Here’s something to remember this Thanksgiving and beyond — being thankful is a real health booster.

Gratitude has been the focus of a flurry of recent research on the mind-body connection. Daily gratitude exercises have been linked to reduced levels of depression, anxiety and sleep problems.

Cultivating a thankful attitude also is believed to play a role in boosting the body’s immune system. A University of Utah study of stressed-out law students found that by the middle of the semester, the more-optimistic students maintained higher numbers of blood cells than their pessimistic classmates. (Grateful people generally are more optimistic.)

What’s more, grateful hearts are healthy hearts. A study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine looked at 186 men and women who had suffered heart damage. They were asked how grateful they were for the people, places and things in their life. Blood tests revealed that the more-grateful heart patients had less inflammation, a sign of a healthier heart.

 

“To Your Health” offers quick doses of health news several times a week.