We know by now that fad diets are not sustainable or good for us. But let’s go deeper. Could eating for your blood type be a healthy thing to do?
The admirable thing about eating for your blood type is that it recognizes that not every body is created equal. Ancient medical systems like Ayurveda, Tibetan Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine are rooted in this idea – they are holistic systems that work with each individual body as its own mini universe. Longevity and health comes from working with the body, and giving it exactly what it needs according to its genetic predispositions, but also to the given season or time of day.
The basic idea that most longstanding holistic theories agree on is: Eat what YOU need.
So from a Western perspective, one’s blood type could be a perfect place to start discovering what that is. This method has been around for over 50 years. What’s behind it? Our blood type could act as a window on our genetic make-up. The theory behind eating for your blood type is based upon the scientific fact that the genes in our blood type are also responsible for the expression of proteins in our body – and this is a large determinant in how we digest certain foods. This idea has also been widely accepted and implemented by many naturopathic doctors and Easter Medicine healers.
The naturally-occurring toxins in most foods, lectins, can cause cells to agglutinate in our bloodstream. Lectins are blood-type specific. One person’s medicine could be another’s irritant. Eating foods with incompatible lectins could cause inflammation and effects such as problems digesting, absorbing nutrients, and damage to the gut-wall. The most known example of this is how gluten lectins have been found to be a cause of celiac disease. Likewise, eating foods compatible with one’s blood type has been found to be highly beneficial to the body’s overall function.
So if this knowledge could allow nutritionists and dieticians to make scientific and objective dietary advice based on each patient’s specific physiology, perhaps this is not a fad after all?
Could this simple form of personalized lifestyle choices trump one-size-fits-all dietary models and weight-loss fads?
Let’s take a closer look at what this could mean for each individual.
The basic blood types we find in today’s population are O, A, B, AB. With each blood type, we find certain genetic predispositions, character traits, and food tolerances.
Blood-type O has been around since the hunter-gatherer days of our species, thus it is the oldest blood type.
Body: Type O people are said to be prone to high stomach acid, digestive disorders, low immunity or a slow metabolism/hypothyroidism.
Character: Confident, strong-willed, extremely hard-working, determined; thrives with activity and regular heart-pumping exercise to manage stress. Also more prone to mosquito bites!
To Eat: High protein diet of lean meats, fish, poultry (organic and grass-fed of course!) + fruit and vegetables! It is said that type O’s have adapted to digest animal proteins without trouble, and have a more difficult time following a vegan diet because they are prone to deficiencies of vitamins found soley in animals, such as B12. An indication that a type O may benefit from some form of animal protein could be symptoms of fatigue, hypothyroidism, weakness, or weight gain. While it is said that type O’s thrive with clean forms of animal protein, those who wish to remain vegetarian are advised to monitor their protein intake and make sure it is sufficient, as well as decrease their carbohydrate intake. Olive oil, walnuts, seaweed, leafy greens, garlic, berries, ginger and green tea are also said to be beneficial foods for O’s.
To Avoid: Gluten, wheat grains, corn, dairy, legumes.
Type A’s are said to have an agrarian blood type – so Type A vegan’s are totally on the right track.
Body: Low stomach acid and weaker digestion; could be at a higher risk of blood clotting, heart-related diseases and some cancers, as well as low immunity if stress is not managed; susceptible to stressors and high cortisol levels if living an aggressive lifestyle.
Character: Competitive, outgoing, ambitious, impatient, analytical, inventive. To avoid internalizing stress, they benefit most from gentle, mind-body exercises such as yoga and tai chi.
To Eat: Plant-based all the way! Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds are said to be the ideal diet staples for A’s because they thrive on a higher carbohydrate diet and do not have adequate stomach acid to digest animal proteins – nor do they require them to survive. (Organic, Non-GMO) soy based foods are best for Type A’s. Fish and some fermented dairy are absolutely fine too!
To Avoid: Meat and dairy due to sensitive digestion and low stomach acid, and they should stick to a relatively low fat diet.
Type B is said to have evolved in the Himalayan highlands, and potentially in response to drastic climatic changes.
Body: Greater ability to adapt to altitude, sensitivity to stress and viruses. If eating incompatible foods, can develop fatigue, fluid retention, immunity disorders or hypoglycemia. They are said to have the best chance of bypassing or overcoming chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer!
Character: Highly adaptable to change! Passionate, strong, erratic, creative. Prone to stress and sleep disorders. Thrives with less-aerobic but mentally stimulating exercise, such as golf, martial arts, tennis, cycling, and hiking.
To Eat: A balanced diet! Fruits, green vegetables, some grains, eggs, low fat dairy, meats except chicken.
To Avoid: Corn, wheat, chicken, buckwheat, lentils, tomatoes, peanuts, shellfish, most legumes and sesame seeds.
And finally the ‘modern’, or most-recent blood type. AB is also the rarest, but shares some traits with both A’s and B’s.
Body: Strong immune system, can tolerate many food groups, but has sensitive digestion. AB’s with more B traits may find that they have higher stomach acid and meat tolerance, but it is incredibly specific to the individual. AB’s should pay more attention to appropriate food combining for optimal digestion of a variety of foods.
Character: Friendly, introverted, controlled, rational and adaptable, intuitive, spiritual. Manages stress and benefits most from a balanced, alternating exercise regime of both aerobic exercise and calmer mind-body practices.
To Eat: Mostly vegetarian, tofu, turkey, seafood, dairy, vegetables, cultured dairy.
To Avoid: Most meats, nuts and seeds, but can be eaten occasionally. Avoid smoked meats.
Let’s keep in mind that the root cause of cancer is when one’s body is unable to metabolize protein – so certain blood types may not thrive when consuming animal proteins due to their body’s inability to digest and utilize them. But if we experiment with eating the proteins that are compatible with our bodies, maybe we can go beyond diet trends and taboos and accept that ‘healing food’ is an incredibly specific term?
If you have found limited or no results by dogmatically sticking to a certain diet, a more individualized approach like the blood type diet could definitely be beneficial. So if you feel inspired – maybe it’s worth considering how your blood type thrives, at least if it helps you to get to know your body better!