Top 7 scientifically-proven benefits of gratitude

Gratitude begins with a thought. If believed, it grows into that wonderful feeling of “well-being” that begets balance and wholeness in the entire body.

The really good news is that you can experience gratitude whenever you wish…

The very thoughts of relief, of peace, protection, connection, abundance and joy can bring about this feeling. And how you think and feel about the events of your life — your perspective — provides a basis for your physical well-being.

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Make the best of stress

Stress is defined as a psychological stimulus producing disturbing physiological reactions, leading to illness. In other words, stress is to perceive something as negative and then continue to respond poorly to life events. Stress, by this definition, can make us sick.

A different kind of stress is the good stress, the kind of stress that we respond to properly. By choosing to perceive an event as positively as possible, we bless our lives and others’ lives, and eventually overcome unwanted outcomes. This is called eustress which creates health, happiness and fulfillment.

Many “problems” may be seen from different perspectives, and multiple solutions are usually available. If you choose to turn any stress in your life to eustress, much more “good news” appears in your life as a result of your positive perception.

And the habit of seeing the positive creates an environment for gratitude to develop. Over time you may begin to see how the value of positive perception influences the outcome of events that come your way, and experience far-reaching benefits — confirmed by research — in just about every aspect of your life…

Top 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude

  1.  Gratitude improves physical health.

Gratitude can “lower blood pressure, improve immune function and heart health, optimize cholesterol levels and help you sleep better. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Another study found that gratitude lowers inflammation and improves heart rate variability in patients with Stage B Heart Failure.

  1. Gratitude improves psychological health.

Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. It’s the most significant variable for our ability to live long, healthy and happy lives.

Recent research also shows that expressing gratitude leads to other kinds of positive emotions, such as enthusiasm and inspiration, because it promotes the savoring of positive experiences.

Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner, even when others behave less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.

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  1. Grateful people sleep better.

Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 10 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.

  1. Gratitude improves self-esteem.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athlete’s self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs – which is a major factor in reduced self-esteem – grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.

  1. Gratitude improves sexual fulfillment.

Dr. Amie Gordon reports that couples who expressed appreciation were more committed, more responsive, and more likely to stay together. “These findings provide evidence that gratitude is important for the successful maintenance of intimate bonds.”

The greatest sexual fulfillment, springing from gratitude, is found in long-term, committed relationships. Additionally in “Gratitude Sparks Oxytocin and Love” we see how gratitude triggers what is often called the bonding hormone. The 2015 study, published in the journal Personal Relationships, found that a spouse’s expression of gratitude was the “most consistent significant predictor” of a happy union and that it buffers their negative communication.

  1. Gratitude enhances short-term memory.

Cognitive functioning and mental focus are actually increased when negative thoughts and judgments are replaced with thoughts and gestures of gratitude. Research shows that negative thoughts hinder short-term memory. “A positive outlook keeps the mind uncluttered from those kinds of thoughts that interfere with your ability to function (mentally) at a high level,” said Bart Rypma (Journal of Affective Disorders.)

  1. Gratitude can increase your wealth.

Gratitude has been show to increase happiness which in turn has been known to have a positive impact on earnings. Adolescents who report higher levels of happiness go on to earn more as adults. Managers who thank their employees experience harder work and increased output – in one study 50% increase. Studies have shown that restaurant customers come back and tip more if they are thanked for their generosity. Simply writing “thank you” with a smiley face on their checks produces consistently higher tips.

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  1. Stress Definition by The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary
  2. Justin R. Garcia et al. Variation in Orgasm Occurrence bySexual Orientationin a Sample of U.S. Singles.  The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 11, Issue 11, pages 2645–2652, November 2014
  3. Amie M. Gordon et al., To have and to hold: Gratitude promotes relationship maintenance in intimate bonds. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 103(2), Aug 2012, 257-274
  4. Watson. Bridging the Love, Sex, and Gratitude Gap. Psychology Today.
  5. Adler MG, Fagley NS. Appreciation: Indivdual Difference in Finding Value and Meaning as a Unique Predictor of Subjective Well-Being. Journal of Personality February 2005.
  6. Emmons RA, McCullough ME. Counting Blessing Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology February 2003.
  7. Redwine LS1,Henry BL,Pung MA, Wilson K, Chinh K, Knight B, Jain S, Rutledge T, Greenberg B, Maisel A, Mills PJ. Pilot Randomized Study of a Gratitude Journaling Intervention on Heart Rate Variability and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Patients With Stage B Heart Failure. Psychosomatic Medicine 2016 May 16
  8.  Wong YJ1, Owen J2, Gabana NT1, Brown JW3, Mcinnis S4, Toth P5, Gilman L1. Does gratitude writing improve the mental health of psychotherapy clients? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Psychotherapy Research 2016 May 3:1-11
  9. Grant AM, Gino F. A little thanks goes a long way: Explaining why gratitude expressions motivate prosocial behavior. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2010 Jun; 98(6):946-55.
  10. Sansone RA, et al. Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation. Psychiatry(Nov. 2010): Vol. 7, No. 11, pp. 18–22.
Dr. Brad Cutler

By Dr. Brad Cutler

With over 30 years of clinical nutrition experience, Dr Brad Cutler has been a well-respected authority in digestive health, nutrition and natural anti-aging protocols. In 2014 Brad certified in Functional Medicine. His life is all about health, fitness, and what works nutritionally in the body. He coaches individuals in essential lifestyle principles as a part of his ongoing functional medicine practice. Brad’s mission is to inspire others to purposefully create thoughts and emotions that support wise food choices and lifestyle changes that improve health. Individual focus may include balance of digestion, detoxification, immunity, hormones, cardio-metabolic health, cognitive function and mood.

Brad may be reached for Health Coaching at