News From Grace Cottage

Grace Cottage adds safe room to its emergency department

| Featured, News

The Grace Cottage Hospital Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The staff sees approximately 3,000 patient visits each year. Mirroring statewide and national trends, at an increasing rate, patients with mental health or addiction issues seek help at the Emergency Department. These patients are at times a danger to themselves or to others.

For the safety of these patients, the hospital staff, and for the comfort of other hospital patients and visitors, Grace Cottage has constructed a designated ER Safe Room. Unlike the two existing emergency rooms which are fully-equipped with machines, medical equipment and supplies, this new room will be devoid of anything that a patient might use as a weapon against themselves or others. It also has features like shatterproof glass windows and electrical outlets that can be disabled.

This new room also allows nurses the ability to separate spouses/partners when there is a domestic altercation that has led a patient to the Emergency Department for treatment; and it can provide complete privacy for patients who need an extra level of security and comfort.

Located in Townshend, Grace Cottage is a non-profit critical access hospital which serves Windham County residents and visitors. Private donations allowed for the construction of this important addition to the hospital.

2017 Offers a Variety of Wellness Classes and Groups

| News

If you are one of the many who has pledged to take better care of yourself in the New Year, and you can get yourself to Townshend, then you are in luck. There are a variety of free to low-cost classes and programs available at the Grace Cottage Community Wellness Center. Perhaps there is one that is right for you or someone you care about.

CLASSES:

Yoga: Tuesdays, 4:30-6:00. Fridays, 3:30 – 5:00. $5/class. A gentle yet invigorating class that focuses on breath work and poses. Prior to first class, call 365-3649.

Tai Chi for Fall Prevention: New Level 1 class starts January 10 and runs for 8 weeks. Tuesdays, 1:30 – 2:30. Free to qualified participants. A ‘sun-style’ class designed for seniors and those with physical limitations, focused on balance and avoiding debilitating falls. Pre-registration required by January 5: 365-3753.

Tai Chi/QiGong: New class starts Jan 5th. Thursdays, 3:30 – 5:00. $5/class. This class is intended to promote both balance and serenity with a degree of physical exertion. More info, call 365-3649.

Dance Meditation: Saturdays, 10:00 – 11:00. $5/class. 45 minutes of dancing to lively percussion followed by 15 minutes of meditation. Prior to first class, call 365-4201.

Strong Bones: Monday/Wednesday: 10:30-11:30 & 5-6. Tuesday/Thursday: 8:45-9:45 & 10:30-11:30. $3/class. A popular strength and balance class for older adults. Participants generally go 2x/week on a regular basis. Prior to first class, call 365-3649.

GROUPS:

Men’s Coffee Hour: Wednesdays, 8:30-10:00. January 4 – February 22. Free. An 8-week series of casual lectures on topics such as the history of agriculture in Vermont, the West River Railroad, and Windham County forestry. Come to one or all. For more info: 365-3762.

Cancer Support Group: Mondays, 1:00 -2:30. January 2 – February 20. Free. A safe environment for sharing experiences and learning from others who are dealing with cancer diagnosis, treatment or recovery. Prior to first session, call 365-3715 x6.

Weight Loss Support Group: 2nd Tuesday of every month. 10:30-Noon. Free. A bit of education about a chosen topic of the day, followed by discussion, friendly advice and encouragement. Prior to first session, call 365-3715 x5.

Living Alone Support Group: 3rd Wednesday of every month. 10:15-11:45. Free. Informal, facilitated group focused on the challenges of living alone. Prior to first session, call 365-3753.

All classes and groups meet in the Grace Cottage Community Wellness Center at 133 Grafton Road, Townshend. More information is available at www.gracecottage.org.

Diabetes and the Holidays? Be Sure You Have a Plan

| Graceful Health

By Deborah Brown, Grace Cottage Diabetes Educator
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health series, December 2, 2016

It’s true that the holiday season presents extra challenges for diabetics and others with food restrictions, but it’s possible to enjoy the special foods you love and keep your sugar in balance, if you go into it with a plan.

Perhaps it was easier for some people in years past, when there were clear boundaries regarding “naughty” foods a diabetic shouldn’t eat. Now, healthy eating is all about making good choices. This is an important part of taking care of diabetes.

To make a healthy eating plan, choose from all of the food groups every day. This gives your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy, and the variety helps to keep you from getting bored.

Use the “Plate Method” to determine portions. Mentally divide your plate into three sections. Half of your plate should contain non-starchy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, peppers, onions, or tomatoes, for example). One quarter of your plate should contain low-fat protein, and one-quarter should be carbohydrates (grains or starchy vegetables like bread, rice, potatoes, or whole-grain pasta). Using this visual as a guide can make it easier to develop a strategy. Then, if your food plan allows it, add one dairy or one fruit item on the side.

A few more guidelines can help. For example, don’t skip a meal, thinking you can save calories for the big meal. You want to keep your sugar as level as possible, and skipping a meal could make it dip dangerously. Also, you’re likely to be starving by the time you arrive at a party, which will make it very difficult to make good choices.

Once you arrive, head for the vegetables. These days, most parties include a veggie platter, and if you’re not sure that will be the case, you can take one with you. Or bring your favorite side dish to go with the meal. You can honor your hostess and have a safe, go-to food all at once.

Other than that, remember that any whole food is a better choice. Look for foods with whole grains, minimal processing, and the least amount of sauces.

And don’t be knocked off your diet by a well-meaning hostess or family member who encourages you to eat something that’s not right for you. You may feel forced to accept it, but just because it’s on your plate, that doesn’t mean you actually have to eat it. Carrying around a plate of food can serve as a deterrent.

During dinner, make your calories count so you don’t have to skip dessert. Pass on the rolls or sweet potatoes, and opt for a small piece of pie and skip the whipped cream. You can split a dessert with someone else. Then go take a walk. This will do wonders for your body!

No matter what foods are being served, three things can help your body digest foods at a healthier pace: drink lots of water, get some exercise each day, and keep monitoring your blood sugar so you can make appropriate adjustments. Water helps you to feel full, and it flushes out toxins.

If you drink alcohol, limit it to one drink for women and two for men. Sipping a glass of water alongside can make it last longer and help you to consume less. Avoid drinks that contain high-calorie mixers like soda or juice. And remember, alcohol can lower your blood sugar, so be careful if you take insulin or certain diabetes medications. Check with your medical provider for advice.

Some diabetics may choose to print out the “Healthy Holiday Eating Contract” (available from the American Association of Diabetes Educators’ website), sign and date it, and place it on the refrigerator, or carry it in a pocket or purse, as a reminder that they are going to take good care of themselves this season.

Of course, healthy eating is important all year round, but especially now, when temptation is common, these tips can help you stay true to yourself. It’s all about making good, healthy choices. The most important ingredient in your success is you!

Bio: Deborah Brown earned her LPN degree at the Thompson School of Nursing and her RN degree at Vermont Technical College. She has worked as a nurse at Grace Cottage and at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. She joined the Grace Cottage Community Health Team this year, first as RN Outreach Coordinator and later became one of the team’s Diabetes Educators.

Need Basic Resources? I Can Help!

| Graceful Health
Jane Wheeler

By Jane Wheeler, Grace Cottage Patient Resource Advocate
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health series, November 18, 2016

It’s getting cold out there. This is the time of year when people stockpile wood, fill their oil or propane tanks, and put extra food in their cupboards and cellars. With winter coming on, everyone has resource challenges that need to be addressed.

Winter also brings on health challenges, as colds and flu go around, and slippery conditions make accidents more likely.

Read more

At Grace Cottage, Good Food is Good Medicine

| Graceful Health
Staff With Local Produce

By Denise Choleva, CDM-CFPP, Grace Cottage Dietary Director
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health series, November 4, 2016

You hear the phrase a lot these days: “Food is medicine,” and it makes a lot of sense. We know there are plenty of foods that can make us sick because they have too much sugar, artificial ingredients, or fat. So the opposite has to be true too, that food can help make us well.

Healthy food in a healthcare setting makes good sense, for patients as well as for employees and community visitors. That’s why I signed the “Healthy Food in Healthcare” pledge in 2012, and that’s why I’ve been so committed to using the freshest, locally produced food here ever since.

Did you know that the Vermont legislature has made a commitment to local foods? In 2009, a law was passed creating the “Farm to Plate Investment Program.” This was in response to a report that showed how dependent Vermont was on food imports (food from outside of Vermont or beyond 30 miles of the border). The report said that Vermont was producing 5% of its food, with imports amounting to 95%.

Among other things, the “Farm to Plate” program set a goal to increase reliance on local foods to 10% by 2020. Last year, at the midpoint, the statewide average was up to 6.9%.

I don’t like to brag, but I’m proud to say that over the last four years, Grace Cottage’s Dietary Department has increased its reliance on locally sourced foods to over 36%! And we’re still working to raise that number. Grace Cottage is not a large hospital, but we are “going local” in a big way.

As my mentor Annie Harlow, Farm & Food Marketing Consultant for the statewide effort, told me, “A commitment this big is hard for a small hospital. You don’t have a big team to help you do the research and make the connections, but you do have a big heart, and you’re working hard to make a difference. You’re doing a fabulous job!” We’re proud of what we’ve been able to do in such a short time.

Annie helps to oversee our statewide Healthy Food in Healthcare workgroup, where I can network with other hospital food service directors to get ideas and support. Annie also helps us track our numbers so we can see our progress, by quarter and year-over-year, and she helps us find opportunities to increase local and healthy options.

Grace Cottage’s efforts to increase access to locally-produced food helps us strengthen the economic health of Vermont’s food and agricultural system, and that makes me feel good.

We’re also helping the environment by reducing the amount of fuel needed to transport food long distances.

But more importantly, local foods are healthier for our patients, our employees, and the many community members who stop in for lunch in the Grace Cottage cafeteria. Because it’s local, it’s fresher. And many Vermont farmers grow their food organically, so that’s a big plus.

It’s truly amazing to see how the Vermont food industry is growing, through the encouragement of the Vermont Farm to Plate movement. The 2015 Farm to Plate report says that non-farm jobs for those working in the food system are up 9.7% since this initiative began, compared to a 3.2% increase in employment overall. The way I can tell this is true is that I have so many more options for local foods now than I did when I started working at Grace Cottage in 1998.

I recently made a list of the local companies where we buy our food products. We now have connections with over 20 different local farms and producers. Some items come to us directly from the farm. For example, Fire Belly Farm in Brookline calls me every week to tell me what he has that’s fresh. I place my order, and it arrives the next day.

Food Connect’s “Windham Farm & Food” network helps us connect to local producers. So do some of our other suppliers. True North Granola supplies our granola and porridge, and our yogurt comes from Commonwealth Dairy; both of these are made in nearby Brattleboro. We serve antibiotic and hormone-free chicken, pork, and ground beef; nitrate-free hot dogs; fresh and sustainably harvested seafood; and fair trade coffee.

All of this good food is therapeutic for our patients. It’s also helping our employees and visitors. Did you know that the Grace Cottage cafeteria is open to the public? At $8 for a bountiful buffet with salad bar, it’s a great bargain! Not only that, it’s good for you. So stop by any weekday for lunch, and you’ll get a healthy taste of our community!

 Bio:

Denise Choleva earned her diploma in culinary arts from the Franklin County (MA) Technical School in 1981, but her training began much earlier, while helping her grandmother with her catering business. She earned her Certified Dietary Manager-Certified Food Protection Professional credential in 2001 and has served as president of the Vermont Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals since 2010.

Older Patients Urged to Get Flu Vaccine

| News

flu-person-in-bed-538x218-2As of November 13th, 799 out of 1759 Grace Cottage patients aged 65 and older, or 45%, have received a flu shot. That’s not a bad percentage, in fact it’s respectable, but we wish it was even higher.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine. People over age 65 or those with any chronic disease, such as diabetes or COPD, have a higher risk of contracting the flu and are especially urged to get the shot.

Those who are allergic to eggs or who have a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome should consult with a physician before getting a flu shot.

Grace Cottage is administering the quad flu shot, which protects against four strains of the flu virus. The cost will be covered by most insurance. To make an appointment for a flu vaccination at Grace Cottage, call 802-365-4331. Same-day appointments are usually available.

For more information about flu shots or the flu in general, visit the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.cdc.gov), the Vermont Department of Health website (www.healthvermont.gov), or call the Vermont helpline at 2-1-1.

A New Jersey Family’s Best Years in Townshend – in Memory of Rick Lang

| Donor Stories

It’s truly amazing how many people still remember this area in general, and Grace Cottage in particular, with such fondness and nostalgia, long after they have moved away from Vermont. An example of this was recently brought to light.

In 1987, Richard (Rick) Lang and his young family of Scotch Plains, NJ, bought the old farmhouse originally owned by Arlene P. White (known as “Granny” White) on Deer Valley Road in Townshend. The Lang family enjoyed summers, holidays and weekends throughout the year on the 25-acre retreat.

“We fell in love with the house the instant we drove up around the bend. These were the best years our family can remember,” said Rick’s wife, Barbara, recently. “We loved the village of Townshend and breakfasts at the old Townshend Corner Store counter. We have fond memories of strawberry and raspberry picking and making jam, catching tadpoles, skiing, and the fresh Vermont air.

Our neighbor Stan Bills kept three horses in the barn, and one spring a little foal was born – what a thrill for the kids and for us!”

The Langs embraced their second home and were truly a part of Townshend and of Grace Cottage. “Dr. Shafer always made time to see us when we needed help,” Barbara still remembers.

As the children became more involved in sports in New Jersey, the family was unable to spend much time in Vermont and they sold the house in 1994. But Vermont clearly remained in their hearts. Twenty-one years later, and after a long career at Smith Barney, Rick Lang passed away on October 8, 2015, in New Jersey at the age of 65. The family honored Rick’s wish that friends and family donate what they could in his memory to Grace Cottage Hospital.

Grace Cottage has since received 37 donations totaling $4,230 in his memory, all from people who had no prior knowledge of Grace Cottage Hospital, other than through Rick and Barbara. What an incredible tribute to Rick and the love of his family and friends.

“Grace Cottage has always appreciated every dollar contributed, no matter the amount. This means a lot to us and to our family and friends,” said Barbara when notified of the amazing support her husband’s memory has provided for Grace Cottage. To commemorate his legacy and his connection to Grace Cottage, a bronze plaque in Rick’s memory has been placed in the hospital hallway.

Living Well Through the Ages

| Graceful Health

By Dr. Jesper Brickley, Grace Cottage Family Health
As originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health column October 21, 2016

Fall is a time to reflect on transitions in life. In the words of Albert Camus, “autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower.” It is a time of transition and reflection. The measure of time bears little importance compared to what fills the time being measured. We pass through time like rays of light through crisp autumn trees. We are enriched by the process of aging and reflect that which we absorb and find meaning in.

Grace Cottage’s Healthy Aging Conference, to be held Nov. 15-16 in Grafton, Vermont, will give us time to reflect on these ideas and to share a wealth of information about how to celebrate the accumulation of years and to age healthfully.

The conference presentations will focus on mental outlook, nutrition and exercise, strength and balance, medications management, advance planning, finances, and housing. Also, free massage, Reiki, Zero Balancing, Yoga and Tai Chi are being offered. There will be important offerings for aging individuals as well as for the family members supporting them.

My presentation, scheduled for Tuesday morning, is titled “Feeling Good Never Grows Old.” The main themes I will be focused on are the importance of having a positive outlook as we age and having active engagement in one’s health. Being positive and staying hopeful about aging can not only make each day more enjoyable, but can also have tangible health benefits and can increase longevity. Researchers at Yale studied a group of people age 70 and above over the course of ten years and found that those with positive attitudes experienced less illness and debility. Positive individuals also responded better to stress and tended to live longer, by an average of 7.6 years. We will explore how a positive outlook coupled with a daily awareness of gratitude has proven time and again to influence health in many positive ways.

How do you stay positive in the later stages of life? Staying physically active and socially engaged are two key elements to maintaining positivity. Finding new hobbies, serving as mentors, joining clubs, or volunteering to help those who are less fortunate are helpful things elders can do to stay engaged and positive. Such active community engagement also helps to maintain mental clarity, a sense of connection, and a feeling that your long-life experiences have value to the communities in which you live. As a physician, my approach to health care for both aging and younger populations includes promoting active involvement in activities beyond just physical and social pursuits; I try to engender in my patients a broader understanding of, and connection to, our own bodies, minds and spirits.

We know that disease is caused not only by genetic make-up and environmental factors, but also by one’s lifestyle choices and personal disposition. I like to engage patients in an active dialogue about all aspects of their lives to try to uncover all of the things that could be triggering their symptoms and promoting a state of less than optimal health. I view my patients as partners on the same team, working together to identify patterns, tendencies, and connections to promote a more comprehensive and rewarding sense of healthfulness.

If a person truly wants to remain healthy for as long as possible, it’s not enough to diagnose a disease and prescribe a medicine to suppress and manage the symptoms. A better, long-term approach is to look for underlying causes. This systematic approach means the provider and patient may talk about nutrition, physical activity, stress and worries, household resources, mental and spiritual outlook, and the status of relationships in order to see how these may be influencing health.

Because each patient’s circumstances are unique, decisions about how to maintain or improve health will also be different for each person. All of the information gathered will be used to design a care plan that suits that particular individual. Just as each person’s circumstances are unique, so are there particular issues at each stage of life.

There’s no denying that aging has its own special challenges. The older we get, the more likely it is that some physical function will be lost. Energy levels change. And there is a greater tendency to think about the end of life. Anticipating and planning for end of life stages requires an openness to and acceptance of change and a willingness for self-exploration.

When patients approach changes in health status with openness and have an awareness about their health and illness tendencies, strategies for prevention and early detection can be more effective. Modest lifestyle changes can have dramatic effects – there are hundreds of studies that have shown that small changes in diet, exercise, nutrition, and response to stress can improve day-to-day function in old age and extend lifespan. According to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, longevity can be improved by as much as 20 to 800%.

Aging is not optional. Sooner or later it happens to all of us who are lucky enough to reach the later stages of life. But aging well is optional. You can take charge of your journey through aging by taking an active role and never giving up on being a student of life. I’m happy to share more about this at Grace Cottage’s Healthy Aging Conference, as well as with patients at my clinic at Grace Cottage Family Health and Hospital in Townshend, Vermont.

Bio: Dr. Jesper Brickley is a graduate of The Evergreen State College in Washington State and of the Western University of Health Science in California. He completed his residency at Rose Family Medicine in Colorado. He joined the staff of Grace Cottage Family Health in 2015.

Grace Cottage Adds Lymphedema Therapy

| Graceful Health
Abby Abbot

abby-abbott-headshotBy Abigail Abbott, Grace Cottage Physical Therapist
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health series, October 7, 2016

The bad news first, and then the good news: most women dealing with breast cancer are so focused on getting rid of the cancer, thinking if they achieve that, it will be the end of the experience. Lymphedema is probably the furthest thing from their minds. But there’s a high probability they’ll have to deal with this disease, as high as 50-50, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The good news is that specially trained physical therapists can make this experience much less traumatic. And further good news: help is nearby! Grace Cottage now has two physical therapists certified to provide this therapy, Cindy Kenyon and me.

In order to explain what is involved with Lymphedema therapy, it is helpful to first understand what causes Lymphedema.

Lymph is a fluid that moves through the body in order to remove impurities and infections. The lymph nodes filter the lymphatic fluid with the help of white blood cells and are part of the system that keeps the fluid moving. When lymph nodes are removed as part of a cancer treatment, or are damaged by radiation, there is potential for the lymphatic fluid to build up, causing a swelling called Lymphedema.

Lymphedema can also be congenital, meaning you can be born with the tendency; this type mostly affects the lower extremities. It can also be caused by chronic venous insufficiency (improper functioning of the valves in leg or arm veins). Whatever causes it, the treatment includes the same techniques.

The bad news is that, once it appears, Lymphedema is always permanent. Sometimes it shows up fairly quickly after cancer treatment; sometimes it doesn’t show up until years later. It usually begins slowly and progresses in intensity. If allowed to progress, it will cause significant debilitation.

The good news is that, when caught early and treated with special therapy, the effects of Lymphedema can be minimal. So it’s important to know what signs to look for.

In the earliest stage, Lymphedema may be experienced as a swollen limb that feels heavy, with skin that feels tight, and perhaps there’s a sense that clothes, watches, rings, bracelets, or shoes are becoming too tight. Those who have been treated for cancers other than breast cancer may have this feeling in their feet and legs, while those dealing with breast cancer usually experience it in their hands and arms.

It’s important to consult your medical provider if you are noticing any of these symptoms so that the diagnosis of Lymphedema will be accurate. There are other things that can cause swelling, and it is important to rule these out first.

For those with Lymphedema, any structural damage to the lymphatic system caused by the cancer treatment cannot be cured or permanently repaired, but the effects of this damage can be improved by the various aspects of Lymphedema therapy.

First, a Lymphedema therapist can help by performing and teaching a patient to perform a mild form of massage called “lymphatic drainage,” which is a very gentle touch therapy. This helps to drain any build-up of fluids. It is important to get instruction before doing this, as the technique must be performed correctly in order to help, rather than hurt, the situation.

Patients will also be fitted for compression garments, the cost of which are usually covered by medical insurance. Unfortunately, at present, the bandages, also required for treatment, are not usually covered. Bandages and compression garments help to keep the swelling down.

Patients need to be aware that this first phase of treatment can be intense, requiring an hour or two of therapy per day for up to two weeks. It requires commitment, but it is the only effective treatment for Lymphedema.

After the initial two weeks or so of therapy, the patient will be prepared to self-manage the disease. They will know how to perform the lymphatic drainage massage on themselves, and they will know how to use the bandages and compression garments. At this point, less frequent office visits will be needed.

In addition to these important treatment techniques, Lymphedema therapists teach their patients several lifestyle approaches that can help. For example, because the lymphatic system that helps to remove infection has been weakened, it is important for patients to take good care of their skin so that it does not dry out and crack, thereby allowing infections access into the body. Also, certain exercises can be done in moderation to help keep lymphatic fluids moving. And weight loss can help to reduce the effects of Lymphedema for some patients.

A diagnosis of Lymphedema can seem like a low blow for those who are already dealing with the profound complications of a cancer treatment. It is important for them to realize that there are caring and specially trained therapists ready to support them and to provide help.

Bio:

Abigail Abbott joined the Grace Cottage Rehabilitation Department staff in 2015. She has a Bachelors in Russian language and literature from Columbia University and a Masters in Physical Therapy from Boston University. She is a Certified Lymphedema Therapist, trained by the Academy of Lymphatic Studies.

Cindy Kenyon, PT, has been a member of the Grace Cottage staff since 2008. She earned her CLT certificate from the Dr. Vodder School International.

Healthy Fast Food — Smoothies

| News
Cheryl Shaw

By Cheryl Shaw, Grace Cottage Hospital Health Coach
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health series, September 23, 2016

Who doesn’t love a smoothie? They’re easy to make, so they can give a new, healthy meaning to the words “fast food” – if you choose good ingredients.

You probably already know how to make a smoothie: just chop up the larger ingredients, throw everything into a blender, and turn it on. Super easy.

Here is a list of my top favorite smoothie ingredients to inspire you. Organic options are always best, but do what you can. Mix them up and have fun creating!

  1. Start with a Base: Here are some healthy ideas: Nut or seed milk (almond, hemp, cashew), unsweetened coconut water, plain yogurt or kefir (if you tolerate dairy; good for probiotics/cultures!), cooled green tea, or pure water.
  2. Bananas: Use half of a ripe banana to sweeten any smoothie. Affordable and full of potassium.
  3. Liquid essential fatty acids: Consider cod liver oil, liquid fish oil (made from salmon, sardines, anchovies), or flax oil. These EFA’s have numerous health benefits. Choose a quality, pharmaceutical grade oil that is third-party tested for removal of contaminants and toxins (no mercury, PCBs, binders, filler, dyes, etc.). These are required to be 99% pure.
  4. Extra virgin coconut oil: A healthy fat that contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), found to have benefits to weight loss, decreases in abdominal fat, increased metabolism, increased HDL (good cholesterol) and helpful for the brain and thyroid gland.
  5. Fresh or frozen berries: Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, pomegranate seeds, and tart cherries are all good choices, full of health promoting substances and antioxidants. Berries are a low glycemic fruit.
  6. Protein powder: Options include unsweetened hemp protein, pea protein or whey protein powder. Choose brands with only one or two ingredients. Avoid sweetened and artificially sweetened products (especially sucralose, which has found its way into many sports drinks, flavored waters and whey protein powders).
  7. Raw nuts and seeds: Great source of healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Try raw walnuts, almonds, cashews or pecans. Raw seeds such as flax, chia, pumpkin, hemp and sunflower also deliver a healthy serving of essential fatty acids.
  8. Apples: green apples are a low glycemic fruit that are a great source of fiber.
  9. Powdered green superfoods or green algae: Wheat and barley grass, chlorella and spirulina all have health-enhancing benefits, if you are brave enough to add them!!
  10. Leafy greens: Consider adding romaine lettuce, spinach or kale. All are nutrient dense. Add mint for flavor.
  11. Avocados: These add healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. They also can add thickness without an overbearing taste.
  12. Raw cacao nibs or powder: unsweetened cacao powder gives a chocolate taste to your smoothie; it will be bitter without a sweetener, so complement it with ½ a banana or a bit of raw honey. It contains magnesium and other essential minerals and vitamins. It also contains polyphenols, which are antioxidant rich flavonoids.

Cheryl Shaw is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, Certified Wellness Coach, and Certified Exercise Physiologist with over 17 years of fitness and wellness experience. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Fitness from Springfield College.