Published: Fri, July 20, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Processed Meat Consumption Can Bring Severe Psychiatric Problems

Processed Meat Consumption Can Bring Severe Psychiatric Problems

Scientists believe this could be because the foods contain the chemical nitrate, which is used to preserve them. Most of those affected experience multiple hospitalizations.

Yolken is a professor of neurovirology in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

"Our studies add to a larger body of work suggesting that environmental exposures, including those from dietary components, can result in physiological changes, including ones occurring within the brain".

Mania, a state of elevated mood, arousal, and energy that lasts weeks to months, is generally seen in people with bipolar disorder.

A new study has suggested that eating beef jerky and other processed meats may lead to manic episodes.

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.

Yolken says future studies could take a more in-depth look at the frequency and volume of nitrate consumption to help researchers understand more about any possible connection between nitrates and mania. 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.

Manic episodes, where people become hyperactive, euphoric and can not sleep, affect one to two in 100 people, including presenter Stephen Fry and Hollywood actress Carrie Fisher.

To test the connection, Yolken fed lab rats diets of added nitrates. One group ate the store bought nitrate beef jerky and the other ate the nitrate free version.

Experiments in rats by the researchers from Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. showed that mania-like hyperactivity after just a few weeks on diets with added nitrates. It follows evidence that giving people with bipolar disorder probiotics, to alter their gut bugs, makes them less likely to be rehospitalised.

They then analyzed the bacteria in the rats' guts that revealed that the rats on a nitrate-based meat diet experienced altered molecular pathways, and that their bacteria patterns were unlike the other groups. In the study, some people without a history of psychiatric disorders also consumed meats with nitrates.

But you don't need to ditch cured meats yet: The researchers noted that the findings showed only an association between processed meats and manic episodes - the new research didn't prove cause and effect.

"It's clear that mania is a complex neuropsychiatric state, and that both genetic vulnerabilities and environmental factors are likely involved in the emergence and severity of bipolar disorder and associated manic episodes", says Khambadkone. It was conducted over 10 years with over 1,000 participants with a near-equal ratio of men to women, split between people with a history of mental illness and without.

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