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sulphites side effects foods that improve memory foods food and memoryhow to increase acetylcholinecause memory loss

Food and memory: Sulphites side effects on memory functions

Published Apr 18, 2023 | Updated Feb 8, 2024

In their natural form, foods are perishable. Since time immemorial, humans have tried to increase the shelf life of food. Even ancient Egyptians salted, cured and dried their food to make it last longer. Food technology has immensely improved over the past decades, with use of safe chemicals to preserve foods for a long time. Sulphite is a type of food preservative that is used in many foods. In 1988, the Food and Drug Administration in the US, declared it safe to be used in some foods and regulated the amount that can be used [1]. Long term studies in food preservatives are scarce and emerging evidence might suggest that they may have serious effects on brain function.

Sulphites in foods: use and safety.

Sulphites are anti-browning and anti-bacterial compounds that are used as preservatives to increase shelf life. They are used to prevent bacteria-caused food spoilage. They are found in high amounts in bottled lemon juice, dried fruits, molasses, wine, and pickles. Despite its widespread use, the long-term impact of sulphites on health is yet to be studied. Emerging evidence highlights that high doses of sulphites may impact memory functions. 

Can sulphites impact brain health?

Scientists are looking into new evidence on the impact of sulphites on memory functions. A 2022 animal study has opened doors to rethinking the safety of sulphites on brain health. The study focused on the changes in learning and memory chemical, acetylcholine at different doses of sulphites.

Your brain operates through message transmission between brain cells in different regions. Just like having a strong Wi-Fi connection allows you to be better connected and access higher quality information quicker, similarly, your brain requires stronger connections for speedier transmission. Brain chemicals such as acetylcholine are needed to transfer messages. It is important to have stronger connections to ensure that the brain is functioning at an optimal level. These connections are strengthened over a long period of time and must be protected.  

The 2022 animal study found that high doses of sulphites weaken the connections in the acetylcholine pathway [2]. This was seen in the memory and learning area of the brain. Sulphites had an impact on the strength of acetylcholine connections. This could lead to long-term memory and learning issues. Another study found that animals consuming high doses of sulphites over 8 weeks had a lesser number of brain cells in the learning and memory area of the brain [3]. There is a possibility of brain cells damaged by sulphite ingestion. This brings up concerns of whether sulphite-rich foods could possibly be foods that cause memory loss.

How to increase acetylcholine: maximise your memory chemical

Sulphites are used in many foods and completely excluding it from your diet might be difficult. Since the studies into their harmful effects are still in infancy, it is important to take proactive steps to protect and optimise your brain health. Increasing acetylcholine levels is one way to improve memory functions. Acetylcholine in the brain is made from choline, a nutrient found in protein rich foods like beef liver, eggs, almonds, and baked beans, making these good contenders for foods that improve memory. It can also be taken as supplemental forms such as Alpha GPC. brain feed has created the world’s 1st 500 mg Alpha GPC capsule containing 99% Alpha GPC* (the purest form of Alpha GPC).

Alpha GPC is 41% choline and is one of the most effective forms of choline due to the ease with which it enters the brain and increases acetylcholine levels within 1-3 hours [4]. Strong evidence exists about increased choline levels enhancing memory functions. A 7-year study among 1000 people found that those with higher choline intake had better memory [5]. 

Alpha GPC also has protective effects towards brain cells. Choline sources like Alpha GPC help protect the outer layer of brain cells to maximise message transmission [6]. An animal study found that Alpha GPC protects brain areas against injury and improved brain cell growth [7].

It is hard to control all aspects of your food production. Due to the possibility of long term effects of some food preservatives, it is important to ensure adequate intake of nutrients that protect and promote your brain health. Alpha GPC is one such evidenced nutrient that can help offset damages brought about by food preservatives and promote strong memory until old age. 


    1.  Grotheer, P. et al. (n.d.). University of Florida: Sulfites: Separating Fact from Fiction. [online] 
    2. Danışman, B. et al. (2022). The Role of Acetylcholine on the Effects of Different Doses of Sulfite in Learning and Memory. Neurochemical research47(11), 3331–3343.
    3. Akdogan, I. et al. (2011). Hippocampal neuron number loss in rats exposed to ingested sulfite. Toxicology and industrial health27(9), 771–778.
    4. Frank, K. et al. (2022). Alpha-GPC Research Analysis. [online]
    5. Poly, C. et al. (2011). The relation of dietary choline to cognitive performance and white-matter hyperintensity in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 94(6), pp.1584–1591. 
    6. Roy, P. et al. (2022). Effects of choline containing phospholipids on the neurovascular unit: A review. Frontiers in cellular neuroscience, 16, 988759.
    7. Lee, M. et al. (2018). Unexpected Effects of Acetylcholine Precursors on Pilocarpine Seizure- Induced Neuronal Death. Current neuropharmacology, 16(1), 51–58.

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