If you’re suffering from lactose intolerance or digestive problems, ditching the dairy might be the best move. We find out the expert’s take on the health trend

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From bloating to acne  to constipation, more and more people are looking to their diet to pinpoint the cause.

We've seen the trend for going gluten free  or wheat free  and now the spotlight has been firmly placed on going dairy free - but does this latest health bandwagon hold any merit? We asked nutritional therapist and Get The Gloss Expert Petronella Ravenshear  for her expert opinion to separate the myths from the facts when it comes to dairy and milk, and to explain the difference between lactose intolerance and dairy intolerance too. Here’s what we found out...

GTG: What are the benefits of going dairy free?

PR: All kinds of problems are associated with dairy foods from constipation to acne and other skin problems including eczema, to chronic ear infections and/or sinus problems - so if you suffer from any of these conditions getting rid of dairy might help and is definitely worth trying.

GTG: Are there any downsides to going dairy free?

PR: Dairy, like wheat is a widespread food ingredient and additive, so it can be hard to avoid. But there are no health downsides to avoiding dairy - humans are the only animals to continue to drink milk (or eat products made from milk) beyond weaning.

There’s a widespread belief that we need to eat dairy foods to supply calcium for healthy bones, but this is a misconception. Green vegetables contain calcium as well as magnesium and we need magnesium to absorb the calcium in the food we eat. Carrots are a great source of calcium as are nuts and seeds, including sesame seeds - so nut butters and tahini are good foods to include for calcium and other minerals, especially when used as dips with carrot sticks.

MORE GLOSS: Healthy but tasty dairy free probiotic berry pots

GTG: How do you know if you suffer from lactose intolerance? Does it differ to dairy intolerance?

PR: There is lactose, which is milk sugar, and which some people have problems digesting, i.e. lactose intolerance. And there is also casein, which is milk protein, which is more often known as dairy intolerance. Both can result in bloating and digestive discomfort but lactose is more commonly associated with diarrhoea and casein with constipation.

GTG: What are the best dairy and milk alternatives in your opinion?

PR: Avoid soy milk because there is evidence to suggest it can hinder iodine absorption and thyroid function. It’s easy to make almond milk - empty the contents of a bag of almonds into a blender, add water, whizz it up and strain and you’ve got delicious almond milk which keeps for a few days in the fridge. You can do the same with desiccated coconut to make coconut milk. Or you can buy them ready made.

GTG: Which is your favourite?

PR: Co Yo Yoghurt , £3.55, was the original and still tastes amazing but the best advice is to try all the different brands and to find your own personal favourite - and to experiment with making your own dairy free milks, yoghurts and desserts.

GTG: Which brands would you recommend?

PR: If you’re hooked on milk chocolate try Lindt’s Dark Touch of Sea Salt , £1.89. It’s a great introduction to dark chocolate and tastes really creamy - a perfect transition chocolate!

MORE GLOSS: 5 healthier ways to enjoy chocolate

GTG: Is it difficult to go dairy free with regards to your wider diet? What would be your recommendations for making dairy free cake or adapting your cooking style to include dairy free recipes?

PR: Most people don’t have a problem with butter, but dairy butter can be substituted for coconut butter. Dairy milk can be substituted for nut milk in most recipes. Two books which are brilliant for paleo (grain and dairy free diets) are  Practical Paleo by Diane Safillippo , £28.99, and Against All Grain by Danielle Walker , £20.63.