The Doctrine of Signatures began as a theory developed by 16th century Renaissance physician Paracelsus, that said plants that resemble parts of the body had healthy benefits for that specific organ. It states that every plant has a signature, and this signature tells us what the plant is good for.
We see these examples in fruit, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Here are just a few more examples of how Nature is showing us what it is good for:
Looks like the womb and takes 9 months to grow from blossom to ripened fruit. Source of hormone-balancing healthy fats.
Celery is 23% sodium, which is the same concentration of sodium in our bones. Contains many minerals necessary for healthy bones.
Can be a source of Vitamin D, which is beneficial for keeping the small bones of the ear strong and healthy.
Looks like the pancreas, contains nutrients that help with maintaining healthy insulin levels and blood sugar regulation.
Contains 4 chambers just like the heart. Rich in heart-healthy anti-oxidants including lycopene.
I have heard so much about the benefits of omega-3 fats but have been told that fish is the only source. Is there a way to consume enough omega-3 on a plant-based diet? Should everyone, regardless of diet, take an omega-3 supplement?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that most of us don't consume enough of. We have no problem getting enough omega-6 since it is so abundant in most vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and processed foods; we are actually getting too much omega-6 in our diets.
Consuming too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 increases inflammation in the body. The ideal ratio of omega-6:omega-3 we should aim for is about 2:1, however most of us (omnivores and vegans) get a ratio of 20:1.
In addition to reducing our consumption of omega-6, it is really important to get enough omega-3. We can reduce our intake of omega-6 by limiting our intake of the low-quality vegetable oils (that are usually rancid/oxidized anyways) like canola oil, corn oil, soy oil, safflower oil, "vegetable" oil, cottonseed oil, and sunflower oil.
Omega-3 fatty acids include the shorter-chain ALA, and the longer-chain EPA/DHA. EPA/DHA are considered the active forms of omega-3 that are responsible for the many health benefits. Our body can convert the ALA form into the active forms of EPA/DHA, but the conversion rate is quite low, especially if there are any health issues present.
Algae oil supplements, however, do contain the already converted forms EPA/DHA. Fish are also a source of EPA/DHA, which is why they are said to be better sources than flax and chia.
If we eat a wide variety of plant-foods and make sure to include algae, seaweed, flax, chia, hemp, walnuts, camelina, sacha inchi, and purslane, we will be able to consume lots of ALA omega-3, and a small amount of this will be converted into EPA/DHA.
Whether or not these ALA-sources alone will provide enough EPA/DHA will depend on the individual (i.e. their level of inflammation, any health issues they have, how much omega-6 they consume, how well their body converts ALA to EPA/DHA).
For these reasons I do recommend that a algae-based EPA/DHA supplement is taken in addition to consuming a variety of food sources of ALA. These supplements are available in liquid and capsule form.
If you are not sure if you would benefit from taking an EPA/DHA supplement please book a Complimentary 15 Min Discovery Call.
Collard Wraps with Sunflower Herb Pate
Great on their own or add a salad or raw soup to make a satisfying meal. Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, folate, calcium, and dietary fiber. They are full of chlorophyll and part of the anti-carcinogenic cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
Collard Wraps Recipe:
4 collard leaves – cut in half lengthwise and remove the stem, each half will
make one roll.
Sunflower Herb Pate:
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup raw tahini (use regular if can’t find raw)
1/2 tsp sea salt
handful chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
1 clove garlic
Mix in food processor until smooth.
Spread mixture onto collard leaf, top with shredded beets and carrots, sliced red pepper, marinated mushrooms and red onion, and avocado, roll it up and enjoy!
Want to learn more? Check out our events page for Raw Food Classes and our Raw Food Chef Certification course!
Super Sea Vegetables: Detoxifying, energy boosting, immune supporting superfoods!
This group of superfoods provide the body with important trace minerals, essential fats, antioxidant pigments like chlorophyll and phycocyanin, soluble fiber, and amino acids. They help boost energy levels, support detoxification, balances mood and mental clarity, and enhances immune system functioning.
Types of sea vegetables range from large, multi-cellular seaweeds like kelp, nori, dulse, arame, and wakame, to single-celled blue-green algae like spirulina and chlorella.
Naturally low-calorie, these nutrient-dense superfoods provide a wide array of essential nutrients that support every system in the body. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Blue-green algae contains up to 70% protein, and is also a source of Phenylethylamine (PEA), also known as "the molecule of love". A chemical our brain naturally makes when we are in a happy or elated state, PEA is great for elevating mood and enhancing focus, memory, and concentration.
Soak dry seaweed like arame, hijiki, dulse, and wakame and use in salads or soups. Nori sheets now come in raw, toasted, and with different seasonings; use as a wrap, or cut into bite size pieces for soups and salads.
Often used as a salt replacement due to its sodium content, seaweeds however are much more nutrient-dense then typical table salt, providing an average of 56 minerals. Seaweed granules/flakes are available in shakers for convenient use.
Noodles made from kelp and wakame are now available. These delicious noodles are gluten-free, vegan, raw, low-calorie, and high in soluble fiber.
Kelp is unique in that it is just as common in its whole food form as an ingredient as it is in capsule form as a supplement for iodine, specifically useful for thyroid function.
Fresh sea asparagus is crunchy, salty, and delicious in your favourite salad.
Blue-green algae is available in powders, capsules, and fresh frozen liquids, these nutritional powerhouses are a very versatile ingredient. Use the powders and/or liquids in your favourite smoothie recipe, add to raw food desserts, or salad dressings. One of my favourite blue-green algae products is the fresh-frozen Brain-On from E3 Live, it is the regular AFA algae with extra PEA!
Find out how you can benefit from added sea vegetables to you diet:
Supercharge Me is a fun, entertaining documentary about Jenna Norwood's experience eating a raw food diet for 30 days.
The story examines the many health benefits of raw foods, including the measurable changes to her health that were collected before and after the 30 days. She also interviews many people along her journey and spends some time at the Optimum Health Institute.
Please visit her website for more information.
Shawna Barker BSc., RHN is a nutritionist, college instructor, and raw food educator.