Cut a carrot into individual slices and you’ll notice it resembles the human eye.
Carrots also happen to be rich in beta carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A, which is a critical vitamin in facilitating healthy eyesight.
Walnuts look like little brains, and they also happen to be loaded with fats that boost cognitive function and overall brain health.
These correlations are known as the “Doctrine of Signatures”.
The Doctrine of Signatures is a system of assigning medicinal properties to plants based on their physical appearance. The theory is that plants that resemble parts of the body can be used to treat ailments of those body parts.
The Doctrine of Signatures dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, and it was popularized by the herbalist and physician Paracelsus in the 16th century. It was also adopted by some Christian theologians, who believed that God had created plants with medicinal properties that were revealed in their physical appearance.
I wouldn’t recommend acutely treating ailments and conditions solely by following the Doctrine of Signatures, however, I do think there is some validity to it if using it to understand how to nourish the body more thoroughly, which over time, could reduce risk of the development of certain ailments, conditions, and diseases.
We’re realizing more and more that there is something to understanding more about the potential healing properties found in nature. Prior to any type of modernized medicine, our ancestors had no choice but to rely on their understanding of nature, and the potential healing properties found in nature all around them.
Back then, when it was all they had, the Doctrine of Signatures was probably a useful tool and simple theory to adhere to.
Now, as mentioned, we can still use it as a simple rule, or theory to keep in the back of our minds when choosing the foods we eat, especially in the diversity of foods we eat, to more effectively deliver key nutrients to different parts of the body, and thus, when put together, nourish the body more comprehensively.
Using the Doctrine of Signatures to improve overall longevity
I’ve defined “longevity” in the past as living long, without disease.
“Without disease” is the key part.
In actuality, longevity is based on your health span.
The longer you maintain your health span, meaning, living free of disease, the more longevity you have.
I’ve also mentioned that longevity is proactive medicine, rather than reactive.
Reactive medicine is the approach of Western medicine.
Wait for something to go wrong, and then try to treat it.
Western medicine waits for you to develop cancer to the point where it’s become a serious, potentially life-threatening problem, then tries to treat it.
Someone focused on longevity knows they should start fighting cancer now, through diet, supplementation, movement, and lifestyle, before it ever becomes a problem.
Let’s use a sweet potato as an example of how the Doctrine of Signatures can be applied to longevity. A sweet potato resembles the human pancreas.
The human pancreas is responsible for your insulin response. As one develops diabetes, they are developing insulin resistance, which can lead to an inability to metabolize excessive blood sugar. This inability to metabolize blood sugar then leads to an increased risk of pretty much all diseases.
Well, sweet potatoes contain prebiotic fibers and phytochemicals that are quite effective at stabilizing blood sugar levels, and thus, help promote pancreas health and a healthier insulin response.
Now, if you have type II diabetes, will simply eating sweet potatoes reverse it? (Western medicine approach)
Most likely no.
If you eat a sweet potato a couple times per week starting now, (before you’ve developed insulin resistance) could that potentially help lower or mitigate risk of developing type II diabetes?
Most likely. (The longevity-focused approach to medicine)
Eating walnuts may not reverse existing dementia, however, working them more regularly into your diet now could be an effective approach to helping stave off dementia as you age and maintaining a healthier overall cognitive function.
Slice a pomegranate or beet in half, both, in their own ways, resemble a heart and the inner chambers of the heart.
And you guessed it, they’re both effective at promoting heart and overall cardiovascular health.
Working these foods into your diet now, could be effective at fighting heart disease before it becomes a problem. I love the Organifi Red Juice as an easy way to get a mega dose of these cardiovascular, blood boosting foods.
Another interesting application of the Doctrine of Signatures was in last week’s issue where I shared with you a superfood rub (Organifi Red Juice) that is a great change of pace rub for steaks when grilling, and a great way to easily incorporate some superfood nutrients into your diet.
That superfood rub, the Organifi Red Juice, contains both beets and pomegranate, and a steak, being red meat, also contains lots of key blood boosting nutrients like iron and b-vitamins, which creates a natural pair between the Red Juice as a rub on the steak.
Longevity begins now, and is one step at a time.
Every time you get a quality night’s sleep, you are improving your longevity.
Every workout improves your longevity.
Every day you do an intermittent fast, or periodically do an extended fast, you are improving your longevity.
When applying the Doctrine of Signatures from a longevity perspective, every time you do apply it, to deliver some precision therapeutic foods, you are improving your longevity.
The more of these tiny steps you take now, the more they compound over time, and the resulting factor will be a decreased risk of disease, and the increased likelihood that you live longer, healthier, without disease.
Longevity is for everyone, regardless of age, we can all take steps today to live longer and healthier.
Of the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and protein, fats are the most important for survival.
We’ve discussed quite a bit about the importance of protein for living optimally, especially longer in life.
Fats however, are probably the most critical overall.
You can survive without carbohydrates.
You cannot survive without fats.
In fact, there is a very real thing called “rabbit starvation”, where individuals who’ve survived off hunting rabbits have actually starved to death, because the rabbits are so lean that they don’t get enough fat to survive, and they die from malnourishment.
There are, however, many kinds of fats, and too much of certain types can increase risk of disease, whereas other fats are very effective at reducing risk of disease, can help boost metabolism, improve brain function, and reduce systemic inflammation.
I’m going to use this and the coming weeks to break down each individual type of fat for you, discuss the benefits of it, the potential downsides if eaten too much, and the best food sources for said fats.
Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
This week I’m going to focus on medium-chain triglycerides, or most commonly known as MCTs.
MCTs are a very unique type of fat found primarily in coconut oil.
They are often considered a saturated fat, however, they are shorter in length than traditional saturated fats, and as a result, function quite differently in the body.
MCTs tend to bypass digestion, where they will go directly to the liver and be converted into ketones.
Ketones are typically also produced by the liver when there is not enough glucose available for energy. This can happen during fasting, starvation, or during a very low-carb diet.
A ketone is essentially an endogenous (produced within the body) unit of energy.
Because ketones are an endogenous form of energy produced by the body naturally, they are also a preferred form of energy in most cases, especially for your brain and gut bacteria.
MCTs, because they are converted into ketones by the liver, are a great way to increase your blood level of ketones, which has been shown to improve mental acuity and cognitive function, decrease appetite, reduce inflammation, improve gut health, and improve your body’s ability to burn fat.
There is no real downside to MCTs from a health perspective, as it’s pretty much physically impossible to consume too much MCT.
The rub is that because MCTs bypass digestion and go straight to the liver, only so many MCTs can be consumed at a given time.
If the liver is unable to metabolize all MCT consumed, it will kick it back into the digestive tract, where it may cause some short-term gut/intestinal distress, and may make you run to the nearest toilet.
If you’ve never tried MCT (best in a pure oil) before, start small, with a teaspoon to assess how your body tolerates it.
As with most things, the more your body, in this case, your liver acclimates to MCT consumption, the more it will be able to handle.
Someone like myself, I can now fully metabolize around 2 tablespoons of MCT oil per day.
You can pour a spoonful and take it straight, which I will often do if I need some extra mental energy. It’s also a key component to Bulletproof™️ coffee, and can easily be blended into smoothies.
If not consuming an isolated MCT oil, your next best bet is in extra virgin unrefined coconut oil.
“People die 1000 times to get to who they are.”
-Zach Bryan “Spotless”
We are all continual works in progress.
The day you stop evolving, is the day your spirit begins dying.
Evolution and growth as a human being isn’t always pretty.
In fact, it can be quite messy.
We learn the most about ourselves, who we are, what kind of spirit we truly have in us, amidst the difficult times, through the mistakes and turbulence.
Don’t fear being vulnerable.
Don’t fear making mistakes, or even failure.
Don’t be afraid to let a piece of you die, so that the new you can flourish.
The more you try, the more you put yourself out there, even if it’s messy, the more you find out who you are.