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Galway researcher studies healthy sodium levels in diets

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A European Research Centre-approved starter grant has been awarded to NUI Galway’s Professor of Translational Medicine Martin O’Donnell for his research into healthy levels of salt intake.

Professor O’Donnell’s award will support his so-called ‘blue sky research’ project entitled ‘Clarifying Optimal Sodium Intake Project’ (COSIP) which seeks to clarify how much sodium intake is optimal for our health.

“Something that has been researched a lot in the past 40 years and particularly the past 20 years is how much salt we take in. 95% of sodium we take in is through salt,” said Professor O’Donnell who explained that the leading cause of death globally is cardiovascular disease and elevated blood pressure.

“Studies show that taking in a lot of salt contributes to heart disease and high blood pressure. Studies say that the lower your salt intake the better but sodium is an essential nutrient. Our bodies need sodium.”

Professor O’Donnell explained that studies looking at reducing sodium intake and blood pressure recommended that sodium intake is reduced to less than two grams per day, which is about half of the current intake of the entire population.

But some recent studies by Professor O’Donnell and his research group has raised questions about whether low sodium intake is optimal for health in all people and this is what he intends to research over the next five years.

“My research will focus on understanding the relationship between different levels of sodium intake and physiological markers of cardiovascular health.

“We will explore whether our genetics play an important role in modifying the effects of different levels of sodium intake on blood pressure and risk of stroke and heart disease. Does one size fit all or do people have different sodium requirements? In addition to sodium intake, we also look at potassium intake and effect of overall dietary patterns on cardiovascular health,” he said.

While the whole world is assuming the lower the salt intake, the better, Professor O’Donnell believes that this could also be damaging to the body.

“You can actually go too low with salt intake. Sodium is needed for most physiological functions. While too much salt is bad for blood pressure, an adequate amount is needed to regulate blood pressure,” he said.

Professor O’Donnell’s research will be funded by the ERC which he says will have considerable impact on his research as it will support an ambitious research programme over the next five years.

“There’s a lot of scientific aspects to this but our end product will be practical,” he said.

CITY TRIBUNE

Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square

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Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.

It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.

The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.

Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.

In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.

This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.

It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.

Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.

Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.

“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.

He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.

Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.

In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.

“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.

(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Tourists duped in Galway City rental accommodation scam

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have issued another ‘beware’ warning in relation to scammers offering fictitious properties to rent in the city area.

The advice comes after a report of a several separate tourists from overseas calling to a house in Shantalla over recent weeks, thinking that they had booked rental accommodation.

It is understood that the fake rental offer had been made through a booking website, but it turned out to be a scam with the tourists having ‘parted’ weeks earlier with a deposit of several hundred euro.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that such rental scams were an ongoing reality in relation to the accommodation sector, especially in cities like Galway with huge rental markets for long-term and short-term lets.

He said that the first pieces of advice for anyone seeking to rent a property was to only do business with an established bona-fide rental agency and to always meet the prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented.

Sgt Walsh said that the scammers also tended to be more active at times of the year when accommodation was in major demand as in the late-Summer/early-Autumn period as students returned to third level colleges.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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