There has been a spike in reported cases of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and indigestion across the nation in the wake of the ferry disaster on April 16 that claiming hundreds of lives.
Doctors are concerned that the feelings of anger, fear and stress many people are feeling could weaken their immune systems and leave them vulnerable to colds, flus and diseases.
"If the immune system is compromised, viruses or germs can enter into the body and cause infections," said Lee Dong-ho, a professor at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital.
Vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, fish and seaweed can help suppress infections and oxidants. Refined foods like white sugar and flour are best avoided, along with fried or greasy food. Green tea is a proven tonic as it contains many anti-oxidants. Tea made with omija (red Korean berries) or lotus leaves helps alleviate anxiety and depression.
In herbal medicine, excessive "heat" is believed to cause anger, anxiety and sleep disorders. Kim Cheol-soo, a herbal medicine doctor, said, "Food with cooling properties can be helpful when treating anger, stress, anxiety or sleep disorders. Chrysanthemum tea can also combat internal heat and calm people down."
Porridge made with black sesame seeds, pine nuts, milk or yams can restore stamina. Clam or oyster soup also has cooling properties.
On the other hand, people are believed to suffer depression when they lose too much "heat," so it is recommended they consume food with warming properties like tea made with honey, mugwort, ginseng, red ginseng or ginger, said Kim.