I’ve tried several ways to lose weight but nothing seems to work in the long term. Most recently, I embarked on a very low-carb diet. What is your advice?

So many of us cut down on carbs just to lose weight quickly. A very low-carb diet works like a shortcut to lose weight but it’s never sustainable. A minimum of 20-25 per cent of your diet should come from good slow carbs. Here’s why good carbs are essential for us:

Carbs help your bowel movements: Fibre, which is not broken down or absorbed in the gut, helps with the bowel movements. If you don’t consume enough foods that have a lot of fibre in them, your bowel movements will be affected.

Your hair health is affected: When you suddenly go on a low-carb diet that is low on calories as well, your body begins to spend less energy on your hair.

Low-carb diets cause dry eyes: The production of mucus by mucus membranes requires carbs. Mucus helps to lubricate the gut, nasal passages and keep your eyes hydrated. With long-term carb restriction, some people have itchy, dry eyes indicating that the mucus membranes are not able to produce enough mucus.

Poor sleep: As the body shifts it’s metabolism from burning carbs for energy, to burning fat for energy on a very low carb diet, the quality of your sleep is also hampered.

So, before going on any diet please consult a physician or dietician who can suggest the right way to lose weight.

I am 44 years old and a diabetic for the last five years. I smoke 10 cigarettes daily. My doctor always warns me against smoking. But I am finding it hard to quit smoking.

Smoking will negatively affect your overall health, including your diabetes care. It causes your blood glucose to increase, obstructing your efforts to control your diabetes. In addition, it will cause you to have a greater chance of developing diabetes complications, heart disease and lung diseases or having a stroke, as well as certain forms of cancer. Below are certain helpful tips to stop smoking:

1. Find a temporary replacement habit such as chewing gum.

2. Change your routine to avoid places, situations or people you associate with smoking.

3. Pick a suitable date to stop smoking – and stick to it.

4. Don’t try cutting down – stop completely.

5. Find support from friends and family.

6. Keep trying – most smokers can’t give up the first time they try.