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Additives in meat linked to mania and bipolar disorder: it’s official

We’ve been saying it for 25 years. Now researchers from Johns Hopkins University in the US have found out for themselves: common additives in processed meats such as ham, bacon, salami, chorizo and hot dogs can cause symptoms of mental illness.

hamsandwichSMALL

What is mania?

A symptom of bipolar disorder marked by periods of heightened mood that can include:
- great excitement, euphoria, or irritability
- increased energy, decreased need for sleep, and hyperactivity
- a compulsion to speak
- difficulty paying attention
- increased distractability
- delusions

What the researchers found

  • a history of eating nitrated dry cured meat but not other meat or fish products was strongly and associated with current mania
  • feeding meat with added nitrate to rats resulted in hyperactivity reminiscent of human mania, alterations in brain pathways that have been implicated in human bipolar disorder, and changes in intestinal microbiota

Amanda’s story [805]

When our 9 year old has consumed nitrates or other preservatives she becomes deeply depressed, highly irritable, intolerant to noise and self destructive … e.g.

- attempt to jump off a balcony
- scratch her nails deeply into her legs
- bang her head on the refrigerator
- threaten to kill herself.

Nitrates are not the only culprits

As Amanda notes, it is not only nitrates that affect her daughter. Similarly, a reader from Europe [340] who took the psychiatric drug Seroxat for 6 years after a diagnosis of postnatal depression finds the local hot dog sausages to be just one of the problems:

I still find it hard to believe the difference I have gained in myself from mainly the diet change. I respond to high salicylates and medium amines, but the things that affect me worst have combinations of both, such as wine, cheese, and local hot dog sausages.

More reader stories about food-induced mania

The avocado story

After years of thinking I had a mental illness, being told I had bipolar, filling my body with hideous drugs that made my hair fall out, gave my acne and basically turned me into a zombie and got me to a point where I was totally ready to end my life, I have been totally drug free, symptom free and depression free and manic free since we started FS!  I didn’t start FS for me, I was doing it for my boys! 8 months have passed and I haven't bothered to do the challenges myself, I’ve been too busy trying to sort all their issues out. Well this week, I have been testing my boys on the different types of amines. For the last 3 days we have all been eating avocados! OMG THEY ARE SO YUMMY!

I am sitting at my desk today, I feel so horrible. I’m crying at everything, it feels like the world is caving in on me, I feel like nothing is right, I’m anxious, frustrated, angry, sad, ....... Oh that’s right, according to Drs I have BIPOLAR! quick take some drugs!

NOTE TO SELF! STOP EATING AVOCADOS! and remember this horrible feeling will pass as soon as this food is out of my system! – facebook group member from story [1227]

The ham sandwich story

A few months ago my 6 yo son started getting very clingy, crying and not being able to read or write properly and was not able to concentrate … After about 1 week (on the additive free diet in your book) everything had improved dramatically.

When I introduced nitrates (ham), he went pretty nutty after eating it, not violent, just manic. The next day he had bad eczema and was unable to read or write properly when I asked. The teacher also mentioned that he was having trouble concentrating again. He was also crying and clinging to me when it was time to drop him at school. The effects lasted about 5 days. I realized of course that when he had the previous problems he was having ham sandwiches (not something he would normally eat). I then went back to the additive-free diet again - Michelle from story [855]

Conclusion

I wish these researchers would look more widely at other food chemicals as well. In fact, they don’t even have to reinvent the wheel – they could just look at the research from Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital allergy unit. As Amanda says:

I wonder if the epidemic of depression is in fact an epidemic of food intolerances/sensitivities – or if I want to be more inflammatory, the poisoning of modern mankind!

The researchers say: “These findings may lead to new methods for preventing mania and for developing novel therapeutic interventions.”

WHAT?!? Meats processed with nitrates/nitrites have recently been classified as Class 1 carcinogens because they can cause colorectal cancer - which is now the second highest cause of cancer deaths and increasing - it is thought that 1 Australian in 13 will develop colon cancer in their lifetimes - and know we know they cause mental illness.  Why don’t we just stop eating them??? 

More info

What is mania? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mania

Reader story collection about food-induced depression

Suicide prevention by diet

No need to reinvent the wheel : RPAH research paper about food intolerance 

Khambadkone SG and others, Nitrated meat products are associated with mania in humans and altered behavior and brain gene expression in rats. Mol Psychiatry. Published online July 18, 2018.
From the abstract: Mania is a serious neuropsychiatric condition associated with significant morbidity and mortality … https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30022042

Yes, bacon really is killing us  https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/01/bacon-cancer-processed-meats-nitrates-nitrites-sausages

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Food intolerance

Some of the many symptoms of food intolerance that can be helped by diet:

Airways: Asthma, Stuffy blocked or runny nose/ nasal polyps, Frequent nose bleeds, Catarrh, chronic throat-clearing, Sinusitis, Frequent ear infections, Frequent tonsillitis, Frequent colds and flu, symptoms of Samter's Triad, hayfever, allergic rhinitis Skin: Eczema, Urticaria (hives), Cradlecap, Other skin rashes, Angioedema (swollen lips, eyes, tongue), Geographic tongue, Pruritis (itching), Rosaceae, Allergic shiners (dark circles under eyes), Pallor (pale skin), Flushing, Excessive sweating, Body odour, Sore vagina in children, Alopecia (patchy baldness) Digestive system: Irritable bowel symptoms (IBS), Recurrent mouth ulcers, Indigestion, Nausea, Bad breath, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Stomach ache, Bloating, Reflux in babies, adults, Constipation, Colic in babies, adults, Sluggish bowel syndrome (feeling of "more to come"), Encopresis, Soiling (sneaky poos), Dairy intolerance, Gluten and wheat intolerance, Eating disorders (ed), anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder (BED)  Bladder: Bedwetting, Daytime incontinence, Urinary urgency, Recurrent inflammation (cystitis) Skeletal: Growing pains, Gout, Arthritis, joint pain, arthralgia Eyes: Nystagmus (involuntary movement), Blurred vision Muscles: Low muscle tone, Myalgia (muscle pain), Tics (involuntary movement), Tremor, Leg 'jiggling', Heart: Rapid heart beat, Heart palpitations, Cardiac arrhythmias, Pseudo heart attack (feeling of impending doom, chest pressure, pain down arm), Tachycardia (fast heart beat), Angina-type pain, HHT Central nervous system: Headaches or migraines, unexplained tiredness, Chronic fatigue, Feeling 'hung-over', Confusion, Dizziness, Agitation, Tinnitus (noises in ear), HyperacusisAuditory sensory processing disorder (ASPD), Paraesthesia (pins and needles), Dysaesthesia (numbness), Hypoglycemia, Salicylate-induced hypoglycemia, Epileptic seizures, Fits, Sensory symptoms of multiple sclerosis, Scents and perfume sensitivity, Symptoms of lupus Anxiety: Panic attacks, Depression, Obsessive ruminations (repetitively focusing on bad feelings and experiences from the past), Self harm, Suicidal thoughts, actions, teeth grinding (bruxism) Impaired memory: Vague or forgetful, Unable to concentrate, Won't persevere, Unmotivated, Disorganised, Easily distracted, Difficulty reading and writing Speech: Loud voice (no volume control), Speech hard to understand, Speech delay, Selective mutism, Stuttering, Repetitive noises, Talks too much (empty chatter) Coordination: Poor handwriting, Poor coordination, Frequent accidents, Vertigo Sleep: Difficulty falling asleep, Restless legs syndrome (RLS), Persistent night waking, Insomnia, Nightmares/night terrors/sleepwalking, Sleepless babies, Sleep apnoea Mood: Brain snaps, Mood swings, Premenstrual tension, Grizzly or unhappy, Cries easily or often, Irritable, Uncooperative Oppositional defiance: ODD, Loses temper, Argumentative, Refuses requests, Defies rules, Deliberately annoys others, Blames others for own mistakes, Touchy, easily annoyed, Angry, resentful Other behaviour: ADHD, ADD, Autism, Aspergers, Inattentive, easily bored, unmotivated, 'Unable to entertain himself', Restless, fidgety or overactive, Head banging, Hyperactivity, Fights with siblings, Difficulty making friends, Destructive, aggressive, Unreasonable, Tantrums, Demanding, never satisfied, Disruptive, Discipline is ineffective, Pervasive Development Disorder

Some causes of food intolerance:

Food additives: Artificial colours: (food dyes, artificial colors) tartrazine 102 (E102, FD&C Yellow No.5), quinoline yellow 104 (E104), sunset yellow 110 (E110, FD&C Yellow No.6), azorubine, carmoisine 122 (E122), amaranth 123 (E123), ponceau, brilliant scarlet 124 (E124), erythrosine 127 (E127, FD&C Red No.3), allura red 129 (E129, FD&C Red No.40), indigotine, indigo carmine 132 (E132, FD&C Blue No.2), brilliant blue 133 (E133, FD&C Blue No.1), green S, food green, acid brilliant green 142 (E142), fast green FCF 143 (E143, FD&C Green No.3), brilliant black 151 (E151), brown, chocolate brown 155 (E155)  Natural colours: (colors) Annatto (annatto extracts, bixin, norbixin, 160b, E160b) Preservatives: Sorbates: (sorbic acid 200, E200, sodium sorbate 201, E201, potassium sorbate 202, E202, calcium sorbate 203, E203) Benzoates, hydroxybenzoates, parabens: (including benzoic acid 210, E210, sodium benzoate 211, E211, potassium benzoate 212, E212, calcium benzoate 213, E213, ethyl para-hydroxybenzoate 214, E214, sodium ethyl para-hydroxybenzoate 215, E215, propylparaben 216, E216, propyl 4 hydroxybenzoate 217, E217, methylparaben 218, E218) Sulfites, bisulfites, metabisulfites: (200-228, sulphites, sulphur dioxide, sulfur dioxide 220, E220, sodium sulphite 221, E221, sodium bisulphite 222, E222, sodium metabisulphite 223, E223, potassium metabisulphite 224, E224, potassium sulphite 225, E225, calcium sulphite 226, E226, calcium bisulfite 227, E227, potassium bisulphite 228, E228) Nitrates & nitrites: (249-252, potassium nitrite 249, E249, sodium nitrite 250, E250, sodium nitrate 251, E251, potassium nitrate 252, E252 Propionates: (bread preservative, mould inhibitor 280-283: propionic acid 280, E280, sodium propionate 281, E281, calcium propionate 282, E282, potassium propionate 283, E283, 'natural' preservatives in bread, cultured wheat, cultured dextrose, cultured whey) Synthetic antioxidants: Gallates 310, 311, 312 (E310, E311, E312), tBHQ 319, E319, BHA 320, E320, BHT 321, E321 Flavour enhancers: (flavor enhancers) glutamic acid and all glutamates, MSG monosodium glutamate 620-625, yeast extract, hydrolysed vegetable protein HVP, disodium guanylate 627 (E627, DSG, GMP), disodium inosinate 631 (E631, DSI, IMP), ribonucleotides 635 (E635, I&G, nucleotides)  Flavours: (flavors)  Natural food chemicals: Salicylates: salicylic acid, sodium salicylate, acetylsalicylic acid Biogenic amines: vasoactive amines (tyramine, phenylethylamine, histamine and others) Glutamates:  Natural foods: Dairy: milk, yoghurt, cheese, butter, lactose-free milks Wheat or Gluten: (wheat, rye, barley, oats) Soy: Sugar free sweeteners:Sugar free sweeteners: polyols, sorbitol, mannitol

On this website, failsafe refers to foods that are Free of Additives and Low in Salicylates, Amines and Flavour Enhancers. Note that copyright applies to the commercial use of the term "failsafe" in the food and health context so as to control inappropriate use by the food and health industries.