Category Archives: Health

Africa’s Farming Revolution

Africa’s Farming Revolution

Modern farming techniques will spur Africa’s transformation from a continent dependent on food aid to one of the world’s leading food producers

On the Usangu wetlands in Tanzania’s Rufiji river basin, vibrant green rice paddies stretch as far as the eye can see.

Five years ago, the Kapunga Rice Plantation was producing barely one metric tonne of rice per hectare. Today thanks to a comprehensive modernisation programme that includes providing farmers with irrigation dams, high-quality seed, effective fertilisers and sophisticated logistics, yields have risen nearly sevenfold to 6.8 metric tonnes per hectare.

Kapunga is one of the most compelling successes for the founders of Dubai-based ETC Group, “ETG”, a diversified agricultural conglomerate whose mission is to empower smallholder farmers across Africa, with a wider objective of turning Africa into a global breadbasket. Mitsui & Co. is partnering with ETG out of a belief that transforming the farming sector in Africa – home to 60 per cent of the world’s arable land – will enable the continent to become one of this century’s inspiring success stories.

An ETG employee (right) gives advice to a Zambian farming family on how to cultivate Irish potatoes. Despite enormous promise, African farming is being held back by lack of advanced farming methods and cultural resistance to change.
Rice paddies in Tanzania’s Rufiji River Basin – Five years ago the Kapunga Rice Plantation was producing barely a metric tonne of rice per hectare. Today yields have risen seven-fold thanks to a modernisation programme by the founders of ETG.
Healthy rice crops in Tanzania’s Kapunga Rice Plantation – The estate was transformed by an ETG programme including irrigation dams and modern logistics. McKinsey says advanced farming could allow Africa to triple its production of cereals and grains.
An ETG employee explains fertiliser usage to villagers in Zambia. Mitsui & Co. supports ETG to bring modern techniques to African smallholder farmers – as well as the know-how to use them effectively.
An ETG employee (right) gives advice to a Zambian farming family on how to cultivate Irish potatoes. Despite enormous promise, African farming is being held back by lack of advanced farming methods and cultural resistance to change.
Rice paddies in Tanzania’s Rufiji River Basin – Five years ago the Kapunga Rice Plantation was producing barely a metric tonne of rice per hectare. Today yields have risen seven-fold thanks to a modernisation programme by the founders of ETG.

“In addition to eradicating hunger and developing African agriculture, we have a wider vision of laying the foundations for Africa’s industrial transformation,” says Shusaku Okamura, Mitsui’s Team Leader of Global Affairs & Solutions Dept., Corporate Planning & Strategy Div.

In addition to eradicating hunger and developing African agriculture, we have a wider vision of laying the foundations for Africa’s industrial transformation.

Shusaka OkamuraShusaku Okamura, Mitsui’s Team Leader of Global Affairs & Solutions Dept., Corporate Planning & Strategy Div.

ETG enables farmers across Africa with advanced farming methods, transportation, storage systems, and continent-wide information networks – all cited by experts as critical to tapping the huge potential of African farming. Meanwhile, Moroccan poultry producer Zalar – another Mitsui partner – is at the forefront of the other critical piece of Africa’s farming picture: livestock breeding. According to the United Nations, “demand for livestock products in sub-Saharan Africa will increase several folds by 2050.” That means modern production and delivery methods are critical to meeting development needs.

From tragic continent to world’s breadbasket
In East and West Africa respectively, ETG and Zalar represent the promise advanced agriculture and livestock breeding hold for transforming the continent’s future. The narrative is about more than eradicating hunger. It’s about driving Africa’s aspirational journey, leveraging farming’s power to provide nourishment, both literal and figurative, for Africa’s industrial awakening.

“Agriculture is critical to some of Africa’s biggest development goals,” the World Bank says. “It is a driver of inclusive and sustainable growth.”

According to McKinsey, 60 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is smallholder farmers, and about 23 per cent of the region’s GDP comes from agriculture. This only scratches the surface of Africa’s potential as a global force in agriculture. The global consultancy says investment in fertilizer, storage systems, irrigation and infrastructure could allow Africa to triple its production of cereals and grains – boosting worldwide production of by an astonishing 20 per cent.

Despite the promise, Africa is being held back by lack of advanced farming tools and cultural resistance to change. Approximately 30 per cent of total African farm produce is wasted due to scarcity of quality warehousing and transport systems. Sub-Saharan Africa deploys tractors for only 5 per cent land cultivation, compared to over 60 per cent in Asia and over 80 per cent in other developed markets.

Africa uses only one-tenth of the world’s average fertilizer per hectare. Less than 3 per cent of smallholder land in sub-Saharan Africa is irrigated. And 84 per cent of Africa’s smallholder farmers do not use agro-chemicals. According to ETG Chief Treasury Officer Anish Jain, “mechanization, quality fertilisers and modern farm management could increase farm yields by up to 30 per cent.”

Mitsui is committed to overcoming Africa’s challenges, engaging in ways that go beyond investment. As a sogo-shosha, it has global expertise and networks not only in nutrition and farming but also infrastructure, energy, and more. That enables it to take a comprehensive approach that emphasises on-the-ground collaboration with local partners to provide new value to existing business, as well as insights and know-how for new enterprise.

Protein to power Africa’s economic ascent
As advanced techniques energise African agriculture, the continent can expect a similar dramatic transformation in its livestock industry. In fact, the U.N. says in a policy brief that livestock production for all products and in all scenarios is expected to grow 250 per cent by 2050.

Zalar, Morocco’s leading poultry producer, deploys a unique vertical integration model to meet nutrition needs in North and West Africa. Leveraging Mitsui’s know-how and network capacity, the model integrates grain imports, animal feed production, poultry farming, logistics and meat processing for control over the entire value chain. Economic dynamism and population growth in these regions fuel demand for animal protein, which is critical to urban industrial development. Prosperity, meanwhile, will create appetite for protein variety among emerging middle classes. Zalar’s extensive range of poultry offerings works to satisfy this proliferating demand.

“Poultry in particular is projected to capture growth in demand for animal protein, as there are fewer religious constraints on its consumption,” says Naohiro Matsuda, Zalar’s Chief Project Manager to the CEO, seconded from Mitsui.

Zalar's Vertical Integration modelLeft: Ali Berbich, CEO of Zalar
Right: Naohiro Matsuda, Zalar’s Chief Project Manager, seconded from Mitsui.

Zalar’s vertical integration model can serve as a role model for emerging industries across Africa: “Being a vertically integrated group enables Zalar to benefit from more control over the entire value chain,” according to Zalar CEO Ali Berbich, “while optimizing resource utilization and reducing operating costs.”

A modern poultry farming operation in Morocco – Zalar and Mitsui & Co. are collaborating to foster African urban industrial development by meeting animal protein needs that come hand-in-hand with economic dynamism and population growth.
Advanced egg processing facility in Morocco helps to meet growing protein demand in North and West Africa – Mitsui & Co. partner Zalar’s vertical integration model coordinates poultry operations over the entire value chain.
A modern poultry farming operation in Morocco – Zalar and Mitsui & Co. are collaborating to foster African urban industrial development by meeting animal protein needs that come hand-in-hand with economic dynamism and population growth.
Advanced egg processing facility in Morocco helps to meet growing protein demand in North and West Africa – Mitsui & Co. partner Zalar’s vertical integration model coordinates poultry operations over the entire value chain.

Winning hearts and minds of African farmers
Changing the conservative mindset of African farmers is an important part of the picture. Mitsui is striving with ETG to demonstrate the powerful gains that can be achieved with modern farming technology and management. This includes comprehensive approaches that go beyond fertiliser and irrigation, to include mobile financing and online information networks.

Export Trading GroupLeft: Anish Jain, Chief Treasury Officer of ETG
Right: Takayoshi Oku, Mitsui Middle East’s General Manager of ETG African Business Development Div.

“Generally, farming families are tradition-minded. Therefore they have a tendency to hesitate to adopt new techniques,” says Takayoshi Oku, Mitsui Middle East’s General Manager of ETG・African Business Development Div. “Even when they are willing they are often held back by lack of funds. To work toward a solution, we’re considering measures such as micro-financing, resource sharing, and agricultural apps for mobile device distribution.”

Ripple effects for total transformation
As Mitsui & Co. establishes nutrition and agriculture as one of its four growth pillars, fostering the efforts of companies like ETG and Zalar will help ease African food shortages and put the continent on the road to prosperity. Positive farming sector impact reaches deep into social ecosystems and can transform the lives of millions.

In Tanzania, the Kapunga Rice Plantation has revitalized the entire surrounding region, turning remote villages into centres of commerce and trade, attracting migrants from nearby towns, and allowing farmers to invest in lodges, guesthouses and education.

“Agriculture is the panacea to Africa’s biggest constraints,” says ETG Executive Chairman Mahesh Patel. “It all starts with agriculture, within this sector lies the potential for total transformation.”

Africa’s role in feeding the planet
Although some 60% of Africans are employed in agriculture and the continent has most of the planet’s uncultivated arable land, Africa is currently a food importer. This is unsustainable, unaffordable and unnecessary. With increasing use of modern machinery, farming techniques, fertilisers and high-yield seeds, as well as improvements to infrastructure and the streamlining of supply chains, the continent is set to become food self-sufficient in coming decades. With the global population growing and demand for food predicted to rise dramatically by 2050, Africa will also play an increasing role in feeding the world.

Mouse over and click the infographic to see the potential Africa represents and the challenges it faces in its journey to becoming a leading global food supplier.

  • The Challenges
  • The Potential
  • The Solutions
  • The Successes
  • By 2050, the global population is expected to top 9 billion, a jump of about 35% on the present day. Crop production will be required to outpace population growth because demand will jump an estimated 70% or more. This will be due to the bulk of population growth occurring in the developing world, where increasing affluence will modify diet and demand.

    African agriculture overall currently suffers from low productivity. While agriculture accounts for some 60% of jobs across the continent, it accounts for only 16.5% of African GDP. Africa’s cereal yield is currently 41% of the international average.

    The value added per worker in agriculture in Africa is the lowest of all world’s regions, estimated in 2017 at US$1,990. This compared to US$16,000 in East Asia and US$6,000 in Latin America. Low productivity is due to several factors, including low levels of mechanisation, limited use of high-yield seeds and fertilisers, and poor infrastructure.

Source – FT 

History of Lavender

The origin of Lavender is believed to be from the Mediterranean, Middle East and India. Its history goes back some 2500 years. Lavender is a flowering plant of the mint family known for its beauty, its sweet floral fragrance and its multiple uses.

The ancient Greeks called Lavender nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda and was commonly called Nard. Lavender was one of the holy herbs used to prepare the Holy Essence and Nard, or ‘spikenard’ is mentioned in the bible in the ‘Song of Solomon’ among other places.

Lavender derives its name from the Latin ‘lavare’ meaning ‘to wash”. The Romans used Lavender to scent their baths, beds, clothes and even hair. They also discovered its medicinal properties.

Today Lavender continues to be cultivated across its countries of origin as well as Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North and South America. Its widespread presence is understandable due to its beautiful flowers, its alluring scent and its extensive uses.

Medicinal, Therapeutic & Practical Uses

Lavender is grown commercially for extraction of its oil from its flowers and to some degree from its foliage. The oil is obtained through a distillation process.

The oil is used as a disinfectant, an antiseptic, an anti-inflammatory and for aromatherapy. An infusion of Lavender is claimed to soothe and heal insect bites, sunburn and small cuts, burns and inflammatory conditions and even acne. Lavender oils are also used for internal medical conditions, among others indigestion and heartburn.

Lavender oil is said to soothe headaches, migraines and motion sickness when applied to the temples. It is frequently used as an aid to sleep and relaxation.

Dried Lavender flowers are used extensively as fragrant herbal filler inside sachets – to freshen linens, closets and drawers. As an air spray, it is used to freshen in practically any room. Dried lavender flowers have also become popular for use at weddings as decoration, gifts and as confetti for tossing over the newlyweds.

Culinary Uses

As a member of the mint family, Lavender has been used for centuries in the preparation of food either by itself or as an ingredient of Herbs de Province – an herb combination which captures the flavors of the sunny south of France.

Lavender delivers a floral, slightly sweet and elegant flavor to salads, soups, meat and seafood dishes, desserts, cheeses, baked goods and confectionery. For most cooking applications it is the dried flowers that are used although the leaves may also be used. Only the buds or flowers contain the essential oil of Lavender which is where the scent and flavor are best derived.

Wherever and however Lavender is used in food preparation it extends beyond its familiar fragrance to a rich yet delicate flavor to host of recipes only limited by the imagination.

We highly recommend any food enthusiast to explore Sharon Shipley’s ‘The Lavender Cookbook’ or try any of our delicious recipes Click here.

Psilocybin-Infused Coffee Coming to Denver

Sträva Craft Coffee in Denver has developed a plan to help coffee level up. It’s not a CBD infusion (they already offer that), or grass-fed butter, or MCT oil… it’s psilocybin-infused coffee.

On the heels of Denver’s recent move to decriminalize the personal possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms, Sträva Craft Coffee is preparing to take a step toward normalizing safe, regular, sub-perceptual psychedelic use.

According to the company’s press release, “by incorporating microdoses of psilocybin into coffee and tea, Sträva aims to empower consumers with access to natural compounds which may offer life changing benefits.”

This move fits neatly into Sträva’s ethos which centers around responsible, sustainable cultivation, and the delivery of innovative, infused coffee.

Sträva CEO Andrew Aamos also sees this as an opportunity to open a conversation. As with the new psilocybin dispensary in Vancouver, Aamos views this decision to offer psilocybin infused coffee as one that promotes wellness and principle.

“Just as cannabis has been misunderstood and controversial for decades,” he stated in the press release, “psilocybin from mushrooms has been equally polarizing, yet proponents of both suggest they each can contribute meaningfully to the human experience. As the research is showing, with measured consumption, cannabis and psilocybin can both promote physiological, mental, and spiritual health.”

This is what it’s all about for Aamos and the Sträva team — opening the conversation, and providing high quality, beneficial products for regular consumption.

“Some of these botanicals Hemp, CBD, and now psilocybin] belong in these daily habits,” Aamos says. “They present an opportunity for a beverage that is approachable and familiar and allows us to deliver more value to the consumer, to help them live a better day.”

The most recent microdosing research is illustrating this potential.

A recent study organized by the Dutch Psychedelic Society linked microdoses of psilocybin to increased creative problem solving.  Researchers found that after a single microdose of psilocybin, both convergent thinking (standard problem solving) and divergent thinking (complex problem solving) improved in the majority of participants.

Not only does this research suggest that microdosing psilocybin is effective, it suggests that one microdose can have an immediate, positive impact on how we process and organize information. (Talk about a morning boost!)

As far as the logistics of selling psilocybin-infused coffee and other psychedelic beverages is concerned, there are still some regulatory matters to sort out — decriminalization is not legalization — but Aamos is hopeful that by late 2020 or early 2021, Sträva will be offering coffee and tea with a psilocybin microdose.

“I see my role and the role of Sträva,” Aamos says, “as incorporating psilocybin into a conversation that makes it easier for people to relate to. We want the conversations around psilocybin to mirror those around marijuana — what are the benefits?”

By opening up these avenues for discussion (and access), Sträva Craft Coffee will begin to help people answer a crucial question that lies at the heart of all of this: is microdosing psilocybin right for me?

Source – TheThirdWave 

How the Soil Became Our Soul

How the Soil Became Our Soul: Fasting, Spirituality, and the Ancestors

Many of us think of the word “ancestors” as referring to ancient human-like beings, but if we go further back into time, we can see that our ancestors WERE ACTUALLY microscopic entities. And since our digestive system consists of trillions of microbes, we actually carry around most of our bodily “ancestors”…in our guts. Isn’t that convenient? So IF we carry our ancestors in our guts, then shouldn’t we be able to connect to our ancestors at any time…by just listening…to our guts?

Of course ! Let me tell you how this is possible…And what it means for our spiritual and physical health. Here I offer a different perspective on “Soul retrieval”. A potential bridge between modern science and mysticism…

Let’s say that each of those little micro-dudes carries a fragment of our soul-self, and within that individual fragment is a piece of the “bigger picture”, a piece of the Great Mystery. Each microbe plays a role in commandeering these bio-suits we call “bodies”, to think, feel and act in certain ways. And yes, just like humans, these bacteria each have wisdom, agendas, and tendencies. Some critters like candida have a tendency to be opportunistic and reckless reproducers. They rape and pillage the terrain in an attempt to spread and conquer, despite the damage to the greater organism. Much like the white man has historically done to the indigenous brown cultures 😉

Reflecting on the above parallel has brought me to the idea that these so-called “beneficial bacteria” that have often been trampled upon by candida and other parasites, are VERY much like indigenous cultures that have been over-run by dominating/opportunistic cultures. They may not be as clever or driven to reproduce and dominate, but they are wiser, more connected to source and the lands where they dwell. They are more resourceful and they know how to live within their means, so as to not disturb the whole. They actually give back to the land and only take what they need to survive. They can survive disasters and famine, because they know how to live off the land without over-indulgent behaviors. These native bacteria, I call the “wise ones”, are the microscopic entities that connect us to the source of ancestral knowledge, because they have been with us from the beginning. The ones that came from the ancient soil also connect us to that soil, AND maybe they want us to return to the indigenous ways of living and remind us of our connection to a higher power. They are a part of a collective consciousness that is not competitive and exclusive, but cooperative and inclusive. Perhaps, they want us to create abundance, not exploit it. They break down our food and put nutrients back into our inner ecosystem, instead of robbing us of nutrients like parasites. Natasha Campbell-McBride refers to them as the little “house-keepers” of the gut because they clean up waste and use it for creating a fertile inner terrain.

So how does fasting fit into this story? Fasting has been touted for many benefits such as increased immune function, increased mental clarity, improved digestion and enhanced healing. This is because, when we fast, it’s similar to hitting a reset button on our inner ecosystem. The opportunistic micro-villains that are dependent on high-carb diets of processed fast-foods, start to die-off. And with them and their pollutants/toxins finally under control, we can actually hear the subtle voice of our ancestors once again. The “wise ones”, the symbionts that are resourceful, can adapt to the lack of “fast-food”, by “living off the land” so to speak. They can live through starvation because they’ve been there before, in previous life-times. In fact they are the common thread between human life-times. If you take one bacteria that exists in your gut right now, you could probably link it to your mother, and her mother, and her mother, and so on and so forth. That one bacteria has passed on her soul, her DNA and “wisdom” for millions of years. Through many periods of fasting, when food was scarce. She KNOWS how to surthrive and she carries with her, the wisdom of HOW to surthrive.

This “theory” is very supportive of how I actually FEEL when I fast. I have never felt SO connected to Spirit as I do when I fast, except for maybe when I was a little girl. Before my body was over-run by candida and parasites and before my gut was sterilized by anti-life pills (anti-biotics). I see now, why all the major religious sects practiced fasting as a way to connect to the Higher Power. And speaking of spiritual beliefs…many cultures still believe that ancestral spirits cause disease, how interesting is it that we have also come to the conclusion in our Western society that bacteria cause disease. Do you see the link? Bacteria ARE ancestral spirits!!! The soil IS…our Soul!

In order for us to maximize our potential, as individual spiritual beings and as a collective evolving consciousness, we need to think in terms of how we can shift our inner AND outer eco-systems, from competitive battle-zones to harmonious, self-regulating entities. Let’s start with the “inner” ecosystem, specifically the gut, which is where most of our bacteria reside. If you read the Wikipedia article on gut bacteria this is what you’ll find…”The human body, consisting of about 10 trillion cells, carries about ten times as many microorganisms in the human gut. It is estimated that these gut flora have around 100 times as many genes in aggregate as there are in the human genome.”
That’s a massive amount of genes controlling more than we can ever imagine. So, when our inner ecosystems are over-run by opportunistic micro-dudes, we OURSELVES take on an opportunistic way of being and living. We ALSO become reckless and overly concerned with mating and spreading our DNA regardless of the damage we are inflicting on the greater whole. We BECOME the parasites and the out-of-control candida.

This is why I strongly encourage intermittent fasting, for optimal spiritual and physical health. For the sake of the native micro-cultures, we MUST keep those rampaging, wasteful dominators in check! By cutting off their food source for just ONE day a week, you can start to recolonize your inner ecosystem with little indigenous beings. Ones that don’t just seek to PRO-CREATE, but also seek to CO-CREATE and co-evolve with you, symbiotically. By doing this regularly you will start to develop an inner collective wisdom, that will teach you how to thrive within your environment by downloading intelligence from the field that connects the past, present, and future generations. Think of fasting and eating live, bacteria covered foods as making an investment into our inner culture AND outer culture. AND by exploring these inner terrain modification techniques we are also learning to modify our outer terrains through practices like permaculture, where the primary focus is also on the microbial matter in the soil. We, ourselves, begin to SHIFT from opportunistic parasites to collaborative symbionts. We can stop supporting practices that “till and kill the soil/soul” and start building and giving back to it instead.

I believe the quickest way to “normalize” our inner ecosystem is through intermittent fasting, whether on liquid foods (like broths, fresh juices, herbal teas, fermented drinks, or spring water) or ideally through dry fasting. For some highly acidic individuals, initially re-inoculating with ancient bacteria through ingesting fermented foods can hasten the process of overthrowing the “inner dictators” and supporting the indigenous bacteria. Try it, and you’ll soon find that these “wise ones” seem to carry with them a memory for the feeling of “home.” By increasing serotonin and other feel-good bacteria production in the gut, we can enhance our mood and cognitive function to be more joyful and more conscious stewards of the land. And just as we want to create bio-diversity in our outer ecosystem, we also want to increase diversity in our inner ecosystem to ensure resiliency of the whole…and we can do this by ingesting bacteria on a variety of wild herbs, in-season fruits and veggies grown in your own food forest or by friends, and by breathing in healthy soil bacteria (like M. vaccae) throughout the day by working the soil or hiking in Nature.

So with all that being said…I no challenge you to join me, by doing what I call “flinging poop” (the beneficial microbes) far and wide, inside and outside to connect to the ancient wisdom of our ancestors, which is transmitted through us more easily when we engage in regular fasting…or by just cleaning up our diets. Let’s all guide each other to the source, to the soil, where life began as microscopic entities. A feeling and a place that we call “HOME”…where it all started.

Alohaaaaaahaaaahaaaa!
Pachee

written by TheGiftofSelf

Sikkim 100% Organic

State goes 100% organic. Wildlife returns, crop yields improve, tourists flock.

Governments around the world are looking to the Indian state of Sikkim to see if going organic is viable. So far all signs are pointing to yes.

The state banned the import of all pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers and GMOs in 2003, becoming the world’s first fully certified organic state in 2016.

At first farmers struggled with the transition, with steep declines in crop yields, but the government promised things would get better in the long run and to compensate for their losses in the short-term.

A decade and a half later, “the cloud-wreathed state is starting to see the dividends” of its investment, The Washington Post reports.

Within three years their harvest returned to what it used to be, says the farmer in the BBC News report below:

And now the yield for most crops is actually higher than it was during the days of conventional farming, according to a report by the Center for Research on Globalization.

Fruit yields are up 5%, and the state’s cash crop cardamon has increased a whopping 23%.

That’s in part thanks to rebounding pollinator populations. Since pesticides have disappeared, wildlife of all sorts are reportedly returning.

The region boasts 500 species of butterflies, 4,500 types of flowering plants, and rare wildlife like the red panda, Himalayan bear, snow leopards and yaks.

Tourism is also on the rise, increasing 70% since the state went all organic. Tourists travel from far and wide to see the natural beauty and bounty of the ancient kingdom of Sikkim, which became an Indian state in 1975.



Anyone caught using pesticides in Sikkim could be fined $1400 or spend three years in prison.

Why does the government take organic agriculture so seriously?

To “keep the good health of the soil, provide quality food to the people, provide chemical-free air and water to the people, and also to conserve the rich biodiversity of the state,” Sikkim’s agriculture secretary says in the video above.

The densely populated country of India has had to learn the hard way what industrial agriculture does to the rivers, soil, air quality and general health of its people.

The government of Sikkim wants to try another way.

The government of India plans to replicate the organic model in Sikkim in other parts of the country, according to the BBC report.

Can Gratitude Help You Re Wire Your Brain ?

When you say “thank you”, do you really mean it or is it just politeness to which you give little attention? Neuroscientists have found that if you really feel it when you say it, you’ll be happier and healthier. The regular practice of expressing gratitude is not a New Age fad; it’s a facet of the human condition that reaps true benefits to those who mean it.

Psychologists Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis and Dr. Michael McCullough of the University of Miami published a study in 2015 that looked at the physical outcomes of practicing gratitude. One third of the subjects in the study were asked to keep a daily journal of things that happened during the week for which they were grateful. Another third was asked to write down daily irritations or events that had displeased them. The last third of the group was asked to write down daily situations and events with no emphasis on either positive or negative emotional attachment. At the end of the 10-week study, each group was asked to record how they felt physically and generally about life.

The gratitude group reported feeling more optimistic and positive about their lives than the other groups. In addition, the gratitude group was more physically active and reported fewer visits to a doctor than those who wrote only about their negative experiences.

Better Physical Health

Other research into the physical effects of gratitude report even more tangible results. Focusing on the positive and feeling grateful can improve your sleep quality and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. (2) Furthermore, levels of gratitude correlate to better moods and less fatigue and inflammation, reducing the risk of heart failure, even for those who are susceptible.

Gratitude and Your Brain

The reasons why gratitude is so impactful to health and well-being begin in the brain. In a neurological experiment conducted by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles, brain activity was measured using magnetic resonance imaging as subjects were induced to feel gratitude by receiving gifts. The areas of the brain showing increased activity were the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex—those associated with moral and social cognition, reward, empathy, and value judgment. This led to the conclusion that the emotion of gratitude supports a positive and supportive attitude toward others and a feeling of relief from stressors.

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Gratitude activates the hypothalamus as well, with downstream effects on metabolism, stress, and various behaviors. (5) The hypothalamus is located at the base of the brain and regulates hormones responsible for many critical functions, such as body temperature, emotional responses, and survival functions like appetite and sleep. One of the neurochemicals associated with the parts of the brain affected by gratitude is dopamine, a pleasure hormone.

The positive influence of gratitude on mental health continues past a particular event if the emotion is relived:

“…a simple gratitude writing intervention was associated with significantly greater and lasting neural sensitivity to gratitude–subjects who participated in gratitude letter writing showed both behavioral increases in gratitude and significantly greater neural modulation by gratitude in the medial prefrontal cortex three months later.”

In fact, this lasting effect is psychologically protective. In adolescents, feelings of gratitude have shown an inverse correlation with bullying victimization and suicide risk. (7) Gratitude affects brain function on a chemical level and its practice promotes feelings of self-worth and compassion for others.

We can perceive and experience gratitude and its many characteristics in a very broad spectrum. (8) Openness and willingness to experience gratitude affects not only the individual but her/his interpersonal relationships; a common strain in relationships is caused by repeated negative feedback by one or both partners without off-setting gratitude. (9)

3 Steps to Becoming More Grateful

In times of hardship or stress it might seem difficult to be grateful. But if you really think about it, we all have something to be grateful for. If you engage in only one prayer, let it be simply a heartfelt “thank you”. Here are three easy ways to put yourself in the mindfulness of gratitude.

  1. Keep a daily journal of things you are grateful for—list at least three. The best times for writing in your journal are in the morning as your day begins or at night before sleep.
  2. Make it a point to tell people in your life what you appreciate about them on a daily basis.
  3. When you look in the mirror, give yourself a moment to think about a quality you like about yourself or something have recently accomplished.

Through the power of gratitude, you can wire your brain to be optimistic and compassionate, making you feel good. The more you look, the more you can find to be grateful for. This positivity can extend to those around you, creating a virtuous cycle. (10)

Solar Energy Converting Ocean Water to Drinking Water | Kenya

GivePower

Give Power’s mission is to install solar energy technologies that will bring essential services to developing communities in need. Their most recent break-through project installed a solar-powered desalination system to bring clean, healthy water to the people in Kiunga, a rural village in Kenya.

With this technology, the salty ocean water will now be a viable source of water for the people living in this village. The system is capable of producing about 70 thousand litres or drinkable water every day, which is enough for up to 35 thousand people

The Global Water Crisis

This ground-breaking new process could not come any sooner. The 785 million people mentioned earlier is just beginning. According to the World Health Organization, around 2.2 billion people worldwide do not have access to safely-managed water services, 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services, and three-thousand-million lack basic facilities for washing hands.