Archives for: February 2008
I'm an A+ non-secretor, married to an A+ secretor.
I first developed an interest in nutrition circa 1971 (in my mid-20's), and became a vegetarian in 1989 (in my mid-40's) on our honeymoon. My husband stopped eating meat a year later.
I suppose I first heard about Eat Right 4 Your Type shortly after it was published. All I knew about it was the title and that the author said people with different blood types should eat differently. I thought that made about as much sense as "Eat Right for Your Hair Color," so I gave it no further thought -- until almost ten years later, when a friend emailed me that she had begun to follow the Blood Type Diet. She listed a few of the foods that she was and was not supposed to eat, but did not happen to mention what her blood type was. When I spotted a copy of Eat Right in our chiropractor's waiting room, I borrowed it because I thought that figuring out my friend's blood type from the food lists would be an interesting puzzle. By the time I finished Chapter One, however, I was so fascinated by the logic behind the BTD that I was hooked. In fact, I tried to start following the diet as soon as I finished reading the book -- but I had no idea what my blood type was!
Within a few days, I had remedied that oversight and had also sent in my saliva sample for secretor testing. That was October of 2005. Within a few weeks, I was noticing some pleasant little health-related surprises. In February of 2006, I began to eat a small daily serving of salmon or turkey, but my husband is still a vegetarian, most of my meals are vegetarian, and the local vegetarian group hasn't kicked me out. I have not yet experienced any major BTD miracles, but continue to receive pleasant little surprises.
I was born in Indiana in 1944, but moved away right after college. I lived in eastern Massachusetts, eastern Iowa, western New York, and southern California before moving back to Indiana, with my husband and a back-seat-ful of cats, in 1993. Along the way, I was a high-school math teacher, a clerk-typist for a temp agency, a software engineer, and a nutritionist/herbalist trainee -- before accidentally retiring in 1990.
I enjoy going for walks with my husband (true to our blood type, we're casual day hikers, not back-packers), gardening (encouraging the birds and beneficial insects to help), and writing mystery novels (unpublished so far). Hubby and the cats and I now live a mile from the county road in a house that I designed (for structural integrity, indoor air quality, accessibility, cat-friendliness, and ease of maintenance).
Not all that long ago, most of us thought we understood nutrition pretty well. There was protein, fat, and carbohydrates, plus vitamins and minerals. Oh – and fiber. That was pretty much it.
Then “they” started finding out that fruits and vegetables don’t have all their pretty colors just for show. Those pigments are actually vitamin-like substances that help the body fight many so-called signs of aging which are caused by oxidation ("rusting," if you will) in the body.
I own a copy of a 1983 book entitled Gardening for Maximum Nutrition, by Jerry Minnich. As you might guess, it rates fruits and vegetables according to their nutritional content, to help you make efficient use of your garden space. The book is well-written, and the layout makes it easy to discover, for example, that the blueberry’s only dietary contribution is “modest amounts of Vitamin C.” Unfortunately, Mr. Minnich wrote this book before “they” discovered anthocyanins, the flavonoids that give blueberries their color, their name, and their current rating as one of the most nutritious fruits available.
Both the Blood Type Diet and the GenoType Diet offer long lists of foods for each Type. As a “Teacher” GenoType, for example, my recommended foods include beet roots, squash, and raspberries. The lists say nothing about color, but beets come in red, yellow, or white. Winter squash flesh ranges from pale yellow to deep gold. Raspberries can be purplish-black, red, yellow, or white. I figure I’m making the best use of my grocery dollar or my garden space by choosing the darkest and most brightly colored varieties available.
The color differences aren't always obvious. I used to buy organic Thompson raisins from the natural-foods market. For some reason, it never fully sank in that the dark-brown blobs were made from those bland pale-green Thompson seedless grapes. Raisins aren’t on my “Teacher” list, but if they were, I’d buy Zante “currants,” which are actually small raisins made from dark purple, nearly black grapes. (By the way, red or black currants, which are on my “Teacher” list, are related to gooseberries, and are generally sold fresh, frozen, or as jam, rather than dried. They're no relation at all to Zante “currants.”)
In general, though, it’s easy to choose the most antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Just look for deep, bright colors – red cabbage, rainbow chard, orange-fleshed nectarines. You get the idea.
OK, so I stoked up on wheat for a couple of months, then went in for a celiac blood panel (by Prometheus Laboratories, the gold-standard of celiac blood testing) at the end of November. When the nurse phoned me on December 4th, I just knew she was going to say that the tests were clearly positive. Then I would stop eating gluten, and I’d get all better!
But it hasn’t turned out that way.
For starters, the antibody test results were so negative that if they’d been five times higher they’d still be considered negative. The only positive result was for one DQ8 gene (a fairly common gene which merely makes it possible for me to have problems with gluten).
I allowed myself to mope for the rest of the day. But I had already spent enough time on celiac forums to know that a fair percentage of symptomatic people with negative test results do get better on a gluten-free diet, so I decided to go gluten-free anyway as my own “test.” And based on what I’d read on celiac forums and from my fellow BTD blogger Melissa Jones, I also decided to do the EnteroLab gluten-sensitivity stool test (which does not require a person to be currently eating gluten, though it should done within a few months after stopping).
Those two tests have showed more positive results. After just a few days without gluten, I noticed that I was feeling less lethargic. My head is working better, too – for example, I can match the stove dials to their burners without complex mental gymnastics. And the EnteroLab results are consistent with what I’m experiencing – they say I’m mildly gluten-sensitive, and should avoid the stuff in order to forestall more serious problems.
But I’ve been gluten-free for over two months now, and have not noticed any great improvement in the majority of my symptoms. My gluten-free diet is clearly a significant piece of the puzzle – but even so, it’s apparently just another edge piece, along with the progesterone skin cream and my daily handful of vitamins. The big piece in the middle that would tie everything together is still missing.