Highlights: People, who were hospitalized for an episode of mania, were unexpectedly found to have consumed nitrate-cured meats three times more than people without a history of a serious psychiatric disorder.The study led to a serendipitous discovery that nitrate-cured meats like beef jerky are associated with manic episodesMania, a symptom of certain mental illnesses, is characterized by hyperactivity, euphoria and insomnia. People, who were hospitalized for an episode of mania, were unexpectedly found to have consumed nitrate-cured meats three times more than people without a history of a serious psychiatric disorder. The findings of the Johns Hopkins Medicine study were published in Molecular Psychiatry. Intake of Nitrate-Processed Foods Nitrates are chemicals that are used to cure meat like beef jerky, salami, hot dogs and other processed meat snacks. The current study links the consumption of nitrate-cured meats to developing an abnormal mood state called mania that is a symptom of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder. Overeating Beef Jerky and Hot Dogs can Cause Manic Episodes "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," says lead authoráRobert Yolken, M.D., the Theodore and Vada Stanley Distinguished Professor of Neurovirology in Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. ‘A survey of participants admitted in a hospital with or without symptoms of mania revealed that the former group had more than three times the odds of eating nitrate-cured meats than the latter group, indicating that nitrate could be an environmental factor involved in causing the condition.’ The research team said that their new study adds to evidence that certain diets and potentially the amounts and types of bacteria in the gut may contribute to mania and other disorders that affect the brain. One to three percent of the population of the United States is estimated to have bipolar disorder. Study Design and Results Yolken and colleagues collected demographic, health and dietary data on 1,101 individuals aged 18 through 65 with and without psychiatric disorders between 2007 and 2017. About half of the participants were female, of which the same number of participants were Caucasian and 36 percent identified themselves as African-American. The psychiatric disorder patients were already receiving care at the Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore and were recruited from there. Individuals without any history of psychiatric disorders were recruited from announcements that were posted at local health care facilities and universities in the vicinity. The records between 2007 and 2017 were analyzed which revealed that The people hospitalized with mania had a history of eating cured meat before admission which was approximately 3.5 times higher than the group of people admitted without a psychiatric disorder.In people not hospitalized for mania or in major depressive disorder, there was no association between cured meats and a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder. No significant association was found with other foods and mania and similar disorders. Nitrates which have been previously linked to some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases could be the suspect in this case too and could explain the occurrence of mood states such as mania. Yolken collaborated with Kellie Tamashiro, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and M.D./Ph.D and his students from Johns Hopkins to get to the bottom of the nitrate-mania association. Study - Impact of Nitrates on Rats Kellie Tamashiro and his students did a small experiment on otherwise healthy rats which were fed every other day. They found that within two weeks, the group of rats that received both normal chow and a piece of store-bought, nitrate-prepared beef jerky showed irregular sleeping patterns and hyperactivity compared to the group of rats that received only normal rat chow.The team wanted to repeat the experiment and this time asked a Baltimore-based beef jerky company to create a special nitrate-free dried beef. The result was that the rats that ate the nitrate-free meat behaved similarly to a control group whereas the rats that consumed the store-bought, nitrate-prepared jerky once again showed sleep disturbances and hyperactivity similar to that seen in patients with mania.Similar results were obtained when they repeated the experiment with a specially formulated rat chow that either contained added nitrate or no nitrate. The rats which ate the nitrate-added chow behaved like the rats that had the nitrate-prepared jerky.The amount of nitrate that the rats ate on a daily basis when scaled to the size of what a human ate was equivalent to a beef jerky stick or hot dog.Scientists also analyzed the differences in the gut bacteria of the different rat groups; rats which ate the nitrate meals had different patterns of bacteria living in their intestines than the rats that did not get the nitrate-processed foods. The two groups of rats also showed differences in several molecular pathways in the brain that have been previously implicated in bipolar disorder. Mania is a complex neuropsychiatric state and more than one factor is known to cause it. There are genetic vulnerabilities and environmental factors that are likely involved in the emergence and severity of bipolar disorder and associated manic episodes. This study says that nitrate-cured meat could be one environmental player in mediating mania among the multiple factors involved. The authors say it is still too early to take any clinical messages from the results. A recent study by Yolken's group showed that when people with bipolar disorder are given probiotics (known to change the composition of gut bacteria) after a manic episode, they are less likely to be rehospitalized in the following six months. "There's growing evidence that germs in the intestines can influence the brain," says Yolken. "And this work on nitrates opens the door for future studies on how that may be happening." Further studies will focus on how much cured meat boosts one's risk of mania.Source: Medindia << 'Invisible' Stool Blood Could Indicate Risk of Dying from Al... Tanning Beds at Gym May Up Skin Cancer Risk >> Recommended Reading Bipolar Disorder Bipolar Disorder is a brain disorder in which people show "mood swings". Changes in the level of neurotransmitters in brain, and psychosocial factors are thought to be involved. READ MORE Schizoaffective Disorder Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental disorder in which the individual reflects symptoms that occur both in schizophrenia and mood disorder. READ MORE Mental Health - Neurosis vs Psychosis Mental well-being is a concern and abnormal coping of emotions can lead to neurosis or psychosis. Mental illnesses can range from depression, anxiety, phobias to schizophrenia and affective disorders. READ MORE Quiz on Probiotics Though probiotics have been a part of our diet since ancient times, their use as medicines has been relatively recent. Test your knowledge on probiotics by taking this ... READ MORE 13 Daily Habits that Damage the Brain The brain is probably the most important organ in our body and it deserves special care and attention to keep it active and functioning well. Here are thirteen daily habits, you must know that can cause damage to your brain. READ MORE Bite Counter - A Gadget that Helps Stop Overeating Just like a pedometer counts aerobic steps, the bite counter counts every bite taken. It rings an alarm on nearing the danger zone of overeating set by the person. READ MORE Chronic Dieting - Is it an Eating Disorder? Chronic dieting is associated with eating disorders that mainly include unhealthy eating practices such as severe calorie restriction in diet of men or women who on a regular basis follow fad diets mainly to reduce weight. READ MORE Mindful Eating for Healthy Thanksgiving 2016 Enjoying a hearty thanksgiving meal with just a few changes in the food choices we make and portion size can help us keep away from overeating. READ MORE Overeating Equals To Overcheating Stuffing your tummy with unwanted extra calories can have a negative impact on the body. Overeating means frequent intake of food even when not hungry. READ MORE Sleep Eating Disorders Sleep-related eating disorders are abnormal eating behaviors that occur during night. Sleep related eating disorder is a part of parasomnias. READ MORE Weight Loss Program For Men Maintaining a food diary and keeping a track of what you eat is the best way to keep your weight under check. READ MORE Most Popular on Medindia Calculate Ideal Weight for Infants Drug Interaction Checker The Essence of Yoga More News on: Sleep Eating DisordersWeight Loss Program For MenBite Counter - A Gadget that Helps Stop OvereatingMindful Eating for Healthy Thanksgiving 2016Overeating Equals To Overcheating13 Daily Habits that Damage the BrainChronic Dieting - Is it an Eating Disorder?