What is the best way to maintain optimal gut health?

It's such a complex topic that there is no single perfect way to go about this. It is super important to personalise the approach to gut health, because every person is different and their bodies will react differently. Some main things include eating whole foods (fresh produce, whole grains, nuts and seeds), getting regular exercise, maintaining a consistent and healthy sleep schedule, enjoying fermented foods (the gut microbiome loves this!), and taking care of your mental health. It all sounds a bit cliché, but it's truly incredible how these simple things can promote gut health.

Are there ways to regain tolerance to lactose once it is already lost? Does exposure therapy work in this case?

Lactose intolerance can develop at any age. For some this can be caused be a medical condition, but for many it develops without any specific cause or due to genetics.

That being said, many people with this intolerance are able to find a level of lactose-containing foods that they can consume without discomfort. So, although there is currently no 'cure' for regaining total tolerance, there are some great guidelines on how to reintroduce lactose foods in a safe way. They are:

• Gradually add small amounts of food and drinks that contain lactose to determine your tolerance level. You may be able to tolerate up to 1/2 cup of milk or the equivalent with each meal.

• Drink milk in servings of one cup or less.

• Try hard cheeses that are low in lactose, like cheddar.

• Drink milk with a meal or with other foods.

• Try yogurt or Greek yogurt with active cultures. You may be able to digest yogurt better than milk. Your own tolerance may vary depending on the brand. Frozen yogurt may not be tolerated as well as yogurt.

• Substitute lactose-reduced dairy products and 100 per cent lactose-free milk for regular dairy products. These products are located in the dairy section of most supermarkets.

• The lactase enzyme is also available in liquid, tablet or chewable form. No prescription is needed and it can help you tolerate foods containing lactose. Take the enzyme with the lactose-containing food. Lactase will help you digest the lactose so your body can absorb it.

• Many canned nutritional supplements are lactose-free. Product labels should be checked.