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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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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>

Body

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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>

Body

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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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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>

Legal

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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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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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No gavels, no hearsay and lots of drinking: a law expert ranks legal dramas by their accuracy

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-mitchell-1468293">Dale Mitchell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-sunshine-coast-1068">University of the Sunshine Coast</a></em></p> <p>From Elle Woods in Legally Blonde to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10383441.2015.1087367">Jennifer Walters in She-Hulk</a>, Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird to Denny Crane in Boston Legal, our popular culture is often where we first see and witness legal practice.</p> <p>Sometimes this comes via the silver screen, other times television. But it would be wrong to think that all we see on legal television shows is accurate – even when it claims to capture reality.</p> <p>Most legal dramas are terrible at capturing the realities of law.</p> <h2>Not accurate: Law(less) and (dis)Order</h2> <p>Law and Order (1990-) innovated television drama by showcasing both the investigation of a crime by police, and then its prosecution in court. With its multiple spin-offs, including Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (1999-) and the shortlived Law and Order: Trial by Jury (2005-2006) (which had the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aolG65V1Dx8">best theme song of all the series</a>), the Law and Order franchise is a televisual legal juggernaut.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aolG65V1Dx8?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>As with most serials, Law and Order presents the criminal justice system as moving quicker than you can say <em>dun dun</em>. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The mean duration of criminal law matters in Australian higher courts was <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/crime-and-justice/criminal-courts-australia/latest-release">almost one year</a> (50 weeks) across 2021-22.</p> <p>While <a href="http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_reg/ucpr1999305/s5.html">procedural rules in civil matters</a> require courts to facilitate the “just and efficient resolution of disputes at minimum expense”, in criminal law, speed and efficiency must not be prioritised over accuracy: a person’s liberty is at stake.</p> <p>Most criminal matters do not proceed to a full trial as an accused will often plead guilty to the charges. As a result, the matter proceeds to sentencing without prosecutors needing to prove the offence. The rates of this occurring are quite alarming. <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/crime-and-justice/criminal-courts-australia/latest-release">Data across 2021-22</a> reveals over 75% of defendants in Australian courts entered a guilty plea, and almost four in five criminal convictions (79%) resulted from a guilty plea.</p> <p><a href="https://law.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/1705761/32_1_8.pdf">Research suggests</a> defendants plead guilty for a variety of reasons, including to avoid the cost of a trial and to receive a lesser sentence. <a href="https://theconversation.com/pandemic-pushed-defendants-to-plead-guilty-more-often-including-innocent-people-pleading-to-crimes-they-didnt-commit-165056">Data from the United States</a> suggests the pressures of the pandemic led to innocent people pleading guilty to crimes they didn’t commit.</p> <p>If Law and Order was a more accurate reflection of criminal law, matters would proceed immediately to sentencing due to guilty pleas. And should an accused be found guilty, a chunk of their sentence would be reduced by time served awaiting trial.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/60GV5lv8h3o?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Not accurate: Suits</h2> <p>Suits (2011-19) centres around law firm partner Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and his mentorship of Mike Ross (Patrick Adams) – the “lawyer” who never graduated law school and provides legal advice thanks to his photographic memory.</p> <p>This is, obviously, a brutal ethical breach for all involved, and clearly fraud. In Australia, law students who present themselves to be lawyers are <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-07/law-graduate-jacob-reichman-fined-posing-solicitor-gold-coast/7824324">subject to sanctions</a> by the Legal Services Commission. They can <a href="https://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/biglaw/35821-fake-lawyer-cops-suspended-jail-sentence">cause harm to clients</a> who have hired their services. And the Legal Admissions Board may <a href="https://www.qlsproctor.com.au/2020/11/chief-justice-wants-answers-before-considering-lawyer-impersonators-bid-to-become-legal-practitioner/">deny their entry</a> into the profession.</p> <p>(Spoilers) Ross is eventually sentenced to two years in prison for this fraud, a similar sentence to <a href="https://www.law.com/thelegalintelligencer/almID/1202786675709/">a recent case in the United States</a>, but he only serves three months before solving a crime and earning early release. More unrealistic than this early release is that Ross does fairly quickly thereafter gain admission to the profession, which seems unlikely to occur so soon after such an act of fraud.</p> <p>While Suits has left its mark(le) on the popular imagination of law, it fails to address one of the primary duties of civil litigation: the duty of disclosure.</p> <p>The MacGuffin-ing of law is common in TV serials. It’s the “smoking gun” found on the day of the trial, or for the lawyers in Suits, the random document which shows up <em>during</em> the trial to turn the case - dramatically presented by our protagonists as they flail into court armed with this data sans ethics.</p> <p>This is not quite accurate.</p> <p>In adversarial legal systems like Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US, civil litigation rules <a href="http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_reg/ucpr1999305/s211.html">require parties</a> to disclose to one another all documents in their possession or control which are directly relevant to a matter in dispute.</p> <p>This is a continuing duty, so if you discover such a document at any time during the case, it must be disclosed. While <a href="http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_reg/ucpr1999305/s212.html">exceptions</a> based on various privileges may apply, this essentially means civil litigation must be run in an “all cards on the table” manner. Randomly producing undisclosed material at trial requires the leave of the court and may result in orders of contempt and <a href="http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_reg/ucpr1999305/s225.html">cost penalties</a>.</p> <p>It’s not like the lawyers of Suits have ever really been concerned about ethics, though.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wUh9jomHZp4?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Not accurate: How to Get Away with Murder(ing rules of evidence)</h2> <p>While most lawyers would support making it a criminal offence to critique Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder (2014-20) presents one of the most common offences within legal dramas: the haphazard approach to rules of evidence.</p> <p>Annalise Keating (Davis) and her ragtag team of morally illiterate law students (although I never see them studying?!?!) manipulate people to obtain evidence and then dramatically prompt witnesses on the stand to read this information into the record, or otherwise “sneak” it into the trial.</p> <p>This is not accurate. And it ignores the basic reality that so much of legal practice is about not just obtaining evidence, but ensuring that evidence is admissible in court.</p> <p>One of the most important rules of evidence deals with <a href="http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ea199580/s59.html"><em>hearsay evidence</em></a>. A court cannot allow evidence to be considered if its reliability is unable to be interrogated. Witnesses can only present evidence that they saw, heard or perceived themselves. Unless an exception to the hearsay rule applies, such evidence would be inadmissible.</p> <p>Like in Suits, these approaches to presenting evidence may have serious implications. This poor trial management results in <a href="https://www.aic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/rpp074.pdf">delays to criminal trials.</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rMB_Gw5-T-I?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Accurate: Fisk</h2> <p>Fisk (2021-) follows Helen Tudor-Fisk (Kitty Flanagan), an established contract lawyer whose personal dramas lead her to move to the boutique Melbourne probate law firm of Gruber and Gruber (played by Marty Sheargold and Julia Zamero).</p> <p>Fisk excels in showing the importance of lawyer-client relations and the word-of-mouth that sustains much of small legal practice. It’s the anti-Suits, and Fisk is more powerful for it.</p> <p>The discussions of wills and estates and most basic legal principles in Fisk are mostly sound – and the show doesn’t need to get into “legalese” as matters are resolved out-of-court.</p> <p>This is a distinct reality of law: litigation is a last resort. Forms of <a href="https://www.qls.com.au/Practising-law-in-Qld/ADR/Alternative-Dispute-Resolution/Types-of-Alternative-Dispute-Resolution-(ADR)">alternative dispute resolution</a>, including mediation, negotiation and conciliation, have become the primary way of resolving legal disputes.</p> <p>Fuelled by <a href="https://www.ag.gov.au/legal-system/alternative-dispute-resolution/civil-dispute-resolution-act-2011">legislative changes</a> which require the exhaustion of alternative dispute resolution measures before proceeding to litigation, and a pursuit of reduced costs, the drama of trial is not something anyone should yearn for.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N1Qt0Wo1gGo?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Accurate: Rake</h2> <p>Cleaver Greene, a character said to be loosely based on the career of a Sydney barrister, shows us the absolute madness of work as a “<a href="https://nswbar.asn.au/the-bar-association/senior-counsel#:%7E:text=Senior%20counsel%20are%20barristers%20who,a%20QC%20or%20queen's%20counsel.">silk</a>”. Rake excels at showing the reality of law. The show raises interesting and accurate questions of law (yes, it is true there is no <a href="https://opus.lib.uts.edu.au/bitstream/10453/18992/1/2011006119.pdf">explicit offence</a> of cannibalism in New South Wales) and presents Australian court process accurately.</p> <p>Thankfully, there’s not a gavel in sight. <a href="https://www.survivelaw.com/post/941-working-hardly-random-facts-about-the-gavel">Australian courts <em>do not</em> use gavels</a>, and their presence in legal dramas in Australian and UK courts shows a lack of attention to detail. The presence of the gavel as a symbol of justice is <a href="http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/NSWBarAssocNews/1994/17.pdf">an entirely American invention</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qWWI2EdOssk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Rake is accurate, in part, because the site of drama is rarely the courtroom, but rather Greene’s personal life. The accuracy of that element for law I will leave up to the jury. But with a <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13218719.2013.822783">2014 study</a> finding 35% of lawyers engaged in hazardous or harmful drinking and another showing <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-15/study-finds-high-rates-anxiety-depression-in-legal-profession/11412832">high rates of anxiety and depression</a> in the legal profession, the evidence is compelling.<!-- 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/212880/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/dale-mitchell-1468293"><em>Dale Mitchell</em></a><em>, Lecturer in Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-sunshine-coast-1068">University of the Sunshine Coast</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/no-gavels-no-hearsay-and-lots-of-drinking-a-law-expert-ranks-legal-dramas-by-their-accuracy-212880">original article</a>.</em></p>

Legal

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These 8 food and drink favourites are bad for your brain

<p><strong>Bad foods for your brain</strong></p> <p>Following a healthy diet is essential to maintaining optimal brain health. Avocados and fatty fish; bone broth, berries and broccoli – they’re all brain-boosting superstars. But there are plenty of foods that have the opposite effect and can sap your smarts, affecting your memory and mood. Therefore, it’s important to cut or reduce the following food from your diet to mitigate their effects.</p> <p><strong>Fried foods</strong></p> <p>Fried chicken and French fries won’t just widen your waistline, they are also bad for your brain. In a study published in 2016 in the Journal of Nutritional Science, people who ate diets high in fried foods scored poorly on cognitive tests that evaluated learning, memory and brain function. Conversely, those who ate more plant-based foods scored higher.</p> <p>“Scientists think it may have something to do with inflammation and reduction in brain tissue size,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, co-author of Skinny Liver. “When you look at aspects of one of the great brain studies – the MIND diet – it clearly shows which foods may cause or reduce inflammation in the brain. Fried foods are on the NO list, while berries, olive oil, whole grains and food containing omega 3 are on the YES list.”</p> <p><strong>Sugar-sweetened beverages</strong></p> <p>You probably know to stay away from soft drinks. But you should also beware of fruit juice, energy drinks and sweet tea. Why, you ask? The same reason soft drink is among the bad foods for your brain: sugar.</p> <p>“High amounts of sugar causes neurological damage” because it triggers inflammation, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Wesley Delbridge. A study published in 2017 in Alzheimer’s &amp; Dementia backs that up. Researchers found that people who regularly consume sugary drinks are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus – the part of the brain important for learning and memory – than those who don’t.</p> <p>Instead of drinking fruit juice or sweet tea high in sugar, try sweetening water or tea with slices of oranges, lemons, or limes.</p> <p><strong>Refined carbs</strong></p> <p>White rice, white bread, white pasta and other processed food with a high glycemic index don’t just cause major spikes in blood sugar, they also rank with the ‘bad foods for your brain’. Specifically, these foods can have a negative effect on your mental health. A study, published in 2015 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that food with a high glycemic index can raise the risk of depression in post-menopausal women. Women who ate more lactose, fibre, fruit and vegetables, on the other hand, showed a significant decrease in symptoms of depression.</p> <p>Swap the white carbs for complex carbs like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and farro. All of these contain fibre, which nurtures your gut bacteria and regulates inflammation – all good things for your brain health.</p> <p><strong>Excess alcohol</strong></p> <p>There is a sweet spot for alcohol consumption, according to neurologist Dr David Perlmutter and author of Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar. While the occasional glass of red wine is okay, drinking in excess can be toxic to your brain function, no matter your age. Research, including a study published in 2017 in the peer-reviewed medical trade journal BMJ, found that moderate drinking can damage the brain. The hippocampus is particularly vulnerable.</p> <p>To protect your brain, limit alcohol consumption to no more than one standard drink per day for women and two per day for men. According to Australia’s national alcohol guidelines, one standard drink is defined as containing 10 grams of alcohol. </p> <p><strong>Artificially sweetened beverages</strong></p> <p>Instead of a sugar-sweetened beverage, maybe you turn to the occasional diet soft drink. But make a habit of it and you could be upping your risk of dementia and stroke, suggests a study published in 2017 in Stroke. Researchers found that participants who drank diet drinks daily were almost three times as likely to have a stroke or develop dementia when compared to those who didn’t.</p> <p>“We seek out diet soft drinks for its sweet delivery of liquid,” says Kirkpatrick. “That sweet taste remains on our taste buds, making us crave more.”</p> <p>To kick the habit, she suggests going cold turkey. “Eliminate all sources of sweet from the taste buds to retrain the brain not to want it in the first place,” she says. “Sprucing up water with lemons, limes or berries, or having flavoured seltzer without added sugar can help, as well.”</p> <p><strong>Processed meats </strong></p> <p>If you like to eat processed meats, you may run a greater risk of developing dementia, suggests an April 2020 study published in Neurology. Although the study does not prove cause and effect, the researchers found that dementia was more common among participants who ate highly processed meats, such as sausages, cured meats and pâté. People without dementia were more likely to eat a diverse diet that included fruit, vegetables, seafood and poultry, according to the findings.</p> <p>Highly processed foods are most likely the primary cause of results linked to the reduction in brain tissue size and inflammation, which impacts brain health, says Kirkpatrick.</p> <p><strong>Fast food </strong></p> <p>For starters, the high levels of saturated fat found in greasy burgers and fries can make it harder to fight off Alzheimer-causing plaque. Plus, the level of sodium found in the average fast-food fix can cause brain fog. How so?  High blood pressure, often brought on by eating too many salty foods, can restrict blood to the brain and negatively impair focus, organisational skills and memory, suggests a review of studies published in 2016 in Hypertension.</p> <p>To break a fast food habit, Kirkpatrick suggests this trick: “Start with altering what you order,” she says. “Avoid fried options and opt for more whole grains and plants.” Then reduce the number of days you buy fast food by half.</p> <p><strong>Tuna</strong></p> <p>While the occasional tuna sandwich is no big deal, you might want to think twice before making it your go-to lunch. That’s because tuna – as well as swordfish, shark (flake), bill fish and deep sea perch – has higher levels of mercury than many other types of seafood. A study published in Integrative Medicine shows that people with high levels of the heavy metal in their bloodstream had a 5% drop in cognitive function.</p> <p>But you don’t have to banish seafood from your plate forever. Advice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (which reflects the fish we eat in our region and its mercury content) recommends 2-3 serves per week of fish and seafood, including canned or fresh tuna (one serve equals 150g), except for fish such as orange roughy (deep sea perch), catfish, shark (flake) or billfish (swordfish/marlin), which you should only consume 1 serve per week and no other fish that week.</p> <p>Try swapping these varieties of fish for omega-3-rich sources such as wild salmon and lake trout, which have been associated with better brain health, says Kirkpatrick.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/the-8-worst-foods-for-your-brain" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Food & Wine

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A drink each day or just on the weekends? Here’s why alcohol-free days are important

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/megan-lee-490875">Megan Lee</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-roberts-1456408">Emily Roberts</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p>In recent years, drinkers have become more aware of the health dangers of drinking alcohol, from disease to risky behaviour and poorer wellbeing. Events like the just-finished <a href="https://www.dryjuly.com/">Dry July</a>, <a href="https://febfast.org.au/">Febfast</a> and <a href="https://hellosundaymorning.org/2020/01/15/10-practical-tips-for-staying-af-alcohol-free/">Hello Sunday Morning</a> – when people voluntarily abstain from alcohol for periods of time – are growing in popularity and raise awareness about the risks involved in overindulgence.</p> <p>Many people extend these alcohol-free periods throughout the year by incorporating alcohol-free days into their weekly routines, while still enjoying a drink on the weekends.</p> <p>But does drinking the same amount spread over the week versus just on the weekends, make any difference health-wise?</p> <h2>How much is too much?</h2> <p>Australian alcohol <a href="https://alcoholthinkagain.com.au/alcohol-and-your-health/alcohol-guidelines#:%7E:text=Alcohol%20guideline%20for%20adults,standard%20drinks%20on%20any%20day">guidelines</a> and the <a href="https://www.who.int/europe/news/item/04-01-2023-no-level-of-alcohol-consumption-is-safe-for-our-health">World Health Organization</a> state there is no safe level of alcohol use. For adults who do drink, the guidelines recommend a maximum of four drinks in one sitting or ten in a week. (A zero-alcohol approach is recommended for under-18s and during pregnancy.)</p> <p>For some, this may not sound like much at all. One in four Australians exceed the recommendation of no more than four drinks in one session with men <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol/alcohol-tobacco-other-drugs-australia/contents/drug-types/alcohol">more likely</a> to do so than women. This amount <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/binge-drinking">can result</a> in alcohol poisoning, damage to brain cells and a higher likelihood of engaging in risky behaviours leading to violence, accidents and unprotected sex.</p> <h2>But what about a wine each night?</h2> <p>Even abiding by the Australian alcohol guidelines and drinking in moderation – one or <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/how-alcohol-affects-your-health#short-term-effects">two drinks each day</a> over the week – can be risky. Possible health outcomes of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm">moderated drinking</a> include increased risk of cancer, liver and heart disease, alcohol use disorder, and an increase in the symptoms of anxiety and depression.</p> <p>Everyone processes alcohol at a different rate depending on age, gender, body shape and size. However, for most people, alcohol can still be <a href="https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/alcohol/how-long-alcohol-stay-system/">detected</a> in the blood 12 hours after consumption. When the body is constantly processing the toxins in alcohol, it can lead to a chronic state of inflammation which is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/acer.13886?casa_token=dxIr4RolhC4AAAAA%3Acy6BTsnPHzJoIpbf2Ow_JQhMOcb3fLPc3LPs_0OwiCi_4P3sAJTeWYgmE9YujD7Ev25bA_I757DeDLk">linked to</a> physical and mental health risks.</p> <p>There are several biological mechanisms associated with alcohol’s impact on the brain. Alcohol destroys the fine balance of the bacteria in the gut microbiome, which has been <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S152169181730118X?casa_token=zwAVYFxdTdcAAAAA:ku6TCQ-fl1btAYqie_ydg2GpHeLGnYy3QdUn_SDhV7EWtXfuLrolAO5TpI5DtFLM7Ngz9JgKYoGX">linked</a> to brain health.</p> <p>Alcohol consumption disrupts the function of the amygdala – a part of the brain important for <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/amygdala">processing and regulating emotion</a>, including our fear response. When this is impaired we are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811910015405?casa_token=RmqcP2vnA5oAAAAA:GW3POct2CQA6Kv8zqE9GaEfsvwLY200NNpf3Qk1k31xE8ZhR5MWau-D0Wj7gWnV7ZiohfKNASHEY">less likely</a> to pay attention to our fears and more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviour.</p> <p>Areas involved in <a href="https://www.jsad.com/doi/abs/10.15288/jsa.1990.51.114">language production and comprehension</a> are also affected by alcohol, with too much leading to slurred speech and the inability to comprehend communication from others. When drinking dulls frontal lobe brain function, it can can lead to <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/add.15023#add15023-bib-0092">changes in personality</a> for some people. <a href="https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/interrupted-memories-alcohol-induced-blackouts">Blackouts</a> can occur from the influence of alcohol on the hippocampus.</p> <h2>So, no drinking then?</h2> <p>While sobriety may be the answer for optimal health, depriving ourselves of the things we enjoy can also lead to negative mental health and a <a href="https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-016-2766-x#:%7E:text=Deprived%20lower%20and%20increased%20risk,wine%20across%20all%20drinker%20categories">higher likelihood</a> we will binge in the future. This is why alcohol-free days are becoming so popular, to balance health risks while also giving us the chance to enjoy social activities.</p> <p>Including alcohol-free days in your routine can <a href="https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12954-022-00603-x">give the body</a> a chance to rehydrate, detoxify and repair itself from the toxic properties of alcohol. Detoxification can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32391879/">lead to</a> improved liver function and sleep quality, less water retention and easier weight control, clearer thinking, improved memory, more energy, clearer skin, a strengthened immune system and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.</p> <p>Alcohol-free days can also create a domino effect by encouraging <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938410000259">other healthy behaviours</a> like eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, improved sleep patterns and getting up early to exercise.</p> <h2>6 tips for better drinking balance</h2> <p>If you’re looking to incorporate more alcohol-free days into your routine you could try to</p> <ol> <li><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2772724622000142">set realistic goals</a>. Clarify how many and what days will be your alcohol-free days, mark them on a calendar and set reminders on your phone</li> <li>plan <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/20/4/2884">alcohol-free activities</a> and find alcohol alternatives. List all the activities you like that do not include drinking and plan to do these at the times of the day you would normally drink</li> <li><a href="https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits-summary">make alcohol “invisible”</a>. Keeping beer out of the fridge and wine and spirits in closed cupboards keeps them from the forefront of your mind</li> <li>seek support and encouragement from your <a href="https://www.proquest.com/docview/2528837696?pq-origsite=gscholar&amp;fromopenview=true">partner and/or family</a></li> <li>incorporate stress management techniques like meditation and <a href="https://www.proquest.com/docview/2675715755?pq-origsite=gscholar&amp;fromopenview=true">mindfulness</a>. Observe how you feel on alcohol-free days and note positive changes in your physical and mental wellbeing</li> <li>reflect on your progress. Acknowledge and celebrate each alcohol-free day. Allow yourself non-alcoholic rewards for achieving your goals.</li> </ol> <p>Finally, it’s important to know everyone slips up now and then. Practice self-forgiveness if you do have a drink on a planned alcohol-free day and don’t give up. <!-- 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/210193/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/megan-lee-490875">Megan Lee</a>, Senior Teaching Fellow, Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-roberts-1456408">Emily Roberts</a>, PhD Candidate, Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond 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/a-drink-each-day-or-just-on-the-weekends-heres-why-alcohol-free-days-are-important-210193">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Does artificial sweetener aspartame really cause cancer? What the WHO listing means for your diet soft drink habit

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the specialised cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has declared aspartame may be a <a href="https://www.who.int/news/item/14-07-2023-aspartame-hazard-and-risk-assessment-results-released">possible carcinogenic hazard to humans</a>.</p> <p>Another branch of the WHO, the Joint WHO and Food and Agriculture Organization’s Expert Committee on Food Additives has assessed the risk and developed recommendations on how much aspartame is safe to consume. They have recommended the acceptable daily intake be 0 to 40mg per kilo of body weight, as we currently have <a href="https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/aspartame/Pages/default.aspx">in Australia</a>.</p> <p>A hazard is different to a risk. The hazard rating means it’s an agent that is capable of causing cancer; a risk measures the likelihood it could cause cancer.</p> <p>So what does this hazard assessment mean for you?</p> <h2>Firstly, what is aspartame?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/aspartame/Pages/default.aspx">Aspartame is an artificial sweetener</a> that is 200 times sweeter than sugar, but without any kilojoules.</p> <p>It’s used in a <a href="https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/aspartame/Pages/default.aspx">variety of products</a> including carbonated drinks such as Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Pepsi Max and some home brand offerings. You can identify aspartame in drinks and foods by looking for additive number 951.</p> <p>Food products such as yogurt and confectionery may also contain aspartame, but it’s not stable at warm temperatures and thus not used in baked goods.</p> <p>Commercial names of aspartame include Equal, Nutrasweet, Canderel and Sugar Twin. In Australia the acceptable daily intake is 40mg per kilo of body weight per day, which is about 60 sachets.</p> <p><a href="https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/aspartame-and-other-sweeteners-food#:%7E:text=How%20many%20packets%20can%20a,based%20on%20its%20sweetness%20intensity%3F&amp;text=Notes%20About%20the%20Chart%3A,50%20mg%2Fkg%20bw%2Fd">In America</a> the acceptable daily intake has been set at 75 sachets.</p> <h2>What evidence have they used to come to this conclusion?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.who.int/news/item/14-07-2023-aspartame-hazard-and-risk-assessment-results-released">IARC looked closely</a> at the <a href="https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/nutrition-and-food-safety/july-13-final-summary-of-findings-aspartame.pdf?sfvrsn=a531e2c1_5&amp;download=true">evidence base</a> from around the world – using data from observational studies, experimental studies and animal studies.</p> <p>They found there was some limited evidence in human studies linking aspartame and cancer (specifically liver cancer) and limited evidence from animal studies as well.</p> <p>They also considered the biological mechanism studies which showed how cancer may develop from the consumption of aspartame. Usually these are lab-based studies which show exactly how exposure to the agent may lead to a cancer. In this case they found there was limited evidence for how aspartame might cause cancer.</p> <p>There were only three human studies that looked at cancer and aspartame intake. These large observational studies used the intake of soft drinks as an indicator of aspartame intake.</p> <p>All three found a positive association between artificially sweetened beverages and liver cancer in either all of the population they were studying or sub-groups within them. But these studies could not rule out other factors that may have been responsible for the findings.</p> <p>A study <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6284800/">conducted in Europe</a> followed 475,000 people for 11 years and found that each additional serve of diet soft drink consumed per week was linked to a 6% increased risk of liver cancer. However the scientists did conclude that due to the rarity of liver cancer they still had small numbers of people in the study.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35728406/">In a study from the US</a>, increased risk of liver cancer was seen in people with diabetes who drank more than two or more cans of a diet soda a week.</p> <p>The <a href="https://aacrjournals.org/cebp/article/31/10/1907/709398/Sugar-and-Artificially-Sweetened-Beverages-and">third study</a>, also from the US, found an increase in liver cancer risk in men who never smoked and drank two or more artificially sweetened drinks a day.</p> <p>From this they have decided to declare aspartame as a Group 2b “possible carcinogen”. But they have also said more and better research is needed to further understand the relationship between aspartame and cancer.</p> <p>IARC has four categories (groupings) available for potential substances (or as they are referred to by IARC, “agents”) that may cause cancer.</p> <h2>What does each grouping mean?</h2> <p><strong>Group 1 Carcinogenic to humans:</strong> an agent in this group is carcinogenic, which means there is convincing evidence from human studies and we know precisely <em>how</em> it causes cancer. There are 126 agents in this group, including tobacco smoking, alcohol, processed meat, radiation and ionising radiation.</p> <p><strong>Group 2a Probably carcinogenic to humans:</strong> there are positive associations between the agent and cancer in humans, but there may still be other explanations for the association which were not fully examined in the studies. There are 95 agents in this group, including red meat, DDT insecticide and night shift work.</p> <p><strong>Group 2b Possibly carcinogenic in humans:</strong> this means limited evidence of causing cancer in humans, but sufficient evidence from animal studies, or the mechanism of how the agent may be carcinogenic is well understood. This basically means the current evidence indicates an agent may possibly be carcinogenic, but more scientific evidence from better conducted studies is needed. There are now <a href="https://monographs.iarc.who.int/agents-classified-by-the-iarc/">323</a> agents in this group, including aloe vera (whole leaf extract), ginkgo biloba and lead.</p> <p><strong>Group 3 Not classifiable as a carcinogen:</strong> there’s not enough evidence from humans or animals, and there is limited mechanistic evidence of how it may be a carcinogen. There are 500 agents in this group.</p> <h2>So do I have to give up my diet soft drink habit?</h2> <p>For a 70kg person you would need to consume about 14 cans (over 5 litres) of soft drink sweetened with aspartame a day to reach the acceptable daily intake.</p> <p>But we need to remember there may also be aspartame added in other foods consumed. So this is an unrealistic amount to consume, but not impossible.</p> <p>We also need to consider all the evidence on aspartame together. The foods we typically see aspartame in are processed or ultra-processed, which have recently also been <a href="https://theconversation.com/ultra-processed-foods-are-trashing-our-health-and-the-planet-180115">shown to be detrimental to health</a>.</p> <p>And artificial sweeteners (including aspartame) <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/#!po=59.3750">can make people crave more sugar</a>, making them want to eat more food, potentially causing them to gain more weight.</p> <p>All together, this indicates we should be more careful about the amount of artificial sweeteners we consume, since they <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-who-says-we-shouldnt-bother-with-artificial-sweeteners-for-weight-loss-or-health-is-sugar-better-205827">do not provide any health benefits</a>, and have possible adverse effects.</p> <p>But overall, from this evidence, drinking the occasional or even daily can of a diet drink is safe and probably not a cancer risk.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Correction: this article originally stated each serve of soft drink in a study was linked to a 6% increased risk of liver cancer, however it was each additional serve per week. This has been amended.<!-- 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/208844/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 --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Accredited Practising Dietitian, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South 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/does-artificial-sweetener-aspartame-really-cause-cancer-what-the-who-listing-means-for-your-diet-soft-drink-habit-208844">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Australia should follow Ireland’s lead and add stronger health warning labels to alcohol

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-kuntsche-430354">Emmanuel Kuntsche</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paula-obrien-4221">Paula O'Brien</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robin-room-3770">Robin Room</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p>From <a href="https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/industry/labelling/Documents/q-and-a-pwl-requirements-sep-2020.pdf">August 2023</a>, Australian beer, wine, spirits and pre-mixed drinks have to warn of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-has-some-of-the-highest-rates-of-drinking-during-pregnancy-its-time-to-make-labelling-mandatory-142645">harms of drinking alcohol while pregnant</a>. But they don’t have to mention the other harms of alcohol for the wider population.</p> <p>Ireland <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/22/ireland-to-introduce-world-first-alcohol-health-labelling-policy">recently signed legislation</a> to introduce tougher alcohol warning labels, to warn about the risks of liver disease and fatal cancers from drinking alcohol. These will be in place from 2026.</p> <p>Considering the ongoing efforts of the industry to undermine the introduction of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214109X21005702">effective alcohol labelling</a> worldwide, the Irish example is an important victory for public health.</p> <p>In Australia, it’s time to put consumer health and rights before commercial interests and warn people drinking and buying alcohol of the risks.</p> <h2>Educating consumers about the health risks</h2> <p>Alcohol causes <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/alcohol">more than 200 diseases, injuries and other health conditions</a>.</p> <p>There is strong evidence that from the first drink, the risk of various cancers (of the breast, liver, colon, rectum, oropharynx, larynx and oesophagus) <a href="https://adf.org.au/insights/alcohol-cancer-risk/">increases</a>. This is <a href="https://www.cancervic.org.au/cancer-information/preventing-cancer/limit-alcohol/how-alcohol-causes-cancer">because</a>:</p> <ul> <li> <p>ethanol (pure alcohol) and its toxic by-product acetaldehyde damages cells by binding with DNA, causing cells to replicate incorrectly</p> </li> <li> <p>alcohol influences hormone levels, which can modify how cells grow and divide</p> </li> <li> <p>direct tissue damage can occur, increasing the absorption of other cancer-causing substances.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Alcohol use kills <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/causes-death/causes-death-australia/2021">more than four Australians</a> a day (the highest rate in the past decade) and results in <a href="https://ndri.curtin.edu.au/ndri/media/documents/publications/T302.pdf">A$182 million of avoidable costs</a> per day.</p> <p>Yet only half of Australians know drinking alcohol <a href="https://adf.org.au/insights/alcohol-breast-cancer/">can cause cancer</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.jsad.com/doi/10.15288/jsad.2020.81.249">Research shows</a> mandatory health labelling is an important way to increase awareness and should form part of a comprehensive <a href="https://fdslive.oup.com/www.oup.com/academic/pdf/openaccess/9780192844484.pdf">alcohol control strategy</a>.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530732/original/file-20230607-17-hl3pvs.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530732/original/file-20230607-17-hl3pvs.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530732/original/file-20230607-17-hl3pvs.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530732/original/file-20230607-17-hl3pvs.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530732/original/file-20230607-17-hl3pvs.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530732/original/file-20230607-17-hl3pvs.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530732/original/file-20230607-17-hl3pvs.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Person pours wine into a glass at a lunch" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Many people are unaware of the link between alcohol and cancer.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/making-sure-glasses-stay-full-shot-2151108503">Shutterstock</a></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Countering industry influence</h2> <p>The alcohol industry currently uses alcohol labels and packaging as a marketing and branding tool. Alcohol warning labels help counter these marketing messages.</p> <p>Alcohol industry interests have so far succeeded in exempting alcoholic drinks from the usual <a href="https://fdslive.oup.com/www.oup.com/academic/pdf/openaccess/9780192844484.pdf">consumer information requirements</a>. Under the <a href="https://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/en/">international labelling guidelines</a>, all processed foods must have all ingredients listed on the label. But alcohol industry interests have so far succeeded in these rules <a href="https://movendi.ngo/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Hepworth-et-al-2020.pdf">not being applied to alcoholic beverages</a>.</p> <p>In Australia, the alcohol content and number of standard drinks must be <a href="https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/labelling/Pages/Labelling-of-alcoholic-beverages.aspx">listed on the product’s label</a>. However, there is no requirement, as for other foods and drinks, that ingredients (except for certain allergens such as milk or gluten) and nutritional information (energy, carbohydrates, and so on) be listed.</p> <p>Aside from warnings to pregnant women to abstain from alcohol, there is no provision for consumer information about the risks of alcohol consumption on alcohol packaging. Yet such warnings are required for other hazardous substances taken into the body, such as tobacco.</p> <h2>How Ireland is leading the charge</h2> <p>Ireland is leading the world with its alcohol labelling. From 2026, drinks containing alcohol will have to inform consumers about the specific risks of liver disease and fatal cancers.</p> <p>Labels will also have to notify buyers of the alcohol risks to pregnancy, the calorie content of the beverage, and the number of grams of alcohol it contains.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530734/original/file-20230607-16366-8nixs9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530734/original/file-20230607-16366-8nixs9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530734/original/file-20230607-16366-8nixs9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530734/original/file-20230607-16366-8nixs9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530734/original/file-20230607-16366-8nixs9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530734/original/file-20230607-16366-8nixs9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530734/original/file-20230607-16366-8nixs9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="People walk past a pub in Ireland" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Health warning labels will be mandatory in Ireland from 2026.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/dublin-ireland-july-11-2021-outdoor-2007076256">Shutterstock</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>The new labelling move <a href="https://www.cancer.ie/about-us/news/irish-cancer-society-statement-on-the-introduction-of-health-warning-labels-on-alcohol-products">demonstrates</a> the government has prioritised reducing alcohol-related disease and has widespread support. A recent <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurpub/article/33/2/323/7067991">household survey</a> in Ireland found 81.9% of the more than 1,000 participants supported the introduction of health warning labels on alcohol.</p> <h2>Barriers to overcome in Australia</h2> <p>In 2020, in the face of intense pressure from industry groups, the Australian government decided on new labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages, but only to warn about the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-has-some-of-the-highest-rates-of-drinking-during-pregnancy-its-time-to-make-labelling-mandatory-142645">risks of drinking during pregnancy</a>. From a public health point of view, this was a mediocre compromise.</p> <p>Australia is currently considering introducing energy content (kilojoule) labelling on alcoholic beverages. This would be a positive step and but it is as far as Australia seems willing to go for now. There are no plans for Australia to follow Ireland’s lead.</p> <p>Some countries seem to be <a href="https://www.ibec.ie/drinksireland/news-insights-and-events/news/2023/05/16/strong-international-opposition-to-irelands-alcohol-labelling-proposals">gearing up</a> to use the World Trade Organization’s processes to oppose Ireland’s new labels.</p> <p>Australia <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22716074/">previously opposed</a> enhanced alcohol warning labels Thailand proposed, at the same time Australia was seeking international support for its tobacco plain packaging laws. This time, Australia should prioritise the public’s health over commercial interests and support Ireland’s alcohol warning messages in the World Trade Organization.<!-- 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/206985/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/emmanuel-kuntsche-430354">Emmanuel Kuntsche</a>, Director of the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paula-obrien-4221">Paula O'Brien</a>, Associate Professor in Faculty of Law, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robin-room-3770">Robin Room</a>, Professor, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p>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/australia-should-follow-irelands-lead-and-add-stronger-health-warning-labels-to-alcohol-206985">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Food & Wine

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The best and worst drinks for people with diabetes

<p><span style="color: #444444; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial; font-size: 16px; background-color: #ffffff;">Choosing the right drinks for people with diabetes is as important as choosing the right foods, and it isn’t always simple. Is coffee helpful or harmful to insulin resistance? Does zero-calorie diet soda affect your blood sugar? Some studies may only add to the confusion. We reviewed the research and then asked three top registered dietitians, who are also certified diabetes educators, what they tell their clients about seven everyday drinks for people with diabetes. Here’s what to know before you sip.</span></p> <h4><span style="color: #444444; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial;">Drink more: Water</span></h4> <p>Drinking enough water has so many health benefits. But could downing a few glasses of H2O help control your blood sugar? A study in the journal Diabetes Care suggests so: The researchers found that people who drank 475ml (two cups’ worth) or less of water a day were about 30 percent more likely to have high blood sugar than those who drank more than that daily. The connection seems to be a hormone called vasopressin, which helps the body regulate hydration. Vasopressin levels increase when a person is dehydrated, which prompts the liver to produce more blood sugar.</p> <p><strong>How much:</strong> Experts recommend six to nine 250ml glasses of water per day for women and slightly more for men. You’ll get some of this precious fluid from fruit and vegetables and other fluids, but not all of it. “If you’re not in the water habit, have a glass before each meal,” recommends registered dietitian Constance Brown-Riggs, a certified diabetes educator. “After a few weeks, add a glass at meals too.” If you’re already meeting your water targets, there’s no need to push it further.</p> <h4>Drink more: Milk</h4> <p>Moo juice isn’t just a kids’ drink – it’s one of the best drinks for people with diabetes, too. It provides the calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin D your body needs for many essential functions. “Low-fat or fat-free milk is a great beverage for people with diabetes,” Brown-Riggs says. Drinking more milk can also help prevent strokes (a concern for many people with diabetes) by 7 percent, according to research from the <em>Journal of the American Heart Association</em>. Bonus: The researchers also found that eating cheese produced the same effect. If you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy, eating plenty of dark green vegetables can help you obtain the calcium and other electrolytes you need.</p> <p><strong>How much: </strong>Experts recommend eating two to three daily servings of dairy products, including low-fat or fat-free milk. Milk does contain carbohydrates so remember to factor in 12 grams of carbohydrate for every 250ml glass. “Drink milk with a meal so your body can handle the natural rise in blood sugar that happens when we eat carbohydrates,” says registered dietitian Angela Ginn, a certified diabetes educator.</p> <h4>Drink more: Tea</h4> <p>No kilojoules, big flavour, and a boatload of antioxidants have made tea – particularly green and black – trendy for health reasons, especially when it comes to drinks for people with diabetes. Sipping more than three cups of tea a day could lower the risk for developing diabetes, other researchers found. Tea may also help reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. The exception to these diabetic drinks: sweetened, bottled iced teas, which have tons of added sugar.</p> <p><strong>How much:</strong> Three to four cups of tea are OK for most people; just be sure the caffeine doesn’t keep you awake at night. More is fine if you opt for decaf. And watch what you add: Avoid sugar and full-fat milk and cream.</p> <h4>Drink carefully: Coffee</h4> <p>A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis in Nutrition Reviews found that coffee drinkers are at lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes. (A compound in coffee called chlorogenic acid seems to slow absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.) But other research indicates that for people who already have diabetes, coffee may raise blood sugar or make the body work harder to process it. Bottom line: It comes down to how coffee affects your individual blood sugar. What many people with diabetes add to their coffee may be the real issue. “Sugar, sweetened creamers, and high-fat milk and half-and-half can raise your blood sugar and your weight,” Brown-Riggs says.</p> <p><strong>How much:</strong> Experts say sipping two to three cups a day is probably fine, but if you’re having a tough time controlling your blood sugar, it may be worth cutting out coffee to see if it makes a difference. “Everyone’s blood sugar response to foods is unique and individual,” Ginn says.</p> <h4>Drink carefully: Diet soft drink</h4> <p>Are fizzy, zero-calorie drinks a brilliant choice for people concerned about diabetes, or could they do more harm than good? One 2018 study in Current Developments in Nutrition looked at over 2,000 people and found that those who drank diet soft drink every day increased their chances of developing diabetes, leading researchers to conclude that diet soda itself could be a risk factor. The news may be even worse for diabetics drinking zero-calorie sodas. Researchers in Australia looked at 600 patients with diabetes and found that drinking more than four cans of diet soft drink a week doubled their chances of developing proliferative diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease that’s a complication of diabetes.</p> <p><strong>How much:</strong> If you have a soft drink habit, it’s probably OK to sip one zero-calorie drink a day instead of a sugary version, but given the research, it’s best to wean yourself off. Make sure to also drink healthy drinks for people with diabetes like water and tea. Resist the temptation to see diet soft drink as a “magic eraser” allowing you to indulge in foods like chips, dips, sweets, fries, and burgers. People who enjoyed their diet soft drink as part of a healthy diet had lower risk of high blood sugar and high cholesterol than those who ate fried and sugary foods in one study in the <em>American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.</em></p> <h4><span style="color: #444444; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial;">Drink less: Soft drink and sugary drinks</span></h4> <p>With upwards of 10 teaspoons of sugar in every 375ml can or bottle, sweet drinks can send your blood sugar soaring – and boost your risk for weight gain, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. One sugary drink a day can add 630 empty kilojoules and about 40 to 50 grams of blood-sugar-raising carbohydrates to your diet, all of which can cause you to pack on belly fat and increase inflammation and insulin resistance – boosting the risk for diabetes and heart disease. Bottom line: Soda and sugary fruit drinks are some of the worst drinks for people with diabetes.</p> <p>“If you have diabetes, cutting out soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks is one of the most powerful ways to control blood sugar, lose weight, and improve your health,” says Ginn. “Switching to healthier drinks can save hundreds of calories and a lot of carbohydrates. It’s often one of my first goals when I work with someone newly diagnosed with diabetes.”</p> <p><strong>How much: </strong>None, ideally. Think of soft drink as you would a decadent dessert that you might indulge a taste of once in a blue moon. If you have a soda habit, cut back by drinking a smaller size for a week or two, or mixing half regular soda with half diet soda or soda water to reduce your kilojoule and carb intake. Aim to go sugar-free: Water and soda water (including zero-calorie fruit-flavoured types) are ideal, and diet soft drink is an option for diabetic drinks but don’t exceed one a day.</p> <h4>Drink less: Fruit juice</h4> <p>Your mum served up OJ every day with breakfast, and you grew to love it. The labels display tempting photos of colourful fruit. But are juices healthy diabetic drinks for blood sugar and weight control? A regular juice habit is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in Diabetes Care. In terms of nutrition, a piece of real fruit is a better deal (and science is backing that people with diabetes can, and should, eat fruit). A 125ml serving of 100 percent orange juice has 247 kilojoules, 13.6 grams carbohydrates, and no fibre; compare that to a small fresh orange, which has 188 kilojoules, 11 grams carbohydrates, and 2 grams of blood-sugar-controlling fibre. That said, people with diabetes can indulge in a little 100 percent fruit juice once in a while, says registered dietitian Dawn Menning, a certified diabetes educator. “They should just know the amount of juice they are consuming and factor the number of carbohydrates into their eating plan,” she says.</p> <p><strong>How much: </strong>Juice lovers, eat fruit or switch to a low-sodium veggie juice, which is much lower in calories and carbohydrates than fruit juice. If you’re really craving juice, try a 125ml serving with a meal. Test your blood sugar afterward, and then repeat with the same meal for the next three or four days. If your blood sugar doesn’t rise more than 35 to 50 points, a little juice could be fine.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/diabetes/the-best-and-worst-drinks-for-people-with-diabetes" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

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Woman who killed grandfather apologises

<p>Alisha Fagan claims she has changed her ways since killing a beloved grandfather in a crash while drunk and initially blaming four African men.</p> <p>The 21-year-old woman from Melbourne read out a letter of apology to Sedat Hassan’s family as she faced the Country Koori Court for a pre-sentence hearing on Monday.</p> <p>Fagan was on a suspended learners permit, drunk and driving more than 25km/h over the speed limit when she hit the 69-year-old man’s car, resulting in his death on June 9 2022.</p> <p>Hours before the incident, the court heard Fagan had been drinking wine from the bottle with a friend near the Maribyrnong River.</p> <p>The two friends then travelled to Sunshine West and picked up two men. Fagan’s passengers fled when she failed to give way and crashed into Mr Hassan’s car.</p> <p>She waited for emergency services to arrive, gave the police officers a fake name and said she was not driving at the time, instead pinning the blame on four African men.</p> <p>“She went on to tell the police four African males were in the car at the time and had fled the scene after the collision," prosecutor Kristie Churchill told the court.</p> <p>"She stated that she had only just met these males.”</p> <p>Fagan has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and drug possession; she was on four sets of bail at the time of the incident and was facing about a dozen driving offences.</p> <p>She was released on bail to undergo rehabilitation.</p> <p>Fagan shed tears as Mr Hassan’s family remembered him as a beloved father and grandfather who spent a great deal of his time caring for his disabled son, in statements read to the court.</p> <p>"My husband was my world, I can't bring him back," his wife said.</p> <p>"My son, who has autism, gets up in the middle of the night and opens all the windows looking for his father.”</p> <p>One of Mr Hassan’s sons shared his father had waited for years to become a grandfather.</p> <p>"As soon as he became one, he only got to hold his grandson three times and be with him until he was four months old," he said.</p> <p>Fagan read a letter of apology to Mr Hassan’s family, saying she took full responsibility for his death.</p> <p>"I only have myself to blame. At the time of this tragedy I was a severe alcoholic, had no impulse control, had no understanding of consequences," she told the court.</p> <p>"I've spent the last nine months improving myself every single day so that this will never, ever happen again.</p> <p>"Please know that who I was then and who I am now are not the same person."</p> <p>The hearing has been adjourned to May 9.</p> <p><em>Image credit: TikTok</em></p>

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6 things that can happen to your body when you don’t drink enough water

<p>While there is much talk about how much water one should drink per day (most experts suggest around two litres) have you ever thought what would actually happen to your body if you don’t get enough H2O? Here we chart six things that can go wrong if you don’t hit the recommended daily intake.</p> <p>1. You're more likely to have health problems. Higher water intake has been linked to decreased chances of kidney stones, urinary and colon cancer, and heart attacks.</p> <p>2. Your metabolism stagnates. In independent studies for his 2010 book The Water Secret (Wiley), Dr. Howard Murad found that a person's basal metabolic rate (the calories burned while at rest) speeds up as the body becomes more hydrated. </p> <p>3. You'll have to think harder to complete the same tasks. At the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London in 2011, scientists found that the brains of dehydrated teenagers had shrunk away from their skulls, and that when asked to play a problem-solving game, they performed just as well as those who drank enough, but engaged more of their brains to do so. (Drinking water restores the brain to its normal size.)</p> <p>4. You eat more. A study of 45 adults funded by the Institute for Public Health and Water Research found that those who drank two eight-ounce glasses of water before each meal consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories while eating. (Over three months, water-drinkers lost an average of five pounds more than the dieters who were parched.)</p> <p>5. You look more wrinkled. In researching his book, Dr. Murad also found that water plumps skin, fills in fine lines and wrinkles, and enlivens a dull complexion.</p> <p>6. You're in a bad mood. In 2009, researchers at Tufts University in Medford, MA, asked members of the men's and women's crew teams to engage in 60 to 75 minutes of high-impact aerobic exercise without drinking enough water first. Others were properly hydrated. The dehydrated group was more likely to report feeling fatigued, confused, angry, depressed or tense. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Kate Ritchie taking a break from radio gig

<p>Kate Ritchie has announced she will be stepping back from her drive time radio show. </p> <p>The 43-year-old presenter said she will be off the air for the remainder of the year, but will return alongside co-hosts Joel Creasey and Tim Blackwell in early 2023. </p> <p>Kate was busted for drinking and driving in August, and explained that after an "incredibly hectic" year, she needed some time off. </p> <p>"This past year has been incredibly hectic and full-on for both me and my family," she said.</p> <p>"I have had much change and increased stress in my life, like many of you, in a short space of time. And it has taken its toll."</p> <p>"But still I am so proud that our Nova show, with Tim and Joel and the team, is just powering along, and going from strength to strength."</p> <p>She added, "We love our audience and they seem to put up with us."</p> <p>"And as you may have guessed, I invest a lot of emotional energy into everything I do, my work, and my family especially, and the last few months I have been working on radio, I've been returning to TV and in my spare time, I even wrote a children's book."</p> <p>"So, it's simple, like some of you, I imagine, I'm tired and I just need a break for a short while and have more time for me, and for my family, to re-energise."</p> <p>"I have spoken with the bosses at Nova, and they have graciously agreed that this is a good time to take the break, as we approach the end of the year."</p> <p>"Nova has been fabulous and understanding, so thank you Nova, and thank you Tim, Joel and the team, and most importantly, thank you to all of our fabulous listeners. I really mean that."</p> <p>"It's time to recharge the batteries and come back fresh next year. And although it's only for a short time, I will miss you all. I'll see you in the New Year."</p> <p>Peter Charlton, the chief executive of Nova Entertainment, said of her decision, "Kate is a talented broadcaster and a respected member of the Kate, Tim &amp; Joel and Nova Network team."</p> <p>"We are very supportive of Kate's decision to take some time for herself and her family. We look forward to welcoming her back in the New Year."</p> <p>Rumours about Ritchie's future at Nova began swirling in August, after she was charged with drink-driving in Sydney's eastern suburbs.</p> <p>She was stopped by police for a random breath test in her car at 2:45pm, tested positive by the roadside and was taken to Maroubra Police Station.</p> <p>There she underwent a secondary breath analysis which returned a positive reading of 0.06 - just over the legal limit.</p> <p>A NSW Police spokesman said at the time, "She was issued with an infringement notice for the offence of Drive with Low Range Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol and issued a Licence Suspension Notice."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram</em></p>

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7 signs you’re drinking too much coffee

<h2>You feel anxious</h2> <p>Ruminating about an upcoming event or deadline can fuel your desire to grab a comforting mug of coffee. Yet, the National Institute of Mental Health in the US recommends that people who suffer from anxiety avoid caffeine. Why? Drinking too much coffee can actually worsen the effects of anxiety, either by robbing you of proper sleep or triggering your flight or fight response. In a 1990 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, 25 men were given a moderate dose of caffeine or a placebo before a stressful task. The men, who were all regular coffee drinkers, had higher blood pressure, stress hormones, and about double the reported stress level with the caffeine compared with the placebo.</p> <h2>Your stomach hurts</h2> <p>You may associate stomach pains with spoiled food or PMS cramps. You should add your morning cuppa to that list as well. In 2017, European scientists found that certain compounds in coffee stimulate the secretion of stomach acid by your stomach cells. Taking an over-counter medication like Tums can neutralise the acid short-term, but if you suspect drinking too much coffee is making your stomach hurt, think about changing your coffee consumption habits.</p> <h2>Your heart is racing</h2> <p>The feeling that your heart is beating too fast can be frightening. It may feel like your heart is trying to escape from your ribcage. These heart palpitations can be caused by the consumption of too much coffee and caffeine, nicotine, and even alcohol. In some cases, a racing heart can lead to dizziness and even fainting spells. According to a 2017 study in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, 94 per cent of doctors recommend patients experiencing the fluttering heart beats stop consuming caffeine.</p> <h2>You have diarrhoea</h2> <p>Most people know that coffee can help keep you regular, thanks to its laxative properties. Drink more than two or three cups a day, though, and you might get diarrhoea, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. If you find your bathroom issues become unmanageable, the IFFGD recommends gradual withdrawal from caffeine.</p> <h2>You can’t sleep</h2> <p>Insomnia can be a telltale sign of too much coffee. Even if you swear coffee doesn’t have any effect on you, this tasty drink can still wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Coffee’s half-life is five hours, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. That means it can take several more hours for the stimulant to completely leave your system. This can increase the number of times you wake up during the night, and decrease overall time asleep. To solve this problem, try to drink that last cup of coffee no later than noon.</p> <h2>You’ve got the jitters</h2> <p>Coffee makes you feel more alert, but sometimes that feeling turns into too much of a good thing. This is where the jitters come in. Caffeine speeds up your central nervous system, causing you to feel jumpy. Skip that fourth cup and stop the shakes.</p> <h2>You get headaches</h2> <p>A moderate amount of caffeine helps relieve a headache, by helping pain-relief medications work better, according to a study in The Journal of Headache and Pain. That’s why you’ll find caffeine as an ingredient in many over-the-counter headache drugs. However, if you drink too much coffee for a sustained amount of time (getting a daily excess of 500 mg of caffeine, or the equivalent of five cups of coffee), you can go through caffeine withdrawal. The symptoms include headaches and fatigue, found Johns Hopkins researchers. Slowly decrease your caffeine intake – and look at all the possible sources in your diet, including coffee, headache drugs, tea, soft drink, and energy drinks.</p> <p><strong>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/7-signs-youre-drinking-too-much-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </strong></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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