Nitrates found in cured and processed meats increase the risk for mania

Research published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry has shown that nitrates, which are chemicals used to cure meats like beef jerky, hot dogs, salami, and other processed meats, increase the risk of mania. Mania is an abnormal state of mood characterized by hyperactivity, euphoria, and insomnia.

  • Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine analyzed demographic, health, and dietary data of more than 1,000 people aged between 18 and 65 with and without psychiatric disorders between 2007 and 2017.
  • The results revealed that people hospitalized for an episode of mania were at least 3.5 times more likely to have eaten cured and processed meats than people without a history of a serious psychiatric disorder.
  • No other foods about which participants were asked had a significant relation to mania or any other psychiatric disorders.
  • They also conducted experiments in mice in which they fed mice with nitrate-prepared beef jerky every other day.
  • After two weeks, the mice receiving beef jerky exhibited irregular sleeping patterns and hyperactivity.
  • The team also analyzed the gut bacteria of mice and found that animals with added nitrate in their diet had different patterns of bacteria living in their intestines compared to those that didn’t eat nitrate.
  • The changes occurred in several molecular pathways in the brain have been associated with bipolar disorder.
  • The researchers say that their findings contribute to the evidence that certain foods and potentially amounts and types of gut bacteria play a role in the onset of mania and other conditions that affect the brain.

With these findings, the researchers concluded that cured and processed meats and other foods containing nitrates increase the risk of mania.

To read more studies on unhealthy and toxic foods, visit

Journal Reference:

Khambadkone SG, Cordner ZA, Dickerson F, Severance EG, Prandovszky E, Pletnikov M, … Yolken RH. NITRATED MEAT PRODUCTS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH MANIA IN HUMANS AND ALTERED BEHAVIOR AND BRAIN GENE EXPRESSION IN RATS. Molecular Psychiatry. 18 July 2018. DOI: 10.1038/s41380-018-0105-6

comments powered by Disqus