One in five Australians experience a mental health disorder – so can what we eat make a long-term difference to our mental health? In this podcast, we chat to Dr Joanna McMillan to learn the latest on nutrition, mood and brain health. Joanna delves into the science behind the brain-healthy components of the Mediterranean Diet and highlights the importance of focusing on dietary patterns, not individual foods or nutrients, to optimise mental wellbeing. We also touch on the link between the gut microbiome and mental health, where polyphenols and flavonoids fit in and how dietitians can help their clients eat themselves happy.


Dr Joanna McMillan is one of the country’s favourite and most trusted health and nutrition experts. She is a PhD qualified nutrition scientist, Accredited Practising Dietitian, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow with La Trobe University and Fellow of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine. Joanna is an experienced TV presenter. She has worked on The Today Show for 15 years, been a host for ABC’s science show Catalyst, and is a regular on radio and in print media. She is a TEDx and international keynote speaker and MC and is the founder of Get Lean, an online lifestyle change program. She has authored several books including Get Lean Stay Lean and her latest Brain Food. Jo is also a nutrition consultant and partner to Cobram Estate.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Dietary patterns that improve mood and brain health
  • The SMILES trial and the birth of the ModiMed diet
  • The link between the gut microbiome and mental health
  • The role of polyphenols and flavonoids
  • The link between mental ill-health and chronic disease
  • Practical tips for dietitians working in mental health

Additional resources

Olive Wellness Institute


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Mental health services in Australia. 2021. Available at:

Firth et al. The Effects of Dietary Improvement on Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Psychosom Med 81(3): 265–280

Jacka et al. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Medicine 2017;15:23

Jacka et al. Associations between diet quality and depressed mood in adolescents: results from the Australian Healthy Neighbourhoods Study. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 44(5):435-42

This podcast is not, and is not intended to be, medical advice, which should be tailored to your individual circumstances. This podcast is for your information only, and we advise that you exercise your own judgment before deciding to use the information provided. Professional medical advice should be obtained before taking action.  Please see here for terms and conditions.

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