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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Balanced Living » Jan./Feb. ‘14

When I hear all this talk about going green, I really only see one thing: dollar signs. Because whether we like it or not, living an eco-friendly lifestyle can be costly. Organic foods and non-toxic products aren’t cheap. So how do you merge a green lifestyle with a frugal one? Let me tell you.

Battle Vampires Can you identify the energy vampires in your home? Energy vampires are devices that appear to be turned off, but are actually pulling tiny bits of energy while they’re plugged in. estimates that in one year alone, an average American family will throw away $100 on their electricity bill on home devices while they are on standby mode. Pinpoint the devices in your home that are costing you money. Unplug the unnecessary ones and put $100 back in your wallet.

Be a Gas Miser U.S. Department of Energy studies conclude that poor driving habits reduce highway mileage up to 33 percent. Learn to drive conservatively and you can put that savings back in your pocket. If you aren’t getting the gas mileage you expected from your vehicle, review these tips to increase your mileage rates and cut back on fuel consumption:

• Keep idling to a minimum • Utilize cruise control on long trips • Unload excess cargo weight • Heed speed limits

by Linda Capra, DC at Helios Center in Menomonie

Last week I explored the path of the vagus nerve.  I was surprised to find its connection to the heart.  So this week I am looking at the many nerves that talk with and to the heart.

Two nerve systems, the parasympathetic and the sympathetic, regulate your heart rate with two sets of chemicals: adrenergic for the sympathetic system and cholinergic for the parasympathetic system.  Adrenergic neurotransmitters (sympathetic) increase blood pressure, heart rate and dilate coronary arteries.  Cholinergic neurotransmitters (parasympathetic) decrease blood pressure, heart rate and constrict coronary arteries.

Each beat of your heart begins with an electrical signal within your heart muscle from the sinoatrial node located in the right atrium of the heart.  This node is innervated by both the vagus nerve and nerves stemming from the sympathetic ganglia of the spine.

The vagus nerve is parasympathetic thus calms the heart.  The sympathetic nerves originate in the middle of the spine, your mid back, and are crucial for giving you the heart action you need during movement.

The action of the heart, like all our organs, is complex and does not function on its own.  We are a system of systems interacting with each other for the life of the whole… our body.  When the heart has trouble, there are many connections to explore.  It could be that a head, neck or back injury is affecting the nerves innervating the heart thus causing the heart to malfunction.  So many paths to follow to find possibilities.

Beat Under Eye Circles


This extract is taken from native plants of Brazil and Madagascar.  Called the toothache plant, this extract helps numb pain for dental work.  It can reduce puffiness and provide a gentle lift when applied under the eyes.  It may also strengthen the collagen around the eyes.  In French studies for product development, the extract smoothed crow’s feet and had a muscle relaxing effect that helped soften expression lines.

Find It: Burt’s Bees Naturally Ageless Line Smoothing Eye Cream, $25, and Chae Organics Vital Eyes, $45,


An impressive 34 percent of our waste stream could be composted, and perhaps this is not that surprising given the fact that we waste about 33 million tons of food annually, according to the EPA.

Composting at home is an increasing trend, however, so if you’re up for learning a bit about dealing with your food and other compostable waste, you could help decrease some of these numbers.

USDA Certification: The organic label means that the ingredients came from producers who were certified by the USDA as upholding organic standards.

Limited Pesticides: Organic produce is grown without synthetic and persistent pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Eating organic produce is a good way to reduce your exposure to these chemicals.

GMO Free: Organic foods do not include genetically modified ingredients.

No Irradiation: Organic produce has not been exposed to irradiation, an ionizing radiation treatment used to kill foodborne pathogens and reduce spoilage.

What Organic Doesn’t Mean

Small Scale Producer: Unfortunately, food conglomerates have realized that premium prices equal larger profits, and they have bought many formerly independent organic operations. Many organic brands are in fact subsidiaries of larger mainstream companies, such as Kashi and Kellogg’s, or Muir Glen and General Mills.

Locally Sourced: Much of the organic produce at your supermarket probably comes from Conglomerate Agriculture, while the small scale farms in your community may be local but not certified organic.

Fair Labor Practices: An organic farm can be staffed by exploited workers who suffer poor pay and lack benefits. The Fair Trade label certifies that the food was produced by workers who were fairly compensated, but these requirements are not part of the organic standards.

No Additives: If the product is not labeled “100 percent organic,” up to 5 percent can be composed of the 100+ non-organic additives allowed by the National List. Many of the additives are included because no organic substitute is available or for economic reasons, and while not all of them are harmful, the list does include items like cellulose (indigestible wood pulp) and carrageenan (linked to intestinal inflammation and colon cancer).

The Bottom Line

Know Your Farmer: Just because your local farmer hasn’t had the time or funding to get organic certification doesn’t mean they aren’t running a sustainable operation. It may be better to buy from someone you know and trust over an unknown, large-scale organic farm elsewhere.

Organic Still Means Something: While the label may not encompass all that we would hope, the organic standards are still a good start to differentiating the types of farms and producers we want to support. Remember that the label “natural” is unregulated and doesn’t mean anything, while “organic” does require adherence to regulations.

Dirty Dozen: Maybe you don’t have the budget or the availability to buy only organic products. In that case, carry the Dirty Dozen card in your wallet or store it on your phone. This lists the top fruits and vegetables that carry the highest levels of pesticide residues. Strive to purchase organic versions of these foods where possible.

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