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Holistic Nutrition Educator, Andrea Hill

Andrea, BASc, MSc. is a Holistic Nutrition Educator and she has been working in the field of nutrition and wellness since 1999. Her areas of expertise are weight loss, digestive wellness, and hormonal health.

Q: I keep hearing about people avoiding dairy. Is this something I should be concerned about?

AH: Avoiding dairy is a personal choice for some, and a necessity for others. Unless you have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, cutting dairy out of your diet should be an individual decision.

Some choose to avoid dairy simply because they "feel better" when it is out of their diet; chronic congestion, acne, ear infections, and digestive disturbances can often subside with the exclusion of dairy (for some). On the ethical side, others may choose to avoid dairy because of how conventional cows may be raised to maximise milk yields, among other reasons.

Whatever your reason for avoiding dairy, it is important to ensure calcium requirements are still met through alternate food sources, calcium-fortified milk beverages, and/or supplements.

Q: I'm a moderately active woman, how much protein should I get a day? Does it matter if I get it from an animal source or can I get it from legumes?

AH: Protein requirements vary from person to person depending on activity level and specific health goals. The protein recommendations for a moderately active woman is 0.5 to 0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So, a woman weighing 150 pounds would require between 75 to 113 grams of protein per day.

Protein is found in both animal and plant foods. Animal sources of protein contain all the amino acids and are referred to as 'complete' sources of protein. Plant protein sources lack one or more "essential" amino acids (that is, amino acids that your body cannot make and therefore need to be supplied by the diet); these are referred to as 'incomplete' proteins.

Although it is possible to meet daily protein needs with plant foods, it requires careful meal planning and proper combining with other plant protein foods throughout the day. Vegetarians are therefore cautioned to pay closer attention to their protein choices to ensure they consistently meet these daily requirements.

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