Depression? Check Patient’s Eating Habits First

△ To prevent being depressed, a simple but easily overlooked way is to maintain healthier eating habits to have a healthier intestine. ImageⓒAdobeStock_ focusandblur

Healthier Gut Makes Happier Life

A recent study shows that the ups and downs of a person’s emotions do not randomly change just based on how they feel that morning but depend on hormones, which are tiny substances present in our body. In modern medicine, hormones have been recognized for a long time, and numerous studies have been conducted on their respective functions. Of course, there are also essential hormones for the human body to breathe and survive. On the other hand, numerous hormones are involved in women’s menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth, controlling each body part and organ as if a luxurious Swiss watch were clicking. Hormones like the second nervous system control every corner of our body and play a critical role not only in our body but also in regulating emotions and minds.

One of the most important hormones in our body is serotonin. Serotonin, along with dopamine and noradrenaline, is a hormone that regulates human emotions. Through this hormone, we feel happiness. It is not an intense pleasure like dopamine but is known as an important hormone for maintaining a positive and bright mood. However, the place where this serotonin exists is not in the brain, liver, nor nerves, but in the ‘gastrointestinal (GI) tract.’ The GI tract includes the stomach, duodenum, small intestine, and large intestine. This digestive system produces and stores serotonin, the most important factor in creating happy feelings.

A lack of this serotonin can lead to a patient’s depression. A patient’s mood is different every day or every morning and evening, but if the patient says that they are always depressed, sad and unmotivated, then we have to wonder as a physician if this very serotonin is lacking. If this is not enough, not only depression but also panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder may occur. It is easy to get upset over not being a big deal even though the patient cannot understand well. In fact, when we feel nauseous or have diarrhea, we have no energy in our body, but at the same time, we feel quite depressed emotionally, and the main reason is that this hormone called serotonin is insufficient.


If the patient is too busy with work or study, skip breakfast, have a quick lunchtime as short as 10 minutes, eat dinner late after 8 pm and sleep late for watching YouTube at night, there is little chance of having a sound GI tract. The stomach and intestines digest food when it comes in, and when the patient rests, they need to rest the GI tract at the same time to reach the best efficiency. In particular, when the patient sleeps at night, the digestive system has to stop working together. Therefore, when the patient eats supper late at night or eats a late-night snack, the food that enters the intestine is not properly digested and absorbed well, so beneficial probiotics do not work properly. It’s obvious, but eating at the right time, resting at the right time, and going to bed early are the shortcuts to maintaining gut health.


In addition, patients should eat enough fermented foods such as Kimchi and Doenjang (Korean soybean paste) and vegetables rich in dietary fiber that allow probiotics to dwell well to maintain the level of probiotics in the intestine properly. If patients cannot eat three healthy meals daily, it is also recommended to take probiotics, dietary supplements. In addition, we need to be exposed to the sun for at least 30 minutes in the daytime, then the production of serotonin is enough.


For a person to always feel good and have sufficient motivation, the first thing to do is take good care of the stomach and intestines. Patients need to focus on cutting their belly fat and building up bulky arm muscles, and keeping eyes on their gut health; then, they can spend a wonderful day full of motivation without feeling depressed and always in the best condition.



By Winston Lee L. Ac, Ph.D., KMD