Even though we can’t officially welcome it with warm long sleeved arms until September 23rd, I find the start of this month always gives rise to a new rhythm and autumn-esque energy. I’m also back in nutrition school after summer break…so it feels even more like time to don a cape and return to Hogwarts (ie. curl up and re-read/watch the entire Harry Potter series).
Besides the coppery hues of changing leaves, crisp air, and pumpkin spiced latte ads, fall makes me crave root veggies. One of my favourites being the beloved sweet potato.
To help illustrate why the sweet potato is near and dear to my heart (or pancreas rather), I thought I’d share some fun food-body correlations. I hadn’t actually heard the specific term for this phenomenon until recently in class. The ‘doctrine of signatures’, or intuitive science, is an ancient philosophy linking the ‘signs of nature’ in certain plant foods with human body parts. These connected foods supposedly target the organs or body systems they resemble. This also ties into the concept of food energetics and frequencies in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Interesting stuff.
More recently, TNT (teleological nutritional targeting) is a form of scientific food study that looks at how patterns in foods benefit AND resemble body parts. This may seem a little next level folklore, but the nutrients prove their point!
Take carrots for example. We’ve probably all heard an elder say, “eat your carrots, they’ll improve your night vision!”. Well, they’re high in beta-carotene, which the body converts to retinol (vitamin A) – a biggie for healthy eyesight. If you cut a cross-section of a carrot, you’ll see it looks pretty close to an eye. For us type 1 diabetics and hypothyroids, this conversion process is impaired so we need to watch out for vitamin A deficiency.
The same theory goes for tomatoes and the heart, walnuts and brains, avocados and the female womb (both take 9 months to develop), kidney beans and kidneys (shocker?), as well as ginger and the tummy. Take a closer look here.
What I find super interesting is the uncanny resemblance between the pancreas and sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic load, which makes them a lovely plant-food candidate for blood sugar balance. They’re also high in vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants and manganese which supports endocrine health. Yams, on the other hand, sit a bit higher on the glycemic load chart and don’t boast quite as much beta-carotene (sweet potato wins).
Kind of cool, right?
In honour of fall’s imminent arrival, here’s a little recipe for nutrient-loaded sweet potato wedges:
1 large sweet potato, cut in wedges, skin on if organic
2 tbsp organic, virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil
1 heaping tsp cinnamon (added blood sugar balance)
Pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 300º F. Toss all ingredients together and spread sweet potatoes across a roasting pan. Bake for 45-60 mins or until golden brown and soft inside. Flip halfway through for even roasting.
100 grams or 1/2 cup baked sweet potato = 20 g carbohydrates
Happy (almost) autumn!