08202017Headline:

Eating Right for Your Blood Type: Diet Fad or Fiction?

Blood typing and treating patients accordingly originates back to the early 1900s. But it was Peter D’Adamo, N.D., MIFHI, who is credited with the theory on eating according to your blood type, after 30 years of working with his own patients. His book, Eat Right 4 Your Type, was published in 1997 and made the association between diseases and the four blood types—A, B, AB and O. Since then, millions have tried it and many have formed strong opinions both for and against this type of eating. While it might not be the “fad” diet of the decade, it seems some naturopathic and alternative health professionals are starting to embrace it more and more.

BASIC PRINCIPLES The basic principles of this diet look at an individual’s blood groups. According to Niki Young, N.D., with Revolutions Natural Medical Solutions in Folsom, “Each of the blood groups is distinct from the others by the simple sugar unit that sticks out from the end of the carbohydrate chain of a glycoprotein or glycolipid.” Lectins—protein-based molecules—cause blood cells to clump. Through this process of testing foods with live blood, it was determined that different foods were beneficial, neutral or should be avoided for a specific blood type. Some of the health risks associated to blood cells clumping, or agglutination, include stroke, thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and heart disease. Healthy digestion can play a large part on how well your body destroys these dangerous lectins.

WHAT YOU CAN EAT What does Dr. D’Adamo recommend for all four blood types? Here is the quick down and dirty. Os benefit from meats, poultry and fish, and should avoid grains, breads and legumes. As benefit from vegetarian diets—no meat. Bs can enjoy low-fat dairy, meat and produce but should avoid wheat, corn and lentils. Finally, ABs should avoid chicken, beef and pork but can consume seafood, tofu, dairy and most produce.

THE SKEPTICS Why do some health care professionals not support this diet? “Some disagree with this diet due to the fact that it stresses that patients with certain blood types require meat,” Dr. Young says. “Vegetarianism is very popular in response to high cholesterol levels, digestive issues, and contamination of the meat with antibiotics and steroids, as well as being more humane.”

Tracy Toms, M.S., R.D., with Mercy San Juan Medical Center, says that she would not recommend this diet to her patients. “In the medicine and nutrition sciences, we recommend [diets] based on scientific evidence and this diet doesn’t have any of that,” she says. “People are always looking for a quick fix for aches and pains and weight loss, looking for diets and pills. They don’t want to do the lifestyle route by eating healthier and exercising.”

Sheila Leard, R.D., CSSD, C.P.T., with My Nutrition Zone in El Dorado Hills, agrees, saying that Dr. D’Adamo’s diet was a fad and doesn’t know any professional that would recommend this diet, especially with restrictions so difficult to adhere to. “The weight loss success that one may have when following this diet is the outcome of getting rid of processed foods, fast foods and eating with more awareness,” she says. Leard adds that if you’re looking to lose weight, look beyond diets, and explore what food means to you. Instead of looking at blood type to decide what type of diet you should follow, have an assessment through a lab test to determine if you are deficient in vitamins and minerals.

Sue Hazeghazam, R.D., with Sutter Roseville Medical Center, says that patients complain that the diet is difficult to adhere to long-term because of its restrictions. “Many type O patients claim to be happy following a vegetarian diet,” she says. “Like any diet, nutritional adequacy is dependent upon a person’s food choices and having a variety of foods is usually helpful to meet daily nutrient requirements.”

THE SUPPORTERS For every doctor that denounces the validity of the diet, there are some like Priscilla Monroe, R.N., N.D., in private practice in Sacramento, who says that trying the diet would make most people believers. For almost 20 years, the naturopath has recommended eating for your blood type to her clients. Though she herself was for some time a vegetarian and was taught in medical school that more vegetables are better than eating meat, she soon found herself salivating for hamburgers. And quickly discovered that when she ate meat, she felt fabulous. “One man’s medicine is another man’s poison,” she says, quoting the old proverb. Dr. Monroe believes that “we have to practice what we preach to our patients,” which is to be open to new things. Those who have tried eating according to their blood type have reported lowered inflammation, less gastrointestinal distress, decreased constipation, less body pain, clearer skin, weight loss, and improved sleep, memory and mood. Dr. Monroe says to look at D’Amano’s research. There are 12 components if you factor in blood types and race, so it really can speak to most people.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT If you’re going to try the diet, be careful of pitfalls. Dr. Young says that untrained professionals who don’t fully understand the diet may not properly explain it to patients. Also, starting the diet means visiting a doctor for blood work and to make sure that there aren’t any more serious health issues that need to be treated first. “Start slowly,” she says. “Add in more variety of the beneficial foods before eliminating the foods on the avoid list. Keep in mind that even 70 percent adherence to the diet will improve health.”

And remember, no two people are exactly alike. “If something doesn’t agree with you on the diet, but your friend with the same blood type has no issues with it, you’re not crazy or imagining it. You are just different from your friend, and that is okay,” Dr. Young says. Dr. Monroe agrees not to take the guidelines of the diet too literally. “If you’re a type A, you don’t have to be a vegetarian. Many people with glucose problems wouldn’t make a good vegetarian…just remember to be open-minded. A lot of people don’t want to have to give up their treats, so it’s easier to discount something than give it credibility.” •

EATING FOR YOUR BLOOD TYPE 101 TYPE O: High-protein meat eaters. It’s believed this blood type originated first and that we should eat like our primitive ancestors.

TYPE A: Vegetarians. This blood type should avoid meat, dairy, kidney beans, lima beans and wheat.

TYPE B: Balanced omnivores. This blood type can include meat, (no chicken), dairy, eggs, beans, legumes, vegetables, (no tomatoes) and fruit.

TYPE AB: Pescetarians. This blood type should avoid chicken, beef and pork but can consume seafood, tofu, dairy and most produce.

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