A chemical found in cured meats like hot dogs, beef jerky, salami, and bacon is associated with mania in people with bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and other mental illnesses, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. Mania is an abnormally elevated mood characterized by inappropriate elation, increased energy and activity levels, grandiose notions, and other symptoms, and can lead to risky, even dangerous, behavior.
The Hopkins researchers collected data on 1,101 people 18 to 65, with and without a psychiatric disorder diagnosis, between 2007 and 2017. When the researchers analyzed detailed information about health and diet, they found that study participants who had been hospitalized for mania were three-and-a-half times more likely to have eaten cured meat products prior to the episode.
The second part of the study involved two groups of lab rats, one fed a normal diet and one fed a diet containing nitrates – chemicals found in processed meats. The rats fed nitrates showed signs of hyperactivity and demonstrated irregular sleeping patterns. They also had different bacteria in their digestive tracts and different molecular pathways in their brains. The researchers noted that their study did not show a cause-and-effect relationship between cured meats and mania.
Sourced from: Molecular Psychiatry