We can no longer hide our heads in the sand, denying the reality that the daily food which goes in our stomachs influences every metabolic system of our bodies. No longer can we deny the role of nutrients like phosphatidylcholine, as described in this article, in the health of our guts or our brains. Simple logic connects the dots for phosphatidylcholines’ effects on improving leaky gut and balancing the colon microbiome. Willingness to step back and look at the broader picture enables one to see how phosphatidylcholine’s improvement of short chain fatty acid production could secondarily lower brain inflammation. From there, lower brain inflammation naturally leads to improvements in behavioral disturbances.
Phosophatidylcholine presents as a molecule of mild complexity, two fatty acids attached to a glycerol backbone linked to a phosphate. This configuration allows one end to interact with water happily while the other end shuns water and more happily interacts with fatty substances. A simple design allows this nutrient, along with other similarly built nutrients, to serve as a foundational building block of our cell membranes. These membranes surround each of our cells allowing life to occur and every single body function to continue.
While we can make phosphatidylcholine from its constituent pieces, sufficient supplies do not come easily. Mothers need extra for pregnancy and breastfeeding as they provide for their infants inside and out. Some are endowed with inefficient genes, slowing the production. Inadequate B vitamins for production or insufficient building blocks like the fatty acids or phosphates can lead to inadequate supplies.
When supplies run low, many body functions suffer and we feel the effects. Gut barrier integrity suffers opening the door for irritable bowel and food allergies. Mitochondrial function falters leading to fatigue and brain fog. Brains struggle to regenerate nerves and nerve fibers leading to not only symptoms, but clinical diseases as well. Life goes downhill.
Many studies support the importance of this nutrient. The present study adds to our understanding of why this nutrient stands out as a critical need. In this study on mice, they found that feeding the mice additional phosphatidylcholine for 35 days lowered both measured inflammation responses and abnormal behaviors when the mice were exposed to LPS. LPS, or lipopolysaccharide, arises as a product of some bacteria which live in our GI tract. This tiny chemical comprised of a fat and a carbohydrate attached one to another can trigger not only local gut inflammation if in excess, but body wide inflammation all the way up to the brain.
Researchers use LPS not only because it has been linked to so many inflammatory conditions, but because it is so predictable and effective in triggering specific body responses. By either placing it in the intestinal or placing bacteria which produce it in the intestines of study mice, they can predict effects like leaky gut, changes in the surrounding gut bacteria, and even brain markers of inflammation.
In the study, phosphatidylcholine added to the same LPS-exposed mice, led to multiple changes in the mice. Outwardly, abnormal behavior normally triggered by LPS lessened with phosphatidylcholine. On a microscopic scale, the gut barrier produced by LPS lessened, the relative numbers of some gut bacteria changes, and more short chain fatty acids were produced. The short chain fatty acid production likely led to the decreased brain inflammation they found when examining brain changes.
Here again, we find convincing evidence that what we feed our taste buds influences far more than just our satisfaction with a meal consumed. We can feed our tummies with processed, high inflammatory, nutrient poor processed foods, or we can feed our tummies what our bodies need including adequate phosphatidylcholine from eggs, liver, and other sources. This will play a large role in whether or not we live healthier more abundant lives. This plays a large role at Sanctuary in why we enlist a nutritionist in caring for our patients and why we emphasize a healthy diet as a foundation to restoring chronic illness. Join the movement for a healthier “you”.
Tan, Wen et al. “Phosphatidylcholine Ameliorates LPS-Induced Systemic Inflammation and Cognitive Impairments via Mediating the Gut-Brain Axis Balance.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry vol. 68,50 (2020): 14884-14895. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.0c06383
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.