Tag Archives: Blue flag beaches

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Tuesday 5th April 2016

Irish Water the elephant in the room of government talks

Healy-Rae says public has waited for 40 days for a government and was getting frustrated


Michael Healy Rae (left) and his brother Danny. Michael Healy Rae has said that Irish Water is the ‘elephant in the room’ during the government formation talks.

An Independent TD has said the issue of Irish Water is the “elephant in the room” in all the negotiations with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Independent TD for Kerry Michael Healy-Rae said “our Lord spent 40 days in the desert” and said the Irish public had waited for a similar period for a government and that patience was now wearing thin.

Mr Healy-Rae said it was unhelpful that Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin have still not spoken to each other, he told Newstalk Breakfast.

On the same programme, Independent Alliance TD for Galway East Sean Canney, also called on the two largest parties to talk directly.

He said it would be wrong to spend another €40 million on a second election and said this money could be spent on tackling homelessness or employing more hospital consultants

Mr Canney said a lot of newly elected TDs, including those in Sinn Fein, had not engaged in the process of government formation and said there should be more focus on them. “What were they elected to do?”

Another Independent Alliance TD, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran says his group would make a collective decision on Wednesday on who they will back during a second vote in Dail on the election of a new Taoiseach.

The Longford Westmeath TD’s comments follow the suggestion that a number of non-party deputies may abstain from Wednesday’s vote.

A number of Independent TDs yesterday expressed anger about a tweet posted by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar on Sunday, in which he said his posters were ready for a second election if necessary.

The Panama Papers simply explained even a 5-year old can understand


The Panama Papers leak has pretty much been big news around the world. The scandal however has not been the easiest to understand for many people. A Reddit user here tries to ‘Explain it in simple terms Like I’m 5’ (ELI5) type of post that has since gone viral.

ELI5 is exactly what it sounds like – how you would explain a certain thing to a five-year-old. So how do you explain secret banking, offshore accounts and tax evasion to a five-year-old?

Here’s how Dan Gliesack explained the Panama Papers leak to five-year-olds:
When you get a quarter you put it in the piggy bank. The piggy bank is on a shelf in your closet. Your mom knows this and she checks on it every once in a while, so she knows when you put more money in or spend it.

Now one day, you might decide “I don’t want mom to look at my money.” So you go over to Johnny’s house with an extra piggy bank that you’re going to keep in his room. You write your name on it and put it in his closet. Johnny’s mom is always very busy, so she never has time to check on his piggy bank. So you can keep yours there and it will stay a secret.

Now all the kids in the neighbourhood think this is a good idea, and everyone goes to Johnny’s house with extra piggy banks. Now Johnny’s closet is full of piggy banks from everyone in the neighbourhood.
One day, Johnny’s mom comes home and sees all the piggy banks. She gets very mad and calls everyone’s parents to let them know.

Now not everyone did this for a bad reason. Eric’s older brother always steals from his piggy bank, so he just wanted a better hiding spot. Timmy wanted to save up to buy his mom a birthday present without her knowing. Sammy just did it because he thought it was fun. But many kids did do it for a bad reason. Jacob was stealing people’s lunch money and didn’t want his parents to figure it out. Michael was stealing money from his mom’s purse. Fat Bobby’s parents put him on a diet, and didn’t want them to figure out when he was buying candy.
Now in real life, many very important people were just caught hiding their piggy banks at Johnny’s house in Panama. Today their moms all found out. Pretty soon, we’ll know more about which of these important people were doing it for bad reasons and which were doing it for good reasons. But almost everyone is in trouble regardless, because it’s against the rules to keep secrets no matter what.

Irish Central Bank handed out severance payment of €32k to a person who did not work for it?

Another two exit packages worth €61k each were made to staff who had worked at the bank for less than two years


The Central Bank in Dublin (above left)

The state spending watchdog has criticised the Central Bank for handing out a severance payment worth €32,000 to an individual who had not even begun to work for it.

The bank suffered costs of €73,000 as a result of the case as it had to cover its own and the recruit’s legal fees.

Another two exit packages worth €61,000 each were made to staff who had worked at the bank for less than two years.

The Comptroller and Auditor General said the three payments “suggest that the Central Bank needs to review its procedures for managing recruitment and probation”.

It also noted that a long-term contractor who had never been an employee of the bank was awarded €60,000.

The report identified 14 expensive discretionary severance payments, amounting to nearly €1.5m, that were made by public sector bodies between 2011 and 2013.

The Central Bank made six of these payments, which amounted to over €540,000 including legal costs.

Between 2011 and 2013, the report said the bank had “more recourse” to termination agreements and severance payments than the other public sector bodies it examined.

“The frequency of payments could imply weaknesses in the Central Bank’s procedures for managing performance or addressing other human resource issues,” it said.

The bank clocked up its own legal costs and the costs of the employee in all but one case, but details of the legal advice it received were not documented in some cases.

The report noted that such severance payments are often made when the employment relationship breaks down “irreconcilably”.

It also says severance payments may be made to attract desirable candidates to short-term jobs.

An examination of formal severance payments awarded between 2011 and 2013 under six public sector schemes, found they had a value of €17.9m. It said nearly €11m of this was related to pension enhancements. like added years.

It found broad compliance with scheme rules in most cases, except for a scheme for chief executives of state bodies.

The report found two state bodies, who are not named, made severance payments in the form of pension enhancements worth over €1m without the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s prior approval.

According to the report, the governor of the Central Bank said the cases it was taken to task over arose in a period of unprecedented renewal and growth at the bank, as staff numbers grew by one third between 2009 and 2013.

A spokesman for the Comptroller and Auditor General said the Central Bank was the only public body named in the report, aside from the departments responsible for signing off on severance payments, because of the high number of discretionary payments it made.

Most Irish beaches meet water standards but six fail to make the cut


Bathers will have to think twice before taking the plunge at six of the country’s beaches after they failed basic water quality tests.

Among the six is Youghal in Co Cork, which continued its poor performance for a second year.

Untreated sewage in the water was the main culprit for the failures, with e. coli and other bacteria, making swimming and other water sports inadvisable and, in some cases, prohibited.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Irish Water are working to see what can be done to ensure that the beaches are given a clean bill of health before the summer season, but there are concerns they could remain no-go areas this year.

Matt Crowe, director of the EPA’s Office of Evidence and Assessment, said: “The relevant local authorities, in conjunction with Irish Water, have management plans in place to tackle the main pollution risks at these beaches and these plans are designed to return these beaches to at least ‘sufficient’ quality in the next year or two.”

The EPA also warned, however, that in some cases significant investment in infrastructure will be needed to get standards up to acceptable levels.

Some of the beaches are repeat offenders — Youghal, Co Cork; Duncannon, Co Wexford; and Ballyloughane, Galway City, failed for the second year in a row, while Rush, Co Dublin, failed for the third time in the last four years.

Newcomers to the bathing blacklist are Merrion Strand in Dublin Ccity and Loughshinny, which is close to Rush in north Co Dublin.

EPA inspectors who carry out the quality survey annually stressed the vast majority of the country’s most popular beaches and lakes were clean and clear of harmful pollutants.

Of the 137 inspected, 101 were rated as ‘excellent’ quality, as measured by EU standards, while a further 13 were classed as ‘good’ and 14 were ‘sufficient’.

Two that failed the previous year, Clifden, Co Galway, and Lilliput, Lough Ennell, Co Westmeath, improved enough to escape the blacklist this year, but further tests are awaited before they get a final rating.

The rest are rated as ‘poor’, which under EU regulations means they haven’t met the minimum standards required to give a green light for bathing and recreation.

Trá Inis Oirr in the Aran Islands was inspected for the first time last year and has not been tested enough to be ranked, but the EPA said sampling so far showed excellent results.

Failing the inspections does not automatically mean the beaches are off limits. Peter Webster, EPA senior scientist, said it meant there was “a risk of periodic microbiological pollution”.

“Local authorities are required to put in place notifications for the entire bathing season advising the public against bathing, which could include a bathing prohibition if a serious pollution incident occurs,” said Mr Webster.

During the bathing season, June 1 to September 15, current water quality information and details of any restrictions on bathing are displayed on the national bathing water website, splash.epa.ie, as well as on local beach notice boards.

Bathing restrictions applied on 131 out of 14,659 ‘beach days’ last year, but most suspected pollution incidents resulted in precautionary, short-term restrictions and no evidence of pollution was subsequently discovered.

Bereaved people at greater risk of developing irregular heartbeat,

Growing body of research suggests stressful life events boost risk of heart attack or a stroke.


People who suffer the death of a partner have a heightened risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for up to a year after the event, according to new research.

People who suffer the death of a partner have a heightened risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for up to a year after the event, according to new research.

The risk of an irregular heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation, is greatest among the under-60s and when the loss of the partner was least expected, the findings indicate. Atrial fibrillation is a risk factor for stroke and heart failure.

A growing body of evidence suggests that highly stressful life events boost the risk of a heart attack or stroke, but up to now it has not been clear whether this might also be true of atrial fibrillation.

The study, published in the online journal Open Heart, collected data on 88,612 people newly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and 886,120 healthy people between 1995 and 2014.

The factors?

Danish researchers looked at factors that might influence atrial fibrillation risk. These included time since the bereavement; age and sex; underlying conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes; the health of the partner a month before death; and whether they were single.

Some 17,478 of those diagnosed with atrial fibrillation had lost their partner as had 168,940 of the comparison group.

Underlying illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and associated treatment for these conditions, were more common among those who had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

But the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for the first time was 41 per cent higher among those who had been bereaved than it was among those who had not experienced such a loss, the findings indicated.

This heightened risk was apparent, irrespective of gender and other underlying conditions.

The risk seemed to be greatest eight to 14 days following a death, after which it gradually subsided until after a year the risk was similar to that of someone who had not been bereaved.

People under the age of 60 were more than twice as likely to develop atrial fibrillation if they had been bereaved.

Those whose partners were relatively healthy in the month before death were 57 per cent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation. No such increased risk was seen among those whose partners were not healthy and who were expected to die soon.

As an observational study, the research does not permit firm conclusions to be drawn about cause and effect.

Researchers suggest acute stress may directly disrupt normal heart rhythms and prompt the production of chemicals involved in inflammation.

Further research looking at whether the association found applies to more common, but less severe life stressors, is warranted, they say.

Seagulls are 10 times more polluting to beaches than people?

Merrion Strand (below left) in Dublin is polluted with human sewage and bird droppings, An EPA report finds.

   BEACHES_0016_LKM.jpg Rose Feerick and David Strohm pass through hundreds of seagulls as they walk along Venice Beach in Half Moon Bay. The beach has some of the most polluted water in the state, which could partially be caused by large number of seagulls that gather there. (Laura Morton/Special to the Chronicle) *** Rose Feerick
 *** David Strohm Photo: Laura Morton   

“The droppings of a seagull in a single day carried about ten times more concentrated bacteria than the waste from a human in a single day,” said EPA senior scientific officer, Peter Webster.

Seagulls are 10 times more polluting to the country’s beaches than people, according to the latest water quality report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The birds have been blamed as one of the reasons for the EPA’s decision to brand water quality at Merrion Strand in Dublin as poor, since they have taken to resting in large number on a sandbar.

“The droppings of a seagull in a single day carried about 10 times more concentrated bacteria than the waste from a human in a single day,” said EPA senior scientific officer, Peter Webster.

Six beaches, including Merrion, have been given “poor” grades, which means that local authorities will put up warnings to swimmers, but will not ban them from swimming there.

However, the EPA report found three-quarters of sites it inspected were “excellent” and 93.4 per cent met minimum EU standards – roughly in line with last year’s numbers.

Those classed as “poor” were Youghal, Co Cork; Duncannon Co Waterford; Rush south beach. Co Dublin and Ballyloughane, Co Galway all of which were first classed as “poor” in 2014, as well as Merrion Strand and Loughshinny in Dublin which were classified as poor for the first time in 2015.

No inland bathing areas were classified as having poor water quality.

EPA senior scientific officer Peter Webster said problems at Merrion Strand in south Dublin were “complex, on-going and difficult to resolve”.

Two factors had been identified. First was the presence the Trimleston and Elm Park streams which were found to be polluted with sewage. Mr Webster said this could be a result of “poor housing connections” from anywhere as far as the M50.

The second issue was an offshore sandbar which had become home to populations of seagulls and wading birds. The droppings of a seagull in a single day carried about ten times more concentrated bacteria than the waste from a human in a single day, he said.

The EPA said where bathing waters were classified as poor, the advice was not to bathe. Where such a classification was made, local authorities must publicise the advice, or in more extreme cases close the beach.

In a statement on Monday evening Fingal County Council said it had agreed a management plan for Loughshinny Beach bathing water with the EPA, “who are satisfied that the measures set out in the plan will achieve an improvement in water quality”.

In relation to the other coastal areas, remediation measures are being put in place by agreement between the local authorities and the EPA.

Mr Webster said a complicating factor in the report was that data was compiled over a four year period, so the data applying to 2015 was collected between 2012 and 2015.

In the case of Loughsinny a once-off event in 2014 had caused a major pollution leak, but previous years had pulled the overall result up. Since 2015 was marginally worse than 2011, “the data tipped” into the poor classification this year, he said.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 28th May 2015

Irish naval vessel the LÉ Eithne rescues 201 migrants

Irish ship responded to vessels in potential distress off Libya coast


The LÉ Eithne completing the rescue of dozens of migrants off the coast of Libya on Thursday.

Irish naval vessel the LÉ Eithne completed the rescue of 201 migrants off the coast of Libya on Thursday.

The Irish Flagship received an alert at 8am from the Italian Marine Rescue Coordination Centre and the Italian Task Force Commander. It said there were five vessels in potential distress approximately 60 km off the coast of the North African state.

The LÉ Eithne, which was tasked by the Italian coastguard to recover the occupants of two of the vessels, arrived at the scene at 10am. The other three were attended to by other naval vessels.

It was the first time the LÉ Eithne had been involved in a rescue operation of migrants in the Mediterranean. It was carried out in co-operation with Italian, German and British ships.

The migrants were part of a flotilla of five makeshift inflatable vessels that were attempting to cross the South Central Mediterranean. The migrants included men, women, children, and one infant.

Sea conditions during the rescue were calm.

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said the navy was providing an “invaluable asset” in terms of the migrant crisis.

“LÉ Eithne under the command of her captain, Commander Pearse O’Donnell, and her crew are providing an invaluable asset in assisting with the Mediterranean migrant crisis,” he said.

“The operation today demonstrates clearly the value of our participation in this important humanitarian mission.”

The navy said it is providing medical assistance, food, water and dry clothes to those in need.

The migrants will be transferred to the HMS Bulwark where they will be transported to a port in Italy.

Ireland’s blue flag awards 2015:

Is your local beach on the list?

Six beaches conferred with ‘dual’ Blue Flag and Green Coast status


Portmarnock is one of six beaches that have achieved dual Blue Flag and Green Coast status.

Blue Flags have been awarded to 81 beaches and five marinas around the State’s coastline – six more than last year.

Six of the 81 beaches are also among 58 locations conferred with national Green Coast status by Minister for Environment Alan Kelly on behalf of An Taisce.

Portmarnock, Portrane and Donabate in north Dublin, Salthill and Silver Strand in Galway and Rosses Point in Sligo have secured this “dual status”, according to the environmental organisation.

Wexford’s Ballinesker beach has been given a Blue Flag for the first time, as has the marina at Kinsale Yacht Club, Co Cork, while the coveted status has been regained at Cork’s Redbarn and Garretstown beaches.

Five beaches which lost out last year due to works associated with severe winter storm damage have also regained their flags: Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point in Co Clare, Mulranny and Bertra in Co Mayo and Rossbeigh, Co Kerry.

Wicklow’s Brittas Bay North, Enniscrone, Co Sligo and Skerries south beach in the Fingal area of north Dublin lost their flags due to failure to comply with water quality requirements.

Beaches have to meet a total of 33 criteria for the Blue Flag status, which is administered by An Taisce on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education. In the North, 10 beaches and two marinas have been awarded blue-flag status.

Kerry and Donegal are leading counties with a total of 13 Blue Flags, while Mayo has a total of 12 and Clare has a total of nine.

Co Galway’s five beaches retaining Blue Flags include Loughrea lake in the east of the county, while the city retained its two flags at Salthill and Silverstrand.

The five marinas which hold Blue Flags are Killinure in Co Westmeath, Kilmore Quay and New Ross in Co Wexford, the Royal Cork Yacht Club at Crosshaven, and Kinsale, Co Cork.

Green Coast awards, which are given to areas classified as “exceptional places to visit”, were conferred on Bishop’s Quarter and Seafield in Co Clare, for the first time, while Ballyhealy, Ballmoney, Booley Bay, Grange and St Helen’s Bay in Co Wexford also secured this status.

Fingal’s The Burrow and Cork’s Inchydoney East have received Green Coast awards for the first time.

Donegal’s Rathmullan and Sligo’s Enniscrone failed to meet the Green Coast water quality standards, while Ballycastle in Co Mayo and Skerries in north Dublin did not apply to retain their 2014 Green Coast designations.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, who presented at total of 144 awards at Ballinskelligs beach, Co Kerry, paid tribute to the “sterling efforts of local authorities, An Taisce and local communities” in ensuring that their beaches “meet the standards of excellence required for a Blue Flag or Green Coast award”.

An Taisce’s coastal programmes manager Annabel FitzGerald noted that those beaches and marinas which “achieved the accolade” had complied with “strict criteria relating to water quality, safety, facilities for visitors, beach management, environmental education and the provision of information”.

She also paid tribute to the volunteers involved in 440 “clean coast” groups, noting that over 500,000 pieces of litter and other items were removed from the marine environment during some 800 beach cleans last year.

County,                      Beach.

Antrim Portrush (Mill) West
Antrim Portrush Whiterocks
Clare Cappa Pier, Kilrush
Clare Kilkee
Clare Doonbeg
Clare Spanish Point
Clare Miltown Malbay
Clare Lahinch
Clare Fanore, Ballyvaughan
Clare Ballycuggeran, Killaloe
Clare Mountshannon
Cork Redbarn, Pilmore
Cork Garrylucas, Ballinspittle
Cork Garretstown, Ballinspittle
Cork Inchydoney, Clonakilty
Cork Owenahincha, Rosscarbery
Cork Tragumna, Skibbereen
Cork Barleycove
Derry Magilligan (Benone), Limavady
Derry Downhill, Castlerock
Derry Castlehill
Derry Portstewart
Donegal Bundoran
Donegal Rossnowlagh
Donegal Murvagh, Laghy
Donegal Fintra, Killybegs
Donegal Naran/Portnoo
Donegal Carrickfinn, Anagary
Donegal Killahoey, Dunfanaghy
Donegal Marblehill, Dunfanaghy
Donegal Downings, Rosguill Peninsula
Donegal Magherwarden/Portsalon, Fanad
Donegal Lisfannon, Fahan
Donegal Culdaff
Donegal Stroove
Down Crawfordsburn, Bangor
Down Tyrella, Downpatrick
Down Murlough Beach, Newcastle
Down Cranfield Bay, Kilkeel
Dublin Portrane
Dublin Balcarrick
Dublin Donabate
Dublin Portmarnock
Dublin Seapoint
Dublin Killiney
Galway Loughrea Lake
Galway Traught, Kinvara
Galway Salthill
Galway Silver Strand
Galway Trá Mhór, Indreabhán
Galway Trá an Dóilin, An Cheathrú Rua
Galway Cill Mhuirbhigh, Cill Rónáin, Aran
Kerry Derrynane, Caherdaniel
Kerry Derrynane
Kerry Ballinskelligs
Kerry White Strand, Caherciveen
Kerry Kells, Caherciveen
Kerry Rossbeigh
Kerry Inch
Kerry Ventry
Kerry Magherabeg, Castlegregory
Kerry Fenit
Kerry Banna, Ardfert
Kerry Ballyheigue
Kerry Ballybunion North
Kerry Ballybunion South
Louth Carlingford, Templetown
Louth Clogherhead
Louth Port, Clogherhead
Mayo Carrowmore, Louisburg
Mayo Bertra, Murrisk
Mayo Clare Island harbour
Mayo Dooega, Achill Island
Mayo Keel, Achill Island
Mayo Keem, Achill Island
Mayo Dugort, Achill Island
Mayo Golden Strand, Achill Island
Mayo Mullaghroe, Belmullet
Mayo Elly Bay, Belmullet
Mayo Ross Killala, Belmullet
Sligo Rosses Point
Waterford Counsellors’ Strand, Dunmore
Waterford Dunmore East
Waterford Tramore
Waterford Dungarvan
Waterford Clonea
Wexford Courtown
Wexford Morriscastle
Wexford Ballinesker
Wexford Curracloe
Wexford Rosslare
Wicklow Greystones
Wicklow Arklow
Wicklow Brittas Bay South

This new app could test the eyes of hundreds of people living in developing countries


A new app has been created to accurately test the eyes of people living in remote rural areas in developing coutries.

The Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek) is designed for use anywhere in the world and doesn’t rely on large hardware or electricity supply for standard testing methods.

READ MORE: Here’s what Google has in store for you with its latest version of Android .

Peek has a series of apps inlcuding the Peek Acuity which determines how clearly a person sees.

It features a letter E on the screen in four different positions. The tester then swipes in the direction the patient thinks the arms of the E are facing.

The app was tested on 233 people in Kenya aged 55 and over and produced results that were as accurate as standard paper eye test charts or those in clinics.

Dr Andrew Bastawrous, who co-founded Peek, had the idea for the app when transporting heavy eye equipment to difficult-to-reach areas of Kenya. (PEEK)

He said: “With most of the world’s blind people living in low-income countries, it is vital we develop new tools to increase early detection and appropriate referral for treatment. Mobile phone use is now so widespread that it seemed to be an ideal platform.

“In this study we aimed to develop and validate a smartphone-based visual acuity test for eyesight which would work in challenging circumstances, such as rural Africa, but also provide reliable enough results to use in routine clinical practice in well-established healthcare systems.

“Our ultimate hope is that the accuracy and easy to use features of Peek will lead to more people receiving timely and appropriate treatment and be given the chance to see clearly again.” (PEEK)

Peek was developed by the Glasgow Centre for Ophthalmic research, the University of Strathclyde and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where Dr Bastawrous is a lecturer.

Less protein ‘key to longer life’

Cutting down on protein and upping consumption of carbohydrates may be the key to living a longer, healthier life,

New research suggests.


                 Reduce              Consumption                  Increase

In tests on mice, changing the mix of protein and carbs produced the same benefits as reducing calorie consumption by 40%.

Previous research has shown that strict calorie restriction can improve metabolism and extend lifespan across a wide range of species. But such a drastic strategy would be challenging for most people and may harm health.

Eating smaller amounts of high quality protein and a lot of healthy carbohydrates might prove more practical for humans, scientists believe.

Good sources of protein include eggs, milk, white meat and soya. Consuming healthy carbohydrates means choosing foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and pulses, and avoiding refined sugar, white bread and pastries.

Researcher Dr Stephen Simpson, from the University of Sydney in Australia, said: “We’ve shown that when compared head-to-head, mice got the same benefits from a low protein, high carbohydrate diet as a 40% caloric restriction diet.

“Except for the fanatical few, no one can maintain a 40% caloric reduction in the long-term, and doing so can risk loss of bone mass, libido and fertility.”

The mice were observed for eight weeks as they ate a range of diets with different protein and carbohydrate ratios in conditions where food was restricted or provided at all times.

Low protein/high carbohydrate (LPHC) diets when food was always available delivered the same benefits as calorie restriction in terms of insulin activity, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, the scientists found.

Even though mice on LPHC diets ate more – increasing their food and energy intake by 25% to 30% – their metabolism was higher than that of calorie-restricted mice and they did not gain extra weight.

Calorie restriction did not provide any additional benefits for LPHC mice.

If the findings – published in the journal Cell Reports – apply to humans, adjusting protein and carbohydrate intake could lead to healthier ageing, said the researchers.

Dr Simpson added: “It still holds true that reducing food intake and body weight improves metabolic health and reduces the risk of diseases like Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver disease.

“However, according to these mouse data and emerging human research, it appears that including modest intakes of high-quality protein and plenty of healthy carbohydrates in the diet will be beneficial for health as we age.”

Early humans migrated out of Africa through Egypt rather than Ethiopia, new study says


A study of present-day genomes of north-east Africans suggests the northern route through Egypt and the Sinai was more likely

Early humans migrated out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago through Egypt rather than crossing the shallow sea that separated Ethiopia from the Arabian Peninsula as some archaeologists have suggested, a study of the DNA of modern people has found.

Scientists have long argued about which of the two migratory routes the first humans took when they emerged from Africa to colonise the Middle East, Asia and other parts of the globe. Now a study of present-day genomes of north-east Africans suggests the northern route through Egypt and the Sinai was more likely.

The study analysed the genomes of 100 Egyptians and 125 Ethiopians and compared their DNA to people currently living in Eurasia and to other parts of Africa. It concluded that the ancient migratory route through the Sinai Peninsula has left its mark on the DNA of people living in Egypt today, scientists said.

Modern Egyptians show a greater genetic similarity than modern Ethiopians to present-day Eurasians which supports the idea that Egypt, and not Ethiopia, was the last stop on the African continent before early humans came out of Africa to colonise other parts of the world, they said.

“If people left Africa from the north then people who live there now should show the highest genetic similarity to Eurasians. If they left from the south through Ethiopia, then Ethiopians should show the highest similarity,” said Luca Pagani of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, and lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

“Two geographically plausible routes have been proposed: an exit through the current Egypt and Sinai, which is the northern route, or one through Ethiopia, the Bab el Mandeb strait, and the Arabian Peninsula, which is the southern route,” Dr Pagani said.

“In our research, we generated the first comprehensive set of unbiased genomic data from Northeast Africans and observed, after controlling for recent migrations, a higher genetic similarity between Egyptians than between Ethiopians and Eurasians – suggesting that Egypt not Ethiopia was the last stop,” he said.

For years it was believed that Ethiopia was the last stop before humans spread across the rest of the world
The researchers attempted to compensate for more recent migrations of people in the region between Eurasia and Africa, which must have occurred over the past few centuries, but still found a closer connection between modern-day Egyptians and Eurasians than between Ethiopians and Eurasians.

They also found that modern Egyptians were more similar genetically to modern east Africans than to west Africans, which supported the idea more recent human migrations were not interfering with the findings.

“The most exciting consequence of our results is that we draw back the veil that has been hiding an episode in the history of all Eurasians, improving the understanding of billions of people of their evolutionary history,” Dr Pagani said.

The study found that people outside of Africa split from the Egyptian genomes about 55,000 years ago, which the split from Ethiopian genomes occurred about 65,000 years ago, suggesting that Egypt was the last stop before emerging from Africa.

“It is exciting that, in our genomic era, the DNA of living people allows us to explore and understand events as ancient as 60,000 years ago,” Dr Pagani said.

Previous genetic studies in mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited down the maternal line, have suggested a migratory route that exited Africa from Ethiopia. However, Dr Pagani said that this work is not in conflict from the latest study as it is possible that some earlier migrations did occur across the strait of Bal el Mandeb to the Arabian Peninsula.