A recent study has suggested that consumption of processed meats like bacon and hot dogs can be linked to mental breakdowns.
Scientists found that patients hospitalise for mania were more than three times as likely to have eaten meats such as ham, salami or beef jerky than people without a history of a serious psychiatric disorder. The study was conducted on both humans and rats and the researchers found that the rats exhibited hyperactivity, similar to the mania in humans.
To test the effects of nitrates, the USA researchers added them to the diet of rats, which showed signs of mania after just a few weeks. "Bipolar disorder and mania are highly complex, and there remains much work to be done to determine their underlying pathophysiology", a team said in a statement to Laboratory Equipment. Researchers, hence, are looking at diet as a plausible causative factor among other things. Among that long list of questions - in what Dickerson told Live Science was not meant to be a core element of the study but rather filler to "round out" the questionnaire - was whether the patients had ever eaten cured meats.
Lead author Dr. Robert Yolken M.D., said: "We looked at a number of different dietary exposures and cured meat really stood out".
Scientists did a big study and proved the link between manic episodes and consumption of processed meat.
The study is the latest piece of research to raise concerns about how processed meats affect our physical and mental health, as nitrates have previously been linked to cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.
However, scientists at Johns Hopkins University in the USA found out another danger of meat, reports MedicalXpress.
The previous data, collected from patients with a psychiatric disorder and individuals with no psychiatric disorder history, showed that the group hospitalized with a psychiatric disorder ate 3.5 times higher amounts of cured meat before hospitalization for mania, as opposed to the group that did not have a psychiatric disorder.
"We tried to make sure the amount of nitrate used in the experiment was in the range of what people might reasonably be eating", Yolken said in a news release.
Next, the team worked with a Baltimore beef jerky company to create a special nitrate-free dried beef.
"The cured meat products were generally in the form of meat sticks, beef jerky and turkey jerky, which are cured meat products generally prepared with added nitrates". The amount of nitrates used in these experiments were the equivalent of a human eating one hot dog or beef jerky stick per day. The animals also had differences in several molecular pathways in the brain that have been previously implicated in bipolar disorder.
When the group analyzed the gut bacteria of the rats, they found that animals with nitrate in their diet had different bacteria in their intestines than the others.
The researchers said that their study adds to evidence that certain foods, combined with certain types of gut bacteria, could contribute to mania and other disorders which affect the brain.