Gratitude – Is it a Load of Bollocks ?

For the second time this year I have just returned from a three day “retreat” which involved a lot of exercise and “wellbeing” malarkey.

For the second time this year also, during one of the talks, the course leader presented us with her view on “Gratitude” which she maintains has helped her through periods of (deep) depression.

To be honest, I had not thought much about this concept until quite recently. It dawned on me on the back of what she said that there is a link between health and gratitude.

So, I had a bit of a think and decided that she had something in this idea because

  • People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions and less anxiety, sleep better and have better heart health
  • Your sense of gratitude can be strengthened with practice. Ways to cultivate gratitude include keeping a gratitude journal, prayer, meditation, writing thank you notes and non-verbal actions like smiling and hugging.

A cursory surf on the Internet about whether gratitude can influence your health found that according to a number of studies, the answer is almost certainly yes !!

“If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.”

Americans have once-a-year gratitude ritual of Thanksgiving; the Brits have a Harvest Festival which is better than nothing.

However, if you’re serious about your wellbeing, it would be good to increase the frequency at which you feel and express gratitude to a daily basis. Because, people who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions less anxiety, sleep better and generally have better health.

In fact, gratitude can produce measurable effects on a number of systems in your body, including:

  • Mood – Serotonin
  • Inflammatory and immune systems
  • Reproductive hormones (testosterone)
  • Stress Levels (cortisol)
  • Social bonding (oxytocin)
  • Blood pressure and heart rhythm (adrenalin)
  • Pleasure (dopamine)
  • Blood sugar – stress (Cortisol again)

While there are as many reasons to be thankful as there are people in the world, one fact of life that many often forget to be thankful for (until it is too late) is their health.

We tend to take our health for granted until we’re suddenly in the throes of pain or chronic illness.

The old adage that it’s really the little things that matter most, and if you are grateful for the little things, it will bring a more deep-seated sense of happiness. After all, if you have good health and all your mental faculties intact, you also have the basics for doing something about unpleasant  situations in your life.

I now think of a sense of gratitude as a muscle which can be strengthened with practice. One way that Sally (the instructor) harnessed the positive power of gratitude was to keep a gratitude journal where she wrote down what she was grateful for each day.

My internet research found that people who kept a gratitude journal reported exercising more, and had fewer visits to the doctor compared to those who focused on sources of aggravation.

I also read in a recent Huffington Post article that creating a nightly gratitude ritual can be a powerful strategy and I quote from that:

“My colleague has a bedtime routine with her [3-year-old] and it includes recognizing what you are grateful for. When this part of the night comes, you can’t shut him up,”  

“There are so many things that we take for granted and when you listen to the long list that a child can come up with you realize the possibilities for gratefulness are limitless!

Take a couple minutes each day to stop and reflect; taking regular pause is an excellent way to bring about more feelings of gratefulness in your life.”

Avoiding getting sucked into bad news is the other side of this equation. You may have to limit your media exposure from time to time if you find it difficult to maintain a positive outlook in the face of terrible headlines.

Personally, I have, for some time now, absolutely avoided people who I call “Energy Vampires”. They just seem to drain the positive life force from you. So if you are an Energy Vampire, go suck the life force out of someone else !!

Some other ways of getting the gratitude habit would include;

  • Write thank you notes: Whether in response to a gift or kind act, or simply as a show of gratitude for someone being in your life. Getting into the habit of writing thank-you letters can help express gratitude in addition to simply feeling it inside.
  • Smile: Smiles and hugs, both of which can express a wide array of messages, from encouragement and excitement to empathy and support.
  • Thank You: It’s so easy to say please and thank you in passing, these courtesies are powerful when combined with eye contact and sincerity.  Equally, when people are ignorant enough to not respond to you please or thank you, it is perfectly acceptable to show your feelings by giving them the finger or a sharp punch on the nose.
  • Prayer and mindfulness: Expressing thanks during prayer or meditation is another tip. Practicing “mindfulness” means that you’re actively paying attention to the moment you’re in right now.

You can also focus on something that you’re grateful for, such as a pleasant smell, a cool breeze, or a good memory.

  • Tap gratitude: The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is another helpful tool. EFT is a form of psychological acupressure based on the meridians used in acupuncture.

It’s an effective way to quickly restore your inner balance and healing and helps rid your mind of negative thoughts and emotions.

Last but not least, I’m grateful for YOU reading this blurb. If I were not passionate about improving health and wellbeing, there would be no point in any of this.

Sharing simple strategies that have a powerful effect on health is my passion. The fact that you are reading this fills me with gratitude.

It’s what makes this blog worthwhile.

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I am just back from another three day Juice Retreat in Morecambe with the formidable Sally Wilkinson. While I was there I had a brief conversation with some of the other guests about the benefits of Bone Broth

So before I forget, here are some updated reasons why bone broth is good for you, and the Recipe.

But you will need to read until the end for that….

Here you go ………………..

Bone broth has been used as food and in healing remedies for a long time in traditional remedies throughout the world.

Bone broth is bones and water, simmered for between 1½ and 48 hours. Essentially it is bone soup. No more, no less.

Today, health experts talk about why this traditional broth is the best way to stay healthy. They use exciting terms such as superfood, anti-ageing, gut healing and energizing.

Basically, there are a few reasons to make bone broth (as well as being cheap and easy to make)

  1. It helps to heal a leaky gut.

The gelatin in broth protects and heals the mucous lining of your digestive system as well as helping the process of digestion itself.

  1. Bone Formation

The Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorous in bone broth help bones to grow and repair.

  1. Fights infection – Colds and Flu

Having Bone Broth during a respiratory infection reduces the number of white blood cells, which are the little buggers that start flu and cold symptoms (allegedly)..

  1. Collagen

Collagen holds the body together. It makes up bones, teeth, tendons, ligaments, joints and cartilage, and is a key element for hair, skin and nails. It strengthens muscles, helps cell growth and supports your digestive system.

The greatest advantage of bone broth is that it’s a source of collagen, which has been broken down into gelatin, which you can easily digest and absorb.

Three types of collagen are in:

  1. Bones, tendons, ligaments and skin,
  2. Cartilage,
  3. Skin, muscle and bone marrow.

Why is this important? You normally produce collagen on a day to day basis, but after about you are  20, its production begins to decline by about 1 per cent each year. This means that when you are 50 you have 30% less natural collagen than when you where ripping it up at 20. !!

This, fact alone, in my view, is a great incentive to replace the ongoing loss of collagen.

It may come as no surprise that, in addition to natural ageing any stress or chronic illness in your life will accelerate the decline of your natural collagen production.

When collagen declines or is somehow defective, some common symptoms are loose, sagging or wrinkled skin; sagging muscles; thin or dry hair and nails; joint issues or brittle bones; and digestive problems.

As animal protein is the only food source of collagen bone broth brings you a great replacement source. Plant foods do not contain collagen, BUT foods high in vitamins such as C, B complex, A, D and E together with minerals like silicon, sulphur and copper; can all help build collagen.

Besides being good for your skin, collagen affects your digestion in a couple of ways:

Protecting and sealing the intestines. Gelatin lines the walls of your gut and defends against any issues from food or drink, which makes it valuable for improving digestive problems.

When gelatin is combined with other foods, the total nutritional value from your food increases, because of gelatin’s ability to help your body’s digestion.

  1. Nutrients

Bone broth provides nutrients, the cow, or whatever, has already digested them which makes it easier for your body to assimilate them.

The most important nutrients are:

Amino acids – which help to build and repair every tissue and organ in the body. Amino acids contribute to every bodily function, such as its growth and repair, as well as moods, energy, focus and hormone balance. The amino acid Glycine, for example, will help fight inflammation as well as being very calming. A multi tasking amino acid, eh! Well, who would have thought it?

Minerals – Bone broth contains a wide base of easily digested minerals.

Glucosamine – plays a supporting role in connective tissue along with collagen. Essentially lubricates the skin, repairs joints joints, muscles and reduces pain from inflammation.

Vitamins to suit your circumstance– While a basic bone broth only needs a variety of bones and water, you can increase the nutrient value by adding vegetables, herbs and spices. Adding these ingredients allows you to get extra vitamins, minerals and antioxidants into your broth.

Healthy fats – Help provide important vitamins like A, D, E and K.

Here is our basic Recipe for a Chicken bone broth. It is the same principle for a Beef, Lamb, Turkey broth etc depending on your taste.



Put the whole (uncooked) organic chicken in the slow cooker on low heat. – Make sure all feathers removed, otherwise when you eat it makes you go Pff Pfff.

Add two roughly chopped onions and a few roughly chopped cloves of garlic.

Add 1 Litre of Chicken stock. (Organic cubes or rectangles – avoiding anything triangular)

Add a splosh of Apple Cider Vinegar . When it comes to making broth, the vinegar helps leech valuable minerals from the bones into the stock water, which is ultimately what you’ll be eating. I use Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar as it’s unfiltered and unpasteurized. You will not, however, be able to taste the vinegar after cooking. So, there is no danger of “oversploshing”

Squeeze juice of one Lemon over the chicken.

Put lid on and forget about it for 24 hours. No need to stir it, stare at it, sing to it or otherwise boost its self esteem.

At the same time that you put the lid on put two cups of barley, lentils, or split peas – depends on your taste i.e. ONE cup of Barley and One Cup of Split Peas = Two Cups. Cover with water and leave overnight.

After 24 Hours have elapsed (You will know this because it will be the following day) – Creep up on the Chicken and Lentils.

Pour the chicken liquid into a big pot together with the Onions and Garlic.

Add chopped carrots, celery and leeks (minimum – about three of each) to suit into the same big pot of chicken liquid.

Meanwhile de-bone and de-skin the chicken (Chuck these away) . The bones will be mushy by now and will dissolve even more if you miss any. So, there is no need to panic.

We lift away the chicken breasts to use in sandwiches or salads at a later stage, or you can put the whole chicken flesh in if you wish.

The rest of the chicken, you should shred and put into what is now known as “The Big Pot”

Simmer for an hour. (The Broth, not you)

Season to Taste, serve ,eat ,enjoy ,have a nap.  In that order.

Wherever possible all the ingredients should be organic.

The chicken, or whatever bones you use should DEFINITELY be organic or from grass fed livestock, or you are wasting your time, health, money and energy.

Once you have made this basic one you can tweak it to your hearts content.


Good Luck


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