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Brain Health and Low-fat Diets

Wendy Taylor

Low fat diets started as a trend but have persisted and are as popular today as they ever were. This "trend", however, might not be such a healthy choice for the health of your brain. People going on low-fat or low-cholesterol diets do not realize that they are also starving their brains of very important nutrients. Diets that restrict eggs, meats, cheese, or other foods that are a source of cholesterol and fats will affect the amount of choline (alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine) and serine (phosphatidylserine) that is taken into our bodies.

Why are these nutrients so important for our brain health?

Well, phosphatidylserine (also known as PS) benefits people of all ages by supporting and maintaining memory function and neuroplasticity. Phosphatidylserine is a compound found naturally in all of our cells and it contains amino acids and fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6. Some studies show that it can help children with problems regarding attention, learning, and behavior. Studies have also shown that it can prevent and restore memory loss in middle-aged and elderly people, relieving them from stress and anxiety.

Phosphatidylserine works by maintaining smooth communication between cells in the brain and metabolizing glucose for energy in the brain. It also restores the brain's levels of acetylcholine, which is another neurotransmitter that is important for memory and many other important functions throughout the body. By stimulating the brain to produce dopamine, PS can also help people with ADD, ADHD, or people who are clinically depressed.

Another important brain nutrient found in fatty foods is alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine (also known as GPC or just choline). It is present in foods like chicken liver, egg yolk, soybeans, beef, milk, and peanuts, and we most often get enough of it in our diet. However, those who are strict vegetarians, or those who drink a lot of alcohol, and even endurance athletes may be deficient in choline.

Like phosphatidylserine, choline also stimulates the production of acetylcholine. As mentioned earlier, acetylcholine is vital to our memory but it is also the neurotransmitter that sends signals from nerves to muscles and between nerves in the brain. Being deficient in acetylcholine can cause advanced aging and it can also be the cause of neurodegenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Both phosphatidylserine and choline work together to prevent and restore healthy brain function. Because they are both natural substances, they have been shown to be safer than prescription drugs that are used to treat forms of dementia or other cognitive problems. However, before beginning any new supplement program, it is best to talk to your health care provider to make sure that using these supplements is right for your own personal health. Also, remember that starting new trendy diets, or having a lifestyle of which oxidative stress is a part, may not be the best way for healthy living. So keep in mind what nutrients your body may be missing. That way you can replenish yourself and get into the right state of mind.


Gaby, Alan M.D. Nutritional Medicine. Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, HN. 2011.

Acetylcholine. 27 September 2008. 21 May 2011 entry/acetylcholine

Smithee, Alan. "Feed Your Brain!" Life Extension, January 2011: 59-63.

Consumer's Guide to Phosphatidylserine. 2010. 15 May 2011 http://

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