PRESS THIS: Fermented food is linked to mental health (in a good way mostly).

Interesting, if dry, article about how the bacteria in our bellies appears to affect our mental well-being, and how fermented food works with that thankfully prolific and hardy bacteria.

It mentions prebiotics, something I only came across during an horrific spat of wind-filled IBS, when I spent £11.45 on a tub of yellowy flakes called ‘Molkosan’ (A. Vogel) about which the owner of Whitby Wholefoods said ‘this will sort you out’.

Don't knock it till you've tried it; it might be dry, dull-looking, with an unsweet-orange flavour, but this stuff is MANNA FROM IBS HEAVEN.
Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it; it might be dry, and dull-looking, with an unsweet-orange flavour, but this stuff is MANNA FROM IBS HEAVEN.

They were like the magic words of health and healing. As a sufferer of IBS (and what nobody tells you about is the goddamn flaming trapped wind in your colon) (I suffer) I could have kissed her.

All I’d wanted, on our trip to Whitby, was Movicol (if you have these problems, you’ll know what I’m talking about, if you haven’t yet, maybe you’ll never have to know), but being accompanied by what could be described as a veggie with gently militant tendencies, I found myself outside this little shop, and bought everything in sight that might help.

Molkosan did the job better than Movicol, gave my body fibre that I hadn’t realised it was missing, and the prebiotics got on all day with my probiotics and made everybody feel good. I faithfully took it for more than a month afterwards. It seemed to balance my belly, and made it less likely to object to everything I put inside it. It’s mainly lactulose (nothing to do with milk intolerance – that’s lactose). That’s all I know.

Lessons learned from 2014

Looking back on 2014, I already thought my changed eating habits were symptoms of a wider problem – disorganisation – but now I wonder how linked-together it all was with my mental health.

Not that I have anything obvious wrong with that – I’ve always been fairly eccentric; it’s probably difficult to tell – but there has been a huge amount of emotional upheaval for me, in all directions, and that both fueled and fed from the disorganisation.

Add to that late nights, sluggish days, impossible financial issues and general exhaustion from carework combined with a burgeoning writing career, and I can see that the turbulence I felt last year was pretty much inevitable. Even if I had been a balanced person from the start, it would have been a hugely challenging time.

The problems with emotions is that they affect the choices we make. Obviously, the choices we make deeply affect our lives (action/inaction, rippling effects etc), so good mental health with good strategies to deal with emotional hoohah is more important than you might think.

Just because you’re not ill (as in have an actual mental illness) doesn’t mean some improvement can’t be made. And all the better if it involves doing something physical, like eating better and regularly! At least that’s easier than meditating, and way more fun than antidepressants.