Archives for: April 2011
Over the past week I've had occasion to counsel a couple of different O people on getting started with the blood type diet. One of these was a 55-year-old male with Rx-treated health problems; the other a 41-year-old female in good health but overweight. Following is my basic prescription:
1. Understand the O Type.
Get the overall lay of the land. I like Dr. D'Adamo's book, Eat Right 4 Your Type, for a general introduction to blood types, the medicine and the anthropology. But, if you only buy one book, I suggest diving right into his Live Right 4 Your Type. I like the latter's numerous charts, showing health strengths and vulnerabilities and offering so many helpful tips for different age groups and conditions. It also treats of "secretor status", which you may or may not choose to investigate.
2. Take a look at those O potential weaknesses:
The general list includes: Inflammations, allergies, arthritis, ulcers. Depression/bipolar illness, anger management problems, impulse control problems – addictions, alcohol abuse; thyroid problems, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis. O's can get a pretty good sense of their general health by noting which, if any of the above, affect them noticeably.
3. Look at D'Adamo's food recommendations
See the overarching shape of D'Adamo's recommendation for your type. For the O, this means emphasizing animal protein – especially red meat, your highest octane fuel. It means de-emphasizing dairy and grains/starches and liberally using green vegetables and beneficial fruits, e.g., berries. Analyze your current practice, and compare it to D'Adamo's model.
A note on meat for the O type: This is my own particular image, but I see the O stomach as a piranha, hungry for animal flesh. My favorite childhood TV sitcom, The Addams Family, featured a pet piranha in a fish tank. A whole fish would be dropped into the piranha's tank; the water would be intensely roiled by the feeding, and the complete skeleton of the piranha's meal would be ejected from the tank within seconds! Consonant with that image, I tell O's: "Feed your stomach acid! Give it something to do! Employ it, so it doesn't eat your stomach!" The stomachs of those who are not of type O do not produce this abundance of protein-dissolving acid. You've got it: Use it. Toss it some red meat to keep it docile!
4. Look at D'Adamo's fitness recommendations
For the O, this means a daily sweaty workout! I've found that many O's notice more-even moods and less anger-outbursts when they work out hard at the outset of their day. They seem to enter the fray with equanimity and balance, less likely to be addled by annoying circumstances. Obviously there are many other benefits to the right program, too, but evenness of temper is often quickly and dramatically appreciated.
5. Prioritize your Beginner Program
(a) Add Beneficials
With Dr. D'Adamo's program, I like to think: Lifetime maintenance plan, from the get-go. I do not recommend "hitting the ground running": Choose one suggestion such as "eat more lean red meat" and focus on that for at least a week, noting any changes in overall health or well-being.
Choose easy things first. Adding red meat portions. Then adding leafy greens. Then adding berries.
[b] Increase the rigor of morning workouts. If you don't work out at all, then adding a weekly intense workout, or doing some yoga or stretching for ten minutes every day for a week. (Obviously your health and age must be factored-in)...that sort of thing.
(c) Subtract Avoids
Once you've gotten used to bennies and workouts, lighten up on the avoids. Usually the practice of (a) results in improved morale and motivation to drop bread or pasta somewhat. Switching from bread to crackers is an interim step many O's have found helpful in the weaning process. Look at your dairy consumption and switch from avoids to beneficials/neutrals where that's most comfortable for you.
6. One-at-a-Time Food Category Focus
Look at, e.g., your beverage consumption habits. How compliant is it? Switch types of tea or wine: That sort of thing. Oils? Drop sunflower and go with olive. Easy stuff first!
I do not recommend shooting for "100% compliance"; it is far less likely, with most relatively healthy people, to eventuate in an enjoyable lifelong practice. When in doubt, choose the easy way over the difficult one. At the beginning, do not necessarily obsess on minors such as spices or even individual fruits and vegetables. Three to four weeks thus, at a slow pace, will usually yield positive results, boosting morale and preparing for the next phase. These can be improved by knowing your secretor status. I explain what this is/means.
7. Learn about/take into account Secretor Status.
Approximately 80% of the population secretes blood type antigen in body tissues other than on the red blood cell surfaces, and this secretion is a boon, increasing immune defenses. The non-secreting minority is more susceptible to health challenges and is likelier to have a number of hard-to-diagnose or -to-treat ailments. Begin with the assumption you are a secretor, however, unless you identify with my description of the non-secretor. Live Right 4 Your Type will offer somewhat different dietary recommendations for the two groups. The secretor test is based upon a saliva sample (to determine whether you are secreting blood type antigen in your saliva). It is available for home-administration through Dr. D'Adamo's website.
The foregoing represents a general introduction to practicing Dr. D'Adamo's guidelines for the O newbie. If your blood type is not O, take a look at the doctor's books and look up your own type, taking the same overall approach. There are cases in which I'd advise greater stringency, but in most I recommend what's more enjoyable.
Last night, the 41-year-old woman said to me, "I really appreciate your attitude: I tend to go to extremes. I get overly serious and harp on the details." She was relieved by my permission to lighten up.
"If you want to lose weight quickly, only to put it back on again," I said, "go with some other diet. If you want to really live right for your type, however, for the rest of your life, learn about this way, and take it up gradually."