Beef Jerky and Processed Meat Linked to Manic Episodes

Beef Jerky and Processed Meat Linked to Manic Episodes

"And this work on nitrates opens the door for future studies on how that may be happening".

The team was actually looking for a possible infectious-disease link with mania, which is a common symptom of some mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, and which includes excited and sometimes delusional behavior, as well as sleeplessness and irritability.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University asked people if they had ever eaten dry, cured meats. Mania, which is a state of abnormally alternating mood swings, is most often associated with bipolar disorder.

But by delving into a decade's worth of data, the researchers were surprised to find those hospitalized with mania were 3.5 times more likely to have eaten cured meat prior to their episode when compared with the group without a psychiatric disorder. "In contrast, consuming prosciutto or salami, cured meats prepared through dehydration, did not influence the odds of being in the mania group", they write.

They are found also naturally in other foods and in the environment, and there is limited evidence that overexposure to the chemicals can cause cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The study was conducted on both humans and rats and the researchers found that the rats exhibited hyperactivity, similar to the mania in humans.

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Prof Yolked explained: 'We looked at a number of different dietary exposures and cured meat really stood out. When he fed rats either normal chow or chow supplemented with a piece of commercial beef jerky, the animals eating the jerky began to sleep irregularly and become hyperactive within two weeks.

Next, the team worked with a Baltimore beef jerky company to create a special nitrate-free dried beef. One group ate the store bought nitrate beef jerky and the other ate the nitrate free version. The amount of nitrates used in these experiments were the equivalent of a human eating one hot dog or beef jerky stick per day. Diet has been highlighted as a potentially key environmental factor that may contribute to the risk of BPD and other neuropsychiatric disorder risks, through a variety of mechanisms that may range from neurotoxicity from trace heavy metals, to changes to the gut microbiome and gut-brain axis.

The rat experiments bore this theory out, as rats who had consumed nitrates showed different patterns of gut bacteria and unique brain patterns previously linked to bipolar disorder.

In previous research, Yolken and his colleagues discovered that when given probiotics that alter the bacteria of the gut, patients with bipolar disorder were less likely to be hospitalized six months later. "Our results suggest that nitrated cured meat could be one environmental player in mediating mania". Seva G. Khambadkone, Zachary A. Cordner, Faith Dickerson, Emily G. Severance, Emese Prandovszky, Mikhail Pletnikov, Jianchun Xiao, Ye Li, Gretha J. Boersma, C. Conover Talbot Jr., Wayne W. Campbell, Christian S. Wright, C. Evan Siple, Timothy H. Moran, Kellie L. Tamashiro & Robert H. Yolken.

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