Written by Solaade Ayo-Aderele - Nigeria
The age-long aphorism, which states that "You are what you eat," seems to hold true in all areas of life. Nutritionists would have us believe, for instance, that you cannot eat like a horse and be as thin as a snake. It's a case of garbage in, garbage out. If you eat foods that are lacking in fibre, you will soon discover the consequences as you groan in pain to pass stool, in addition to other health implications of bad dietary habits.
Beyond this, however, experts note that certain foods do look like human organs - whether internal or external - and that they do have healing effects on such parts, especially when we make it a habit of eating them regularly before we fall ill. They advise that foods from nature are excellent for health and that we should eat more of such to stay fit and maintain moderate weight. Such foods include:
Carrot and eyes
When a carrot is dissected, the interior structure looks very much like the anatomy of the eye, what with the pupil, iris and radiating lines that look just like the dissected carrot. Beyond its resemblance to the human eyes, though, nutritionists say carrots are high in vitamin A, a nutrient essential for good vision.
A nutritionist, Dr. Remi Omotunde, advises that eating carrots will provide you with the small amount of vitamin A needed for good vision. It can also be found in milk, cheese, egg yolk, and liver.
Again, scientists say carrot greatly enhances blood flow to the eyes, while it also enhances their function. A senior lecturer with Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Dr Kirsten Brandt, counsels, "Eat one small carrot every day, together with other vegetables and fruits, to benefit from their health-giving properties."
Walnut and brain
Analytically, scientists say, some species of walnuts look structurally like the human brain. According to the online portal, diseaseproof.com, "walnuts look like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex."
Researchers at Tufts University in Boston, United States of America, did a research to examine the effects of walnuts on the accumulation of polyubiquitinated proteins in the brain. This substance, they note, is the hallmark of many age-related neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, and it accumulates in our brains as we age.
They concluded that the lab rats fed on the walnut diets seemed to activate a process called autophagy, which the researchers described as "a neuronal housekeeping function" in the striatum and hippocampus areas of the brain.
"This process was more profound in the hippocampus, though, which is the region of the brain involved in memory and cognitive performance. The discovery of the autophagy in the walnut-eating groups was particularly exciting because as we age, this process slows down," the scientists say.
Avocado and uterus
Strangely enough, apart from the fact that avocado looks like the human uterus (womb), agriculturists say it takes nine months for an avocado to grow and ripen for picking - very much akin to the nine months it takes a healthy womb to carry a pregnancy to full term!
Better still, researchers say, the nutrients in avocados are essential for the integrity of the reproductive system, while the regular consumption of the fruit is said to prevent cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is peculiar to women, and it forms and spreads in the organ that connects to the uterus. Nutritionists disclose that since avocado extract has oleic acid, it is good for the prevention of breast cancer in women, while it also inhibits the growth of prostate cancer in men. "The toxin of the avocado can control cancer cells," Omotunde enthuses.
He adds, "In addition to hormone balance, avocado fruit contains phytochemicals, which have the potential to destroy precancerous cells without damaging normal cells."
Grapefruit and breast
Structurally, the grapefruit, just like other citrus fruits such as lemon, is round -- like the human breasts. Grapefruits contain many nutritional properties that not only nourish the body generally, but some specifically target breast health, researchers say.
The Medical Director of Smart for Life Weight Management Centres in Boca Raton, Florida, USA, Dr. Sasson Moulavi, reasons that grapefruit contains substances called limonoids, which have been shown to inhibit the development of cancer in laboratory animals and in human breast cells.
In 2010, scientific studies demonstrated health benefits and chemo-preventive action of limonoids against proliferation of breast cancer cells. In a study published in the Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances, scientists Vahdettin Bayazit and Vahit Konar, who evaluated the anti-carcinogen properties of limonoids and their biochemical structures, concluded that "Limonoids found in citrus fruits have been able to stop the progression of neuroblastomas - a form of cancer that starts in certain types of very primitive nerve cells found in an embryo or foetus."
Grape, tomato and the heart
Scientists say when grapes and tomatoes are sliced lengthways, each half part looks like the heart. "Structurally, a tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers," researchers say.
But beyond the semblance, Omotunde says, tomatoes are, indeed, pure heart and blood food. "This is because the lycopene in tomato is a powerful nutrient that not only helps the circulatory system but the heart as well."
Studies conclude that because of the lycopene in tomatoes, there is a reduced risk for heart disease in men and women who eat them. Omotunde adds, "Grapes also have many nutrients that contribute to heart health, hence it's advisable to feast on these fruits because there is absolutely no known side effects to eating them in their raw or moderately cooked form."
Ginger and stomach
This fruit is versatile in many ways than one. It can be used as food seasoning agent, especially in meat; and it can be blended into a drinkable juice. Essentially, ginger contains gingerol - a bioactive ingredient that has anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Indeed, the United States Department of Agriculture lists gingerol as a phytochemical that has the ability to prevent nausea and vomiting.
In addition, researchers at the University of Michigan Medical Centre note that a clinical trial of gingerol on human volunteers indicates that this over 2000-year-old medicinal herb has promising anti-cancer properties.