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Marmite might be brain food: Study

In a world bitterly divided into pro- and anti-Marmite factions, lovers of the tangy British spread have found support from an unexpected quarter: brain science. Experiments found that volunteers who ate a daily spoonful of the dark-brown yeast extract seemed to have higher levels of a vital neuron chemical associated with a healthy brain. The reason could lie in Marmite’s high levels of vitamin B12, the investigators say.

health
By AFP

Friday 21 April 2017, 11:00AM


Marmite has high levels of vitamin B12. Photo: Andy Hay

Marmite has high levels of vitamin B12. Photo: Andy Hay

In a study published on April 5, psychologists at the University of York in northern England recruited 28 volunteers and divided them into two groups. One group ate a teaspoon of Marmite each day for a month; the other ate a daily teaspoon of peanut butter.

The volunteers wore non-invasive skullcaps fitted with electrodes to monitor brain activity while they looked at a screen with a visual stimulus – a large stripey pattern that flickered at a regular rate. The Marmite group showed a substantial reduction of around 30% in response to the stimulus compared with the peanut butter group.

The work, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, sheds a powerful light on how diet can affect brain activity, the researchers say. How Marmite worked was not clinically investigated, but the presumption is that it boosts levels of an important neurotransmitter called gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA).

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GABA acts as a kind of brake on over-excited brain cells. It binds to neurons and reduces their activity, helping to provide balance in the brain. Scientists have previously theorised that GABA helps to dampen fear or anxiety, which happens when neurons are over-stimulated.

“This study suggests that eating Marmite is potentially good for you in that it seems to increase a chemical messenger associated with healthy brain function,” lead authors Daniel Baker and Anika Smith said.

Deemed a quintessential British food, Marmite has been the subject of a “love it or hate it” debate that has rumbled on for years, including a tongue-in-cheek campaign on social media to abolish the condiment. One joke by detractors goes thus: “I was in a good mood last week. I entered a competition and won a year’s supply of Marmite – one jar!”

 

 

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Jor12 | 24 April 2017 - 09:40:26

Rorii...nope, muffet refers to "little Miss Muffet", a character in a story written by Dr Thomas Muffet, a famous 16th-century scientist. 

Rorii | 24 April 2017 - 06:22:47

Eagle, it should have read " muppet" how it became "muffet" I don't know, however, "muffet" could describe you and your gang members, check the definition, has something to do with a "girls" party.

Jor12 | 22 April 2017 - 19:45:01

Rorii...lol...yep eagle's comment "Whoever feels personally addressed" is true to form. 

Eagle | 22 April 2017 - 18:17:55

Rorii,what is a "muffet brigade"?

Rorii | 22 April 2017 - 14:03:32

Once again, the muffet brigade was \"protected\", my comment not posted.

Jor12 | 21 April 2017 - 19:00:48

eagle...well said. 3 jars for Kurt and Rorii, 2 jars for the rest.

Eagle | 21 April 2017 - 15:58:43

 I would recommend this spread for all those pessimists and wisenheimer here.Whoever feels personally addressed.

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