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Cheeky diet soft drink getting you through the work day? Here’s what that may mean for your health

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p>Many people are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230225/">drinking less</a> sugary soft drink than in the past. This is a great win for public health, given the <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2749350">recognised risks</a> of diets high in sugar-sweetened drinks.</p> <p>But over time, intake of diet soft drinks has <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230225/">grown</a>. In fact, it’s so high that these products are now regularly <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412020319188">detected in wastewater</a>.</p> <p>So what does the research say about how your health is affected in the long term if you drink them often?</p> <h2>What makes diet soft drinks sweet?</h2> <p>The World Health Organization (WHO) <a href="https://www.who.int/news/item/04-03-2015-who-calls-on-countries-to-reduce-sugars-intake-among-adults-and-children">advises</a> people “reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (six teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.”</p> <p>But most regular soft drinks contain <a href="https://www.actiononsugar.org/surveys/2014/sugar-sweetened-beverages/">a lot of sugar</a>. A regular 335 millilitre can of original Coca-Cola contains at least <a href="https://www.coca-cola.com/ng/en/about-us/faq/how-much-sugar-is-in-cocacola-original-taste">seven</a> teaspoons of added sugar.</p> <p>Diet soft drinks are designed to taste similar to regular soft drinks but without the sugar. Instead of sugar, diet soft drinks contain artificial or natural sweeteners. The artificial sweeteners include aspartame, saccharin and sucralose. The natural sweeteners include stevia and monk fruit extract, which come from plant sources.</p> <p>Many artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar so less is needed to provide the same burst of sweetness.</p> <p>Diet soft drinks are marketed as healthier alternatives to regular soft drinks, particularly for people who want to reduce their sugar intake or manage their weight.</p> <p>But while surveys of Australian <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7551593/">adults</a> and <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/adolescents-knowledge-and-beliefs-regarding-health-risks-of-soda-and-diet-soda-consumption/32F3E0FD6727F18F04C63F0390595131">adolescents</a> show most people understand the benefits of reducing their sugar intake, they often aren’t as aware about how diet drinks may affect health more broadly.</p> <h2>What does the research say about aspartame?</h2> <p>The artificial sweeteners in soft drinks are considered safe for consumption by food authorities, including in the <a href="https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/aspartame-and-other-sweeteners-food">US</a> and <a href="https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/aspartame">Australia</a>. However, some <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4899993/">researchers</a> have raised concern about the long-term risks of consumption.</p> <p>People who drink diet soft drinks regularly and often are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4446768/">more likely</a> to develop certain metabolic conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) than those who don’t drink diet soft drinks.</p> <p>The link was found even after accounting for other dietary and lifestyle factors (such as physical activity).</p> <p>In 2023, the WHO announced reports had found aspartame – the main sweetener used in diet soft drinks – was “<a href="https://www.who.int/news/item/14-07-2023-aspartame-hazard-and-risk-assessment-results-released">possibly carcinogenic to humans</a>” (carcinogenic means cancer-causing).</p> <p>Importantly though, the report noted there is not enough current scientific evidence to be truly confident aspartame may increase the risk of cancer and emphasised it’s safe to consume occasionally.</p> <h2>Will diet soft drinks help manage weight?</h2> <p>Despite the word “diet” in the name, diet soft drinks are not strongly linked with weight management.</p> <p>In 2022, the WHO conducted a <a href="https://www.who.int/news/item/15-05-2023-who-advises-not-to-use-non-sugar-sweeteners-for-weight-control-in-newly-released-guideline">systematic review</a> (where researchers look at all available evidence on a topic) on whether the use of artificial sweeteners is beneficial for weight management.</p> <p>Overall, the randomised controlled trials they looked at suggested slightly more weight loss in people who used artificial sweeteners.</p> <p>But the observational studies (where no intervention occurs and participants are monitored over time) found people who consume high amounts of artificial sweeteners tended to have an increased risk of higher body mass index and a 76% increased likelihood of having obesity.</p> <p>In other words, artificial sweeteners may not directly help manage weight over the long term. This resulted in the WHO <a href="https://www.who.int/news/item/15-05-2023-who-advises-not-to-use-non-sugar-sweeteners-for-weight-control-in-newly-released-guideline">advising</a> artificial sweeteners should not be used to manage weight.</p> <p><a href="http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(16)30296-0">Studies</a> in animals have suggested consuming high levels of artificial sweeteners can signal to the brain it is being starved of fuel, which can lead to more eating. However, the evidence for this happening in humans is still unproven.</p> <h2>What about inflammation and dental issues?</h2> <p>There is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10817473/">some early evidence</a> artificial sweeteners may irritate the lining of the digestive system, causing inflammation and increasing the likelihood of diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and other symptoms often associated with irritable bowel syndrome. However, this study noted more research is needed.</p> <p>High amounts of diet soft drinks have <a href="https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-023-17223-0">also been</a> linked with liver disease, which is based on inflammation.</p> <p>The consumption of diet soft drinks is also <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40368-019-00458-0#:%7E:text=Diet%20soft%20drinks%20often%20have,2006">associated</a> with dental erosion.</p> <p>Many soft drinks contain phosphoric and citric acid, which can damage your tooth enamel and contribute to dental erosion.</p> <h2>Moderation is key</h2> <p>As with many aspects of nutrition, moderation is key with diet soft drinks.</p> <p>Drinking diet soft drinks occasionally is unlikely to harm your health, but frequent or excessive intake may increase health risks in the longer term.</p> <p>Plain water, infused water, sparkling water, herbal teas or milks remain the best options for hydration.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/233438/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/cheeky-diet-soft-drink-getting-you-through-the-work-day-heres-what-that-may-mean-for-your-health-233438">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Just 15 centimetres of water can float a car – but we are failing to educate drivers about the dangers of floodwaters

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-peden-1136424">Amy Peden</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kyra-hamilton-331594">Kyra Hamilton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828"><em>Griffith University</em></a></em></p> <p>Every year in Australia, people driving into floodwaters drown and many more are <a href="https://www.ses.nsw.gov.au/disaster-tabs-header/flood/">rescued</a>. Do <em>you</em> know what to do when there’s water on the road?</p> <p>We searched all state and territory learner and driver handbooks for information about floodwaters, including signage. Our findings, published in the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022437524000860?via%3Dihub">Journal of Safety Research</a>, are disturbing.</p> <p>Across half of Australia’s states and territories, the driver handbook ignores flooding. That’s a missed opportunity, considering the handbook contains road rules and provides advice on how to navigate safely. While some states fail to provide any flood-related information, others give detailed practical guidance. Only the New South Wales handbook includes explanation of the meaning and purpose of flood signage.</p> <p>This is despite almost all states and territories experiencing vehicle-related flood <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jfr3.12616">deaths</a>, including <a href="https://currents.plos.org/disasters/article/causal-pathways-of-flood-related-river-drowning-deaths-in-australia/">drowning</a>, between 2001 and 2017. It’s a major problem that is only going to get worse as the climate changes. So our research shows driver education needs to come up to speed, fast.</p> <h2>Why do people drive into floodwaters?</h2> <p>Our previous <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212420918301869">research</a> revealed motorists can feel compelled to drive into floodwaters for a range of reasons. These include time pressures such as being late for work or school, or needing to get home to family or pets. Sometimes they feel pressured by their passengers, or motorists behind them on the road, urging them to cross.</p> <p>People also report having been encouraged or instructed as learners to drive into floodwaters. Past experience as a passenger also influences a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369847823000475">learner driver’s</a> future willingness to drive into floodwaters.</p> <p>So the views of significant others, such as their supervising driver, strongly influence decisions around driving into floodwaters.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZtlXpDBjU1Q?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Avoid driving into floodwaters, for life’s sake.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What we did and what we found</h2> <p>We assessed all publicly available, government-issued learner and driver handbooks (12 documents) across all six Australian states and two territories. We also looked for flood-related signage. We used a method for reviewing online material through a systematic search including in-document key words and imagery.</p> <p>Four jurisdictions provided no information on flooding in the handbook. In the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, drivers need to look elsewhere for information on floodwaters and driving safety.</p> <p>Only one jurisdiction provided information on flood signage such as depth markers and “road subject to flooding”. Hats off to the <a href="https://www.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2022-11/Road-User-Handbook-English.pdf">NSW Road User Handbook</a>, which warns:</p> <blockquote> <p>Floodwater is extremely dangerous. Find another way or wait until the road is clear. It’s safer to turn around than to drive in floodwater.</p> </blockquote> <p>For the states and territories that did provide information on floodwaters in the handbook, the content varied.</p> <p>NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory warned against entering floodwaters in a vehicle. They highlighted the dangers and financial penalties associated with driving on closed roads.</p> <p>In the NT and Western Australia, handbooks provided practical information on when and how to cross floodwaters safely, such as how to gauge safe water depth based on vehicle size, and to avoid fast-flowing water.</p> <p>Although well-intentioned, judgements around what constitutes fast-flowing water are subjective and hard for any driver to assess, let alone learner drivers. Even drivers of larger vehicles such as four-wheel drives are regularly involved in flood-related <a href="https://currents.plos.org/disasters/article/causal-pathways-of-flood-related-river-drowning-deaths-in-australia/">vehicle drowning fatalities</a>.</p> <p>Just <a href="https://www.ses.vic.gov.au/news-and-media/campaigns/15-to-float">45cm</a> of water can float a large 4WD, and considerably less for smaller vehicles.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/t4ilUbMXZAQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">A small car can float in just 15cm of water.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Handbooks represent valuable sources of safety information, particularly for new drivers who must learn important road rules to progress from one licence to another. Such graduated driver licensing schemes reduce road traffic injury, particularly among <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022437523000385">young people</a>.</p> <p>However, many of these handbooks fail to provide consistent, practical evidence-based information about flooding. There is an opportunity here to support safer driving behaviours.</p> <h2>Safety tips for all drivers</h2> <p>We encourage drivers to follow these safety tips:</p> <ul> <li>avoid driving into floodwaters</li> <li>identify alternative routes, so you have a <a href="https://theconversation.com/when-roads-become-rivers-forming-a-plan-b-can-stop-people-driving-into-floodwaters-183036">plan B</a></li> <li>familiarise yourself, and any learner drivers in the household or under your care, with the meaning and purpose of flood signage</li> <li>understand the legal consequences of crossing a road closed sign</li> <li>discuss the dangers of driving into floodwaters with learner drivers and help them formulate their own plan B</li> <li>model safe driving for all passengers, including children.</li> </ul> <h2>Time to lift our game</h2> <p>Driving into floodwaters remains the main cause of <a href="https://currents.plos.org/disasters/article/causal-pathways-of-flood-related-river-drowning-deaths-in-australia/">flood-related drowning</a> in Australia.</p> <p>For our emergency service personnel, driver behaviour, including people ignoring road closed signs, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hpja.181">significantly complicates</a> the already dangerous act of performing a flood rescue.</p> <p>Extreme weather and flooding are likely to become more frequent and intense in the future. That means the chance of being faced with a flooded road is growing. So information about driving during floods is vital for all, from the newly licensed to the experienced driver.</p> <p>We hope our research will encourage all states and territories to include provide practical, evidence-based advice on floods in driver handbooks as soon as possible.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/233116/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-peden-1136424">Amy Peden</a>, NHMRC Research Fellow, School of Population Health &amp; co-founder UNSW Beach Safety Research Group, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kyra-hamilton-331594">Kyra Hamilton</a>, Associate Professor in Applied Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/just-15-centimetres-of-water-can-float-a-car-but-we-are-failing-to-educate-drivers-about-the-dangers-of-floodwaters-233116">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Trouble

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Can you drink your fruit and vegetables? How does juice compare to the whole food?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emma-beckett-22673">Emma Beckett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Do you struggle to eat your fruits and vegetables? You are not alone. Less than 5% of Australians eat the recommended serves of fresh produce <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/dietary-behaviour/latest-release">each day</a> (with 44% eating enough fruit but only 6% eating the recommended vegetables).</p> <p>Adults <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups">should aim to eat</a> at least five serves of vegetables (or roughly 375 grams) and two serves of fruit (about 300 grams) each day. Fruits and vegetables help keep us healthy because they have lots of nutrients (vitamins, minerals and fibre) and health-promoting bioactive compounds (substances not technically essential but which have health benefits) without having many calories.</p> <p>So, if you are having trouble <a href="https://theconversation.com/want-your-child-to-eat-more-veggies-talk-to-them-about-eating-the-rainbow-195563">eating the rainbow</a>, you might be wondering – is it OK to drink your fruits and vegetables instead in a juice or smoothie? Like everything in nutrition, the answer is all about context.</p> <h2>It might help overcome barriers</h2> <p>Common reasons for not eating enough fruits and vegetables are <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1747-0080.12735">preferences, habits, perishability, cost, availability, time and poor cooking skills</a>. Drinking your fruits and vegetables in juices or smoothies can help overcome some of these barriers.</p> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2009.01760.x">Juicing or blending</a> can help disguise tastes you don’t like, like bitterness in vegetables. And it can blitz imperfections such as bruises or soft spots. Preparation doesn’t take much skill or time, particularly if you just have to pour store-bought juice from the bottle. Treating for food safety and shipping time does change the make up of juices slightly, but unsweetened juices still remain significant sources of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12403253/">nutrients</a> and <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/00070701111140089/full/html?fullSc=1">beneficial bioactives</a>.</p> <p>Juicing can <a href="https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/advance-article-pdf/doi/10.1093/nutrit/nuz031/30096176/nuz031.pdf">extend shelf life</a> and reduce the cost of nutrients. In fact, when researchers looked at the density of nutrients relative to the costs of common foods, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/11/5771">fruit juice was the top performer</a>.</p> <h2>So, drinking my fruits and veggies counts as a serve, right?</h2> <p>How juice is positioned in healthy eating recommendations is a bit confusing. The <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/fruit">Australian Dietary Guidelines</a> include 100% fruit juice with fruit but vegetable juice isn’t mentioned. This is likely because vegetable juices weren’t as common in 2013 when the guidelines were last revised.</p> <p><a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/fruit">The guidelines</a> also warn against having juice too often or in too high amounts. This appears to be based on the logic that juice is similar, but not quite as good as, whole fruit. Juice has lower levels of fibre compared to fruits, with fibre important for gut health, heart health and promoting feelings of fullness. Juice and smoothies also release the sugar from the fruit’s other structures, making them “free”. The <a href="https://www.who.int/publications-detail-redirect/9789241549028">World Health Organization recommends</a> we limit free sugars for good health.</p> <p>But fruit and vegetables are more than just the sum of their parts. When we take a “<a href="https://hal.science/hal-01630639/">reductionist</a>” approach to nutrition, foods and drinks are judged based on assumptions made about limited features such as sugar content or specific vitamins.</p> <p>But these features might not have the impact we logically assume because of the complexity of foods and people. When humans eat varied and complex diets, we don’t necessarily need to be concerned that some foods are lower in fibre than others. Juice can retain the nutrients and bioactive compounds of fruit and vegetables and even add more because parts of the fruit we don’t normally eat, like the skin, can be included.</p> <h2>So, it is healthy then?</h2> <p>A recent <a href="https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/advance-article/doi/10.1093/nutrit/nuae036/7659479?login=false">umbrella review of meta-analyses</a> (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8977198/">a type of research</a> that combines data from multiple studies of multiple outcomes into one paper looked at the relationship between 100% juice and a range of health outcomes.</p> <p>Most of the evidence showed juice had a neutral impact on health (meaning no impact) or a positive one. Pure 100% juice was linked to improved heart health and inflammatory markers and wasn’t clearly linked to weight gain, multiple cancer types or metabolic markers (such as blood sugar levels).</p> <p>Some health risks linked to drinking juice were <a href="https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/advance-article/doi/10.1093/nutrit/nuae036/7659479?login=false">reported</a>: death from heart disease, prostate cancer and diabetes risk. But the risks were all reported in <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/research/participate/what-are-observational-studies#:%7E:text=Observational%20studies%20are%20research%20studies,over%20a%20period%20of%20time.">observational studies</a>, where researchers look at data from groups of people collected over time. These are not controlled and do not record consumption in the moment. So other drinks people think of as 100% fruit juice (such as sugar-sweetened juices or cordials) might accidentally be counted as 100% fruit juice. These types of studies are not good at showing the direct causes of illness or death.</p> <h2>What about my teeth?</h2> <p>The common belief juice damages teeth might not stack up. Studies that show juice damages teeth often <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2019.00190/full">lump 100% juice in with sweetened drinks</a>. Or they use model systems like fake mouths that <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2019.00190/full">don’t match</a> how people drinks juice in real life. Some <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/public-health/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2019.00190/full">use extreme scenarios</a> like sipping on large volumes of drink frequently over long periods of time.</p> <p>Juice is acidic and does contain sugars, but it is possible proper oral hygiene, including <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0300571207000152?via%3Dihub">rinsing, cleaning</a> and using straws can mitigate these risks.</p> <p>Again, reducing juice to its acid level misses the rest of the story, including the nutrients and bioactives contained in juice that are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352385919300210#:%7E:text=Research%20has%20also%20confirmed%20that,prevention%20of%20oral%20inflammatory%20disorders.">beneficial to oral health</a>.</p> <h2>So, what should I do?</h2> <p>Comparing whole fruit (a food) to juice (a drink) can be problematic. They serve different culinary purposes, so aren’t really interchangeable.</p> <p>The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating">water as the preferred beverage</a> but this assumes you are getting all your essential nutrients from eating.</p> <p>Where juice fits in your diet depends on what you are eating and what other drinks it is replacing. Juice might replace water in the context of a “perfect” diet. Or juice might replace <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/substitution-of-pure-fruit-juice-for-fruit-and-sugarsweetened-beverages-and-cardiometabolic-risk-in-epicnl-a-prospective-cohort-study/B7314F1198109712DE0F2E44D919A6A7">alcohol or sugary soft drinks</a> and make the relative benefits look very different.</p> <h2>On balance</h2> <p>Whether you want to eat your fruits and vegetables or drink them comes down to what works for you, how it fits into the context of your diet and your life.</p> <p>Smoothies and juices aren’t a silver bullet, and there is no evidence they work as a “cleanse” or <a href="https://theconversation.com/lemon-water-wont-detox-or-energise-you-but-it-may-affect-your-body-in-other-ways-180035">detox</a>. But, with society’s low levels of fruit and vegetable eating, having the option to access nutrients and bioactives in a cheap, easy and tasty way shouldn’t be discouraged either.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/205222/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emma-beckett-22673">Emma Beckett</a>, Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Nutrition, Dietetics &amp; Food Innovation - School of Health Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/can-you-drink-your-fruit-and-vegetables-how-does-juice-compare-to-the-whole-food-205222">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Roadside cameras set to target more infringements

<p>Millions of Aussie drivers are being warned as authorities expand the number of infringements being targeted by roadside cameras. </p> <p>The technology, initially used to detect mobile phone use, will now target new road rules. </p> <p>"The laws were brought in and this technology was brought in as a preventative measure ... to stop people getting behind the wheel and taking risks that jeopardise the safety of others," NRMA head of media told <em>Yahoo News. </em></p> <p>"The road toll is terrible nationally in Australia ... So we need to do everything we can to reduce risks on our roads."</p> <p>In NSW authorities are expanding the capabilities of their roadside mobile-detection cameras. </p> <p>From July 1 the cameras will be able to catch drivers wearing their seatbelt incorrectly. </p> <p>This comes after Queensland reportedly became the first jurisdiction in the world to roll out seatbelt-spotting detection along with mobile-detection. </p> <p>Last year, Victoria also rolled out dual mobile phone and seatbelt detection cameras last year after a two year trial.</p> <p>No grace period will be granted when they issue the seatbelt fines. </p> <p>"The expansion of mobile phone detection cameras to also apply to seatbelt offences reinforces the NSW Government’s commitment to enforcing the 50-year-old seatbelt law, actively contributing to improving road safety and reducing fatalities on NSW roads," a statement read on their official website. </p> <p>The department told Yahoo that all images captured by roadside cameras are automatically reviewed by software. </p> <p>Those that do not contain evidence of an offence will have their images deleted within an hour. </p> <p>Drivers in the ACT will need to make sure they have proper insurance and registration.</p> <p>From August, the roadside cameras alongside speed cameras and red light cameras will be used to send hefty fines to those driving without proper registration or insurance. </p> <p>Those caught by the cameras will have their paperwork manually checked by transport staff. </p> <p>An infringement for driving an unregistered vehicle in the ACT is $700 while the fine for driving an uninsured car is $973. </p> <p>The mobile detection cameras could also soon be programmed to detect speeding in the ACT. </p> <p>In South Australia, authorities began testing overhead mobile detection cameras at four busy locations in April, fines are currently not being issued, but the grace period is due to finish on June 19. </p> <p>Drivers caught using their phones in Adelaide will be fined $540 and three demerit points. </p> <p><em>Image: </em><em>Stepan Skorobogadko / Shutterstock.com</em></p>

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Weight loss: drinking a gallon of water a day probably won’t help you lose weight

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/duane-mellor-136502">Duane Mellor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/aston-university-1107">Aston University</a></em></p> <p>It’s often claimed that if you’re trying to lose weight, one of the things you should do each day is drink plenty of water – with some internet advice even suggesting this should be as much as a gallon (about 4.5 litres). The claim is that water helps burn calories and reduce appetite, which in turn leads to weight loss.</p> <p>But while we all might wish it was this easy to lose weight, unfortunately there’s little evidence to back up these claims.</p> <h2>Myth 1: water helps burn calories</h2> <p>One <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14671205/">small study</a>, of 14 young adults, found drinking 500ml of water increased resting energy expenditure (the amount of calories our body burns before exercise) by about 24%.</p> <p>While this may sound great, this effect only lasted an hour. And this wouldn’t translate to a big difference at all. For an average 70kg adult, they would only use an additional 20 calories – a quarter of a biscuit – for every 500ml of water they drank.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16822824/">Another study</a> of eight young adults only saw an increase in energy expenditure when the water was fridge cold – reporting a very modest 4% increase in calories burned. This may be because the body needs to use more energy in order to bring the water up to body temperature, or because it requires more energy for the body to filter the increased volume of fluid through the kidneys. And again, this effect was only seen for about an hour.</p> <p>So although scientifically it might be possible, the actual net increase in calories burned is tiny. For example, even if you drank an extra 1.5l of water per day, it would save fewer calories than you’d get in a slice of bread.</p> <p>It’s also worth noting that all this research was in young healthy adults. More research is needed to see whether this effect is also seen in other groups (such as middle-aged and older adults).</p> <h2>Myth 2: water with meals reduces appetite</h2> <p>This claim again seems sensible, in that if your stomach is at least partly full of water there’s less room for food – so you end up eating less.</p> <p>A number of studies actually support this, particularly those conducted in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2859815/#:%7E:text=Thus%2C%20when%20combined%20with%20a,meal%20EI%20following%20water%20ingestion.">middle-aged and older adults</a>. It’s also a reason people who are unwell or have a poor appetite are advised <a href="https://www.ageuk.org.uk/bp-assets/globalassets/salford/forms/improve-your-food-and-drink-intake.pdf">not to drink before eating</a> as it may lead to under-eating.</p> <p>But for people looking to lose weight, the science is a little less straightforward.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17228036/">One study</a> showed middle-aged and older adults lost 2kg over a 12-week period when they drank water before meals compared with people who didn’t drink any water with their meal. Younger participants (aged 21-35) on the other hand did not lose any weight, regardless of whether they drank water before their meal or not.</p> <p>But since the study didn’t use blinding (where information which may influence participants is withheld until after the experiment is finished), it means that participants may have become aware of why they were drinking water before their meal. This may have led some participants to purposefully change how much they ate in the hopes it might increase their changes of losing weight. However, this doesn’t explain why the effect wasn’t seen in young adults, so it will be important for future studies to investigate why this is.</p> <p>The other challenge with a lot of this kind of research is that it only focuses on whether participants eat less during just one of their day’s meals after drinking water. Although this might suggest the potential to lose weight, there’s <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20736036/">very little good-quality evidence</a> showing that reducing appetite in general leads to weight loss over time.</p> <p>Perhaps this is due to our body’s biological drive to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28193517/">maintain its size</a>. It’s for this reason that no claims can be legally made in Europe about foods which help make you <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/satietyenhancing-products-for-appetite-control-science-and-regulation-of-functional-foods-for-weight-management/E4CCAE4C90A220994FD29C27FAE7F666">feel fuller for longer</a> with <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nutrition-and-health-claims-guidance-to-compliance-with-regulation-ec-1924-2006-on-nutrition-and-health-claims-made-on-foods/nutrition-and-health-claims-guidance-to-compliance-with-regulation-ec-19242006#section-6">reference to weight loss</a>.</p> <p>So, although there might be some appetite-dulling effects of water, it seems that it might not result in long-term weight change – and may possibly be due to making conscious changes to your diet.</p> <h2>Just water isn’t enough</h2> <p>There’s a pretty good reason why water on its own is not terribly effective at <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/eating-habits-and-appetite-control-a-psychobiological-perspective/0D0605739F5150D1A7C49420D75F3CDF">regulating appetite</a>. If it did, prehistoric humans might have starved.</p> <p>But while appetite and satiation – feeling full and not wanting to eat again – aren’t perfectly aligned with being able to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20736036/">lose weight</a>, it might be a helpful starting point.</p> <p>Part of what helps us to feel full is our stomach. When food enters the stomach, it triggers stretch receptors that in turn lead to the release of hormones which tell us we’re full.</p> <p>But since water is a liquid, it’s rapidly emptied from our stomach – meaning it doesn’t actually fill us up. Even more interestingly, due to the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16934271/">stomach’s shape</a>, fluids can bypass any semi-solid food content that’s being digested in the lower part of the stomach. This means that water can still be quickly emptied from the stomach. So even if it’s consumed at the end of a meal it might not necessarily extend your feelings of fullness.</p> <p>If you’re trying to eat less and lose weight, drinking excessive amounts of water may not be a great solution. But there is evidence showing when water is mixed with other substances (such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30166637/">fibre</a>, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0031938494903034">soups</a> or vegetable sauces) this can delay how fast the stomach empties its contents – meaning you feel fuller longer.</p> <p>But while water may not help you lose weight directly, it may still aid in weight loss given it’s the healthiest drink we can choose. Swapping high-calorie drinks such as soda and alcohol for water may be an easy way of reducing the calories you consume daily, which may help with weight loss.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211311/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/duane-mellor-136502">Duane Mellor</a>, Lead for Evidence-Based Medicine and Nutrition, Aston Medical School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/aston-university-1107">Aston University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/weight-loss-drinking-a-gallon-of-water-a-day-probably-wont-help-you-lose-weight-211311">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Drinking lots of water may seem like a healthy habit – here’s when and why it can prove toxic

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950">Adam Taylor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p>In late 2023, actor <a href="https://www.glamour.com/story/brooke-shields-recently-experienced-a-full-blown-seizure-and-bradley-cooper-came-running?utm_source=instagram&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_content=instagram-bio-link&amp;client_service_id=31196&amp;client_service_name=glamour&amp;service_user_id=1.78e+16&amp;supported_service_name=instagram_publishing&amp;utm_brand=glm&amp;utm_social_type=owned">Brooke Shields</a> suffered a seizure after “flooding” her body with water. Shields became dangerously low on sodium while preparing for her show by drinking loads of water. “I flooded my system and I drowned myself,” she would later explain. “And if you don’t have enough sodium in your blood or urine or your body, you can have a seizure.”</p> <p>Shields said she found herself walking around outside for “no reason at all”, wondering: “Why am I out here?”</p> <blockquote> <p>Then I walk into the restaurant and go to the sommelier who had just taken an hour to watch my run through. That’s when everything went black. Then my hands drop to my side and I go headfirst into the wall.</p> </blockquote> <p>Shields added that she was “frothing at the mouth, totally blue, trying to swallow my tongue”.</p> <p>Like Shields, many people may be unaware of the dangers of drinking excessive amounts of water – especially because hydration is so often associated with health benefits. Models and celebrities <a href="https://www.teenvogue.com/story/drinking-water-flawless-skin#:%7E:text=If%20you're%20reading%20a,long%20hours%20at%20a%20time.">often advocate</a> drinking lots of water to help maintain clear, smooth skin. Some <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/75-hard-challenge-before-and-after-tiktok-b2382706.html">social media influencers</a> have promoted drinking a gallon of water daily for weight loss.</p> <p>But excessive water consumption can cause <a href="https://patient.info/treatment-medication/hyponatraemia-leaflet">hyponatraemia</a> – a potentially fatal condition of low sodium in the blood.</p> <h2>Worried about hydration levels? Check your urine</h2> <p>The body strictly regulates its water content to maintain the optimum level of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2323003/">total body water</a> and “osmolality” – the concentration of dissolved particles in your blood. Osmolality increases when you are dehydrated and decreases when you have too much fluid in your blood.</p> <p>Osmolality is monitored by <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9074779/">osmoreceptors</a> that regulate sodium and water balance in the hypothalamus – the part of the brain that controls numerous hormones. These osmoreceptors signal the release of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which acts on blood vessels and the kidneys to control the amount of water and salt in the body.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Qghf7Y9ILAs?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>In healthy people, the body releases ADH when osmolality becomes high. ADH tells the kidneys to reabsorb water, which makes urine more concentrated. The reabsorbed water dilutes the blood, bringing osmolality back to normal levels.</p> <p>Low blood osmolality suppresses the release of ADH, reducing how much water the kidneys reabsorb. This dilutes your urine, which the body then passes to rid itself of the excess water.</p> <p>Healthy urine should be clear and odourless. Darker, yellower urine with a noticeable odour can indicate dehydration – although medications and certain foods, including <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3433805/">asparagus</a>, can affect urine colour and odour, too.</p> <h2>How much is too much?</h2> <p>Adults should consume <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-guidelines-and-food-labels/water-drinks-nutrition/">two-to-three litres per day</a>, of which around 20% comes from food. However, we can lose <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK236237/">up to ten litres</a> of water through perspiration – so sweating during exercise or in hot weather increases the amount of water we need to replace through drinking.</p> <p>Some medical conditions can cause overhydration. Approximately <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3616165/">one in five</a> schizophrenia patients drink water compulsively, a dangerous condition known as <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/apr/15/woman-died-mental-hospital-excessive-water-drinking-inquest#:%7E:text=Woman%20died%20at%20mental%20hospital%20after%20excessive%20water%20drinking%2C%20inquest%20told,-Parents%20of%20Lillian&amp;text=A%20woman%20collapsed%20and%20died,water%2C%20an%20inquest%20has%20heard.">psychogenic polydipsia</a>. One long-term study found that patients with psychogenic polydipsia have a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18984069/">“74% greater chance</a> of dying before a non-polydipsic patient”.</p> <p>In <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22306188/">some cases</a>, people with <a href="https://psychiatry-psychopharmacology.com/en/childhood-and-adolescence-disorders-psychogenic-polydipsia-in-an-adolescent-with-eating-disorder-a-case-report-132438">anorexia nervosa</a> can also suffer from compulsive water drinking.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ReQew2zcN7c?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>For those suffering from polydipsia, treatment is focused on medication to reduce the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10675986/">urge to drink</a>, as well as <a href="https://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-the-treatment-of-hyponatremia-in-adults/print">increasing sodium levels</a>. This should be done gradually to avoid causing <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562251/">myelinolysis</a> – <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551697/">neurological damage</a> caused by rapid changes in sodium levels in nerve cells.</p> <p>In rare but often highly publicised cases such as that of <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/13/newsid_2516000/2516593.stm">Leah Betts</a> in 1995, some users of the illegal drug MDMA (also known as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6119400/">ecstasy)</a> have <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11265566/">died</a> after drinking copious amounts of water to rehydrate after dancing and sweating.</p> <p>The drug <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5008716/">increases body temperature</a>, so users drink water to avoid overheating. Unfortunately, MDMA also triggers the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12105115/">unnecessary release of ADH</a>, causing water retention. The body becomes unable to rid itself of excess water, which affects its electrolyte levels – causing cells to swell with water.</p> <p>Symptoms of water intoxication start with nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and dizziness. As the condition progresses, sufferers can often display symptoms of <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/psychosis/symptoms/">psychosis</a>, such as inappropriate behaviour, confusion, delusions, disorientation and hallucinations.</p> <p>These symptoms are caused by <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470386/">hyponatraemia</a>, where sodium levels are diluted or depleted in blood and the subsequent imbalance of electrolytes affects the nervous system. Water begins to move into the brain causing <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1572349604000149">a cerebral oedema</a> – brain swelling because of excessive fluid buildup, which is usually fatal if not treated.</p> <p>A healthy body will tell you when it needs water. If you’re thirsty and your urine is dark with a noticeable odour, then you need to drink more. If you aren’t thirsty and your urine is clear or the colour of light straw, then you’re already doing a good job of hydrating yourself.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228715/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950"><em>Adam Taylor</em></a><em>, Professor and Director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/drinking-lots-of-water-may-seem-like-a-healthy-habit-heres-when-and-why-it-can-prove-toxic-228715">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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A tax on sugary drinks can make us healthier. It’s time for Australia to introduce one

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-geraghty-1530733">Jessica Geraghty</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168"><em>Grattan Institute</em></a></em></p> <p>Sugary drinks cause weight gain and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00627-6">increase the risk</a> of a range of diseases, including diabetes.</p> <p>The <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2792842">evidence shows</a> that well-designed taxes can reduce sugary drink sales, cause people to choose healthier options and get manufacturers to reduce the sugar in their drinks. And although these taxes haven’t been around long, there are already signs that they are making people healthier.</p> <p>It’s time for Australia to catch up to the rest of the world and introduce a tax on sugary drinks. As our new Grattan Institute <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/sickly-sweet/">report</a> shows, doing so could mean the average Australian drinks almost 700 grams less sugar each year.</p> <h2>Sugary drinks are making us sick</h2> <p>The share of adults in Australia who are obese has tripled since 1980, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/mapping-australias-collective-weight-gain-7816">10%</a> to more than <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/waist-circumference-and-bmi/latest-release">30%</a>, and diabetes is our <a href="https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/diabetes-in-australia/">fastest-growing</a> chronic condition. The costs for the health system and economy are measured in the billions of dollars each year. But the biggest costs are borne by individuals and their families in the form of illness, suffering and early death.</p> <p>Sugary drinks are a big part of the problem. The more of them we drink, the greater our risk of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00627-6">gaining weight</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963518/">developing type 2 diabetes</a>, and suffering <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurpub/article/31/1/122/5896049?login=false">poor oral health</a>.</p> <p>These drinks have no real nutrients, but they do have a lot of sugar. The average Australian consumes <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/apparent-consumption-selected-foodstuffs-australia/latest-release">1.3</a> times the maximum recommended amount of sugar each day. Sugary drinks are responsible for more than one-quarter of our daily sugar intake, more than any other major type of food.</p> <p>You might be shocked by how much sugar you’re drinking. Many 375ml cans of soft drink contain eight to 12 teaspoons of sugar, nearly the entire daily recommended limit for an adult. Many 600ml bottles blow our entire daily sugar budget, and then some.</p> <p>The picture is even worse for disadvantaged Australians, who are more likely to have <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/diabetes/latest-release">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/waist-circumference-and-bmi/latest-release">obesity</a>, and who also consume the most sugary drinks.</p> <h2>Sugary drink taxes work</h2> <p>Fortunately, there’s a proven way to reduce the damage sugary drinks cause.</p> <p>More than <a href="https://ssbtax.worldbank.org/">100 countries</a> have a sugary drinks tax, covering most of the world’s population. <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2792842">Research</a> shows these taxes lead to higher prices and fewer purchases.</p> <p>Some taxes are specifically designed to encourage manufacturers to change their recipes and cut the sugar in their drinks. Under these “tiered taxes”, there is no tax on drinks with a small amount of sugar, but the tax steps up two or three times as the amount of sugar rises. That gives manufacturers a strong incentive to add less sugar, so they reduce their exposure to the tax or avoid paying it altogether.</p> <p>This is the best result from a sugary drinks tax. It means drinks get healthier, while the tax is kept to a minimum.</p> <p>In countries with tiered taxes, manufacturers have slashed the sugar in their drinks. In the United Kingdom, the share of products above the tax threshold <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003025">decreased dramatically</a>. In 2015, more than half (52%) of products in the UK were above the tax threshold of 5 grams of sugar per 100ml. Four years later, when the tax was in place, that share had plunged to 15%. The number of products with the most sugar – more than 8 grams per 100ml – declined the most, falling from 38% to just 7%.</p> <p>The Australian drinks market today looks similar to the UK’s before the tax was introduced.</p> <p>Health benefits take longer to appear, but there are already promising signs that the taxes are working. Obesity among primary school-age girls has fallen in <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1004160">the UK</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2786784">Mexico</a>.</p> <p>Oral health has also improved, with studies reporting fewer children going to hospital to get their teeth removed in <a href="https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/6/2/243">the UK</a>, and reduced dental decay <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33853058/">in Mexico</a> and <a href="https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(23)00069-7/abstract">Philadelphia</a>.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(23)00158-7/fulltext">study from the United States</a> found big reductions in gestational diabetes in cities with a sugary drinks tax.</p> <h2>The tax Australia should introduce</h2> <p>Like successful taxes overseas, Australia should introduce a sugary drink tax that targets drinks with the most sugar:</p> <ul> <li>drinks with 8 grams or more of sugar per 100ml should face a $0.60 per litre tax</li> <li>drinks with 5–8 grams should be taxed at $0.40 per litre</li> <li>drinks with less than 5 grams of sugar should be tax-free.</li> </ul> <p>This means a 250ml Coke, which has nearly 11 grams of sugar per 100ml, would cost $0.15 more. But of course consumers could avoid the tax by choosing a sugar-free soft drink, or a bottle of water.</p> <p>Grattan Institute <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/sickly-sweet/">modelling</a> shows that under this tiered tax, Australians would drink about 275 million litres fewer sugary drinks each year, or the volume of 110 Olympic swimming pools.</p> <p>The tax is about health, but government budgets also benefit. If it was introduced today, it would raise about half a billion dollars in the first year.</p> <p>Vested interests such as the beverages industry have fiercely resisted sugary drink taxes around the world, issuing disingenuous warnings about the risks to poor people, the sugar industry and drinks manufacturers.</p> <p>But our new report shows sugary drink taxes have been introduced smoothly overseas, and none of these concerns should hold Australia back.</p> <p>We certainly can’t rely on industry pledges to voluntarily reduce sugar. They have been <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/trends-in-sugar-content-of-nonalcoholic-beverages-in-australia-between-2015-and-2019-during-the-operation-of-a-voluntary-industry-pledge-to-reduce-sugar-content/EE662DE7552670ED532F6650C9D56939">weak</a> and misleading, and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/10/sugar-increase-in-fanta-and-sprite-prompts-calls-for-new-tax-on-australia-food-and-drinks-industry">failed to stick</a>.</p> <p>It will take many policies and interventions to turn back the tide of obesity and chronic disease in Australia, but a sugary drinks tax should be part of the solution. It’s a policy that works, it’s easy to implement, and most Australians <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/6/e027962">support it</a>.</p> <p>The federal government should show it’s serious about tackling Australia’s biggest health problems and take this small step towards a healthier future.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228906/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, Program Director, Health and Aged Care, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-geraghty-1530733">Jessica Geraghty</a>, Senior Associate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-tax-on-sugary-drinks-can-make-us-healthier-its-time-for-australia-to-introduce-one-228906">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Motorist fined $387 for "handling wallet" while driving

<p>A motorist has collapsed after receiving a fine for $387, in which the fine claims he was holding his phone while driving. </p> <p>Sydney man Husni Tarmizi opened the infringement notice with his 62-year-old dad on Tuesday and admitted he was both "surprised" and "panicked" by the fine, leaving Husni to pick his father up off the floor after he collapsed from shock. </p> <p>Husni was confused by the fine, which also cost his dad 10 demerit points, as his father is rarely on his phone, and decided to take a closer look at the image captured by the mobile detection camera. </p> <p>"I went to the computer and downloaded the image and I could see clearly that it's a wallet [in his hand], you can see his phone is in the cradle," he told <a href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/driver-fined-387-and-cops-10-demerit-points-for-handling-wallet-while-driving-073557336.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Yahoo News</em></a>.</p> <p>"In his left hand you can see the wallet and his right hand he's holding a $50 bill."</p> <p>Husni continued, "He was quite panicked, especially with the 10 demerit points... and I was scared a bit because he has a heart condition."</p> <p>The 62-year-old man said he recalls holding onto his wallet and the $50 note to pay for petrol over the Easter long weekend, which explains the hefty loss of demerit points.</p> <p>Tarmizi confirmed he has already appealed the infringement and is awaiting a response after people urged him to dispute it.</p> <p>"I've also written an appeal, it's called a review request, we'll see how that goes," he said.</p> <p>"For the older generation where they don't understand the technologies and stuff, it's scary."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Husni Tarmizi</em></p>

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AFP commander resigns after drink driving accident

<p>Former Australian Federal Police commander Danielle Anne Woodward has resigned after she drunkenly crashed her car into a tree following a police function in Canberra.</p> <p>The Olympic medalist pleaded guilty to a drink driving charge in the ACT Magistrates Court after blowing nearly three times the legal limit in November 2023. </p> <p>Woodward had attended an end-of-year function on the night of the accident, and intended to walk home or catch an Uber, but felt unwell after drinking champagne, so she decided to take the short drive back home. </p> <p>However, she crashed into a tree on her way home causing “extensive front-end damage” to her Mercedes-Benz. </p> <p>After getting help from members of the public, she immediately reported the incident to her supervisor and told him she had alcohol in her system.</p> <p>She also reportedly co-operated with lower-ranking officials who attended the scene, with the defence saying that she was "frank in her submission". </p> <p>"She was certainly not belligerent," Woodward's lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith told the court. </p> <p>She was then arrested and taken to the police station for a breath analysis, which came back with a reading of 0.148. </p> <p>A police statement of facts also said that officers found Woodward with a flushed face and sleepy, watery eyes.</p> <p>“Police could smell a strong odour of intoxicating liquor emanating from [Woodward] and formed the opinion that [she] was well under the influence,” the statement of facts read. </p> <p>The court also heard that Woodward had been experiencing a "high level" of stress from her job, so had "at times resorted to alcohol, in a way she has been able to control."</p> <p>"The offending conduct is not only out of character … [but] her actions are usually the complete opposite. They're usually designed to benefit and protect the community," prosecutor Samuel Carmichael said.</p> <p>Woodward's lawyer asked Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker to record a non-conviction, as this was a "one off" offence, and the media coverage of the accident had already caused her "an unusual degree of reputational damage", which has impacted her mental health and career. </p> <p>While Magistrate Walker agreed to a non-conviction, she said that a general deterrence still needed to be served, with Woodward disqualified from driving for six months, taking into account a 90-day immediate suspension notice that was issued after the crash.</p> <p>The Chief Magistrate told the court: "What ultimately influences me … is Ms Woodward is a woman suffering from ill health.</p> <p>"It is often people of good standing in this community … who find themselves before the court for this type of offence."</p> <p>She also said that Woodward had shown “obvious and palpable” remorse, and was not someone who would ordinarily demonstrate “this level of stupidity”. </p> <p>Woodward was a highly decorated police officer who worked for the AFP for almost four decades. She became a commander in 2022 and received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2002.</p> <p>In 2020 she was awarded the Australian Police Medal in the Australia Day honours. </p> <p>Prior to her role in the AFP, she was a a triple Olympian in slalom canoeing and won a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. </p> <p><em>Image: ABC News</em></p>

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Drinking olive oil: a health and beauty elixir or celebrity fad in a shot glass?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hazel-flight-536221">Hazel Flight</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edge-hill-university-1356">Edge Hill University</a></em></p> <p>In the ever-changing world of wellness trends and celebrity endorsed health fads there is a new trend on the scene: daily olive oil shots.</p> <p>Celebrities such as <a href="https://poosh.com/why-kourtney-kardashian-drinks-tablespoon-evoo/">Kourtney Kardashian</a>, Beyonce, Gwyneth Paltrow and <a href="https://www.womanandhome.com/life/news-entertainment/jennifer-lopez-credits-her-grandmas-crazy-beauty-secret-for-glowing-skin-and-chances-are-you-already-have-it-at-home/">Jennifer Lopez</a> all extol the virtues of swigging extra virgin as well as slathering it on their skin, crediting olive oil for their glowing complexions.</p> <p>Lopez even based her JLo Beauty brand around the kitchen staple, claiming that her age-defying looks were not the result of botox or surgery but the family beauty secret: <a href="https://graziamagazine.com/us/articles/jennifer-lopez-skincare-routine/">moisturising with olive oil</a>.</p> <p>And she’s in good company. Hollywood star <a href="https://jnews.uk/goldie-hawn-swears-by-olive-oil-for-perfect-skin-at-76-best-life/">Goldie Hawn reportedly drinks olive oil</a> before bed and uses it topically as a moisturiser, while <a href="https://www.redonline.co.uk/beauty/a31184313/julia-roberts-olive-oil-hair-skin/">beauty icon Sophia Loren</a> really goes to town by bathing in the stuff.</p> <p>While these celebrities swear by the skin beautifying properties of olive oil, some skin types should <a href="https://scholarhub.ui.ac.id/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1182&amp;context=jdvi#:%7E:text=Background%3A%20Dry%20skin%20or%20xerosis,water%20in%20the%20stratum%20corneum.">give it a swerve</a>. Those <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dth.14436">prone to acne</a> or eczema, for example, might find the <a href="https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(21)00813-7/fulltext">olive oil exacerbates their problems</a>. Some <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22995032/">dermatologists warn against</a> using it as skin care altogether – bad news for JLo.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3F7uc9jV9V4?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Thanks largely to celebrity promotion, drinking olive oil has now become a <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/tv/lifestyle/tiktok-dua-lipa-ice-cream-olive-oil-b2479725.html">worldwide TikTok sensation</a>. Viral videos show influencers tossing back shots of cult olive oil brands, and proclaiming a wide range of health benefits from improving digestion to clearing up acne.</p> <p>Celebrity and influencers are sold on liquid gold but what about the rest of us? Can drinking olive oil really work on miracles for our health?</p> <h2>The benefits of olive oil</h2> <p>There’s no doubt that olive oil is full of good stuff. It’s high in polyphenols and antioxidants, which have protective qualities for the body’s tissues. It’s also a rich source of essential fatty acids, including oleic acid, which is known for <a href="https://foodrevolution.org/blog/olives-and-olive-oil-benefits/#:%7E:text=Compared%20with%20olives%2C%20olive%20oil,in%20polyphenols%20and%20antioxidants%2C%20however">lowering cholesterol</a> so reducing the chances of heart disease.</p> <p>Research has found that the inclusion of olive oil in the diet shows encouraging effects in a variety of <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu11092039">inflammatory and medical diseases</a> and can <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389%2Ffnut.2022.980429">support weight management</a> if used correctly.</p> <p>Replacing butter, margarine, mayonnaise and dairy fat with olive oil has been linked to a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.jacc.2021.10.041">lower risk of mortality</a>. There’s also evidence to suggest that the protective compounds in olive oil may help <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0261649">guard against cancer</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10376491/">dementia</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29141573/">support the liver</a> <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916323/">and kidneys</a>.</p> <p>But none of this is new information to health professionals. The health benefits of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7466243/">extra virgin olive oil</a> are <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu11092039">well researched</a> and nutritionists have promoted olive oil as a swap for saturated cooking fat for years.</p> <p>After all, the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7536728/">Mediterranean diet</a> has been touted as one of the healthiest diets in the world for decades. The diet itself can vary from region to region, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu15092127">virgin olive oil</a> is a <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu11092039">consistent element</a>. It’s used as the <a href="https://www.themediterraneandish.com/cooking-with-olive-oil/">main source of cooking fat</a> and included in everything from salad dressings to bread.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/krFcE5IPT7g?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Can fat be healthy? Yes and no</h2> <p>Fats are crucial for a balanced diet, aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E,K and enhancing the nutritional value of meals.</p> <p>However, fat of any kind is also dense in calories and excessive consumption <a href="https://doi.org/10.1159/000336848">can lead to weight gain</a>. According to the <a href="https://www.who.int/news/item/17-07-2023-who-updates-guidelines-on-fats-and-carbohydrates">World Health Organization</a>, to prevent unhealthy weight gain, adults should limit their intake of fat to 30% of total energy intake with no more than 10% coming from saturated fats.</p> <p>Two tablespoons of olive oil – the standard amount in the shots taken by celebrities and social media influencers – contain 28g of fat (238 calories) and 3.8g of saturated fat equating to <a href="https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171413/nutrients">19% of the recommended daily intake</a>.</p> <p>That daily shot of extra virgin, then, might not be the best idea. Adding small amounts of olive oil to meals throughout the day is a more balanced – and appetising – approach to incorporating healthy fats into your diet.</p> <p>But what about Kourtney Kardashian’s <a href="https://poosh.com/why-kourtney-kardashian-drinks-tablespoon-evoo/#:%7E:text=First%20things%20first%2C%20it's%20recommended,a.m.%20(every%20other%20day).">claim that</a>: “It’s recommended to consume extra virgin olive oil in the morning on an empty stomach so the oil can coat your system and neutralize your stomach walls for optimal benefits?”</p> <p><a href="https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/briefs/consuming-olive-oil-on-an-empty-stomach-health-benefits/91503">Some brands</a> have also echoed the idea that consuming olive oil on an empty stomach offers unique health benefits. But no. There’s no scientific evidence to suggest this is true.</p> <p>For a healthy but more satisfying snack, Kourtney might try including a handful of olives into her daily diet. Olives offer the same rich array of nutrients, including vitamins E, A and K, alongside essential minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and amino acids.</p> <p>Unlike olive oil, olives have the added benefit of a high fibre content. The combination of fat and fibre enhances feelings of satiety, making olives a nutritious addition to the diet.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/224018/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hazel-flight-536221">Hazel Flight</a>, Programme Lead Nutrition and Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edge-hill-university-1356">Edge Hill University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/drinking-olive-oil-a-health-and-beauty-elixir-or-celebrity-fad-in-a-shot-glass-224018">original article</a>.</em></p>

Beauty & Style

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"Stuff youse": Pensioner who's never owned a phone fights mobile detection camera fine

<p>A pensioner from New South Wales has disputed a fine he was issued for using his phone while driving, despite never owning a phone. </p> <p>Frank Singh, 77, was captured on a mobile phone detection camera while driving on the Pacific Motorway last September, and was issued a fine for $362. </p> <p>Mr Singh has refused to pay the fine, claiming that he was holding his wallet when the image was captured. </p> <p>He also claims to have never owned a mobile phone or a computer in his life, wondering how the camera made such a mistake. </p> <p>The senior man decided to appeal and take Revenue NSW to court, despite the risk of paying thousands in legal fees if he lost the case.</p> <p>"Looks like I'm guilty on it, but I'm not," he told <em>A Current Affair</em>. </p> <p>"I thought, what the bloody hell is this all about, I don't own a mobile phone. I've never used a mobile phone. What a load of s***."</p> <p>When questioned what the item could be, he said, "I think it could be my wallet."</p> <p>While Mr Singh admitted he can't specifically remember what he was doing at the time, he believes he was possibly placing his wallet on the passenger seat after paying for fuel. </p> <p>Unfortunately, the review of the fine was rejected and Frank was ordered to pay the $362, but he has not given up. </p> <p>"Then I thought stuff youse, I'm not guilty, I don't own a bloody phone," he said.</p> <p>While preparing to appeal the fine once more, Revenue NSW revoked the fine after issuing a letter to Mr Singh saying he would not be required in court following an investigation by the government body. </p> <p>"We have decided to cancel the fine," the letter read. </p> <p>"You little bloody beauty, how good's that," Mr Singh said on hearing the news, before planning to celebrate the win with a beer at his local pub. </p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair </em></p>

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Should you be worried about the amount of coffee or tea you drink?

<p>Before you reach for that cup of coffee or tea, have you ever thought about whether that caffeinated beverage is <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/debunks-vices-coffee-caffeine/">good or bad for you</a>?</p> <p><iframe title="Vices: Is coffee good or bad for you?" src="https://omny.fm/shows/debunks/vices-is-coffee-good-or-bad-for-you/embed?style=Cover" width="100%" height="180" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Most of us will drink coffee or tea each day.</p> <p>It helps keep us alert, especially in a world of the nine-to-five grind. Some workers rely on caffeine to get them through shift work and night shifts.</p> <p>Many, like me, would just collapse in a heap if it weren’t for that liquid black gold to keep us peppy in the morning.</p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">What is caffeine?</h2> <p>To get a better picture of how coffee or tea affects us, let’s examine the active ingredient: <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/podcast/huh-science-explained-stirring-the-science-of-caffeine/">caffeine</a>.</p> <p>Caffeine is a <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/caffeine" target="_blank" rel="noopener">drug</a>. It’s a white, odourless substance known to chemists as 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine and is made up of 8 carbon, 10 hydrogen, 4 nitrogen and 2 oxygen atoms.</p> <p>Caffeine occurs naturally in coffee beans, cocoa beans, kola nuts, and tea leaves.</p> <p>It is an adenosine antagonist, blocking the A1, A2A, and A2B receptors in the brain and body to promote wakefulness. Normally, adenosine (a chemical compound with a similar 3D structure to caffeine) binds to its receptors, slowing neural activity and making you sleepy.</p> <p>When caffeine, instead, binds to the receptors, adenosine is blocked and brain activity speeds up, making you feel more alert.</p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">History lesson</h2> <p>Tea and coffee are the most common way for humans to get their caffeine fix.</p> <p>Drinks made using coffee beans date back more than a thousand years to the coffee forests of the horn of Africa.</p> <p>Legend says that, around 800 CE, an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi noticed his goats were energetic and didn’t sleep when they ate the coffee beans. Coffee then spread eastward to the Arabian Peninsula, reaching Yemen in the 15th century, and Egypt, Syria, Persia and Turkey in the 1500s. From their it made it to Europe and eventually the whole world.</p> <p>But caffeine is also present in other beverages like tea, cola and even some foods like chocolate.</p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">Is it bad for you?</h2> <p>Given how prevalent the drug is, are there negative side effects we should be worried about?</p> <p>For one thing, it is an addictive substance. And the more you drink, the more you need.</p> <p>“Our body tends to adjust to a new level of consumption,” Kitty Pham, a PhD candidate at the University of South Australia and expert in nutritional and genetic epidemiology, tells <em>Cosmos</em>. “Your body does develop a tolerance to the caffeine. So, you start to need to drink more and more to feel the same effect as before.”</p> <p>Caffeine can also act as an anxiogenic – a substance that can trigger heightened levels of anxiety.</p> <p>Pham notes some risks associated with too much caffeine consumption over a long period of time.</p> <p>“Greater than 6 cups per day, we did see an increase in dementia risk,” she notes. “There’s also some research on how it might increase your cholesterol. There’s a substance in coffee called cafestol that can regulate your blood cholesterol. If you’re drinking too much coffee, it might be increasing your cholesterol. So, there are risks, but often they are at really high consumption.”</p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">What’s the limit?</h2> <p>So, how much caffeine is too much according to science?</p> <p>“That’s, the million-dollar question, isn’t it?” Pham laughs. “There’s a lot of varying research on it. It’s hard to tell a definite limit. But generally, most studies really agree that one to two cups of coffee, or an equivalent of 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine is safe and okay.”</p> <p>The average cup of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine. On average, instant coffee with one teaspoon of powder contains about 70 mg of caffeine, while a coffee pod has 60–90 mg.</p> <p>Other drinks containing might have even more caffeine, making it important to monitor your consumption more carefully.</p> <p>A 355 mL can of Red Bull energy drink has more than 110 mg of caffeine. Meanwhile, an average bar of dark chocolate has about 70 mg of caffeine.</p> <p>Many people are moving away from coffee to drinks like tea and matcha which may have <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/flavonoids-black-tea/">additional</a> <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/tea-drinkers-may-well-live-longer/">health</a> <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/black-tea-mortality-risk/">benefits</a>. A 100-gram cup of black tea has only about 20 mg of caffeine, while matcha can have 140–170 mg of caffeine!</p> <p>“Looking at the US, they usually recommend less than 400 milligrams. So overall, moderation and keeping your consumption to one to two cups – that’s what I’d recommend.”</p> <p>Now that I’ve written about caffeine, I think I need another cuppa. It’s only my second of the day, I swear. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <div> <h3><em><a href="https://link.cosmosmagazine.com/JQ4R"><noscript data-spai="1"><img decoding="async" class="alignleft size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/ret_img/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Apple-Podcasts.svg" data-spai-egr="1" alt="Subscribe to our podcasts" width="300" height="54" title="should you be worried about the amount of coffee or tea you drink? 2"></noscript></a><a href="https://link.cosmosmagazine.com/JQ4U"><noscript data-spai="1"><img decoding="async" class="alignleft size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/ret_img/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Spotify.svg" data-spai-egr="1" alt="Subscribe to our podcasts" width="300" height="54" title="should you be worried about the amount of coffee or tea you drink? 3"></noscript></a></em></h3> </div> <p><em><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/coffee-tea-caffeine-debunks/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/evrim-yazgin/">Evrim Yazgin</a>.</em></p>

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Aussies brave flood waters for a drink at the pub

<p>A group of flood-stricken Queenslanders are braving the aftermath of the devastating Cyclone Jasper, and risking it all to head out to their local pub. </p> <p>On the banks of the Tully River, 155km south of Cairns, locals flocked to the Hotel Euramo to wait out the storm, with everyone arriving by boat.</p> <p>Instead of the carpark being full of cars, 18 tinnies brought thirsty locals to their watering hole, in what has become a tradition for when the area is impacted by floods. </p> <p>Hotel owner Ollie Muzic told <em>ABC News Breakfast</em> on Monday that it was a local tradition for patrons to turn up at the by either boat or tractor when the town was flooded.</p> <p>"We had no tractors turn up yesterday, but the water level was higher than it ever was before," she said.</p> <p>"Everyone was very high-spirited. We are lucky our water disperses very quickly."</p> <p>Hotel manager Tish Ottone said patrons made the best of the bad situation, and did what they could do enjoy their day at the pub. </p> <p>"It was really good, the atmosphere was amazing," she said.</p> <p>"It was definitely on my bucket list (to arrive by boat) and it is ticked off now so it was surreal, it was pretty cool."</p> <p id="ext-gen32">Six people stayed at the pu8b overnight on Sunday and Ms Muzic said she and staff would be on the premises until waters recede, providing what they could to locals who need help. </p> <p>"The majority of people who are here say they got everything sorted yesterday morning before coming here, everything high and dry and there’s pretty well nothing much you can do except sit around until the water drops down," she said.</p> <p>Although the atmosphere at the pub was festive, Ms Muzic said she was mindful of those in more catastrophic conditions in Queensland, as Cyclone Jasper continues to wreak havoc.</p> <p>"We do understand there are a lot of places in north Queensland absolutely devastated by these floods," she said.</p> <p>"Our hearts go to everybody in Cairns and the surrounding areas who have lost their homes and roads."</p> <p>"Hopefully our government gets in to fix everything up as quick as possible, it’s the week of Christmas."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

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Christmas drinks anyone? Why alcohol before bedtime leaves you awake at 3am, desperate for sleep

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/madeline-sprajcer-1315489">Madeline Sprajcer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charlotte-gupta-347235">Charlotte Gupta</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chris-irwin-249481">Chris Irwin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/grace-vincent-1484516">Grace Vincent</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>You’ve come home after a long day at work, you have dinner, put the kids to bed, and then you have your usual nightcap before drifting off to sleep. Or, perhaps you’re at the pub for the work Christmas party, and you think you’ll just have one more drink before heading home.</p> <p>That last drink might help you fall asleep easily. But your nightcap can also wreck a good night’s sleep. How could it do both?</p> <p>Here’s what’s going on in your body when you drink alcohol just before bedtime. And if you want to drink at the Christmas party, we have some tips on how to protect your sleep.</p> <h2>What happens to my body when I drink?</h2> <p>Soon after you drink, alcohol enters your bloodstream and travels to your brain.</p> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1530-0277.1998.tb03695.x">There</a>, it affects chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2700603/">slows down communication</a> between nerve cells.</p> <p>Certain <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4040959/">regions of the brain</a> are particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. When alcohol interacts with cells in these regions, the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826822/">overall effect</a> leads to those characteristic feelings of relaxation, lowered inhibitions, slurred speech, and may induce feelings of drowsiness and lethargy.</p> <p>Alcohol can also have immediate effects on the heart and circulatory system. Blood vessels widen, resulting in a <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11906-021-01160-7">drop in blood pressure</a>, which can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded.</p> <h2>What happens soon after a nightcap?</h2> <p>Drinking alcohol before sleeping is like flipping a switch. At first, alcohol has a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826822/">sedative effect</a> and you will probably feel <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23347102/">more relaxed</a> and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-62227-0#:%7E:text=In%20this%20large%2C%20population%20based,sleep%20(cross%20sectional%20analyses).">drift off easily</a>.</p> <p>At this point, you still have a high level of alcohol in your blood. But don’t be fooled. As your body <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5821259/">processes the alcohol</a>, and the night goes on, alcohol actually <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/acer.12621">disrupts your sleep</a>.</p> <h2>And later that night?</h2> <p>As your body processes the alcohol and your blood alcohol level drops, your brain rebounds from the drowsiness you would have felt earlier in the night.</p> <p>This disturbs your sleep, and can wake you up <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1300/J465v26n01_01">multiple times</a>, particularly in the second half of the night. You may also have vivid and stressful <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5821259/">dreams</a>.</p> <p>This sleep disruption is mainly to the deep, “rapid eye movement” or REM sleep.</p> <p>This type of sleep plays an important role in regulating your emotions and for your cognitive function. So not getting enough explains why you wake up feeling pretty lousy and groggy.</p> <p>Drinking alcohol before bedtime also tends to mean you <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2775419/?source=post_page---------------------------">sleep less overall</a>, meaning important rest and recharge time is cut short.</p> <p>There are also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31234199/">long-term impacts</a> of alcohol on sleep. Moderate and heavy drinkers consistently have <a href="https://academic.oup.com/sleepadvances/article/3/1/zpac023/6632721">poor sleep quality</a> and more <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-62227-0#:%7E:text=In%20this%20large%2C%20population%20based,sleep%20(cross%20sectional%20analyses).">sleep disturbances</a> over time.</p> <h2>How about the Christmas party then?</h2> <p>If you plan to drink this holiday season, here are some tips to minimise the effect of alcohol on your sleep:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>swap every other drink</strong>. Try swapping every second drink for a non-alcoholic drink. The more alcohol you drink, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/44/1/zsaa135/5871424?casa_token=okbJAuf8TXUAAAAA:ye_q-DACToxvj8H3IVaiKrjNkDhHZnl-LKJdds3iteaKyzJFuHUzitlRv45DqxNO-FraDRAlQMV53z8">the more</a> sleep disruption you can expect. Reducing how much you drink in any one sitting can minimise the effect on your sleep</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime</strong>. If you give your body a chance to process the alcohol before you go to sleep, your sleep will be less disrupted</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>eat while you drink</strong>. Drinking on an empty stomach is going to worsen the effects of alcohol as the alcohol will be absorbed <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2006.00588.x?casa_token=TQiCqcbasYAAAAAA:GbEvnTT82aB3_sPfmJLOQXIV3ivjnbZdIoP2_XZBa8IDZ0YLaPxNfE6DMHLgH7obnpA22VDsM4vyGZV4dQ">faster</a>. So try to eat something while you’re drinking</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>ditch the espresso martinis and other caffeinated drinks</strong>. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087079207000937?casa_token=NJsobF-C-vwAAAAA:opzPjrglPdZTwXEo7rHil5vm0a1K3KmXw9vp0Het-eRHZEWbfRAA40vgicU3Z5kC8x7uEJF39C8">Caffeine</a> can make it hard to get to sleep, and hard to stay asleep</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>be careful if you have sleep apnoea</strong>. People who have sleep apnoea (when their upper airway is repeatedly blocked during sleep) can be even more impacted by drinking alcohol. That’s because alcohol can act as a muscle relaxant, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/5/4/318/2753287">leading to</a> more snoring, and lower oxygen levels in the blood. If you have sleep apnoea, limiting how much alcohol you drink is the best way to avoid these effects</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>drink plenty of water</strong>. Staying hydrated will help you <a href="https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/42/2/zsy210/5155420">sleep better</a> and will hopefully stave off the worst of tomorrow’s hangover.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/216834/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> </li> </ul> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/madeline-sprajcer-1315489">Madeline Sprajcer</a>, Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charlotte-gupta-347235">Charlotte Gupta</a>, Postdoctoral research fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chris-irwin-249481">Chris Irwin</a>, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Health Sciences &amp; Social Work, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/grace-vincent-1484516">Grace Vincent</a>, Senior Lecturer, Appleton Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, Senior Lecturer and Discipline Lead in Nutrition, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/christmas-drinks-anyone-why-alcohol-before-bedtime-leaves-you-awake-at-3am-desperate-for-sleep-216834">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Drinking alcohol this Christmas and New Year? These medicines really don’t mix

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nial-wheate-96839">Nial Wheate</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-pace-1401278">Jessica Pace</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>A glass or two of champagne with Christmas lunch. A cool crisp beer at the beach. Some cheeky cocktails with friends to see in the New Year. There seem to be so many occasions to unwind with an alcoholic drink this summer.</p> <p>But if you’re taking certain medications while drinking alcohol, this can affect your body in a number of ways. Drinking alcohol with some medicines means they may not work so well. With others, you risk a life-threatening overdose.</p> <p>Here’s what you need to know if you’re taking medication over summer and plan to drink.</p> <h2>Why is this a big deal?</h2> <p>After you take a medicine, it travels to the stomach. From there, your body shuttles it to the liver where the drug is metabolised and broken down before it goes into your blood stream. Every medicine you take is provided at a dose that takes into account the amount of metabolism that occurs in the liver.</p> <p>When you drink alcohol, this is also broken down in the liver, and it can affect how much of the drug is metabolised.</p> <p>Some medicines are metabolised <em>more</em>, which can mean not enough reaches your blood stream to be effective.</p> <p>Some medicines are metabolised <em>less</em>. This means you get a much higher dose than intended, which could lead to an overdose. The effects of alcohol (such as sleepiness) can act in addition to similar effects of a medicine.</p> <p>Whether or not you will have an interaction, and what interaction you have, depends on many factors. These include the medicine you are taking, the dose, how much alcohol you drink, your age, genes, sex and overall health.</p> <p>Women, older people and people with liver issues are more likely to have a drug interaction with alcohol.</p> <h2>Which medicines don’t mix well with alcohol?</h2> <p>Many medicines interact with alcohol regardless of whether they are prescribed by your doctor or bought over the counter, such as <a href="https://www.drugs.com/article/herbal-supplements-alcohol.html">herbal medicines</a>.</p> <p><strong>1. Medicines + alcohol = drowsiness, coma, death</strong></p> <p>Drinking alcohol and taking a medicine that depresses the <a href="https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/depressants/">central nervous system</a> to reduce arousal and stimulation can have additive effects. Together, these can make you extra drowsy, slow your breathing and heart rate and, in extreme cases, lead to coma and death. These effects are more likely if you use more than one of this type of medicine.</p> <p>Medicines to look out for include those for depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, pain (except <a href="https://www.nps.org.au/australian-prescriber/articles/alcohol-and-paracetamol">paracetamol</a>), sleep disturbances (such as insomnia), allergies, and colds and flu. It’s best not to drink alcohol with these medicines, or to keep your alcohol intake to a minimum.</p> <p><strong>2. Medicines + alcohol = more effects</strong></p> <p>Mixing alcohol with some medicines increases the effect of those medicines.</p> <p>One example is with the sleeping tablet zolpidem, which is <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/news/product-recalls/zolpidem-stilnox">not to be taken with alcohol</a>. Rare, but serious, side effects are strange behaviour while asleep, such as sleep-eating, sleep-driving or sleep-walking, which are more likely with alcohol.</p> <p><strong>3. Medicines + craft beer or home brew = high blood pressure</strong></p> <p>Some types of medicines only interact with some types of alcohol.</p> <p>Examples include some medicines for depression, such as phenelzine, tranylcypromine and moclobemide, the antibiotic linezolid, the Parkinson’s drug selegiline, and the cancer drug procarbazine.</p> <p>These so-called <a href="https://www.mydr.com.au/medicine/monoamine-oxidase-inhibitors-maois-for-depression/">monoamine oxidase inhibitors</a> <a href="https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/145802/oncol_maoi.pdf">only interact with</a> some types of boutique and artisan beers, beers with visible sediment, Belgian, Korean, European and African beers, and home-made beers and wine.</p> <p>These types of alcohol contain high levels of tyramine, a naturally occurring substance usually broken down by your body that doesn’t ordinarily cause any harm.</p> <p>However, monoamine oxidase inhibitors prevent your body from breaking down tyramine. This increases levels in your body and can cause your blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels.</p> <p><strong>4. Medicines + alcohol = effects even after you stop drinking</strong></p> <p>Other medicines interact because they affect the way your body breaks down alcohol.</p> <p>If you drink alcohol while using such medicines you may you feel nauseous, vomit, become flushed in the face and neck, feel breathless or dizzy, your heart may beat faster than usual, or your blood pressure may drop.</p> <p>This can occur even after you stop treatment, then drink alcohol. For example, if you are taking metronidazole you should avoid alcohol both while using the medicine and for at least 24 hours after you stop taking it.</p> <p>An example of where alcohol changes the amount of the medicine or related substances in the body is acitretin. This medication is used to treat skin conditions such as severe psoriasis and to prevent skin cancer in people who have had an organ transplant.</p> <p>When you take acitretin, it changes into another substance – <a href="https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&amp;id=CP-2017-CMI-02034-1&amp;d=20221221172310101">etretinate</a> – before it is removed from your body. Alcohol increases the amount of etretinate in your body.</p> <p>This is especially important as etretinate can cause birth defects. To prevent this, if you are a woman of child-bearing age you should avoid alcohol while using the medicine and for two months after you stop taking it.</p> <h2>Myths about alcohol and medicines</h2> <p><strong>Alcohol and birth control</strong></p> <p>One of the most common myths about medicines and alcohol is that you can’t drink while using <a href="https://youly.com.au/blog/sexual-reproductive-health/does-alcohol-make-the-pill-less-effective/">the contraceptive pill</a>.</p> <p>It is generally safe to use alcohol with the pill as it <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/birth-control-and-alcohol#:%7E:text=There's%20a%20bit%20of%20good,a%20less%20effective%20birth%20control.">doesn’t directly affect</a> how well birth control works.</p> <p>But the pill is most effective when taken at the same time each day. If you’re drinking heavily, you’re more likely to forget to do this the next day.</p> <p>Alcohol can also make some people nauseous and vomit. If you vomit within three hours of taking the pill, it will not work. This increases your risk of pregnancy.</p> <p>Contraceptive pills can also affect your response to alcohol as the hormones they contain can change the way your body <a href="https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/birth-control">removes alcohol</a>. This means you can get drunk faster, and stay drunk for longer, than you normally would.</p> <p><strong>Alcohol and antibiotics</strong></p> <p>Then there’s the myth about not mixing alcohol with any <a href="https://theconversation.com/mondays-medical-myth-you-cant-mix-antibiotics-with-alcohol-4407">antibiotics</a>. This only applies to <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/medicines/medicinal-product/aht,21161/metronidazole">metronidazole</a> and <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/medicines/brand/amt,1011571000168100/linezolid-apo">linezolid</a>.</p> <p>Otherwise, it is generally safe to use alcohol with antibiotics, as alcohol does not affect how well they work.</p> <p>But if you can, it is best to avoid alcohol while taking antibiotics. Antibiotics and alcohol have similar side effects, such as an upset stomach, dizziness and drowsiness. Using the two together means you are more likely to have these side effects. Alcohol can also reduce your energy and increase how long it takes for you to recover.</p> <h2>Where can I go for advice?</h2> <p>If you plan on drinking alcohol these holidays and are concerned about any interaction with your medicines, don’t just stop taking your medicines.</p> <p>Your pharmacist can advise you on whether it is safe for you to drink based on the medicines you are taking, and if not, provide advice on alternatives.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/196646/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nial-wheate-96839"><em>Nial Wheate</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of the Sydney Pharmacy School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-pace-1401278">Jessica Pace</a>, Associate Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/drinking-alcohol-this-christmas-and-new-year-these-medicines-really-dont-mix-196646">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Eagle-eyed motorists spot funny typo on "confusing" new interchange

<p>The new interchange at Rozelle, in Sydney's inner west, has already copped backlash just days after its opening,  because of the confusing signage and changed traffic conditions causing chaos among commuters. </p> <p>Now, motorists have spotted another awkward blunder at the bustling "spaghetti junction", intended to improve traffic. </p> <p>Just metres away from the main intersection along Victoria Road and Darling Street, some poor road worker made the same typo twice, in a left-hand turn lane.</p> <p>Instead of saying  "buses excepted", they painted "buses expected", and now their mistake has gone viral on social media. </p> <p>"If I was a road, I'd expect buses too," one joked.</p> <p>"I get my bus near there and I'm constantly expecting buses that don't show, so seems accurate," another quipped. </p> <p>The interchange itself has been years in the making and opened up on Sunday. </p> <p>It was intended to connect drivers to the M4 and M8 tunnels, the City West Link, the Western Distributor and give access to the Anzac Bridge with a toll-free bypass of Victoria Road. </p> <p>While the aim of it was to improve traffic flow, just four days after its opening locals are still complaining about the chaotic strip, specifically it's poorly designed signage that has reportedly baffled drivers. </p> <p>One of the new signs suggested there was a toll from Iron Cove Bridge to Anzac Bridge, and while it is actually free, commuters are avoiding the tunnel and trying to switch across multiple roads to avoid presumed fee. </p> <p>Earlier this week, NSW Premier Chris Minns said: "Clearly it's confusing, that spaghetti junction is difficult to navigate and a lot of cars' GPS haven't caught up.</p> <p>"We'll change that sign and I understand the Minister for Roads is putting up those portable electronic signs to show people that you can use that road in particular and not pay the toll."</p> <p><em>Images: Twitter/ 9News</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Channel 10 newsreader admits to driving while four times over the legal limit

<p>Natasha Exelby, a well-known journalist and former Channel 10 newsreader, recently found herself in the spotlight for an entirely different reason than her on-air mishap in 2017.</p> <p>On a fateful day last June, she was involved in a drink driving incident in Toorak, Melbourne. This incident marked a low point in her life, but it also sheds light on the profound impact of mental health struggles and the road to recovery.</p> <p>Exelby, 34, appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates' Court and made a candid admission: she had driven while suspended and under the influence of alcohol, registering a blood alcohol concentration of .220, over four times the legal limit. She narrowly escaped conviction but didn't escape the consequences of her actions.</p> <p>In her statement to the <a href="https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts-victoria/journalist-natasha-exelby-busted-drink-driving-after-crashing-into-parked-car-while-four-times-over-legal-limit/news-story/f710cdbc849622fb4e298b61c049c1f3" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Herald Sun</a>, Exelby took full responsibility for her actions, citing her ongoing battle with major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. She courageously acknowledged her struggles and the role they played in her regrettable choices that day.</p> <p>"It's no secret that I've suffered from major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for many years," she said. "At the time of the incident, I was going through a very dark period with multiple medication changes. Never in my life did I think I would be capable of what happened but regardless of my mental health, my actions were shocking beyond words and I take full responsibility."</p> <p>Her journey towards this dark moment was marked by openness about her mental health. In September 2022, she appeared on Studio 10, where she revealed the depths of her internal battles. She discussed experiencing episodes of inexplicable crying, a common symptom of depression. This revelation was crucial in the context of R U OK? Day, emphasizing the importance of checking on the well-being of those around us.</p> <p>Natasha's admission serves as a stark reminder that mental health issues are every bit as valid as physical ailments. She compared her experience with depression to "drowning" and disclosed that she had been on medication and in therapy for major depression for years. Her message is clear: it's okay to seek help when battling these internal demons, and recovery is possible, even if it's a long and winding road.</p> <p>Exelby's struggle with mental health is by no means a recent development. She revealed that she had been dealing with major depression since the age of 15, highlighting the enduring nature of the condition. Her story is an inspiration for others who are going through similar challenges, proving that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even when it feels like the journey will never end.</p> <p>Before her battle with depression and her recent legal troubles, Exelby made headlines in 2017 for an <a href="https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/flashback/one-year-later-why-natasha-exelby-isnt-haunted-by-abc-blooper/news-story/24398919d522c0029e6d7963f165897d" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on-air gaffe</a> during an ABC news broadcast. Despite the initial shock, she took the incident in stride, even finding humour in it and acknowledging the role that social media and celebrities like Russell Crowe played in making the video go viral. It was a moment of resilience and self-awareness that foreshadowed her future ability to face her own mental health struggles.</p> <p>Exelby's open honesty, her admission of her mistakes and her ongoing battle with mental health challenges is a reminder that anyone can face difficulties, regardless of their public persona. By sharing her experiences, Exelby is contributing to the ongoing conversation about mental health, helping to break down the stigma that often surrounds it.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Legal

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Common car act could cost touchy drivers a hefty fine

<p>A worried driver has shared his concerns over being slapped with a potential fine after being caught holding his girlfriend's hand while driving. </p> <p>The man questioned whether the hand holding warranted a fine, after the couple passed a road safety camera in the "compromising" position. </p> <p>“Me and my girlfriend were holding hands and there was a camera on the left side, will they fine me?” the poster anonymously posted in a Facebook group for discussions about mobile phone detection camera locations in Australia.</p> <p>Online responses were varied from commenters, as many thought he driver could attract a fine as the act could be misconstrued as a more serious offence. </p> <p>One person wrote, “Was there a (mobile phone) between your hand and your girlfriends?" while another cheekily added “As long as she was just holding your hand.”</p> <p>But while some people mocked the question, others were closer to the mark, writing, “Holding her hand is no problem other than you may not have had effective control of the vehicle.”</p> <p>“Both hands on the steering wheel is my take on it,” another said.</p> <p>While police and transport authorities confirmed to <a href="https://7news.com.au/travel/driving/common-driving-act-that-could-cost-romantic-drivers-up-to-514-c-12217058" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>7News</em></a> that no specific rule exists for holding hands, if the hand-holding is deemed to constitute a failure to maintain proper control of a motor vehicle, that would be an offence under Australian Road Rule 297 of the Road Traffic Act 1961.</p> <p>The rule is observed nationally, but not all states fine offending motorists equally.</p> <p>Those who are caught red-handed could be fined between $215 and $514 depending on where they are.</p> <p>A Department of Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said that drivers should use their best judgement, saying, “Drivers must also drive with care and attention, as there are significant penalties for more serious offending.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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