Category: Personalized Medicine
Some of you might not remember this, but about six years ago I wrote a book called 'Live Right For Your Type' (LRFYT). It was a fun book to write since I was not hamstrung by the extreme limitations I experienced in the writing of my first book 'Eat Right For Your Type' (ERFYT). First books are hard to write, mostly because you have to encapsulate the universe into a teacup, and like the blacksmith in the Bible who wanted to learn the whole Torah while standing on one foot,* you don't have an unlimited amount of time. Plus, you have to write something that the average man in the street can understand. Yet because it was so simple, and because it heralded a new way of looking at nutrition, 'Eat Right' has always topped the list of my bestselling books, still selling quite well despite to this day, being only available as a hardcover.
When it came time to write a followup, it was easy to see what had to be included. We had been secretor testing patients in our clinic for over ten years and knowing secretor status can be a very helpful way to get the most out of the blood type diet associations. Simple enough.
However, there were problems. One, secretor status testing is not easy to perform. It is not a common lab test, and the two most common methods (saliva and testing for Lewis blood group status) are not amenable to home testing, like ABO and Rh. So when 'Live Right' was released, a lot of people responded with something like "Oh great. It took me a year to find out my blood type and begin following the Type (A,B,O,A diet. Now I've got to find out my secretor status."
Then they took a look at the changes to the food lists. That's when things really took off.
All of a sudden, certain foods changed value, not just depending on whether you were A,B,O or AB, but also whether you were an ABO secretor or non-secretor, and not always for the worse (i.e taking new foods away.) Sometimes a food was 'given back' (restricted in for type O in 'Eat Right' but perhaps returned in 'Live Right' if you discovered that you were a non-secretor type O. One thing I noticed about the reactions was that there was a certain type of reader who was more disconcerted by having a food returned back to their diet than they were by finding out that even more foods were now restricted. This type of personality had the hardest time with changes.
Well, feathers flew, folks came and went, but if you visit the boards and leave a story about how you need the Blood Type Diet to work better in your life, ten responders will post back to you with the advice to get yourself secretor tested.
Now, you don't need to be a graduate of the Harvard Business School to understand a new version of 'classic' is is released, you risk a certain degree of backlash. I'm sure that Coca Cola is still smarting from the 'New Coke' fiasco of years past. They did not do the market research to realize that people could turn against them if they felt they were not being listened to or neglected. Coca Cola's problem was not that they were introducing a new formula. That would have been a non-event. The problem was that they were planning on eliminating the older formula.
The GenoType system is really another turn of the same wheel. I think of it like this. Say you came to my clinic and I put you on a blood type based diet. Say in 6/10 circumstances it works just fine. But you're one of the 4/10 that it didn't. So we get you secretor tested. But you are one of the 2/10 that blood type and secretor status doesn't get the results that you need.
So, what should I do? My clinic doesn't have a back door, so I can't just run out on you, and I'm too obstinate to admit defeat. So back to the blackboard I go. Five years and thousands of man hours later, out comes The GenoType Diet. Still part of the overall continuum, still the same blood (and secretor) types, but incorporating these with the physical manifestations that also serve to make us unique; measurements, fingerprints, etc. And, for the first time, with a definable end-goal in mind: the optimum control of your day-to-day genetic interactions with the environment.
But behind it all is the continuity that Coca Cola forgot about; as I posted on the BTD forums the other day, if you are a type A with sinusitis, you're a type a with sinusitis pretty much whether you are an Explorer, Warrior or Teacher. Collinsonia will still work pretty well on you. But if you've read in my earlier books that type A is more prone to cancer and heart disease, your might be interested to learn that these risks split up along GenoTypes, and so the preventive measures that you can take will be more effective.
Like ABO and Secretor Status, Blood Type and GenoType need and benefit from each other.
* To his demand that 'As a busy man, I've not the time to spend studying and reading,' he was advised that the Bible essentially taught that he should 'Not do to someone that which you would not want done to yourself. The rest in just commentary.'
A recent article in the NY Times on online amateur map making got my hacker juices going. If you follow these blogs, you might have noticed that I have a love for the art of graphically displaying data.
So what better way to get things going than to plunk the current IFHI membership into an online mapping device. It's still pretty rough and tumble, but eventually you will be able to find an IFHI resource by zooming in and out of some very cool maps.
Here is a taste:
IFHI Practitioners and Educators in the Eastern US and Canada
IFHI Practitioners and Educators in the UK
When I get all the membership into the software I'll put up the live link.
If you are affiliated with IFHI, place contact the head office and make sure that your information is current.
Spent the last two weeks in feverish rewrites of The Genotype Diet. The results appear to be a manuscript that is tighter, better organized and much less 'difficult' to decipher for the average layperson. Very readable, in fact. Something that my new masters at Random House care (not unexpectedly) very much about.
A lot of credit for this must go to Rachel Kranz, who has come in at the eleventh hour and really polished up the work. Rachel has done a lot of good writing (The Chemistry of Joy and the The Fat Resistance Diet are two books that many people are aware of. So now the manuscript is back at Random House editorial offices and I'm hard at work at finalizing the prescriptive parts of the book.
To do that, I wrote a program to help me sort out the myriad factors that are associated with the food values in the Genotype Diet. How different are things from the of Eat Right For Your Type days, where things were just kept in notebooks! For this book, I condensed huge amounts of information into massive data files. These include, to name a few, the mammoth USDA SR19 Nutrient Database and most of it's adjuncts (such as the proanthrocyanidin, isoflavone, flavone and choline metabolites); all of the Lecster lectin database; all of the BTD values, all available data on food contamination, allergens, chitinase, pesticides, carbohydrate breakdown values, etc.
Putting the data together was just part of the job. A lot of this I could do with judicious use of textfiles, databases and spreadsheet editors. After that I still had to write a program, essentially de novo, that could scan that data and derive conclusions that I was interested in. This I did with the D'Adamo Diet Equalizer a tool that allows me to zoom in on specific nutrients and filter them in and out of my equations.
The idea came from working in my home office and listening to iTunes a lot. Every once in a while a song comes up that just requires a little tweaking to get it to sound right. Normally you do this with a device called an equalizer; a series of sliders that filter out parts of the audio spectrum. At one point I was adjusting the built in equalizer in iTunes for the song listed above (a very good approximation of pre-ambient Brian Eno, if truth be told) when it occurred to me that it might just be a cool idea to write a program that used the equalizer interface to filter my data for The Genotype Diets. Thus the D'Adamo Diet Equalizer:
The stuff on the top are switches that filter specific choices; i.e 'restrict all foods which are avoids for blood type AB non secretors and have a high glycemic index" or 'include all grains which don't contain gluten or gliandin which are neutral or beneficial for type O secretors'. That kind of stuff is simple enough to do in Perl and HTML. However, developing the next series of filters, the slider channels, was more difficult, since browsers and HTML don't have a provision for slider-type input. However, I did find a nice Java applet that solved the problem. This part of the software works by allowing me to move the slider up or down and then letting it adjust the choices based upon falls within that range. For example, if I move the sider up it might include all foods with creatine content above 4 mg per 1 cup serving, or restrict all foods which have greater than 350 mg sodium per cup if I move it down. Problem here is that food values vary considerablly between foods. If I make the top of the slider full value the highest value in the database things can get screwy. For example, the highest value for sodium in the database is (perhaps no surprise) salt. It has something like 35000 mg of sodium per cup. Second place is not even removely close. Thus if the top slider number (+50) was just the highest value (salt), all the other values for normal foods would probably lie between 0 and 1. Although this is how a lot of the online nutritional databases present the data, in this form it is not very useful. Fortunately I was able to use a few log functions to spread out the data till it was silky smooth.
It's a cool tool and like any craftsman, I take some pride in the quality of the presentation as well. Actually perhaps too much pride since I eventually have to stop playing with the thing and go to work. The DDE turns out to be very useful in the Clinic, especially when I have to do a quick tweak on a patient who is already following the basic SWAMI program.
Hopefully by IfHI 2007 I'll be in a position to let the folks there tinker with it.
As for the readers of the GTD, they'll see nothing of this. Just a beautiful stretch of road where the gorgeous scenery just seems to go on forever.