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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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How much stress is too much? A psychiatrist explains the links between toxic stress and poor health − and how to get help

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lawson-r-wulsin-1493655">La<em>wson R. Wulsin</em></a><em>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-cincinnati-1717">University of Cincinnati </a></em></p> <p>COVID-19 taught most people that the line between tolerable and toxic stress – defined as persistent demands that lead to disease – varies widely. But some people will age faster and die younger from toxic stressors than others.</p> <p>So how much stress is too much, and what can you do about it?</p> <p>I’m a <a href="https://researchdirectory.uc.edu/p/wulsinlr">psychiatrist specializing in psychosomatic medicine</a>, which is the study and treatment of people who have physical and mental illnesses. My research is focused on people who have psychological conditions and medical illnesses as well as those whose stress exacerbates their health issues.</p> <p>I’ve spent my career studying mind-body questions and training physicians to treat mental illness in primary care settings. My <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/toxic-stress/677FA62B741540DBDB53E2F0A52A74B1">forthcoming book</a> is titled “Toxic Stress: How Stress is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It.”</p> <p>A 2023 study of stress and aging over the life span – one of the first studies to confirm this piece of common wisdom – found that four measures of stress all speed up the pace of biological aging in midlife. It also found that persistent high stress ages people in a comparable way to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000001197">effects of smoking and low socioeconomic status</a>, two well-established risk factors for accelerated aging.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yiglpsqv5ik?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Children with alcoholic or drug-addicted parents have a greater risk of developing toxic stress.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>The difference between good stress and the toxic kind</h2> <p>Good stress – a demand or challenge you readily cope with – is good for your health. In fact, the rhythm of these daily challenges, including feeding yourself, cleaning up messes, communicating with one another and carrying out your job, helps to regulate your stress response system and keep you fit.</p> <p>Toxic stress, on the other hand, wears down your stress response system in ways that have lasting effects, as psychiatrist and trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk explains in his bestselling book “<a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/313183/the-body-%20keeps-the-score-by-bessel-van-der-kolk-md/">The Body Keeps the Score</a>.”</p> <p>The earliest effects of toxic stress are often persistent symptoms such as headache, fatigue or abdominal pain that interfere with overall functioning. After months of initial symptoms, a full-blown illness with a life of its own – such as migraine headaches, asthma, diabetes or ulcerative colitis – may surface.</p> <p>When we are healthy, our stress response systems are like an orchestra of organs that miraculously tune themselves and play in unison without our conscious effort – a process called self-regulation. But when we are sick, some parts of this orchestra struggle to regulate themselves, which causes a cascade of stress-related dysregulation that contributes to other conditions.</p> <p>For instance, in the case of diabetes, the hormonal system struggles to regulate sugar. With obesity, the metabolic system has a difficult time regulating energy intake and consumption. With depression, the central nervous system develops an imbalance in its circuits and neurotransmitters that makes it difficult to regulate mood, thoughts and behaviors.</p> <h2>‘Treating’ stress</h2> <p>Though stress neuroscience in recent years has given researchers like me <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000001051">new ways to measure and understand stress</a>, you may have noticed that in your doctor’s office, the management of stress isn’t typically part of your treatment plan.</p> <p>Most doctors don’t assess the contribution of stress to a patient’s common chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, partly because stress is complicated to measure and partly because it is difficult to treat. In general, doctors don’t treat what they can’t measure.</p> <p>Stress neuroscience and epidemiology have also taught researchers recently that the chances of developing serious mental and physical illnesses in midlife rise dramatically when people are exposed to trauma or adverse events, especially during <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/ace-brfss.html">vulnerable periods such as childhood</a>.</p> <p>Over the past 40 years in the U.S., the alarming rise in <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/health-equity/diabetes-by-the-numbers.html">rates of diabetes</a>, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity-child-17-18/overweight-obesity-child-H.pdf">obesity</a>, depression, PTSD, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db433.htm">suicide</a> and addictions points to one contributing factor that these different illnesses share: toxic stress.</p> <p>Toxic stress increases the risk for the onset, progression, complications or early death from these illnesses.</p> <h2>Suffering from toxic stress</h2> <p>Because the definition of toxic stress varies from one person to another, it’s hard to know how many people struggle with it. One starting point is the fact that about 16% of adults report having been exposed to <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/fastfact.html">four or more adverse events in childhood</a>. This is the threshold for higher risk for illnesses in adulthood.</p> <p>Research dating back to before the COVID-19 pandemic also shows that about 19% of adults in the U.S. have <a href="https://doi.org/10.7249/TL221">four or more chronic illnesses</a>. If you have even one chronic illness, you can imagine how stressful four must be.</p> <p>And about 12% of the U.S. population <a href="https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/introducing-second-edition-world-banks-global-subnational-atlas-poverty">lives in poverty</a>, the epitome of a life in which demands exceed resources every day. For instance, if a person doesn’t know how they will get to work each day, or doesn’t have a way to fix a leaking water pipe or resolve a conflict with their partner, their stress response system can never rest. One or any combination of threats may keep them on high alert or shut them down in a way that prevents them from trying to cope at all.</p> <p>Add to these overlapping groups all those who struggle with harassing relationships, homelessness, captivity, severe loneliness, living in high-crime neighborhoods or working in or around noise or air pollution. It seems conservative to estimate that about 20% of people in the U.S. live with the effects of toxic stress.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WuyPuH9ojCE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Exercise, meditation and a healthy diet help fight toxic stress.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Recognizing and managing stress and its associated conditions</h2> <p>The first step to managing stress is to recognize it and talk to your primary care clinician about it. The clinician may do an assessment involving a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000001051">self-reported measure of stress</a>.</p> <p>The next step is treatment. Research shows that it is possible to retrain a dysregulated stress response system. This approach, <a href="https://lifestylemedicine.org/">called “lifestyle medicine</a>,” focuses on improving health outcomes through changing high-risk health behaviors and adopting daily habits that help the stress response system self-regulate.</p> <p>Adopting these lifestyle changes is not quick or easy, but it works.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/index.html">National Diabetes Prevention Program</a>, the <a href="https://www.ornish.com/">Ornish “UnDo” heart disease program</a> and the <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand_tx/tx_basics.asp">U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs PTSD program</a>, for example, all achieve a slowing or reversal of stress-related chronic conditions through weekly support groups and guided daily practice over six to nine months. These programs help teach people how to practice personal regimens of stress management, diet and exercise in ways that build and sustain their new habits.</p> <p>There is now strong evidence that it is possible to treat toxic stress in ways that improve health outcomes for people with stress-related conditions. The next steps include finding ways to expand the recognition of toxic stress and, for those affected, to expand access to these new and effective approaches to treatment.<!-- 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/222245/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/lawson-r-wulsin-1493655"><em>Lawson R. Wulsin</em></a><em>, Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-cincinnati-1717">University of Cincinnati</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/how-much-stress-is-too-much-a-psychiatrist-explains-the-links-between-toxic-stress-and-poor-health-and-how-to-get-help-222245">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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"The opposite of wellness": Gwyneth Paltrow slammed over "toxic" daily routine

<p>Gwyneth Paltrow has been slammed online for sharing her "detox" wellness routine, making people question her definition of "wellness". </p> <p>The Goop founder appeared on the The Art of Being Well podcast with Dr. Will Cole, where she shared her insanely strict daily regime. </p> <p>The 50-year-old touched on a series of topics, including keyboard warriors and "conscious uncoupling", but it was her comments about her routine and diet that caused the biggest upset.</p> <p>A 40 second clip of the hour long interview has gone viral on TikTok, as Paltrow answered Dr. Cole's question: "What does your wellness routine look like right now?"</p> <div class="embed" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: none !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; width: 610px; max-width: 100%; outline: none !important;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7210104654460521774&amp;display_name=tiktok&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40dearmedia%2Fvideo%2F7210104654460521774&amp;image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign.tiktokcdn-us.com%2Fobj%2Ftos-useast5-p-0068-tx%2F17cff0a159f0493eaee1639d24531142%3Fx-expires%3D1678921200%26x-signature%3D2lWmwOFgi5LyMZXZha769GLwnG4%253D&amp;key=59e3ae3acaa649a5a98672932445e203&amp;type=text%2Fhtml&amp;schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>The actress says, "I eat dinner early in the evening. I do a nice intermittent fast."</p> <p>"I usually eat something about 12 and in the morning I have things that won't spike my blood sugar so I have coffee."</p> <p>"But I really like soup for lunch. I have bone broth for lunch a lot of the days. Try to do one hour of movement, so I'll either take a walk or I'll do Pilates or I'll do my Tracy Anderson."</p> <p>"And then I dry brush and I get in the sauna. So I do my infrared sauna for 30 minutes and then for dinner I try to eat according to paleo - so lots of vegetables."</p> <p>She concluded, "It's really important for me to support my detox."</p> <p>The strict regime welcomed a flood of criticism online, as many questioned Paltrow's definition of the word "wellness". </p> <p>One shocked user wrote, "Is starving wellness?" while another added, "I feel light headed just listening to this."</p> <p>A third person simply said, "I relate to nothing in this video", while another outraged viewer wrote, "Is this wellness? Or is this punishment?"</p> <p>However, the criticism did not stop there as professional dietitians also weighed in with their own thoughts.</p> <p>Expert Lauren Cadillac created a duet with the clip on the video sharing platform to share her reaction to Gwyneth's revelations.</p> <p>In it, the nutritionist repeatedly rolls her eyes, shakes her head, and gasps before claiming "bone broth is not a meal."</p> <p>She concludes, "This is not enough food. Support you detox from WHAT?! You're not eating anything."</p> <p>Another nutritionist weighed in on her routine, simply stating, "This is not wellness. This is not health. This is clinically concerning and toxic behaviour, and it's horrific that it's packaged as new age wellness."</p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok / Instagram</em></p>

Body

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Toxic pollutants can build up inside our homes. Here are 8 ways to reduce the risks

<p>We know everything in our homes gathers dust. What you probably don’t know is whether there are toxic contaminants in your house dust, and where these might come from. </p> <p>Our <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2022.115173">newly published research</a> found most of the dust inside homes came from outside and contains potentially toxic trace metals such as lead, arsenic and chromium. </p> <p>Worryingly, we found some contaminants can accumulate at higher concentrations inside homes than outside. This happened in homes with certain characteristics: older properties, metal construction materials enriched in zinc, recent renovations and deteriorating paint. </p> <p>Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to reduce your exposure, which we explain later.</p> <h2>What’s in house dust?</h2> <p>Our study explored the connected sources, pathways and potentially harmful exposures to trace metals at homes across Sydney. We collected and analysed 383 samples from nearby road dust (51 samples) and garden soil (166), as well as indoor dust (166).</p> <p>We found the dust in homes comes from a range of sources including outdoor environments and soil, skin, cleaning products, pet hair and cooking particles.<br />Nearly 60% of dust particles inside the homes originated from their immediate outdoor environment – it was <a href="https://theconversation.com/wearing-shoes-in-the-house-is-just-plain-gross-the-verdict-from-scientists-who-study-indoor-contaminants-177542">dirt from outside</a>! Wind, your shoes or your pets can carry in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412021002075?via%3Dihub">soil</a> and <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.1c04494">dust</a>-related contaminants.</p> <p>The remaining 40% of home dust came from indoor sources. These included <a href="https://theconversation.com/microplastics-are-common-in-homes-across-29-countries-new-research-shows-whos-most-at-risk-189051">fibres from clothes, carpets and furnishings</a>, cleaning products, skin and hair.</p> <p>Some dust sources can carry a cocktail of potentially harmful contaminants including:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117064">microplastics</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2014.10.009">persistent organic pollutants</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.05.463">perfluorinated chemicals</a> (PFAS)</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117593">trace metals</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2021.754657">bacterial communities</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106501">antimicrobial resistance genes</a>. </p> </li> </ul> <p>The nature of the risk is related to how much of the contaminant you’re exposed to and for how long. The risks are greatest in children under the age of five. This is because they are small, closer to the floor and have frequent hand-mouth contact, which increases ingestion of contaminants.</p> <h2>How do contaminants build up in homes?</h2> <p>Industrial activity has left a marked legacy of contaminants in many city neighbourhoods. We analysed road dust, garden soil and vacuum dust samples from 166 homes in Sydney to see how this risk translated to inside homes. We used high-magnification microscopy and <a href="https://www.climate-policy-watcher.org/earth-sciences/lead-isotopes-as-tools-for-source-identification.html">lead isotopic ratios</a> to understand trace metal composition in the samples. </p> <p>On average, concentrations of trace metals arsenic, chromium, copper, manganese, lead and zinc were all higher inside homes than outside. This means homes are not only “accumulators” of trace metal contaminants but also important sources of a significant proportion of harmful contaminants that we can be exposed to. </p> <p>The lead isotopic ratios, or the lead “fingerprints”, of each home and its garden soil matched. This confirms the soil is the main source of lead inside homes. </p> <p>Most of this lead is the result of the pre-1970s use of high concentrations of lead in <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/protection/chemicals-management/lead/lead-in-house-paint">paints</a> and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2017.02.007">petrol</a>, which contaminated many garden soils. Even <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-lead-is-dangerous-and-the-damage-it-does-116506">low levels of lead exposure</a> can be harmful. Lead levels in some <a href="https://theconversation.com/elevated-lead-levels-in-sydney-back-yards-heres-what-you-can-do-68499">Sydney backyards</a> pose a risk for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2021.107151">urban veggie growers</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/backyard-hens-eggs-contain-40-times-more-lead-on-averagethan-shop-eggs-research-finds-187442">backyard chickens and their eggs</a>.</p> <p>High-magnification images of house dust showed mineral particles that have been blown in or tracked in on shoes. The rest of the dust was elongated fibres and hair from indoor sources.</p> <h2>Which homes are most at risk?</h2> <p>We also collected information about each house, relevant activities and renovations at the property. We found house age, proximity to the city centre and renovations had the greatest influence on levels of lead and other trace metals in the home. </p> <p>All homes more than 50 years old had higher concentrations of arsenic, copper, lead and zinc in their garden soil and house dust. They are typically <a href="https://iupui-earth-science.shinyapps.io/MME_Sydney/">located closer to city centres</a>, where early industrial activity has contaminated soils. </p> <p>As older homes in former industrial areas are renovated, trace metal loads in these homes and gardens can increase. Walls and ceilings contain decades of dust. Old paint buried under more recent layers can also be released, causing <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/3983094">lead exposure risks</a>. </p> <p>It is critical that home renovators take appropriate remediation steps or <a href="https://painters.edu.au/Training-Courses/CPCCPD3031-Work-safely-with-lead-painted-surfaces-in-the-painting-industry.htm">employ a qualified paint professional</a> so lead dust isn’t spread across the area.</p> <h2>8 ways to reduce your risk</h2> <p>We spend about <a href="https://escholarship.org/uc/item/1zg3q68x#main">70% of our time at home</a>, which the pandemic has increased. Understanding the environmental <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/exposome/default.html">conditions and contaminants we encounter</a>and their effects on our health is more important than ever. </p> <p>Armed with this knowledge, though, you can take some simple steps to reduce your exposure to contaminants in your home and garden:</p> <ol> <li> <p>regularly vacuum carpeted areas with a good vacuum cleaner fitted with a <a href="https://www2.education.vic.gov.au/pal/ventilation-air-purification/print-all">HEPA filter</a></p> </li> <li> <p>wet mop and wet dust hard surfaces</p> </li> <li> <p>mulch areas of exposed soil in your garden</p> </li> <li> <p>use a quality doormat and wash it regularly, which can roughly <a href="https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/51148/1/Manuscript_File_Global_Pb_Modeling_Final_clean_1%20%281%29.pdf">halve the amount of lead</a> in your home within three months</p> </li> <li> <p>leave your shoes at the door as they can <a href="https://theconversation.com/wearing-shoes-in-the-house-is-just-plain-gross-the-verdict-from-scientists-who-study-indoor-contaminants-177542">bring all sorts of nasties into the home</a></p> </li> <li> <p>wash your hands and your veggies thoroughly </p> </li> <li> <p>close windows on windy days</p> </li> <li> <p>when renovating, use dust-mitigation strategies and personal protective equipment (PPE).</p> </li> </ol> <p>You can dig a little deeper into what’s in your own home environment by sending your soil to <a href="https://www.360dustanalysis.com/">VegeSafe Australia</a> or <a href="https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/get-involved/citizen-science-program/gardensafe">EPA Victoria’s GardenSafe</a> for analysis. If you live in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom or Australia you can also send your vacuum dust to <a href="https://www.360dustanalysis.com/">DustSafe</a> for testing. You will receive a report outlining what was in your sample, with links and advice on what to do next where necessary.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/toxic-pollutants-can-build-up-inside-our-homes-here-are-8-ways-to-reduce-the-risks-197908" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Home Hints & Tips

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Explainer: why, exactly, is alcohol bad for us long-term?

<p>What, exactly, makes alcohol unhealthy?</p> <p>After a big night, the answer to this might seem obvious – or perhaps more disturbingly, not obvious at all. But even in moderation, alcohol carries longer-term health risks too.</p> <p>So what are they, and why do they happen? Cosmos investigates.</p> <h2>Why is alcohol bad for you long-term?</h2> <p>The biggest culprit is a substance called acetaldehyde.</p> <p>Alcohol – or strictly speaking, ethanol – doesn’t stay that way in the body for long. The body metabolises it and turns it into a few different compounds, mostly acetaldehyde.</p> <p>As well as causing a lot of the symptoms you’d experience during a hangover, like headaches, nausea, and facial flushing, acetaldehyde is a carcinogen.</p> <p>“Acetaldehyde is highly reactive and extremely toxic,” says Dr Leon Booth, a research fellow at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney.</p> <p>“It binds to different proteins, or to DNA, and it can impair enzyme and cell functions.</p> <p>“Essentially, because it’s so reactive, it increases the risk of cell mutations and therefore increases the risk of a cancer developing.”</p> <p>Globally, around 4% of cancers can be attributed to alcohol. The Lancet estimates that in 2020, there were 741,300 new cancers around the world that came from alcohol consumption.</p> <p>“A lot of them are in the digestive tract, which kind of intuitively makes sense, because that’s where the alcohol is coming into contact with the body,” says Booth.</p> <p>“So there’s an increased risk of cancer in the throat, mouth, oesophagus, liver, in the colon and for females, quite an increased risk for breast cancer.”</p> <p>One study estimates that a bottle of wine per week is roughly the equivalent of smoking 10 cigarettes per week for women, or five cigarettes per week for men.</p> <p>Acetaldehyde doesn’t stay in your body forever: an enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, or ALDH, turns it into largely harmless acetic acid, and then eventually on to carbon dioxide and water.</p> <p>But here’s where genetics can play a role in your susceptibility too: some people have a genetic mutation that makes their ALDH enzymes less effective.</p> <p>This gene is particularly common among people of East Asian descent, which is why some East Asian people flush red after only a small drink. Unfortunately, there’s evidence that people with this gene are also more susceptible to cancer.</p> <p>“In studies of Asian populations, they seem to have a much greater risk of getting cancer from alcohol,” says Booth.</p> <p>While cancer and acetaldehyde draw the most attention, alcohol can have other long-term effects too – like high blood pressure and increased risk of strokes.</p> <p>“If you drink heavily and consistently, you get scarring in the liver – cirrhosis, which is also linked to an increased risk of cancers in the liver,” says Booth.</p> <p>Alcohol can also interfere with hormones, causing poorer sleep or – once again – a higher risk of cancer.</p> <p>It’s also linked to mental health issues, like anxiety and depression, but Booth says this can be a “chicken-and-egg situation”.</p> <p>“There’s a lot of literature to suggest that people with mental health issues drink to help cope. But unfortunately, it tends to make things worse.”</p> <p>All in all, not a great wrap. Is there any good news?</p> <h2>Isn’t low or moderate drinking a little bit good for you?</h2> <p>We’ve all seen – and Cosmos has published – headlines about low and moderate drinkers (around 10 or fewer standard drinks per week) doing better in some health metrics, particularly heart disease.</p> <p>Does this really mean that regular low-moderate drinking might be better than not drinking at all?</p> <p>“Long story short, I think the jury’s probably still out on that one,” says Booth.</p> <p>The trick is that a lot of non-drinkers avoid alcohol for health reasons. This is called the “sick quitter” effect.</p> <p>If you develop a health condition, or discover you’re at an increased risk of something like heart disease, often one of the first things a doctor will recommend is that you stop drinking.</p> <p>“What that means is, sometimes when you do these big population studies, the people who don’t drink alcohol can look less healthy than the people who do drink alcohol,” says Booth.</p> <p>While many of these studies have tried to control for the sick quitter effect, and still produced some compelling evidence that low or moderate drinking helps, other studies have found the opposite.</p> <p>“My overall opinion would be that it’s just a bit too early to know, and to really understand that relationship,” says Booth.</p> <p>“And even in those studies, once you get beyond that moderate consumption, alcohol does seem to be really detrimental to cardiovascular health.”</p> <p>So, for now – other than the benefit you get from spending a night at the pub in good company – you probably can’t claim alcohol’s improving your health. We’re as sorry about this as you are.</p> <p><strong>This article originally appeared in <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/explainer-alcohol-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Ellen Phiddian.</strong></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Body

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Plastic surgeon called out for “toxic” video

<p dir="ltr">A beautician has been slammed for a video she posted online outlining the cosmetic surgery she thought a star of Stranger Things would need.</p> <p dir="ltr">Miranda Wilson, who describes herself as a nurse practitioner injector, posted a video on TikTok outlining the alterations she believed would enhance the look of actress Natalia Dyer.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We’d start by treating those masseters … to help slim the face,” Ms Wilson said, referring to Dyer’s prominent bottom jawline.</p> <p dir="ltr">She then recommended adding “a bit of chin filler just to help fill out her chin and make her face more of a heart shape”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Moving onto Dyer’s lip and brow area, Wilson said she would “add just a little bit to the lips” than “do a little Botox (to) give her a nice brow lift to help open up her eyes”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And to top if off we’d start with some Sculptra, she does seem to have more thin skin and we want to prevent that from getting thinner and create more collagen,” Wilson said.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-9149ad08-7fff-bb3b-fff3-0b07f1571f97"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">She ended the clip with a “before and after” image of Dyer, where she complimented the actress’ slimmer jaw, pointy chin, lifted brows and pouty lips.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/07/tiktok-beauty2.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr">However, her assessment drew large amounts of ire from viewers, who described the clip as “toxic” and “highly insulting”, with one commenter arguing that videos like hers were “one of the reasons girls today are so insecure”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though she has since deleted the video, download copies have been uploaded and shared on other social media platforms, including Twitter, where the uproar continued.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Still can’t believe a plastic surgeon (sic) spoke on what she’d change about someone’s face without a) their consent, b) any indication that the person disliked those features and c) putting a disclaimer that the person is already beautiful as they are,” one Twitter user said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Like I cannot believe she ‘influencerfied’ her face completely unprovoked as if it was a free consultation.”</p> <p dir="ltr">After the backlash, Wilson posted a follow-up video saying she wanted to “clear the air”, adding that she “didn’t mean to offend anyone” in the controversial clip.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I was simply offering suggestions – not on what you have to do – just on what the possibilities are,” Wilson said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0ddeb030-7fff-db78-228d-a6f65798aa52"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“As an advanced injector that is what we do – we look at faces and assess and look at the possibilities.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/07/tiktok-beauty-1.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr">She then took a photo of herself and suggested improvements, such as botox injectables, lip and cheek fillers, and a brow lift, sharing another “before and after” image and writing in the caption that “Natalia is absolutely stunning the way she is” but that her image was just an “example”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though comments were disabled on her later video, upset viewers took to Twitter to call out her behaviour.</p> <p dir="ltr">“She posted a sorry, not sorry video where she completely missed the point of what the original complaint was,” one Twitter user said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another questioned who Wilson’s target audience was and pondered the impact such views would have on young women.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If Natalia Dyer, a white and thin and conventional woman gets scrutinised on her appearance like this, what happens to all the young impressionable poc/mid-size/plus-size girls watching?”, they wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a74d389f-7fff-ff36-d394-0b51934b7163"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: TikTok</em></p>

Beauty & Style

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Ben Fordham unleashes on Canberra's "most toxic politician"

<p>Talk show host Ben Fordham has described Senato Lidia Thorpe as the "most toxic politician in Canberra" after she blasted Scott Morrison for his Stolen Generations speech in parliament.</p> <p>When the Prime Minister said "the hardest [word] is I forgive you" when referring to the national apology to the Stolen Generations, Senator Thorpe said Scott Morrison had shown "outright disrespect" to the Indigenous children who were removed from their families.</p> <p>Writing on Twitter, the Greens senator said, "This is outright disrespect to all those effected by Stolen Generations in this country. How dare you ask for forgiveness when you still perpetrate racist policies and systems that continue to steal our babies."</p> <p>In response to Lidia's statement, Fordham labelled her a "lunatic", saying "she doesn't belong" in parliament.</p> <p>He said, "Senator Thorpe is possibly the most toxic politician in Canberra, and that's saying something."</p> <p>"Her conduct is embarrassing. She entered office in 2020 and ever since she's had an appetite for destruction."</p> <p>Fordham went on to call Senator Thorpe a "fruit cake" and "unhinged" over previous instances of political passion in the Senate.</p> <p>The PM's "apology" was condemned by Indigenous Australians, as The First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria slammed the speech, releasing an official response containing only the four words: "Get in the bin."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Twitter @ben_fordham9 @senatorthorpe</em></p>

News

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Toxic positivity: societal pressure to feel good could have the opposite effect

<div> <div class="copy"> <p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-04262-z" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">A multi-national study</a> of 40 countries has found that the societal pressure to feel good is linked to poorer wellbeing in individuals. In almost all countries, experiencing pressure to be happy and not sad was related to more and stronger negative feelings, and stronger symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.</p> <p>Interestingly, this relationship was almost twice as strong in countries with higher national happiness, compared to those with lower national happiness – suggesting it may have downsides for some members of society.</p> <p>“The level of happiness individuals feel pressured to achieve may be unattainable and reveal differences between an individual’s emotional life and the emotions society approves of,” says lead author Dr Egon Dejonckheere from the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at KU Leuven, Belgium, and assistant professor in the Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.</p> <p>“This discrepancy between an individual and society may create a perceived failure that can trigger negative emotions,” he explains. “In countries where all citizens appear to be happy, deviations from the expected norm are likely more apparent, which makes it more distressing.”</p> <p>The international team of scientists, including Australian researchers from the University of Melbourne, investigated how the perceived societal pressure to be happy predicts emotional, cognitive, and clinical indicators of wellbeing in a survey of nearly 7,500 people.</p> <p>Published in <em>Springer Nature</em>, the study then went a step further to evaluate the role of the nations’ global happiness levels on the relationship between societal pressure and wellbeing, using their World Happiness Index (WHI) scores.</p> <p>This score is taken from the <a href="https://worldhappiness.report/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">World Happiness Report</a> and is a measure of the average self-reported life satisfaction displayed by inhabitants of a particular country. Countries included in the study that were rated as having higher happiness in the World Happiness Index included The Netherlands and Canada, while countries rated with lower happiness included Uganda and Senegal.</p> <p>As a <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-cross-sectional-study-2794978#:~:text=A%20cross%2Dsectional%20study%20involves,one%20specific%20point%20in%20time.&amp;text=This%20method%20is%20often%20used,support%20further%20research%20and%20experimentation." target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">cross-sectional study</a>, the researchers acknowledge that while these findings can highlight a correlation between these factors, it cannot prove causality. Nonetheless, they do suggest that changing societal discourse from promoting a one-sided embrace of emotions to one where people learn to appreciate the full scope of their emotional lives (both positive and negative), could have beneficial effects for people’s psychological well-being in the long run.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=182523&amp;title=Toxic+positivity%3A+societal+pressure+to+feel+good+could+have+the+opposite+effect" width="1" height="1" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></em></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/toxic-positivity-societal-pressure-to-feel-good-could-have-the-opposite-effect/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Imma Perfetto. </em></p> </div> </div>

Mind

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9 cooking mistakes that could be making your food toxic

<p><strong>1. Cooking with the wrong fats</strong></p><p>Cook with olive oil, but only for certain foods. So, what are the healthiest fats for cooking? Dietitian Maggie Michalczyk recommends doing your homework before buying a jumbo jug of one particular oil and using it for everything. “These oils have different smoke points – that’s the temperature at which they begin to burn – and once they start smoking, the fat breaks down and they can release harmful free radicals into the air,” she says. Be sure to keep portions of oils in check when cooking. This will prevent additional kilojoules (most serving sizes are two tablespoons).</p><p><strong>2. Overheating healthy oils</strong></p><p>Oils with low smoke points are better for salad dressings, adding to already cooked foods or sautéing – not for high-temperature cooking like stir-fries. “Certain oils, like olive oil and coconut oil, contain nutritional compounds that can be destroyed when heating to high temperatures above their smoke points,” explains Michelin-star chef Ben Roche. For cooking at home (frying, roasting), he recommends using a neutral oil, like grapeseed or sunflower. For flavouring cold sauces and drizzling over prepared food, he suggests using extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil to preserve flavour and nutrition.</p><p><strong>3. Deep drying your food</strong></p><p>It might taste downright delicious, but consuming deep-fried food regularly isn’t good for your health. “The act of frying turns otherwise healthy foods, like vegetables and lean meats, into unhealthy, trans-fat-laden treats,” says dietitian Jeanette Kimszal. If you can’t shake your fried food obsession, Kimszal suggests purchasing an air fryer. This device requires no or only a small amount of oil to cook your food, so you can still enjoy your favourite foods without extra fat that could possibly hurt your health.</p><p>4. Charring your meat</p><p>While raw or undercooked meat can pose health hazards, so can overcooked or charred meats. “Cooking meats above 150°C, which usually results from grilling or pan frying, can form compounds called HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), that may be harmful to human DNA,” warns dietitian and assistant professor of the Nutrition and Dietetics Program at the College of Health Professions at Pace University, Christen Cupples Cooper. “Some research suggests that when metabolised, these compounds may activate enzymes linked to cancer risk.” While the research is limited, Cooper believes there’s enough evidence to recommend reducing your exposure to these chemical compounds. “Avoid cooking foods for any length of time over an open flame or hot metal surface, turn meat frequently during cooking, and cut away charred portions of meat,” she says.</p><p><strong>5. Adding too much salt</strong></p><p>If there’s one flavour we love in our food, it’s salt.  Food Standards Australia and New Zealand recommends adults consume no more than 2000mg of salt per day – equivalent to about 5 grams or 1 teaspoon of salt. However, the average Australian adult consumes nearly twice this much. “In some cases, our taste buds may be desensitised to the flavour of salt,” says Michalczyk. The problem is all the sodium packed into pre-packaged food. According to eatforhealth.gov.au, most of the salt eaten by Australians comes from processed and packaged foods.</p><p><strong>6. Adding too much sugar</strong></p><p>“Desserts are an obvious culprit, but sugar is often hiding in unsuspecting foods, such as dressings, marinades and sauces,” warns Maya Krampf, founder of Wholesome Yum. “Natural forms of sugar, like honey and maple syrup, are slightly better, but they still spike insulin levels in a similar way as refined sugar.” Instead, she recommends taming your sweet tooth by serving up savoury, liberally seasoned dishes when preparing meals and opting for fruit-centric desserts whenever possible. In recipes calling for sugar, Arianne Perry, wellness entrepreneur and co-founder of Sweet Defeat, recommends halving the amount called for. “I do this in baked goods, like banana bread, and no one can taste the difference – it’s so subtle!”</p><p><strong>7. Relying on processed, frozen dishes for weekday meals</strong></p><p>It’s tempting to turn to a frozen meal that promises to be ready for you in just minutes in the microwave. This is especially true after a long, stressful day of work. But often times, these foods contain preservatives and chemicals. “Remember that humans have only been exposed to these for a very short time in evolutionary history,” says Krampf. “Not only do processed foods leave less room in your diet for healthier foods, but they are loaded with ingredients like artificial preservatives, refined sugar and white flour.” Instead, she recommends opting for whole foods, like vegetables, fruit, eggs and meat whenever possible. And, if you must buy something in a box, choose one with ingredients that you understand.</p><p><strong>8. Drinking alcohol while cooking</strong></p><p>Unless you’re sipping on a full stomach, experts warn against having that glass of wine while stirring your family’s meal. “Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to an unhealthy spike in blood sugar,” says Michalczyk. “Plus, you may notice that the longer you wait to eat after the initial drink, the hungrier you will feel, which may lead you to overdo on whatever food you see next.” Or the opposite can happen: drinking alcohol before a meal might suppress your appetite, causing you to miss out on kilojoules and nutrients your body needs.</p><p><strong>9. Not using enough "good fats"</strong></p><p>There was a time when nutrition experts believed that fat was the enemy. But, thankfully, that time has come and gone. We’ve since learned that there are some fats that are good for your health. For example, avocados and fish are full of good fats (omega-3-fatty acids). Krampf warns that not adding enough fat when cooking is a mistake. “In addition to being an energy source and protection for organs, fat is used in cell membrane function, starts reactions that affect the immune system and metabolism, and allows for absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K,” she says.</p><p>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/9-cooking-mistakes-that-can-make-your-food-more-toxic-2">Readers Digest</a>.</p>

Food & Wine

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The friendship breakup: how to end a toxic relationship

<p><strong>How to get rid of toxic friends</strong></p><p>Fourteen years after the split, Suzanne Wilson Phillips still has some fond memories of her friend Melissa (name has been changed). “She was really fun and bubbly,” says the mental-health counsellor. “On a Saturday night, she was the life of the party.”</p><p>But over the course of their five-year friendship, Suzanne often felt neglected when her pal revelled in the spotlight. “Melissa never had my back,” says the 43-year-old. The tipping point came when Melissa tried to sabotage Suzanne’s new romantic connection. “I decided we couldn’t be friends anymore.”</p><p>As Suzanne learned, ending a friendship is a complex process, wrought with pitfalls and pain. Here’s how to get rid of toxic friends in four steps, with expert advice to help you get through.</p><p><strong>Step one: Evaluate the friendship </strong></p><p>Start by taking a measured look at the situation. When you’re with this person, do you feel like your best self? Can you honestly describe them in flattering terms? How committed are you to the friendship?</p><p>You’ll also want to consider the circumstances, especially if your friend has been depressed or suffered a loss or trauma. We owe our friends a lot, and standing by them during tough times is part of the deal. Dr Andrea Bonior, a psychologist and relationships expert, says the red flag is when “you look back and see a long-standing pattern.”</p><p><strong>Step two: Understand your reluctance</strong></p><p>Why is a split so hard? There are many reasons. Friendships aren’t monogamous, Bonior explains, so it’s easy to enjoy your other buddies even when one particular person is dragging you down. That means less pressure to act.</p><p>“When the ball is rolling in a long-term friendship, it’s hard to stop,” says Bonior. “It’s part of the rhythm of our daily lives, and the inertia is powerful.” Because of this, we also tend to let our friends get away with bad behaviour.</p><p><strong>Step three: flee or face it</strong></p><p>Avoidance is a popular strategy. Suzanne tried that at first: she dodged Melissa’s calls and stayed away from her typical haunts, hoping to escape a difficult confrontation. Sometimes that approach can be successful, according to Bonior. “The slow fade works if it’s mutual,” she says. After all, some friends just naturally drift apart.</p><p>But if the split comes as an unpleasant surprise to one of the parties, says psychotherapist Kimberly Moffit, “the friend is left wondering why they’re being avoided.” In that case, a discussion is the respectful way to go. It also opens an avenue for making amends: “You’re giving your friend the opportunity to correct what’s wrong in the relationship,” says Moffit.</p><p>If you take a direct approach, Bonior suggests borrowing words from your romantic life: “Something like, ‘I know you’ve noticed I haven’t been able to spend time with you lately. I value our time as friends, but I can’t give what I used to.’”</p><p><strong>Step four: Grieve and rebuild</strong></p><p>“We may feel silly about having an emotional reaction,” says Bonior. “But even if you’ve initiated [the split], you can expect to feel sad about it. Let yourself mourn.” She advises consolidating your feelings in your mind, or in a journal, so you can sidestep the same patterns in the future.</p><p>Once you’ve got a handle on the emotional fallout, it’s time to expand your social circle. By putting your effort into meeting new people, you may just develop a deep, meaningful friendship to last a lifetime.</p><p>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/relationships/the-buddy-breakup-how-to-end-a-toxic-friendship">Readers Digest</a>.</p>

Relationships

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House dust from 35 countries reveals our global toxic contaminant exposure and health risk

<p>Everyone’s home gets dusty, but is yours the same as house dust in China or the US? Researchers around the world have united to capture the <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c04494" target="_blank">world’s first trans-continental data on household dust.</a></p> <p>People from 35 countries vacuumed their homes and sent their dust to universities in different countries, where it was tested for potentially toxic trace metals. Researchers gathered data on the human and household factors that might affect how much humans are exposed to these contaminants.</p> <p>This is the first effort to collect global data of this type in a single <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c04494" target="_blank">study</a>. It shed new light on the sources and risks associated with trace metal exposure, which can lead to concerning neurocognitive effects in people of all ages.</p> <p>The <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c04494" target="_blank">study</a> shows it doesn’t matter whether you live in a high or low income country, are rich or poor – we’re all exposed to contaminants via dust.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433642/original/file-20211124-19-29ut51.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433642/original/file-20211124-19-29ut51.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A man sneezes in a dusty room" /></a> <em><span class="caption">It doesn’t matter whether you live in a high or low income country, we are all exposed to contaminants in dust.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></p> <p><strong>Differences between countries</strong></p> <p>Local environmental factors and contamination histories can make a difference.</p> <p>In <a rel="noopener" href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0269749121011751" target="_blank">New Caledonia</a>, elevated chromium, nickel and manganese were evident, due to local rock, soil and nickel smelters. These may be linked to increased <a rel="noopener" href="https://www-jstor-org.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/stable/45011245" target="_blank">lung</a> and <a rel="noopener" href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/science/article/pii/S1877782117301455" target="_blank">thyroid</a> cancers in New Caledonia.</p> <p>In New Zealand, arsenic concentrations are <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gexplo.2016.05.009" target="_blank">naturally high</a>. One in three New Zealand homes exceeded the acceptable health risk for children under two, set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.</p> <p>Australia has concerning levels of arsenic and lead contamination in house dust. One in six Australian homes exceeded the US Environmental Protection Agency acceptable health risk. Arsenic exposure can increase <a rel="noopener" href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/science/article/pii/S1382668915300946" target="_blank">cancer risk</a> and cause problems to respiratory health and immune function. <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/the-verdicts-in-we-must-better-protect-kids-from-toxic-lead-exposure-41969" target="_blank">Lead</a> can affect children’s brain and nervous system development, causing behavioural and developmental problems.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439426/original/file-20220104-23-nhnz25.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439426/original/file-20220104-23-nhnz25.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A man dusts on top of a shelf." /></a> <em><span class="caption">Frequent vacuuming, mopping and dusting with a damp cloth can reduce your risk.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></p> <p>It’s clear <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749121020443" target="_blank">lead mining</a> and <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/children-continue-to-be-exposed-to-contaminated-air-in-port-pirie-113484" target="_blank">smelting</a> activities cause high lead levels in dust for local communities. But the study shows inner city areas are equally affected, commonly from legacy sources like <a rel="noopener" href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/science/article/pii/S016041201000156X" target="_blank">emissions</a> from the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0883292717301300" target="_blank">leaded petrol era</a>, or peeling lead paint in homes.</p> <p>Data from Accra, in Ghana showed homes contained elevated lead concentrations, likely due to nearby electronic recycling operations. Old wiring and circuitry are <a rel="noopener" href="https://greatforest.com/sustainability101/best-recycling-videos-story-electronics/" target="_blank">burned to extract metals</a>, causing trace metals such as lead, nickel and copper to fall out as dust across the city.</p> <p>So where do contaminants in house dust come from?</p> <p>One source reflects lead from past leaded petrol emissions and paints. Another reflects the degradation of building materials, rich in copper and zinc. This was more prevalent in older homes, which have seen more wear and tear and have been exposed to traffic emissions longer.</p> <p>The third common source is soil, which gets blown in from outside and <a rel="noopener" href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0160412019320021" target="_blank">walked into homes</a> by people and pets.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433643/original/file-20211124-17-1tfgi8d.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433643/original/file-20211124-17-1tfgi8d.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A woman cleans a vent." /></a> <em><span class="caption">Simple home cleaning practices, like frequently vacuuming, mopping and dusting with a damp cloth can reduce your exposure to contaminants in dust.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></p> <p><strong>What factors affect how risky your dust is?</strong></p> <p>We also gathered global data on building materials, pets, hobbies, habits and home characteristics.</p> <p>What made the most difference to metals in dust were house age, peeling paint, having a garden and smoking.</p> <p>Interestingly, homes with garden access had higher dust concentrations of lead and arsenic.</p> <p>Older homes had higher levels of all metals except chromium, and are likely to have residues from peeling paints, traffic and industrial pollutants, pest treatments and other chemicals.</p> <p>Other factors, such as home type, building material, heating fuel didn’t appear to influence trace metal concentrations in homes.</p> <p>Critically, what’s outside ends up <a rel="noopener" href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0013935120302504" target="_blank">in our homes</a>, where it can be inhaled and <a rel="noopener" href="https://pubs-acs-org.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.1c01097" target="_blank">ingested</a>.</p> <p>While global averages were within accepted thresholds, many individual homes exceeded these, particularly homes in Australia for lead-related risks, New Caledonia and the US for chromium-related risks, and New Zealand for arsenic-related risks.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433664/original/file-20211124-21-1czyn4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433664/original/file-20211124-21-1czyn4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A person wipes dust from a shoe area." /></a> <em><span class="caption">Reduce the amount of dust entering your home by taking your shoes off at the door.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></p> <p><strong>How to reduce your exposure to contaminants in dust</strong></p> <p>Frequent vacuuming, mopping and dusting with a damp cloth can reduce your risk. Vacuuming reduces contaminants like <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/were-all-ingesting-microplastics-at-home-and-these-might-be-toxic-for-our-health-here-are-some-tips-to-reduce-your-risk-159537" target="_blank">microplastics</a> in house dust.</p> <p>If you live in an older home, keep the paint in good condition so it’s not flaking off.</p> <p>When painting or renovating, follow safety <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/household-building-and-renovation/lead-safety" target="_blank">guidance</a> from your state’s environmental protection authority – or call a <a href="https://painters.edu.au/Training-Resources/CPCCPD3031-Work-safely-with-lead-painted-surfaces-in-the-painting-industry.htm">professional</a>.</p> <p>Hobbies involving lead, like fishing, shooting and metal work, can affect your trace metal exposure. Choosing not to smoke inside will reduce exposures to chromium and manganese.</p> <p>Cover exposed soil in your garden with mulch or grass, use a dual system of outdoor and indoor mats, take shoes off at the door and towel down muddy pets before letting them inside.</p> <p>Considering we spend most of our lives <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.jea.7500165" target="_blank">indoors</a>, there is growing <a rel="noopener" href="https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/doi/epdf/10.1111/ina.12722" target="_blank">international interest</a> in setting public health guidelines for chemicals in indoor settled dust.</p> <p>In <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/household-building-and-renovation/lead-safety" target="_blank">Australia</a> and the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.epa.gov/lead/hazard-standards-and-clearance-levels-lead-paint-dust-and-soil-tsca-sections-402-and-403" target="_blank">US</a>, we have guidance for lead dust, but not other contaminants.</p> <p>The best way to know what’s in your house dust is to have it tested by <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.360dustanalysis.com/" target="_blank">DustSafe</a> researchers. <!-- 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; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172499/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://images.theconversation.com/files/439427/original/file-20220105-25-mvokjp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439427/original/file-20220105-25-mvokjp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A man vacuums his house." /></a> <span class="caption"><em>Vacuuming reduces contaminants like microplastics in house dust.</em></span><em> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></p> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cynthia-faye-isley-602937" target="_blank">Cynthia Faye Isley</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Environmental Science, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174" target="_blank">Macquarie University</a>; <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kara-fry-1274525" target="_blank">Kara Fry</a>, Academic Casual, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174" target="_blank">Macquarie University</a>, and <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mark-patrick-taylor-11394" target="_blank">Mark Patrick Taylor</a>, Chief Environmental Scientist, EPA Victoria; Honorary Professor, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174" target="_blank">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/house-dust-from-35-countries-reveals-our-global-toxic-contaminant-exposure-and-health-risk-172499" target="_blank">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Home Hints & Tips

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Lost touch with friends during lockdown? Here’s how to reconnect (and let go of ‘toxic’ ones)

<p>As we resume our social lives after strict COVID restrictions have lifted, many of us are finding it’s time to take stock of our friendships.</p> <p>Recent research I’ve been involved in found <a href="https://theconversation.com/lonely-after-lockdown-how-covid-may-leave-us-with-fewer-friends-if-we-are-not-careful-168844">friendship networks were shrinking</a> in Australia during COVID lockdowns.</p> <p>Some people pruned their networks, focusing on only the most important family and friends. Others lost friends through reduced recreational and community activities, falling out of the habit of socialising, and shifting to more digital interaction.</p> <p>As we start to re-engage, the obvious question is – how do we get our old friends back?</p> <p>We might also ask ourselves – which friends do we <em>want</em> back?</p> <h2>Which friends do we want?</h2> <p>There’s no one answer here – different people want different things from friends.</p> <p>Data I have calculated from <a href="http://rpatulny.com/data/">the 2015-16 Australian Social Attitudes Survey</a> show the main form of support received from close friends in Australia is:</p> <ul> <li> <p>primarily, having a confidant who provides <strong>emotional support</strong></p> </li> <li> <p>followed by <strong>fun and good times</strong></p> </li> <li> <p>and then, <strong>favours and advice</strong> of various kinds.</p> </li> </ul> <p>These results vary by background and life stage.</p> <p>Women are much more likely to have a confidant who provides emotional support as their closest friend. Men are more likely to have friends who provide fun, good times, favours and advice – or else no regular support at all.</p> <p>Younger people are more likely to have a confidant, emotional support, fun and good times. Older people, aged over 56, are slightly more likely to receive favours and advice, and are much more likely to lack a close supportive friend.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437962/original/file-20211216-19-ark8mw.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="Alt" /> <span class="caption">Women are much more likely to have a confidant who provides emotional support compared to men.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="http://rpatulny.com/data/" class="source">Data: Australian Social Attitudes Survey 2015-16/Roger Patulny</a>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>These results are indicative of what different people get from close friendships, but may not represent what they <em>want</em> or <em>need</em>.</p> <p>The close confidants women report as friends may well alleviate <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Loneliness_the_Experience_of_Emotional_a.html?id=KuibQgAACAAJ&amp;redir_esc=y">emotional loneliness</a>, which is defined as the absence of close attachment to others who provide strong emotional support.</p> <p>However, it may still leave them with <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Loneliness_the_Experience_of_Emotional_a.html?id=KuibQgAACAAJ&amp;redir_esc=y">social loneliness</a>, or the feeling of lacking quality, companionable connections with friends.</p> <p>Conversely, male camaraderie built around fun, activities and mutual favours may alleviate social but not emotional loneliness.</p> <p>Emerging evidence suggests emotional loneliness has a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042811027029">stronger negative impact on well-being than social loneliness</a>, so it’s important for everyone to have <em>someone</em> to talk to for emotional support.</p> <p>We still need a variety of approaches and goals to suit different friendship needs nonetheless.</p> <h2>Beating social loneliness</h2> <p>The first way to reduce social loneliness is to reach out to those we already know, now that we can.</p> <p>We can message old friends, organise get-togethers, or start new conversations and activities with everyday contacts including colleagues, fellow students, regulars at the local club or cafe, or neighbours.</p> <p>That said, reconnecting may now be impossible or undesirable for several reasons. These can include physical distance, changed life circumstances, different interests, intractable arguments, or a <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/australian-men-are-prone-to-loneliness/10555064">masculine aversion to initiating contact</a>.</p> <p>In these cases, we can join, organise, invite others, and connect with new social and community groups. Better groups tend to run regular activities that genuinely reflect members’ interests and input. Generic groups that meet sporadically <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/abs/cambridge-handbook-of-personal-relationships/loneliness-and-social-isolation/246AFB3CA8837959725B67497331E0A8">are less effective</a>.</p> <p>Some people may benefit from joining support groups designed for people subject to stigma based on identity or life events, such as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6841046/">LGBTQI</a> or health recovery groups.</p> <p>Some groups help deal with the stigma of feeling lonely. This includes shared activity groups where people talk “shoulder to shoulder” rather than face to face, such as <a href="https://hivelife.com/australian-mens-shed-association/">Men’s Sheds</a>.</p> <p>Groups focused on education, shared discussion, or exercise are particularly good for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24575725/">friendship and alleviating loneliness among older people</a>.</p> <p>While online options abound for connecting, it’s important to avoid activities which increase loneliness, such as <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07421222.2014.1001282">passive scrolling</a>, unsolicited broadcasting, or <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1745691617713052?journalCode=ppsa">escapist substituting of digital communities for physical ones</a>.</p> <p>Interactive online contact and online groups that <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-social-media-make-us-more-or-less-lonely-depends-on-how-you-use-it-128468">help us organise in-person catch ups</a> (such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Meetup) are more effective.</p> <h2>Beating emotional loneliness</h2> <p>To beat emotional loneliness, the focus should be on deepening existing relationships.</p> <p>It’s essential to spend high quality, meaningful time with a few good quality friends (or even one).</p> <p>It might mean repairing damage, and <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-10/coronavirus-and-reflection-how-to-restore-a-friendship/12229750">apologising in a considered and respectful manner</a> if you did or said something wrong.</p> <p>Sometimes it just requires the effort of checking in more regularly. Organisations like <a href="https://www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask">RUOK</a> provide sensitive, step-by-step suggestions on how to do this.</p> <p>Online contact and videoconferencing can help maintain intimate partner and family connections, as it did during lockdown. It’s particularly helpful for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21069600/">older people</a> and <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-14727-003">migrants</a>, but less so for younger people <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24321573/">already saturated in online social media</a> connections.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436868/original/file-20211210-23-txf7t8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="One elderly man comforting another" /> <span class="caption">It’s crucial for our health and well-being to spend deep, meaningful time with close friends.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <p>Some people may also need help from a professional psychologist, counsellor, or support group to process increased social anxiety, particularly after COVID lockdown.</p> <p><a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2019-62767-001">Such support</a> can reduce emotional loneliness by helping us process social situations more positively and <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/abs/cambridge-handbook-of-personal-relationships/loneliness-and-social-isolation/246AFB3CA8837959725B67497331E0A8">be more realistic (and less anxious) about our friendship options</a>.</p> <h2>Ending wrong or ‘toxic’ friendships</h2> <p>In <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/news-how-to-rekindle-friendships-after-covid-19-5179635">reflecting on our friendships</a>, we may decide to end any that have become particularly toxic.</p> <p>Where possible, we should be kind, explain this, and avoid ghosting, as this can be <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/living-forward/201511/why-ghosting-hurts-so-much">highly traumatic to those who are ghosted</a> and de-sensitise us to others’ feelings if we do it regularly.</p> <p>Before doing so, we should be careful we don’t just need a break to rebuild energy and habits of interactions.</p> <p>We should be especially careful with <a href="https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-on-the-ending-of-a-friendship-121627">ending long-term friendships</a>. Quality relationships take time, shared history, and involve natural ups and downs – especially in a pandemic. We should look to renegotiate rather than end them wherever possible.</p> <p>Take time, and seek counselling or another friend’s advice. Since listening is key to friendship, maybe ask yourself – have you heard everything they’re trying to say?<!-- 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; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172853/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><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/roger-patulny-94836">Roger Patulny</a>, Associate Professor of Sociology, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em></span></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/lost-touch-with-friends-during-lockdown-heres-how-to-reconnect-and-let-go-of-toxic-ones-172853">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Perfect revenge on a toxic boss

<div> <div class="reply-list-component"> <div class="reply-component"> <div class="reply-body-component"> <div class="reply_body body linkify"> <div class="reply-body-wrapper"> <div class="reply-body-inner"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p><em>Image: Reddit </em></p> <p>After leaving a toxic job, a woman has gotten the perfect revenge on her boss via a witty resignation letter.</p> <p>The electrician named Amber claims she was treated poorly by her “a—hole” boss, so she wrote a letter of resignation on a bereavement card that read “sorry for your loss.”</p> <p>In a thread posted on Reddit, Amber shared the post writing, “You ever worked for a company that just treated you like s----? I received a job offer today for a dollar more than I asked for, my own van, and they’ll sponsor me for school. I can’t wait to give this to my boss tomorrow.”</p> <p>Amber then revealed the text within the card, which was kept simple and straight to the point – “It’s me, I leave in two weeks.”</p> <p>In the comments, Amber predicts that her boss would ask her to resign immediately. She continued to explain that she had been underpaid and overworked.</p> <p>In a follow-up post, the electrician revealed her bosses response to the letter saying, “He said it aloud, gave a stank face, and just said ‘ok’. He didn’t tell me to leave so that means he wants me to work out my two weeks. He also didn’t ask why I’m leaving.”</p> <p>Many users were quick to praise Amber’s hilarious letter with one person writing “Congratulations on your new job! And this is the best resignation letter I’ve ever seen.”</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div class="new-reply-component"></div> </div>

Money & Banking

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Urgent warning over deadly pet food

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Dog owners have been warned about a disease outbreak in Victoria, with owners being asked to check the origin of their pet food.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Agriculture Victoria has issued a warning for pet owners that pet food sourced from Gippsland between May 31 and July 1 should not be fed to dogs, due to potential contamination that has resulted in pets suffering liver failure.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a statement issued last week, Agriculture Victoria identified indospicine, a toxin found in </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Indigofera</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> species of native plants, as the cause of the illness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While herbivorous animals can often consume large amounts of plants from this species, dogs are especially susceptible to the toxin.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The current outbreak has resulted in 54 dogs being affected across Victoria, including 17 that have died.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The department has said all affected dogs were found to be “young, healthy and vaccinated”.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Owners who have unwell dogs that were fed fresh or frozen raw pet food bought between 31 May and 3 July, should contact their vet immediately. <br />Ag Vic is supporting a PrimeSafe investigation into a cluster of dogs affected with severe liver disease.<a href="https://t.co/ks2ccPzwFd">https://t.co/ks2ccPzwFd</a> <a href="https://t.co/BibteOC9Ab">pic.twitter.com/BibteOC9Ab</a></p> — Agriculture Victoria (@VicGovAg) <a href="https://twitter.com/VicGovAg/status/1416285537959235589?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 17, 2021</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In their investigation into the cause of the deaths, the department has identified pet food to be one line of inquiry, and has issued a voluntary recall of fresh and frozen meat from a Gippsland knackery which is under investigation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“At this stage the investigation has no conclusive evidence of how the dogs have ingested the toxin, with pet food sources remaining a primary focus,” the department said in the </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/about/media-centre/media-releases/primesafe-and-agriculture-victoria-statement-dog-liver-disease-cluster" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">statement</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This complex investigation is ongoing with multiple lines of inquiry across the pet supply chain and testing continuing at laboratories across Australia.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The knackery under investigation issued a statement on their Facebook page.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Our hearts go out to all people and pets that have suffered or are still suffering as a result of the illness no matter how it was caused. We know people and animals are hurting - we are passionate dog and horse lovers ourselves - we understand people’s genuine pain, hurt and anger,” the statement reads.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to Agriculture Victoria, this is the first incidence of indospicine toxicity in the state.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Animals including cattle, camels, and horses are known to carry the toxin, according to the department, particularly in northern Australia.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though the source of the toxin is yet to be determined, a number of samples of raw meat intended for pets are currently being analysed according to Yahoo News Australia.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These samples may include prescribed animals such as horses, fallen stock, and sealed dressed game such as kangaroos.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Following concerns regarding the spread of the disease to humans, Agriculture Victoria said in a statement the current outbreak is believed to only be affecting dogs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Pets suffering from liver disease associated with indospicine toxicity do not pose a risk to people,” the department said in a statement.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There are no indications of any risk to human health nor of human food safety issues associated with these cases to date.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Currently, a number of products issued between May 31 and July 3 have been recalled as a precaution, including:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Maffra District Knackery Mince</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Maffra District Knackery Kennel</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mafra District Knackery Horse</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Backman’s Greyhound Supplies Mince</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Backman’s Greyhound Supplies Kennel</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Backman’s Greyhound Supplies Horse</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Anyone who returns their product is entitled to refunds or exchanges.</span></p>

Legal

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The four horsemen of toxic relationships revealed

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Alex Scot, a TikTok relationship coach, has shared the ‘toxic’ warning signs to look out for for a successful relationship.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a series of videos on </span><a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@thealexscot"><span style="font-weight: 400;">her account</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Scot explains </span><a href="https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-four-horsemen-recognizing-criticism-contempt-defensiveness-and-stonewalling/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Gottman’s Institute</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">’s ‘Four Horsemen’ of an apocalyptic relationship, including contempt, stonewalling, defensiveness and criticism.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When these four things are present in a relationship, Scot says it is more likely to end in a break-up or divorce.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though Scot says society has “kind of normalised these behaviours”, they shouldn’t be considered normal and are “statistically proven to be the initial predictors of divorces or breakups”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’m here to shine a big red flag so that you can stay away from them,” she says in one of the videos.</span></p> <p><strong>1. Contempt</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The worst of the four, according to Scot, is contempt.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Contempt is when you talk down to your partner as if you are superior and they are less than,” Scot says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Acting with contempt can include disrespectful behaviour such as eye-rolling, mocking a partner, scoffing, using sarcasm, or mimicking them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Gottman Institute first published a breakdown of the research-based concept of the Four Horsemen of the end of a relationship, and says contempt is the biggest predictor of divorce.</span></p> <p><strong>2. Getting defensive</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Gottman Institute says defensiveness, the second horseman, is “nearly omnipresent” when relationships start to get rocky.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If a partner brings up something they don’t like, you respond in defence of that behaviour instead of hearing them out and being open to changing,” Scot says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Acting defensively in this way can be a sign to our partner that “we don’t take their concerns seriously and that we won’t take responsibility for our mistakes”, according to the Gottman Institute.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CL7IlUGDxDP/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="13"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CL7IlUGDxDP/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Relationship &amp; Self-Love Coach (@thealexscot)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>3. Stonewalling</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Stonewalling - also known as the silent treatment - is seen frequently in society.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Rather than confronting the issues with their partner, people who stonewall can make evasive manoeuvres such as tuning out, turning away, acting busy, or engaging in obsessive or distracting behaviour,” the Gottman Institute says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A stonewaller often shuts down and withdraws from the interaction or opts to not respond to their partner at all.</span></p> <p><strong>4. Criticism</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The final horseman goes beyond a simple critique, with Scot saying this kind of criticism attacks the core of the partner’s character.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There’s a difference between criticising your partner’s character or behaviour on the whole, versus criticising something that took place specifically, an event, or situation,” Scot says.</span></p> <p><strong>Solutions</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While identifying that we behave in any of these ways can be disheartening, we can turn things around before it’s too late.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Adopting “antidote” behaviours can help move the relationship in the right direction.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For example, Scot says emphasising your feelings and needs by using “I” statements instead of “you” statements can help curb criticism.</span></p>

Relationships

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Ellen sensationally quits

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in element-type-p"> <p>TV talk show legend Ellen Degeneres has announced that she is ending her talk show after 19 seasons due to a year of controversy and PR issues.</p> <p>The 63-year-old will host one final season, which is the 19th season of the show, before ending the series in 2022.</p> <p>She said her reasoning for quitting was that it was "just not a challenge anymore".</p> <p>“When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged. And as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore,” DeGeneres told<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-news/ellen-degeneres-show-end-1234951571/" target="_blank"><em>The Hollywood Reporter</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>“Although all good things must come to an end, you still have hope that truly great things never will,” Warner Bros.’ unscripted TV president Mike Darnell told the publication. He added it was “an absolute phenomenon,” and the “premier destination for both superstars and incredible heartfelt human-interest stories.”</p> <p>An insider confirmed that Ellen was willing to walk away in August.</p> <p>“She feels she can’t go on and the only way to recover her personal brand from this is to shut down the show,” an insider told the<span> </span><em>Daily Mail.</em></p> <p>“The truth is she knew what was going on, it’s her show. The buck stops with her. She can blame every executive under the sun – but Ellen is ultimately the one to blame.”</p> <p>The controversy quickly began after a tweet in March went viral, claiming that she was "notoriously one of the meanest people alive".</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Right now we all need a little kindness. You know, like Ellen Degeneres always talks about! 😊❤️ <br /><br />She’s also notoriously one of the meanest people alive<br /><br />Respond to this with the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean &amp; I’ll match every one w/ $2 to <a href="https://twitter.com/LAFoodBank?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LAFoodBank</a></p> — Kevin T. Porter (@KevinTPorter) <a href="https://twitter.com/KevinTPorter/status/1241049881688412160?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 20, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>More than 1,000 replies to the tweet had many detailing their experiences with her, which inspired staff to come forward with allegations of bullying.</p> <p>Many weren't impressed with the way that she handled the controversy, pleading to fans that she was a "work in progress".</p> <p>“As you may have heard this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation. I learned that things happened here that never should’ve happened,” she said.</p> <p>“I take that very seriously, and I want to say I’m so sorry to the people who were affected.</p> <p>“Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress.</p> <p>“And I am especially working on the impatience thing because … and it’s not going well because it’s not happening fast enough.”</p> </div> </div> </div>

News

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Body fat deep below the surface is a toxic risk especially for your heart

<p>Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to forget one of the largest health challenges we face remains the global obesity epidemic. <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight">World Health Organisation data</a> shows obesity has nearly tripled in less than 50 years, with about <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight">40% of adults worldwide</a> now overweight or obese. High body fat increases the risk of chronic diseases, including heart problems, diabetes and cancer.</p> <p>However, it’s not simply the total amount of body fat that can increase the risk of disease. The type and location of fat is also important. We’ve known for some time that subcutaneous fat — the fat just below the skin — <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0171933513000459">increases inflammation</a> in the body. But in recent years, researchers have realised an even more serious risk is the unseen deep body fat that accumulates around vital organs.</p> <p><strong>Fat around organs can be ‘toxic’</strong></p> <p>Fat is not all bad — in fact, some fat does a lot of good. It helps protect vulnerable organs and tissues, and provides a convenient energy supply. If you’re out in the cold, it’s essential fuel for body warming through shivering.</p> <p>But excess fat can increase blood pressure and potentially lead to complications such as heart disease and stroke. Many clinicians use <a href="https://theconversation.com/body-mass-and-evolution-why-the-body-mass-index-is-a-limited-measure-of-public-health-79671">body mass index (BMI)</a> to measure a healthy weight range. It’s calculated as body weight divided by the square of height, and it factors in a healthy amount of fat.</p> <p>But BMI can’t provide information about the shape and size of potentially dangerous internal fat deposits, known as “visceral fat”. Over recent years it’s become apparent visceral fat can lead to disease, and good fat can turn into toxic fat when there is too much.</p> <p>Various organs seem to accumulate visceral fat. This can be a problem because it can create and release damaging molecules and hormones into the blood. These are transported in the bloodstream, potentially causing health complications in distant parts of the body.</p> <p>For example, toxic fat can release proteins that blunt the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Blood glucose levels then rise, potentially <a href="https://www.diabetes.co.uk/body/visceral-fat.html">causing diabetes in the long term</a>. Visceral fat can also stimulate uncontrolled cell growth and replication, <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/obesity-fact-sheet">potentially triggering some forms of cancer</a>. A fatty liver is associated with metabolic diseases, and excess kidney fat interferes with the body’s fluid balance.</p> <p><strong>The heart is especially vulnerable</strong></p> <p>Visceral fat can also directly affect the organ around which it’s wrapped. Our <a href="https://www.onlinejacc.org/content/76/10/1197?download=true">new research</a>, published in September in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found visceral fat around the heart produces biochemical molecules that can make the heart beat erratically. These molecules potentially cause a serious heart condition called <a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/conditions/atrial-fibrillation">atrial fibrillation</a>, by disrupting the heart’s electrical activity.</p> <p>Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common types of heart rhythm disturbance, and <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/advance-article/doi/10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa612/5899003">one in three people</a> over 55 will develop the condition. It occurs when the regular signal to drive each heartbeat originating in the top portion of the heart, the atria, is disrupted. It can cause an irregular and chaotic heartbeat, disrupting the heart’s coordinated pumping action. This can mean not enough fresh blood is circulated to allow regular daily activity.</p> <p>For some people, living with episodes of atrial fibrillation is a daily challenge – coping with bouts of dizziness, the distressing awareness of a “racing heart”, and chest palpitations. Other people may be unaware they have the condition and the first sign could be tragic, such as a stroke due to a blood clot travelling to the brain. This can lead to <a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/conditions/heart-failure">heart failure</a>.</p> <p>An advertisement from the Western Australian health department warning viewers about toxic fat. Only in recent years have researchers discovered the dangers of hidden fat around organs.</p> <p>We worked with clinical cardiologists at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and found fat around the heart secretes molecules which change how nearby cells “talk” to each other, slowing cell-to-cell communication. Because the transfer of electrical signals in the heart muscle are delayed, the heartbeat is potentially destabilised.</p> <p>Although a high BMI increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, it’s the fat burden on the heart, and not BMI itself, that’s most important in electrical and structural disruption.</p> <p>This suggests toxic substances released from the surrounding fat can directly harm the nearby organ, without travelling via the blood.</p> <p>For heart patients, these findings mean the surgical removal of cardiac fat could be an effective treatment to consider. Also, it potentially paves the way for the future development of drugs that can suppress the release of damaging molecules from hidden fat.</p> <p>Nevertheless, these findings underscore the danger of an “obese heart”, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Research is emerging that obesity is a major risk factor for <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/obesity-and-covid-19.html">serious complications while infected with the virus</a>, and the fat load on the heart may be implicated.</p> <p><em>Written by <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lea-m-d-delbridge-1155735">Lea M D Delbridge</a>, University of Melbourne and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/james-bell-1156890">James Bell</a>, La Trobe University. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/body-fat-deep-below-the-surface-is-a-toxic-risk-especially-for-your-heart-146307">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p> </p>

Retirement Life

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Ellen's back! But viewers and critics are unimpressed with her latest apology

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>Ellen DeGeneres' highly anticipated TV return has been met with swift backlash from unimpressed fans and critics.</p> <p>DeGeneres apologised at the start of her 18th season premiere and addressed the toxic workplace rumours that have followed her for months.</p> <p>“Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress,” she said.</p> <p>She also joked that while she’s a “pretty good actress” having played a “straight woman in movies” she said she isn’t good enough to “come out here every day for seventeen years and fool you”.</p> <p>She also alluded to the toxic workplace claims, saying that the company have "made the necessary changes" without revealing what they are.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/tv/CFZjbAdDnA7/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/tv/CFZjbAdDnA7/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Ellen DeGeneres (@theellenshow)</a> on Sep 21, 2020 at 6:00am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Within five minutes, DeGeneres had moved on and introduced her first guest, comedian Tiffany Haddish.</p> <p>Fans weren't as quick to move on, going to Twitter to voice their disapproval about the "quite bad" apology.</p> <p>"The Ellen apology was quite bad, right?" one user asked his followers.</p> <p>"Ellen's apology made no sense to me because she seems to base it on the idea that people mistake impatience, sadness and bad moods for being unkind. That's not really how it works," another explained.</p> <p>“Ellen DeGeneres using her first monologue back after allegations of a toxic work environment to make jokes about how she‘s impatient and not a good enough actress to fake being a nice person for 18 years just grosses me out,” <a rel="noopener" href="https://twitter.com/abb3rz07/status/1308105075236073472" target="_blank" class="editor-rtflink">wrote another Twitter user</a>.</p> <p>TV critics also questioned the apology, which was first posted to social media six hours before the season premiere of <em>The Ellen Show.</em></p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/ellen-degeneres-strange-apology-for-toxic-behavior-wont-satisfy-anybody" target="_blank" class="editor-rtflink">Jezebel</a> noted: “Absent from this speech about kindness, however, was an acknowledgment of the remarkably unkind things that allegedly happened under DeGeneres’s long tenure as the head of<em> The Ellen Show.</em>”</p> <p>The<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/ellen-degeneres-strange-apology-for-toxic-behavior-wont-satisfy-anybody" target="_blank" class="editor-rtflink"> Daily Beast</a> called it “a strange apology that’s unlikely to appease anyone.”</p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://variety.com/2020/tv/columns/ellen-degeneres-monologue-apology-1234777459/" target="_blank" class="editor-rtflink">Variety</a> declared the monologue “fell short”.</p> <p>“It’s hard not to feel as though an opportunity was missed here,” they wrote, imagining what had happened if DeGeneres had spoken in more detail about feeling “mad, anxious and frustrated” in the past. “Going a bit deeper — being something other than blithely kind to an audience that craves real connection — might have been welcome.”</p> </div> </div> </div>

Caring

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Ellen DeGeneres show staff overjoyed at recent bad press

<p><span>After BuzzFeed News exposed the racism, fear, retaliation and intimidation on the set of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, staff members are reportedly rejoicing about the information coming to light.</span><br /><br /><span>Along with a “toxic work environment," there has allegedly been situations of producers “bullying” staff, along with racist comments being hurled at black employees.</span><br /><br /><span>They also allegedly fired an employee who took medical leave after a suicide attempt.</span><br /><br /><span>However, the horrific allegations coming to light and gaining public interest has left staff members rejoicing.</span><br /><br /><span>The source told US weekly, “They’ve been calling and texting each other about the story. They’re loving that the truth—which has been an open secret for years in the industry—is finally receiving more interest.”</span><br /><br /><span>Ellen has remained eerily silent and has not issued a statement regarding the toxic work culture on her show.</span><br /><br /><span>However producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner told E! News they were “heartbroken” by the reports made by employees.</span><br /><br /><span>"We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience,” they said.</span><br /><br /><span>“It's not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us. For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us.</span><br /><br /><span>“We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better."</span></p>

TV

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4 ways to make gossip less toxic

<p>Gossip gets a bad rap. There’s no doubt that the act of gossiping about someone can sometimes be damaging and negative. But there is such a thing as “good gossip” and the very act of gossiping can actually help the way we interact with each other. If we follow some simple steps we can take part in gossip without it ending in tears.</p> <p>Gossip is defined as talking about and evaluating someone when they aren’t there. But we can use gossip to learn about the rules of behaviour in social groups and get closer to each other. It helps us do this by letting us learn important information without the need to actually talk to every group member. So <a href="http://www.rotarybalilovina.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Dunbar%20gossip.pdf">gossiping is efficient</a> and those who gossip can use this social currency to gain <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1994-98161-013">positions of power</a>.</p> <p>But being a gossip also has a dark side. Gossips are generally viewed as <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sally_Farley/publication/230486595_Is_gossip_power_The_inverse_relationships_between_gossip_power_and_likability/links/00b495310c2dc52ecf000000.pdf">unlikeable, untrustworthy and weak</a>. Even <a href="https://muse.jhu.edu/article/23570/summary">children as young as nine</a> regard those who spread information about other people as less likeable and less deserving of rewards. There is also evidence that gossiping may <a href="https://e-space.mmu.ac.uk/559453/1/ACCEPTED%20VERSION_Short%20term%20effects%20of%20gossip%20behavior%20on%20self-esteem.pdf">make us feel bad about ourselves</a>, regardless of whether what we have said is nasty or nice. And, of course, there are the consequences for the person you have gossiped about, who may suffer psychologically if they find out they were the target of gossip.</p> <p>Although the research on the group benefits of gossip suggests we need to keep gossiping, we need to do so with the potential negative effects in mind. So how do we keep gossiping without creating a toxic social atmosphere?</p> <p><strong>Keep it secret</strong></p> <p>There are clear negative consequences if you learn that you have been the target of gossip. Those who know they have been gossiped about at work, for example, <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13594329608414854">experience less physical and psychological well-being</a>. When we learn about social rules through gossip, we are learning about what rules we should follow, but also about what actions we should avoid if we want to be a valued member of our group. The advantage of learning about group transgressions in this way is that we do not have to have an awkward confrontation with the person who has transgressed. If we want gossip to oil the wheels of social interaction, but not cause conflict and upset, we need to be discrete.</p> <p><strong>Make it useful</strong></p> <p>Although there is plenty of evidence that we dislike those who gossip frequently, this depends on the perceived motive of the gossiper. If the listener feels that you are attempting to help the group when you share the gossip, they can be much more forgiving. For example, <a href="http://evolution.binghamton.edu/dswilson/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/DSW18.pdf">in a study where a gossiper shared information about a cheating student</a>, they were only disliked where they were sharing this information for selfish reasons. Where they expressed the gossip in a way which focused on fairness for the whole student group, it was the cheater who was disliked, not the gossiper.</p> <p>Ensuring that gossip is useful can also help to alleviate the negative feelings gossipers have when they share gossip. In a study where <a href="https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f2bc/7a1779ea7bdaf3fc9b0544e79771b1dd7fc9.pdf">a participant saw another person cheating</a>, it made the participant uncomfortable knowing about the cheat. But they felt better when they were able to warn the other participants about the cheat’s bad behaviour.</p> <p><strong>Do not tell lies</strong></p> <p>Gossip which is not true does not offer the same social learning benefits as that which is true. False gossip risks conflict and upset to the target of gossip but this action is not justified by benefits to the group, so the gossiper may feel worse about spreading information they know to be false that they usually would when communicating gossip. The gossiper also risks being “found out” by their listeners. People <a href="http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.948.434&amp;rep=rep1&amp;type=pdf">can employ sophisticated strategies</a> – including comparing the information they gain to existing knowledge – to protect themselves from being influenced by malicious gossip.</p> <p><strong>Connect with your listener</strong></p> <p>Effective gossip is not just about what you say, or about whom. It is also about how you say it. Of course, you can make the benefits of the gossip clear to your listener by clearly explaining why you have shared the information. But sharing particularly emotional reactions to the information may help you to connect with your listener and avoid negative reactions. When we share emotional reactions to others with someone, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kim_Peters/publication/5863992_From_Social_Talk_to_Social_Action_Shaping_the_Social_Triad_With_Emotion_Sharing/links/58404f1208ae2d21755f3079.pdf">they feel closer to us</a>, especially when they agree with the reaction we share. Sharing how you feel may encourage the listener to react more favourably to your gossiping behaviour.</p> <p>So the next time you need to share some gossip stop and ask yourself whether the information will stay secret from the person you’re talking about and whether it is useful. And do not be afraid to share your emotions with your listener. This way you can hopefully engage in “good gossip” and reap the social rewards which come with it.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. 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More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jenny-cole-351173">Jenny Cole</a>, Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/manchester-metropolitan-university-860">Manchester Metropolitan University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-science-of-gossip-four-ways-to-make-it-less-toxic-75318">original article</a>.</em></p>

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