One quick internet search will deliver a lifetime’s worth of articles on the causes of—and cures for—depression. But it’s not as often that you hear about the other side of the coin. Although anyone who struggles with bipolar depression is all too familiar with this swinging pendulum.
I’m talking about mania, of course—depression’s overactive, but equally dangerous, twin.
Mania can put you in harm’s way causing you to make rash or poor decisions. A milder episode might bring on racing thoughts, euphoric mood, insomnia, or irritability. But a severe manic episode often triggers psychosis—and all the lethal risks that come with it.
Either way, stable moods are a crucial part of staying mentally healthy. Preventing the soaring highs is every bit as essential as warding off the basement lows.
And that’s exactly what makes this latest bit of news so shocking. Especially if you happen to pack a sandwich for lunch every day…
How cold cuts could pave the way to a psychotic break
A new study from a team of Johns Hopkins researchers has uncovered a disturbing link between processed meat—like hot dogs and cold cuts—and mania. The likely culprit? Nitrates—chemicals used in the curing process to ward off bacterial growth.
I’ve warned you about nitrates before, of course. But we’re just beginning to understand their potential connection to mood disorders.
Researchers reviewed data from more than 1,000 subjects, both with and without psychiatric histories. And they found that subjects who had suffered a manic episode that required hospitalization were more than three times as likely to eat meats cured with nitrates such as cold cuts. (That is, compared to subjects without a similar mental health history.)
And it turns out this isn’t the first study to expose this mysterious connection, either. Previous research on rats showed that it only took a few weeks for nitrate-cured foods to trigger a concerning changes in both mood and gut bacteria.
These aren’t the kinds of studies designed to prove cause and effect, of course. So we need more research before we can come to any definite conclusions. But the case against cold cuts and other processed meats is growing.
The bottom line? You might think that turkey on whole wheat is healthy. But your brain—not to mention the rest of your body—might beg to differ.
Why you should avoid processed meat in the first place
Even if your mental health history is spotless, you don’t have a cold-cut carte blanche. Because unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long line of reasons to avoid processed meat like the plague:
- It’s a serious hazard to your heart. Bacon, sausage, and deli cold cuts put you at a 42 percent higher risk of getting heart disease. And a 19 percent higher risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.
- It has links to several lethal cancers. Sodium nitrite—another common preservative in processed meats—is a known carcinogen, with links to colon cancer and pancreatic cancer.
- It even makes you look Lunch meats are packed with sulfites and other preservatives that inflame your skin and accelerate aging.
If you really want a sandwich, stick with organic, pasture-raised, non-processed meats—like oven-cooked turkey or beef, carved in your own kitchen. It might be less convenient than cold cuts. But taking the extra time could quite literally save your life. Plus it tastes better too.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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