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Time to rewrite that grocery list.

Perri Ormont Blumberg
July 20, 2018

Like beef jerky? How about hot dogs? Bacon? For most Southeners, the answer for all of the above is a definitive yes, yes, yes.

But new research from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, has shed some light on the potential detrimental effects processed meats can have on your mental health. Nitrates, chemicals used to cure meat may be to blame. "Specifically, [the study] found that people hospitalized for an episode of mania had more than three times the odds of having ever eaten nitrate-cured meats than people without a history of a serious psychiatric disorder," states a press release on the researchers' findings. It's worth noting that the study did not prove a direct cause-and-effect, but simply a correlation. Interestingly, when the same group of researchers conducted experiments in rats, they found mania-like hyperactivity after only a few weeks of eating a diet with added nitrates.

Mania refers to a state in which people with mental illness have massive excitement and overactivity, and is one of the extremes of bipolar disorder, the other being depression. According to WebMD, about 5.7 million American adults suffer from bipolar disorder each year.

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"The researchers say 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," the statement continues. Of course, there's a large body of research supporting processed meat's impact on your health — from conditions ranging from cancer and heart disease. So if you need another reason to cut back on processed meats, consider these findings a boon for your health.

If you're looking to reduce your processed meat consumption check out these 12 quick-fix meatless meals.