It’s no secret that for many years I ate processed foods and my health suffered for it. At one point in my search for answers to my failing health, I came across a book called Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type written by naturopathic physician Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo. Over the years we’ve seen many “diets”, “plans”, and “fads” come and go in eating and health communities – The South Beach diet, Atkins, fat-free and low-fat diets, macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan, grapefruit…and the list goes on. In my opinion, any diet which instructs the user to eat fake foods or processed foods or avoid perfectly good, real, whole foods like red meat (which many of these diet plans most certainly do) is a recipe for destruction of the human body. It just makes sense that if it’s natural and organic, you should eat it – including butter, eggs, and meat.
The Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type diet is unique in that unlike fad diets, it is not a diet so much as a lifestyle change that suggests modifications in your current diet to specific foods that compliment your blood type. The Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type diet refers the individual to real, whole, traditional foods – it does not recommend avoiding fats and carbohydrates and advocate eating artificially-produced, processed food items. This book is so wise in its pedagogy, I felt it certainly needed inclusion in some reading recommendations for people interested in following the traditional, whole foods approach to health and diet.
The premise of this book is there is but one genetic bio-marker capable of depicting how we digest and absorb food, what are our predisposition toward specific diseases, the best way to keep your body healthy and strong, and maintain energy: our blood types. It takes into account that we do have certain tendencies based on our genetic background, but that what we eat and put into our bodies also has a profound effect on our physiology and health. This may seem too simplistic and in some people’s minds, may attempt to reduce a very complex system as the human body down to one factor, but I think some of the points made in this book are more than valid.
My blood type is O. There are certain characteristics of my blood type that undeniably follow those listed in the book. The Type O of ancient history was an aggressive predator when it came to survival and locating food. Type O of modern day will have the following characteristics that remain from that original biochemistry – leadership, extroversion, energy, and ability to focus. Although Type Os can be powerful and productive, stress and lack of food can cause a deterioration in these traits and the Type Os countenance can descend into hyperactivity, anger, and impulsiveness. When unhealthy diet habits are kept and exercise levels go down, Type Os are vulnerable to the following health issues – insulin resistance, thyroid problems, and weight gain. I had insulin resistance for a number of years as well as low thyroid.
Diet recommendations are as follows:
“To avoid becoming overstressed, Dr. D’Adamo recommends following the Type O diet, which focuses on lean, organic meats, vegetables and fruits and avoid wheat and dairy which can be triggers for digestive and health issues in Type O. Additionally, he suggests that Type O’s avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine can be particularly harmful because of its tendency to raise adrenaline and noradrenaline, which are already high for Type O’s”. (from the Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type web site).
When I originally read the diet recommendations in this book for Type Os, I was daunted by the idea of eliminating wheat and dairy, as these were staples in my diet. I didn’t eat a lot of red meat because I had been taught by everything and everyone around me that red meat was unhealthy to consume. When one of the health practitioners I had been seeing suggested I eliminate wheat from my diet, I didn’t think I could do it. But I finally decided I had to if I wanted any chance of getting well. Months later, after revamping my diet and removing all the elements that were causing my health issues, I started realizing that these recommendations fell right in line with the book.
What about vegetarians and vegans?
Although I believe vegetarian and vegan diets are generally unhealthy, this book does take into account some people’s inability to consume a lot of protein and fat, and it has recommendations for blood types that fall into a higher carbohydrate category than someone like me, a Type O who salivates over meat and protein and simply cannot get enough. I actually do know some people who seem to thrive on lower amounts of protein and fat, and eat a great deal more carbohydrates.
The main issue I have with these habits is that most people I know who avoid meat and meat proteins tend to eat a rash of processed, toxic grain, nut, and soy products to make up for the missing protein in their diets. I haven’t figured out yet why a vegetarian would eat so few vegetables and so much processed foods, but I’ve watched it happen over and over again with puzzled wonderment. To those I know who are vegetarian, I always recommend that if you absolutely insist that you will NOT eat meat, you should at the very least be eating lots of coconut oil, cod liver oil, whole, organic, raw dairy products like milk, cream, butter, cheese, yogurt and lacto-fermented vegetables and other preparations.
I believe in my heart of hearts, knowing what I now do about nutrition, that if vegetarians and vegans began incorporating healthy fats and proteins from meat and dairy products into their diets, they would begin to realize a feeling of wellness and health benefits never before imagined.
Real grains and dairy
Now, some of the things that are not mentioned in the book are the benefits of sprouting and soaking grains and consuming raw dairy. I have found that when I consume grains prepared properly – through soaking and sprouting, and eat dairy products in their raw forms, I have no trouble with these foods at all. Still, I maintain my grain consumption at a low level because I had trouble with carbohydrates and grains for so many years.
It is important to recognize this distinction – that Dr. D’Adamo is likely referring to the processed, toxic varieties of dairy and wheat, especially since most people don’t seek out whole grains to sprout and soak, and do not buy unprocessed, raw dairy products. Repeatedly I hear success stories of people who weren’t previously able to eat grains and dairy, and who changed their dietary habits to soaking and sprouting grains, and eating raw dairy – and experienced astounding results. I believe that if everyone stopped eating all the processed wheat and dairy and started eating real, whole, soaked and sprouted grains and raw dairy, we’d see a profound change in the health of all citizens in developed countries. If the only thing you have access to is processed, toxic wheat and dairy, I’d say it’s best to avoid it altogether.
I’m not saying this book is the cure for everyone’s health ailments – only that it was something I encountered early on in my quest for health, and originally rejected because I believed it to be just another health fad book, only to find that years later I was actually following the recommendations in this book for my blood type all along once I figured out what was right for me. It is my hope that others may have the same experience if they are struggling with health issues and having trouble getting their health back on track. And I believe the book is a solid foundation for health because it follows many of the tenets and principles of the paleo diet and traditional, whole foods wisdom.