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Medical regulators are cracking down on cosmetic surgery, including Botox and fillers

Burns, adverse reactions, and serious infections have prompted Australia’s medical authorities to tighten restrictions on cosmetic operations such as Botox and fillers.

Medical regulators in Australia are tightening controls on popular treatments like as Botox and fillers in an effort to improve consumer safety in the „booming“ cosmetic sector.

The initiative aims to boost consumer trust and protection by focusing on irresponsible industry players and setting more stringent standards on the potential benefits and risks of such procedures.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) are at the forefront of this campaign, preparing to closely monitor a wide range of practitioners — from doctors and nurses to dentists — who administer a variety of treatments such as fillers, anti-wrinkle injections, and fat-dissolving procedures.

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Martin Fletcher, AHPRA’s chief executive officer told the Sydney Morning Herald that the once-niche market of cosmetic injectables has exploded into a mainstream phenomena due to increased accessibility and affordability.

However, this growth has resulted in a tendency, boosted by social media hype, to celebrate the benefits of these procedures while avoiding a candid assessment of the potential concerns. „We see this trend that plays up the benefits [of injectables] but they don’t address the risks, they emphasise the benefits and downplay the risks,“ added Fletcher. 

This, Fletcher emphasises, is the story they seek to change by developing these rules, establishing a more balanced, realistic perspective. To increase transparency, the proposed restrictions would prohibit inflated testimonials and unrealistic portrayals, such as before-and-after photos.

The targets also include ensuring practitioners have the necessary training to diagnose underlying mental health disorders, improving pre-procedure consultations, and requiring therapies to be provided solely by qualified health experts.

A valid prescription from an authorised prescriber, such as a nurse practitioner, dentist, or doctor, is required for cosmetic injections. The prescriber is supposed to consult with the patient to clarify risks and potential adverse effects, but Fletcher claims that this does not always occur.

AHPRA and the MBA are keen on reducing instances in which clients, under the influence of aggressive marketing methods, end up investing much more in procedures than was originally envisaged.

„We have seen some worrying examples of up-selling, a patient goes in for a treatment they can afford, and they’re coming out having spent far more than they should have,” Fletcher added.

Fletcher noted that a significant proportion of the changes suggested in the Independent review of the regulation of medical practitioners practising cosmetic surgery report, which was published in September 2022, had been adopted.

This includes setting up a Cosmetic Hotline to handle complaints and concerns. Since its debut, the hotline has received 428 calls from patients with complaints about their treatments and from other doctors who have expressed concerns about other practitioners.

These have resulted in 179 formal complaints and 14 doctors no longer or seriously limited from performing cosmetic surgery. Following an investigation, a further 12 people were dealt with restrictions.

The public comment on the revised standards is set to begin next month, with a full rollout scheduled for early 2024.

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What are menopause retreats and why are they on the rise?

Shaking things up for the better, menopause retreats are the latest trend in the wellness industry. Here’s why it’s about time they existed, and what you can expect. 

From silent sanctuaries to burnout bootcamps, it seems we are well and truly living in the age of wellness retreats. And while programs designed to help and recuperate couples, fitness fanatics, and sufferers of stress have been on the market for a while, the industry is expanding to cater to more groups than ever before. 

The latest demographic to be targeted by the wellness travel industry? Perimenopausal and menopausal women. In an effort to destigmatize the topic of ageing for women, the retreats are opening up their doors to women looking to embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-care. 

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Led by fitness specialists, nutritionists, and physicians, the emerging programs all strive to provide curated programs helping perimenopausal or menopausal attendees navigate the hormonal changes associated with the ageing female body.

And while retreats of this nature have only recently hit the scene, women have been experiencing menopause since the dawn of time, leaving half the population starved for information and education.

By the end of 2025, it’s estimated approximately 1.1 billion women worldwide will either be experiencing or have already been through menopause. With a figure like this, it’s no wonder the wellness industry has decided to shine a spotlight on curated programs for ageing women.

Shared experiences are always sweeter

Most of the menopause retreats on the market right now are centred around the idea that community support is a crucial pillar of the human experience. 

“There’s a great healing and discovery when a group of people are going through a similar circumstance,” Melissa Biggs Bradley told the New York Times. Briggs is the founder and chief executive of Indagare, a membership-based travel company now offering a curated menopause retreat.

But before you whip out the AMEX and start booking back-to-back retreats, Dr. Streicher, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Northwestern University, urges women to exercise caution and level their expectations. 

“It’s OK if you want to talk to other menopausal women, share information and get support,” she shares. “The problem is when information is presented as if it’s scientific. It can be manipulative to say a smoothie will make your vagina less dry.”

What can you expect?

There’s a range of menopause-themed programs on offer across the board, each curated to support women through all the physical and hormonal changes they may be experiencing. 

Anyone booking a menopause retreat might expect to find themselves immersed in all kinds of activities, from relaxing TLC to strength-building workouts, or workshops diving into all aspects of women’s health.

Unlike popular stereotypes, women experience more than just hot flashes during menopause. Symptoms can differ from person to person, but generally most women will find themselves noticing mood swings, a difference in their skin, and changes to their sleeping, exercise, and eating habits. 

Some retreats offer nutritional guidance and herbal remedies, focusing on managing symptoms through diet and nutrition, while others are more structured around physical rehabilitation and exercise classes to combat joint pain and other symptoms of ageing. 

More traditional retreat activities, such as mindful meditation and relaxing spa treatments are still found on menopausal retreat agendas but usually have a more targeted approach, such as boosting collagen to combat the decline of oestrogen.  

With so much on offer for women seeking education, support, and connection during a period of immense change, the wellness industry is redefining what it means to age as a woman. 

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This is why you crave sugar when you’re sick

When you’re curled up in bed with a runny nose, ever find yourself craving a sweet treat to make yourself feel better? Turns out there’s reason for that. Here, Associate Professor Hayley O’Neill from Bond University delves into the science behind your sugar rush. 

Picture this: you’re snuggled up on the couch, tissues in hand, and the telltale signs of a cold creeping in. Amid battling the sniffles, a peculiar urge emerges – a craving for snacks. Even though illness often suppresses appetite, the appeal for sugary indulgences and carb-loaded comfort foods can be undeniable.

So, why is it that during such times, cravings for sugary indulgences and carb-loaded comfort foods like chocolate become irresistible?

Food cravings involve a complex interplay of emotions, behaviours, thoughts, and physiological responses. 

These cravings can stem from the body’s need for quick energy or the mind’s search for momentary comfort, and our internal systems collaborate to shape these desires.

Let’s delve into the scientific intricacies that underlie why our bodies tend to crave sugar and carbs—especially during illness.

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The immune system and sugar

When illness hits, our immune system activates, demanding extra energy to fight off intruders.  

The state of sickness inherently inflicts stress upon the body. This stress response entails an elevation in „fight or flight“ hormones such as cortisol, primed to ransack energy stores and elevate blood glucose to meet increased demands. Sugar and carbs offer rapid energy, fulfilling this heightened requirement.

One key player in the cravings narrative is ghrelin, often called the hunger hormone. Originating in the stomach, ghrelin’s role is to signal to the brain when it’s time to eat. 

When illness strikes, the body’s metabolic demands escalate as it combats invaders and initiates healing. This elevation prompts a rise in ghrelin levels, urging the consumption of additional calories – that’s why you might find yourself turning to chocolate or other sweet treats when you’re feeling unwell.

The brain’s reward system: sweet comfort

The brain’s reward system plays a pivotal role in our connection to craving sugary foods, especially when illness strikes. Glucose, our brain’s primary energy source, takes centre stage, rapidly entering through sugary and carb-rich choices. 

This triggers a series of neurochemical reactions, releasing dopamine and serotonin—commonly dubbed „feel-good“ neurotransmitters—resulting in pleasurable feelings.

The problem with sugar cravings 

So, if the body is craving energy and eating sugar releases feel-good hormones, it must be fine to give into those sugar cravings, right? Not so much. 

A diet rich in refined sugars lacks essential nutrients, risks malnutrition, and also elevates the risk of oxidative stress, inflammation, infection and susceptibility to various diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and depression.

So whilst sugar foods may satisfy cravings, in the long term they could impede recovery by further contributing to the inflammatory “cytokine storm” often associated with illnesses like flu or Covid.

In addition to effects on appetite, ghrelin also plays a role in the immune system via promoting anti-inflammatory effects and reducing inflammation. However consuming large amounts of sugar actually does the opposite – bolstering  inflammation especially in the gut, which means the gherkin can’t do its job.

Sugar rush: short-lived satisfaction and fatigue

The notion of a sustained ‘sugar rush’ providing enduring energy is a common misconception, but reality paints a different picture. A sugar rush may briefly elevate energy levels, but this is often followed by a slump. 

A recent review of scientific evidence reveals that consuming carbohydrates doesn’t yield a lasting mood uplift. In fact, carbohydrates may lead to lower alertness and increased fatigue within an hour after consumption. 

While sugar can provide momentary relief, particularly in cases of depression or seasonal affective disorder, relying on it for consistent mood enhancement may prove counterproductive in the long run.

If you are a long-term sugar consumer you are also more likely to have reduced impulse control and ability to resist sugar potentially due to withdrawal.

4 tips to curb sugar cravings and boost immunity

Cravings can be tricky to curb, as the very nature of them means they’re overwhelming and hard to resist. Leading a balanced diet also means that it’s okay to indulge every now and then. 

However, when it comes to sugar, it is particularly important to practice moderation, given the aforementioned side effects of increased consumption. 

Here are some tips for curbing sugar cravings, so you can eat mindfully.

#1. Fibre Intake: Aim for 25–35 g/day of fibre to reduce inflammation, enhance gut health, and reduce appetite. Include lentils, beans, and vegetable soups in your diet.

#2. Choose wisely: Opt for minimally processed, low glycaemic index foods to mitigate cell damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress.

#3. Increase antioxidants and phytonutrients: These compounds combat inflammation and safeguard cells. Beta-carotene-rich foods like sweet potatoes and vitamin C sources such as peppers, oranges, and strawberries are excellent choices.

#4. Essential vitamins and minerals: Incorporate vitamins (A, C, D, E, B6, B12) and minerals into your diet to bolster immunity, regulate inflammation, and aid antibody formation.

If you are finding it challenging to maintain a balanced diet during illness, seek guidance from a healthcare professional to ensure you are meeting your nutritional requirements.

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Is your cycle derailing your diet?

Have you ever wondered how much influence your cycle really has on your cravings and metabolism? We asked an expert to set the record straight. 

There’s really no sugar-coating it: periods aren’t fun for anyone. Sure, they’re a natural bi-product of owning a uterus, representing the possibility of conceiving, carrying and birthing a child one day, but I’m not sure that’s at the top of most young womens’ minds when they’re curled around a hot water bottle watching reruns of The OC. 

Now granted, when I compare my monthly cycle to some of my friends’ experiences, I definitely feel as though I’ve gotten off pretty easily. I’m fortunate to not know what it feels like to be bed-bound with excruciating menstrual cramps, or to have to deal with an intensely heavy flow. Occasionally I’ll break out with a few new spots the week before my period starts, but it’s nothing a good face mask and concealer can’t fix. 

The only really frustrating symptom I seem to experience is a burst of intense cravings and insatiable hunger about a week before my period, and I know I’m not alone.

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It can feel like we’re going off the rails during this time, undoing all the hard work we’ve put in sticking to a healthy routine and nutritious diet the other 75 percent of the time.

Equalutions‘ head dietitian and lead recipe developer, Greer Calabro, shares some of the most common misconceptions women have when it comes to nutrition throughout their menstrual cycle, as well as how to best match your nutrition to each phase. 

According to the nutrition expert, women have been falsely guided by diet fads and incorrect weight loss tips for far too long. We’ve been told to ‘ditch the carbohydrates’ and ‘avoid dairy’, fearing the impact they’ll have on our weight loss attempts and PMS symptoms.  

“Carbs are a key source of energy and can help with managing mood swings and fatigue,” Calabro says. “And whilst some individuals may experience sensitivities to dairy it is important to include for those that don’t have sensitivities”. 

The dietician also warns against the common misconception that your period calls for an increase in your caloric intake, saying it’s only necessary to consider a slight increase of 400 to 600 kilojoules. FYI, that means an extra piece of fruit, not an entire pizza. 

Is consistency really key?

So torrent of cravings aside, should we be aiming to keep a consistent diet throughout each phase of our cycle? If maintaining or losing weight is your goal, the dietician actually recommends a slightly bespoke approach to each phase, while still ensuring your diet consists of a balance of proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates throughout the month. 

“During the Late Luteal phase our body’s energy requirement is increased, and it is very common to feel increased hunger during this time,” she says. “Reaching for calorie dense, processed foods like take away pizza, chips and lollies, can hugely increase your calorie intake for the day”. 

Furthermore, increasing your intake of foods high in salt, or consuming too much alcohol can increase fluid retention, making you look and feel bloated. 

What foods are best for each phase?

Follicular phase 

During the follicular phase (after menstruation), oestrogen levels begin to climb. To help balance excess oestrogen, the dietician outlines the importance of including a daily serving of cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cabbage, cauliflower or broccoli, and healthy fats such avocado, olive oil, seeds and nuts.

Ovulatory phase 

Following the follicular period, this phase sees our oestrogen levels at their peak.

“Ensure you continue to include a range of cruciferous vegetables and ensure you are drinking enough water to support liver detoxification of excess oestrogen,” Calabro says.

Luteal phase

According to the dietician, this phase (roughly a week prior to menstruation) can be particularly tricky to navigate when it comes to nutrition, with a lot of us experiencing PMS, food cravings and increased hunger. 

“To help with the increase in appetite be sure to include a good range of complex carbohydrates including rolled oats, quinoa, brown rice, wholegrain bread and pasta,” says Calabro. “These will not only keep you feeling fuller then more processed alternatives they will also provide a great source of fibre.”

Menstrual phase

During menstruation, it can feel impossible not to reach for heavily processed comfort foods such as take away and sweets. According to Calabro, your nutritional choices during this phase can have more benefits than simply keeping you fuller for longer.

“Whilst I always advocate for balance and don’t believe any food is off limits, reducing your intake of these foods during this time and including Omega-3 rich foods can help reduce inflammation and abdominal cramping during this time,” she says, urging people to try incorporate fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, nuts and seeds into their meals. 

She also advocates for iron-rich foods like dark leafy greens and red meat, and recommends including a source of Vitamin C (such as berries, citrus fruits, capsicum) in your diet to your body to absorb iron better. 

Can we ever ‚give in‘ to our cravings? 

Calabro says it’s important not to brand ‘giving in’ to our cravings in a negative light, as doing so can lead to unhealthy bingeing. 

“Enjoying a balanced diet with 80 percent wholefoods and 20 percent soul foods is an approach that we practise at Equalution as it stops the yo-yo diet cycle,” explains Calabro. “Understanding this is key to not only achieving your weight loss goals but maintaining them long term.”

And giving in to cravings doesn’t necessarily need to involve greasy takeout. The dietician recommends opting for homemade, healthier versions of your favourite comfort foods, such as burgers, pizza or nachos. 

“If you are on a weight loss journey, it is important to not deny yourself the foods you crave, but plan them into your day, balanced with nutritious, well balanced meals to ensure you are fueling your body with all it needs for successful weight loss,” shares the dietician. 

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Sleep: Temperature could be the answer to a good night’s sleep – and it could prevent stroke, too

Researchers have narrowed down the perfect temperature range for a good night’s sleep, so you can maximise your Zs all year round.

Hands up if you love a crisp, cool room at night – one that gives you the chance to snuggle up under the doona, no matter what the season.

Well, we hate to break it to you, but if you’re a fiend of a sub-20 degrees AC temperature, you might want to go easy on the dial and get used to sleeping in a more temperate climate, if you want to secure the best sleep of your life.

Don’t believe us? Maybe these experts on ageing might convince you.

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Dr Amir Baniassadi of the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research collected data on 50 older adults with a collective 11,000 nights‘ sleep. Each person was hooked up to sleep monitors and environmental sensors to analyse sleep duration, efficiency and restlessness in the participants’ homes.

So, what is the perfect temperature? „Sleep can be most efficient and restful for older adults when nighttime bedroom ambient temperature ranges between 68 to 77 °F (20 to 30 °C)“, the study found, despite some participants becoming more restless at the warmer end of the spectrum.

On the other hand, one of the environmental sensors cranked the temperature in their homes from 25 to 30 degrees, and researchers noticed a five to 10 per cent quality deficiency as a result. 

So anything beyond 30 degrees means you’re in for a rough night’s sleep, and anything below 20 degrees, and you’ll need some seriously warm bedding.

Yes, we all differ in our preferred room temp at bedtime, which is why it’s not uncommon for couples to sleep in separate rooms, however, if you do like the atmosphere around you to be above 30 degrees, perhaps consider whether it’s actually worth it come sunrise.

“These results highlight the potential to enhance sleep quality in older adults by optimising home thermal environments and emphasizing the importance of personalized temperature adjustments based on individual needs and circumstances,” Baniassadi said.

Unfortunately for some, adjusting the aircon is a luxury they’re not afforded. “The study underscores the potential impact of climate change on sleep quality in older adults, particularly those with lower socioeconomic status,” Baniassadi said.

The findings, published in Eureka Alert, added that “Older adults often experience inadequate, restless, and disrupted sleep which in turn influences many outcomes related to their health and wellbeing such as cognitive and physical function, mood and affect, irritability and reaction to stress, productivity, diabetes management, and risk of cardiovascular diseases.”

According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, adults over the age of 18 should get seven or more hours of sleep each night.

“However, age, health and personal circumstances affect how much sleep we need, plus some people naturally sleep more than others,“ the UK’s National Health Service told PlushCare, hence Baniassadi’s findings. 

As well as finding the perfect temperature within Baniassadi and the team’s range, PlushCare suggests trying the following daily rituals for optimal sleep results:

  • Get plenty of daytime exercise.
  • Avoiding big meals shortly before bedtime.
  • Cutting down on alcohol and late-day caffeine.
  • Prepare a dark room to sleep and wind down without the use of electronic devices.
  • If you can’t sleep, don’t just lie there: get up for a while to read or meditate elsewhere.
Read related topics:Sleep

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