A Spoonful Of Marmite A Day May Keep Dementia At Bay, Study Suggests

Researchers suggest a spoonful of Marmite a day might boost brain activity and stave off dementia.

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If you'd have asked me this morning to bite into a piece of toast slathered in Marmite, I would've given you my best attempt at a karate kick to keep the disgusting yeast extract goo at least 10 feet away from me.

However, following the news Marmite – which turns white if you tap it, by the way – may boost brain power and even help stave off dementia, I might have to reconsider my distaste for the tar-looking spread.

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According to the Telegraph, a new study has found that participants who ate just a teaspoon of the yeast extract each day saw changes in the electrical activity of their brain and an increase in levels of chemicals thought to protect us from neurological disorders.

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The research, carried out by researchers from York University, found that those who consumed a teaspoon a day for a month showed a 30 per cent decrease in their brains' response to visual patterns, compared with those who were given peanut butter.

They claim the high concentration of Vitamin B12 in Marmite increased levels of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the brain, which is known to act as a volume control of neural response, toning down the brain's activity to make sure it stays healthy.

The study involved monitoring 28 young men and women's brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG) scans and found Marmite had 116 times more B12 - 'which makes red blood cells and protects the nervous system' - than our beloved peanut butter.

During the study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, subjects were sat in front of flickering patterns on a computer screen and those who were asked to eat Marmite were found to have 'less excitable neurons'.

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Dr Daniel Baker, Lecturer in the Department of Psychology and senior author of the paper, told the publication that Marmite's high levels of B12 works to calm the brain.

'Deficiencies in it have been linked with a host of neurological disorders. Even dementia has been suggested,' he said.

'This is a really promising first example of how dietary interventions can alter cortical processes and a great starting point for exploring whether a more refined version of this technique could have some medical or therapeutic applications in the future,' he added.

As a result of the study, researchers are now looking to study patients with neurological problems to assess whether Marmite could improve their disorders.

However, Dr James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimer's Society, is quick to point out the study only looked at responses to visual stimuli and not how Marmite would necessarily affect dementia.

He explained: 'Along with eating a healthy diet, the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia are to exercise regularly, avoid smoking and keep your blood pressure in check.'

I mean, even on the off chance a spoonful of Marmite might help prevent dementia, I'm tempted.

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