The Jerky (Not the Onion)

Study: Eating Beef Jerky Might Be Linked to Manic Episodes in Some People.

Not from the Onion, but I had to check.

a strange pattern began popping up among people diagnosed with mania, a state of hyper excitement, arousal, and delusion frequently followed by periods of severe depression in people who have bipolar disorder. Compared to the control group, people with a manic episode reported eating more cured meats such as beef jerky. Overall, they found that people with a recent history of eating cured meat were three times more likely to be hospitalized for mania, even after adjusting for factors like age or socioeconomic status. The same pattern couldn’t be seen with any other type of food eaten.

As for how jerky could be triggering mania, Yolken suspects it involves the microbial environment, or microbiome, of the gut. In a healthy person, the gut and brain regularly “talk” to one another through hormonal and nerve signals to keep the body regulated, the so-called gut-brain axis. In recent years, researchers have started to find that our gut microbiota is integral to keeping those airwaves clear. But if the gut microbiome is imbalanced (through changes in diet or antibiotics, for instance), that might set off a chain of events that wreaks havoc on both the brain and gut, often through chronic inflammation. This inflammation then might make people more susceptible to developing mental illness, or worsening its symptoms.

And indeed, when Yolken’s team looked at the guts of nitrate-fed rats, they found clear changes in the gut microbiome, in the form of an increase of certain kinds of bacteria, compared to normal rats. Those particular bacteria have previously been associated with behavior and cognition changes in animals. There was also evidence of minute molecular changes in the brain associated with mania in these rats, though Yolken cautioned that the results can’t prove that the gut changes led to the brain changes. They also can’t prove that nitrates are responsible for any similar changes in people.

Jerky is not my thing, but I wonder if the effect extends to cured meats like salami?

And of course the obvious question: Does Trump eat jerky?

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