The old adage “you are what you eat” has a whole new meaning when it comes to the nutritional science of food that looks like body organs.
Called “teleological nutritional targeting” by scientists, proponents contend that every whole food has a pattern that resembles the body organ or physiological function that it benefits.
The theory developed from the Doctrine of Signatures, a belief that God left signs, or “signatures,” about how his creations could best be used and discovered through the powers of observation.
Teleology is the philosophical study of the purpose or design in natural phenomena. Apply nutrition to this study and, as an eater, you can determine how a particular whole food, be it a fruit, vegetable or nut, can benefit your body based on its shape, design and color.
Brigitte Mars, a local nutritional consultant and herbalist, says the Doctrine of Signatures contains bits of astrology, alchemy, fact and fantasy. “Though this philosophy sounds superstitious, we must consider how living organisms have all evolved on this planet in the same gravitational force field. We are often composed of the same elements,” says Mars.
Apparent examples of this phenomenon are abundant in a traditional healthy diet. Carrots, walnuts, tomatoes, kidney beans, sweet potatoes, celery, avocadoes and many other common whole foods fit into teleological nutritional targeting.
The cross-section of a sliced carrot resembles an eye, complete with a pupil, iris and radiating lines. Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which supports healthy vision. The retina of the eye needs vitamin A in the form of a specific metabolite, the lightabsorbing molecule retinal. This molecule is absolutely necessary for both scotopic and color vision.
Rich in fiber, antioxidants and minerals, carrots benefit more than just eyes, but can be primarily correlated with healthy vision.
Walnuts and their shell have a striking resemblance to the human brain and cranium. Complete with left and right hemispheres, walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and oil, which are closely associated with brain health. Essential fatty acid supplements have been used in studies for people with learning and behavioral problems. Like carrots, walnuts assist other body functions as well, like cardiovascular protection and immune system support.
A sliced tomato’s fleshy appearance resembles a heart in color and design. It is red and has four chambers. Containing lycopene, a powerful natural antioxidant, tomatoes are a heart-healthy food. Tomatoes also are an excellent source of potassium, niacin, vitamin B 6 and folate. Foods like tomatoes that are rich in these sources are shown to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Like their name indicates, kidney beans resemble kidneys. Rich in fiber, kidney beans provide energy, stabilize blood sugar and contain many vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Fiber, which is extremely helpful in lowering cholesterol, has been discovered to be a key link to reducing the risk of kidney disease. The kidneys regulate fluid in the body, help the body maintain adequate mineral balance and help remove wastes from the blood. Kidney beans also provide a vegetarian source of protein. Diseased kidneys cannot always separate meat protein from waste — sometimes kidneys work overtime to complete this function, which can exhaust the organ. Protein is essential in a healthy diet, and kidney bean protein can certainly replace meat proteins.
Sweet potatoes are said to resemble the pancreas in design and color, and because they are tuberous, long and tapered. Rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, beta-carotene and vitamin C and B 6, sweet potatoes are extremely high in nutritional value. Cancer that forms in the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas is called endocrine cancer.
The presence of beta-carotene in sweet potatoes helps the body fight free radicals and endocrine cancer. Sweet potatoes also help balance the glycemic index, a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels in people with diabetes — despite the irony of the word “sweet.”
A stalk of celery, although green, mimics the appearance of a bone. A great source of fiber, potassium and calcium, celery supports healthy bones. When we don’t get enough calcium to supply the body with its needs, the body will borrow this mineral from bones, which can lead to a variety of problems, such as osteoporosis and other bone diseases. Celery helps replenish the skeletal needs of the body. Mars, who is also a raw food chef, says stalks and stems like celery and asparagus help transmit nourishment and are considered the central part of a plant’s circulatory system. The function that stalks and stems serve for their respective plants reflects what they can do for our bones and bodies.
Avocadoes, which bear a close resemblance to the female womb and cervix, target the health and function of these organs. A fruit rich in fiber, folate, potassium and vitamins B, E and K, avocadoes are important in preventing infant neural tube defects in the womb and are essential to female reproductive health.
Each whole food mentioned has, of course, additional benefits for other body organs and functions, but the correlation between the appearance of the highlighted foods and their benefits for the organs they look like is remarkable.
Mars points out that terminology associated with cooking, including words like fried, burnt, baked, roast, poached, scalded, smoked and sizzle, are terms associated with pain, fire and destruction.
“Wouldn’t you rather have fresh, alive, vital, raw, enzyme-active, sun food in your life?” she asks.