Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution

Today is Earth Day. It is time to end plastic pollution. 48 years ago, on 22 April 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development.

Earth Day is a global event each year. More than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.

Earth Day 2018 focuses on mobilising the world to end plastic pollution, including creating support for a global effort to eliminate single-use plastics along with global regulation for the disposal of plastics. Plastic pollution is poisoning our oceans and land, injuring marine life, and affecting our health! Stand up! Take action!

Weekend vibes

Weekend vibes. Sitting back, relaxing and having a timeout before it gets busy. Working on my upcoming webinar on nail diagnosis 💻.

During the month of May I will presenting several webinars: Nail Diagnosis; Pyrrole Disorder, among others. See for more information.

Nutritional medicine plays a fundamental role in improving health and quality of life. May sure you include high quality foods in your diet every day and steer clear of junk food! My go to is a cacao vegan smoothie. Packed full of nutrients and antioxidants for optimum health.


Raw velvet cacao smoothie

Raw velvet cacao smoothie (and gluten-free, dairy-free carrot cake) at my favourite place in Byron Bay

Relaxing and writing in Byron Bay

Byron Bay is such a beautiful place. I’ve spent the last 4 days relaxing and writing. Yes I know, doing some work in a place that is so beautiful, but the creative juices start flowing. And once they start… Get ready for exciting things for 2018!

Remember, to always make time for a time out!

Practitioner Mentoring

Bradley McEwen PhD is a naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist, lecturer and researcher who has been providing career mentoring with great success since 2004. He has over 18 years of clinical experience, 13 years of teaching experience, and has presented nationally and internationally. He has received numerous international and national awards.

Gain confidence in Clinical prescribing, Clinical skills, Presentations, Communication, Article writing, Writing up reports, Technical writing, and Marketing self and business.

Mentoring sessions and programs can start at any time. Mentoring sessions are available as a “one-off” or on a regular basis* (e.g. weekly, fortnightly, monthly). *Scheduled mentoring sessions (discounted when paid in advance). ^Discounts apply to current or previous students of mine. Payment plans are available.

I look forward to working with you.

High carbohydrate intake has been associated with higher risk of total mortality

Cardiovascular disease is a global epidemic with 80% of the burden of disease in low-income and middle-income countries. Diet is one of the most important modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.

The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study is a large, epidemiological cohort study of individuals aged 35-70 years (enrolled between 1 Jan 2003 and 31 March 2013) in 18 countries (Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Iran, Malaysia, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe) with a median follow-up of 7.4 years (interquartile range (IQR) 5.3-9.3). Dietary intake of 135,335 individuals was recorded using validated food frequency questionnaires.

During follow-up, 5,796 deaths and 4,784 major cardiovascular disease events were documented. Higher carbohydrate intake was associated with an increased risk of total mortality (highest [quintile 5] vs lowest quintile [quintile 1] category, hazard ratio (HR) 1.28 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12-1.46], ptrend=0.0001) but not with the risk of cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular disease mortality. Intake of total fat and each type of fat was associated with lower risk of total mortality (quintile 5 vs quintile 1, total fat: HR 0.77 [95% CI 0·67-0.87], ptrend<0.0001; saturated fat, HR 0.86 [0.76-0.99], ptrend=0.0088; monounsaturated fat: HR 0.81 [0.71-0.92], ptrend<0.0001; and polyunsaturated fat: HR 0.80 [0.71-0.89], ptrend<0.0001). Higher saturated fat intake was associated with lower risk of stroke (quintile 5 vs quintile 1, HR 0.79 [95% CI 0.64-0.98], ptrend=0.0498).

In this large prospective cohort study from 18 countries in five continents, a high carbohydrate intake (more than about 60% of energy) was associated with an adverse impact on total mortality and non-cardiovascular disease mortality. By contrast, higher fat intake was associated with lower risk of total mortality, non-cardiovascular disease mortality, and stroke. Furthermore, higher intakes of individual types of fat were associated with lower total mortality, non-cardiovascular disease mortality, and stroke risk. An inverse association was found between monounsaturated fatty acid intake and total mortality.

In conclusion, high carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality, whereas saturated fat had an inverse association with stroke. Global dietary guidelines should be reconsidered in light of these findings.


Dehghan M et al. Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Lancet. 2017 Nov 4;390(10107):2050-2062.

Can omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids improve metabolic profile in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in females of reproductive age with a prevalence of 6–20%. The main characteristics of polycystic ovary syndrome are chronic anovulation with or without menstrual cycle disturbances, hyperandrogenism and ultrasound evidence of morphologically polycystic ovaries. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome have an increased risk of insulin resistance, hyperinsulinaemia, glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidaemia (cholesterol and triglycerides), subclinical atherosclerosis, endothelial and vascular dysfunction, altered adipokines secretion, hirsutism, acne, infertility, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. There appears to be a relationship between insulin resistance and androgen excess in polycystic ovary syndrome.

A total of 88 patients (between 25 and 40 years of age) with polycystic ovary syndrome (diagnosis based on the NIH criteria of PCOS) were included in the study.

After 6 months, omega-3 supplementation (EPA 360 mg, DHA 240 mg per day) significantly improved the lipid profile as compared to the control group (increased high-density lipoprotein levels and decreased low-density lipoprotein, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels). Waist circumference was significantly lower in the omega-3 group as compared to controls. The interval between periods in omega-3 was significantly shorter than controls

As polycystic ovary syndrome is a multifactorial condition, further research is suggested to investigate the effects of herbal medicines, diets, and nutrients on modifying the metabolic profile of polycystic ovary syndrome.

McEwen BJ, Can omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids improve metabolic profile in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? Advances in Integrative Medicine, Volume 4, Issue 2, August 2017, Pages 82–83.

The potential of Vitamin B1 in improving depression in the elderly

Depression is one of the most common psychiatric disorders among the elderly. Thiamine (Vitamin B1) has been hypothesised to play an important role in mental health. Inadequate Vitamin B1 intake and Vitamin B1 deficiencies may lead to physical and mental health issues. For example, thiamine diphosphate, the most bioactive form of Vitamin B1, is a coenzyme in glucose metabolism crucial for the secretion and metabolism of serotonin. It plays an important role in nerve conduction. In the elderly, Vitamin B1 deficiency is common and could induce mitochondrial dysfunction and chronic oxidative stress, which may contribute to depression. Oxidative stress due to Vitamin B1 deficiency may be linked to neuronal damage and decreased hippocampal volume in patients with major depression Additionally, a deficiency in Vitamin B1 may lead to irreversible neurological consequences such as Wernicke’s encephalopathy and peripheral neuropathy.

This study found a relatively high prevalence of subclinical Vitamin B1 in older Chinese adults. After adjustment for age, sex, city, and residence, lower concentrations of free thiamine, thiamine monophosphate, or thiamine diphosphate were associated with higher odds of being depressed (all P-trend < 0.01). The results of this study suggests an association between thiamine malnutrition and depressive symptoms among older Chinese adults.

Zhang G et al. Thiamine Nutritional Status and Depressive Symptoms Are Inversely Associated among Older Chinese Adults. J Nutr. 2013 Jan; 143(1): 53–58.

National Nutrition Week

Vegetables are awesome!

Each year National Nutrition Week raises awareness around the role of food on our health, and supports the community to enjoy healthy eating. This year we are encouraging families to find more ways to enjoy vegetables, and to eat one extra serve of vegetables every day.

#NNW2017 #nationalnutritionweek#nutrition #wellness #fitness  #nutritionist #foodie #health #lifestyle #foodasmedicine

Some blueberries per day…

Are blueberries the superfood we are looking for? Well, as we know, blueberries have been used as “food as medicine” for a very long time. Blueberries have a wide spectrum nutritional profile and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The increased consumption of berries has been shown to improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are concerns regarding the ability to greatly increase and maintain an individual’s daily fruit and vegetable consumption over a long-term period (particularly to the nutritional guidelines of 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day). The role of dietary supplementation with bioactive components, such as those in blueberries, is a tasty and feasible dietary intervention to improve health.

In this study by Stull and colleagues, participants were randomised to consume either a smoothie containing 22.5 g blueberry bioactives (blueberry group, n = 15) or a smoothie of equal nutritional value without added blueberry bioactives (placebo group, n = 17) twice daily for 6 weeks. There was a total of 1462 mg of total phenolics, 668 mg of anthocyanins per day. The blueberry and placebo smoothies were identical in physical appearance and macronutrient content apart from the addition of the blueberry bioactives to the blueberry smoothie.

Daily dietary supplementation with whole blueberries improved insulin sensitivity in obese, nondiabetic, and insulin-resistant participants. The mean change in insulin sensitivity was improved significantly more in the blueberry group compared to the placebo group. The percent change in insulin sensitivity was greater in the blueberry group (22.2 ± 5.8%) compared to the placebo group (4.9 ± 4.5%) (P = 0.02). Insulin sensitivity was enhanced in the blueberry group at the end of the study.

Consumption of smoothies (in the case of this study with blueberries) may be an attractive and convenient dietary approach for adults and children who do not consume the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables. However, the daily consumption of fruit and vegetables should always be promoted.


Stull AJ et al. Bioactives in Blueberries Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Obese, Insulin-Resistant Men and Women. J Nutr. 2010 Oct; 140(10): 1764-1768.

Herbal medicine use and anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health condition in Australia. Over a quarter of Australian adults have reported having an anxiety disorder diagnosis in their lifetime. Approximately 14.4 % had a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder in the previous 12 months. Herbal medicines are being used by adults with anxiety and are commonly self-prescribed for anxiety symptoms.

There were 400 participants in this Australian study (203 males (50.8 %) and 197 females (49.3 %)). The mean age was 49.1 years (range 18 to 85 years). The majority of participants in this study (82.3 %) experienced anxiety symptoms in the previous 12 months, with 47 % reporting having previously been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. In addition, 72.8 % of participants had used herbal medicines specifically for anxiety symptoms in their lifetime, while 55.3 % had used prescribed pharmaceuticals. 27.5 % of participants had used herbal medicines concurrently with prescribed pharmaceuticals. Of those with an anxiety disorder diagnosis (n = 188), 83.5 % used herbal medicines for anxiety symptoms, which compared to 63.2 % of those without a disorder diagnosis (n = 134). The most commonly used herbal medicine to treat anxiety symptoms in the previous 12 months was chamomile (43 %), followed by lavender (32.5 %).

Herbal medicines are being used by adults with anxiety and are commonly self-prescribed for anxiety symptoms. The authors noted that health practitioners who are experts in herbal medicine prescribing were infrequently consulted.


McIntyre E, Saliba AJ, Wiener KK, and Sarris J. Herbal medicine use behaviour in Australian adults who experien AJce anxiety: a descriptive study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016; 16: 60.

Mindfulness meditation for anxiety relief

Anxiety is the cognitive state related to the inability to control emotional responses to perceived threats. Anxiety is inversely related to brain activity associated with the cognitive regulation of emotions. Mindfulness meditation has been found to regulate anxiety.

Mindfulness meditation is premised on stabilising attention, acknowledging discursive sensory events as ‘momentary’ and ‘releasing’ them without affective reaction. Training in mindfulness meditation has been found to significantly reduce anxiety in clinical and experimental settings. Mindfulness meditation is hypothesised to regulate emotions by modifying cognitive and affective evaluations to sensory events by cognitive reappraisal processes. Long-term training in mindfulness meditation has been found to improve cognitive processes that subsequently improve a wide spectrum of health outcomes.

In this study, 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation significantly reduced state anxiety in each session that meditation was practiced. Anxiety was found to be inversely related to activity in a brain network involved in cognitive and affective control. Meditation-related anxiety relief was associated with greater activity in a distinct network of brain regions involved in cognitive reappraisal processes.


Zeidan F et al. Neural correlates of mindfulness meditation-related anxiety relief. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2014 Jun; 9(6): 751–759.

Chocolate and the Heart

Chocolate and the Heart ❤️

Consuming moderate amounts of chocolate has been associated with significantly lower risk of being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation – a common and dangerous type of irregular heartbeat. These findings were from a large study of 55,502 men and women (26,400 men and 29,102 women) in Denmark led by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and in Denmark. Median follow-up was 13.5 years.

Compared with those who ate a 28 g (1 ounce) serving of chocolate less than once per month:

  • men and women who ate one to three servings per month had a 10% lower rate of atrial fibrillation
  • those who ate one serving per week had a 17% lower rate of atrial fibrillation
  • those who ate two to six servings per week had a 20% lower rate of atrial fibrillation.
  • Results were similar for men and women.

Accumulating evidence indicates that moderate chocolate intake may be inversely associated with atrial fibrillation risk.

Chocolate is awesome!

Mostofsky E et al. Chocolate intake and risk of clinically apparent atrial fibrillation: the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study. Heart. 2017 May 23. pii: heartjnl-2016-310357. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2016-310357. ( )

Dark chocolate

Fruit and vegetable consumption may help reduce the prevalence of psychological distress

Mental disorders affect 10% of the world population and represent 30% of non-fatal global burden of disease. Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and is projected to rank among the three leading causes of global disease burden by 2030. Depression in later life is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and decreased physical, cognitive and social functioning.

Evidence suggests a link between diet and mental health, such as depression. Several large cross-sectional studies have shown that greater consumption of fruit and vegetables has been associated with better mental health, including lower odds of depression and psychological distress, in the general population. Higher consumption of fruit and/or vegetables has been associated with lower odds of incident depression in middle-aged Australian women followed over 6 years.

Fruit and vegetable consumption may help reduce the prevalence of psychological distress among middle-aged and older adults. Fruit and vegetables are rich in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytochemicals that may help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Oxidative stress and inflammation can have detrimental effects on mental health. Nutrients can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. For example, antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and polyphenols may help reduce oxidative stress while magnesium has been associated with lower levels of C reactive protein, a marker of low-grade inflammation. Deficiencies in B vitamins (e.g. vitamin B12 and folic acid) have been associated with depression.

This study found that fruit and vegetables were more protective for women than men, suggesting that women may be more responsive to the health effects of fruit and vegetables.

Nguyen B, Ding D, Mihrshahi S. Fruit and vegetable consumption and psychological distress: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses based on a large Australian sample. BMJ Open. 2017 Mar 15;7(3):e014201.

Depression and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in older adults living at northern latitudes

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders and is recognised as a major contributor to the global burden of disease. Depressive symptoms are prevalent in approximately 15% of community-dwelling older persons, with major depressive disorder prevalent in 1-5% of adults 65 years and older. Depression risk among older adults may be further exacerbated by an interaction of factors beyond age such as poor dietary intake and time spent indoors which can negatively affect vitamin D status.

Men and women with a deficiency of vitamin D had more depressive symptoms versus adequate vitamin D status. Furthermore, men with a deficiency of vitamin D were more likely to have current major depressive disorder compared with men with adequate vitamin D status.

The authors noted that it is important to note that the association between depression and vitamin D in men was observed at a relatively low level of serum 25(OH)D (<30 nmol/l). In northern latitudes, maintaining vitamin D levels above 30 nmol/l may protect older adults against adverse health conditions which are associated with depression.

Imai CM et al. Depression and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in older adults living at northern latitudes – AGES-Reykjavik Study. J Nutr Sci. 2015; 4: e37.

Healthy and Unhealthy Dietary Patterns Are Related to Depression: A Case-Control Study

Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability around the world. Depression, based on WHO report, is the fourth most common global burden of all diseases, which might turn into the second most common global burden by the year 2020.

Major depression contains five of the following symptoms, for at least 2 weeks:

  • sad or blue, feeling depressed
  • increased or decreased sleeping
  • absence of interest or enjoyment
  • increased or decreased appetite together with weight change
  • feeling of worthlessness or guilt
  • feeling agitated, feeling unsettled or slowness
  • low energy
  • difficulty in concentration
  • feeling that life is worthless.


The main focus of this study is to investigate the relationship between depression and dietary patterns, rather than one or more specific nutrients.

The authors detected two dietary patterns including “Healthy” and “Unhealthy”. They studied the association between depression and dietary patterns. The study found that the odds ratio of depression was decreased by adhering to healthy dietary patterns, and conversely increased by the consumption of unhealthy dietary patterns.

According to previous studies, a number of nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins D, E, B6, B12, folate, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, calcium, and tryptophan are important in the prevention and treatment of depression. It is noted that all of food groups in healthy dietary pattern including vegetables, fruits, dairy products, nuts, olive oil and green olive, fish, legumes and whole grains are rich in these nutrients.

This study indicates that healthy and unhealthy dietary patterns may be associated with the risk of depression. The results can be used for developing interventions that aim to promote healthy eating for the prevention of depression.

Khosravi M et al. Healthy and Unhealthy Dietary Patterns Are Related to Depression: A Case-Control Study. Psychiatry Investig. 2015 Oct; 12(4): 434–442.