of sugars from a meal to the blood stream, which helps stabilise blood sugar levels and hence helps control weight and overall health.

In addition, cutting carbohydrates can also have a detrimental effect on your mood. Wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice and oats contain crucial B vitamins which nourish our nervous system and play a key role in serotonin production. Serotonin is known as the 'happy hormone' and is what helps us feel calm and content.

If you want to maintain a healthy weight and boost your mood and energy, I'd recommend that you follow a low-GI style of eating which encourages a healthy balance of protein and carbohydrates.

A balanced dinner plate should be a quarter full of protein, a quarter full of carbohydrate and half full of vegetables.

Q I've been suffering with rosacea and facial flushing for most of my adult life. I'm quite self conscious about it and would love to know if changing my diet might help.

ARosacea is a common skin condition which typically involves redness around the nose and cheeks. Facial flushing is a classic symptom, particularly during the early stages. There is no definitive cause or cure for rosacea but diet can certainly help minimise flare ups.

Cooling the blood down by consuming cooling foods rather than heating foods may help to reduce symptoms for you. Foods which cool are predominantly fruit and vegetables such as lemon, grapefruit, pineapple, cucumber and broccoli. Natural yogurt, brown rice and herbs such as mint and sage are also cooling.

Food and drinks which stimulate heat are tea, coffee, alcohol, chilli, spices, red meat and sugar. Keep a food diary and note when symptoms occur. After a while, a pattern may emerge which shows the trigger foods.

Essential fatty acids may also help to reduce the inflammation causing the symptoms, so I would advise you to add two tablespoons of ground flaxseed to porridge in the morning and snack on raw nuts and seeds during the day. Aim to eat three portions of oily fish per week and use extra virgin olive oil and avocadoes in salads.

If stress may be a contributing factor, take up a daily stress management technique such as meditation or psychocalisthenics.

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