UK households with jar of Marmite in kitchen 'warned'

UK households with a jar of Marmite in their kitchens have been warned they should be consuming a spoonful a day. Marmite fans, who have overcome the so-called 'polarising' nature of the yeast extract to grow to love it, have been told a spoon a day could help ease some conditions.

One spoonful a day of this 'love it or hate it' food could help anxiety and sleep. Marmite is packed full of vital B vitamins that boost brain function - like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and cobalamin - and they could improve sleep and anxiety.

The findings, which were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, suggested that one daily teaspoon of Marmite for a month was enough to reduce the brain’s unhealthy response to stressful visual stimuli. Study participants ate a teaspoon of Marmite every day for a month.

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That was compared to a control group who consumed peanut butter. Properties of Marmite were found to “turn down the volume” and help maintain a healthy brain, potentially aiding those up and down the UK who have anxiety.

Anika Smith, PhD student in York’s department of psychology and first author of the study, explained: “These results suggest that dietary choices can affect the cortical processes of excitation and inhibition - consistent with increased levels of GABA – that are vital in maintaining a healthy brain.

“As the effects of Marmite consumption took around eight weeks to wear off after participants stopped the study, this suggests that dietary changes could potentially have long-term effects on brain function. 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.

“Of course, further research is needed to confirm and investigate this, but the study is an excellent basis for this.” Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “Marmite contains high levels of vitamin B12, and while deficiency in this vitamin can cause memory problems, this study does not tell us whether Marmite could be beneficial for our memory or affect the onset of dementia.

“The interesting outcome of this study of young people is the suggestion that particular foods may influence brain activity but we don’t know if or how this could translate into long-term benefits against particular brain diseases. While a healthy, balanced diet has been linked to a healthy brain as we age, no one particular food or supplement has been shown to be most effective at reducing dementia risk.”

She advised: “As well as a balanced diet, there are lifestyle changes we can all make to reduce our risk of developing dementia. Keeping physically and mentally active, eating a healthy balanced diet, not smoking, drinking in moderation, keeping cholesterol and blood pressure under control and your weight in check are all ways to support healthy brain ageing.”