A recent study has found some evidence of a link between mania and nitrated meats (meat sticks, beef jerky, turkey jerky, and possibly other foods such as hot dogs). Research in bipolar has focused on genetic links, but diet is also thought to have significant impacts on mood disorders. The new study is quite small and used survey data followed by animal experiments to suggest an association between the consumption of nitrated meats and manic episodes.
The study did not include any findings about the “dose” or amount of these meats that may have been consumed, and the researchers were not able to determine risk levels: how much consumption may be associated with how much higher an incidence of mania. Obviously, not everyone who eats beef jerky gets mania, and more research will be needed to uncover more data about how strong the association may be.
In a follow up experiment, the research team fed these meats to rats and found that the animals showed increased hyperactivity. “The diet was also associated with expressed gene dysregulation involving serotonin, nuclear factor signaling, and sphingosine-1-phosphate signaling and with increases in small-bowel bacteria species previously linked to cognitive and behavioral alterations in animals.” This finding in rats suggests a possible mechanism for the linkage of consumption of nitrated meats and mania.
Moodsurfing has considered the topic of diet and mood extensively and, like many others, we have consistently found that healthy eating, including plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meats and fish helps people cope with mood swings. Please share your own experience in the comments section below.
Khambadkone, Seva G. et al. Nitrated meat products are associated with mania in humans and altered behavior and brain gene expression in rats. Molecular Psychiatry; 18 July 2018. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-018-0105-6