A new study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has suggested that eating beef jerky and other processed meats may lead to manic episodes. The research was conducted by John Hopkins Medicine and published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
An analysis of more than 1,000 people with and without psychiatric disorders has shown that nitrates — chemicals used to cure meats such as beef jerky, salami, hot dogs and other processed meat snacks — may contribute to mania, an abnormal mood state. Mania is characterized by hyperactivity, euphoria and insomnia.
The research team found that people hospitalized for a manic episode – an abnormal mood state often identified by overly-elated emotions, insomnia, and hyperactivity – had likely consumed processed meats cured by nitrates three times greater than those with a clear history of psychiatric disorders.
Whilst many other factors have been linked to mental health and psychiatric disorders, the researchers noted environmental influences such as diet may be a key cause. The researchers added that nitrates have been linked to cancer and neurodegenerative diseases in other studies, which further cements the suggestion that processed meat is detrimental to human health.
“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,” commented lead author Robert Yolken, M.D., the Theodore and Vada Stanley Distinguished Professor of Neurovirology in Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We looked at a number of different dietary exposures and cured meat really stood out. It wasn’t just that people with mania have an abnormal diet.”
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Beef Jerky Possibly Linked to Manic Episodes