Bacon Is Bad For Your Mental Health, Researchers Say

Ben Davidson
July 20, 2018

Eating a lot of hot dogs, beef jerky, salami and other processed meats could do more than just add a few extra pounds - it could cause a serious mental condition called mania. Mania is characterized by hyperactivity, euphoria and insomnia.

Among people hospitalized for psychiatric disorders, people who ate cured meat, which included salami and various forms of dried meat sticks and jerky, had a almost 3.5 higher likelihood of having been admitted for mania, compared to people in the control group, who did not have psychiatric conditions. Data was collected and analyzed from a previous study that focused on whether psychiatric disorders were linked to virus transmissions through food. He says that more research in larger populations is needed to determine if nitrates are linked to other psychiatric illnesses, and to confirm the association with mania.

Robert Yolken, professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said, "Future work on this association could lead to dietary interventions to help reduce the risk of manic episodes in those who have bipolar disorder or who are otherwise vulnerable to mania". Nitric oxide is found in higher levels within the blood of people with bipolar disorder.

Nitrates in food are linked with cancer, which is in turn linked with inflammation. 36% of the study group were African American. Between 2007 and 2017, researchers at the nearby Sheppard Pratt Health System asked 758 willing psychiatric patients to fill out comprehensive lifestyle questionnaires as part of a separate project. It is often associated with bipolar disorder, a condition wherein people fluctuate between periods of mania and depression.

Professor Robert Yolken, at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in the USA, said: "We looked at a number of different dietary exposures and cured meat really stood out".

Mania, found in those with bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, can put the people who suffer from them at risk because manic episodes can cause risk-taking behaviors and delusional thinking.

Yolken and other researchers have shown that altering the microbiome can affect the symptoms of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia.

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Seva Khambadkone said: 'Our results suggest that nitrated cured meat could be one environmental player in mediating mania'.

The researchers then worked with a beef jerky company to create nitrate free dried beef and again a group of rats was split into two groups.

Those rats that ate the nitrate free jerky showed no abnormal symptoms or signs of mania but the group that ate the store-bought kind did. Nitrate-cured meats, which are the things like bacon or beef jerky that have been connected to broad times of hyperactivity, a sleeping disorder, and consideration misfortune in individuals encountering hyper scenes.

So the researchers tried testing rats, feeding them beef jerky loaded with nitrates every other day.

Moreover, those rats had different patterns of gut bacteria from rats not fed nitrates.

The animals also "had differences in several molecular pathways in the brain that have been previously implicated in bipolar disorder", the researchers added.

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