The summer of 1968 beckoned and looked very promising. Balmy days for us kids often spent butterfly collecting, trading comic books, listening to baseball on the radio, and playing afternoon stickball, a uniquely New York City street game involving a stick --usually appropriated from an unwatched broom-- and a hard pink rubber ball manufactured by the AJ Spaulding Company universally referred to as a “Spalldeen.”
However my dreams for such a bucolic near future came to a screeching halt one afternoon when I was greeted by my little brother at the door with news that we would all soon be flying in an airplane! That sounded exciting enough, but further elaboration disclosed a darker truth: We would be flying to the village of my mother’s birth in North East Spain. My knowledge of the place was minimal at best: I had only seen rather quaint photographs with scallop-cut edges of what appeared to be a ramshackle, sleepy and sun baked town populated by sunburned farmers with dazzling white teeth clustering around a new tractor, scooter or calf. It looked foreign, smelly and somewhat ominous.
Soon enough we headed for the airport to begin our journey. Modern, security-frazzled, airline customers may not realize or remember just how much of an event traveling by airplane was in the mid 1960’s. Washed and scrubbed, wearing rayon shirts and thin ties, mother in Sunday best complete with pill box hat, we journeyed the Atlantic in the marvelous Boeing 707.
Fully jet-lagged we landed many hours later at Barcelona airport and were greeting by a deputation from the village, 150 screaming, waving and wildly gesticulating Catalans, for this was, as I would soon be told “Catalonia, not Spain.” From Barcelona we soon began our travels westward, into the Llobregat river valley and the mountains of the Montserrat, strangely carved peaks that are the results of eons of erosion by now-extinct giant rivers. This is an enchanted land; not for nothing are Catalan artists overrepresented in the Surrealist art movement.
Winding down roads of choking dust, we made our way to the town, or pueblo. Until then having grown up in the restrained, plasticized and sanitized habits that characterized the USA in the 1960’s, I was in now way prepared for the coarse, almost brusque mannerisms of these folks. The gesticulated wildly, seemed to argue about everything, screamed at each other from their windows and talked at an amazingly rapid-fire rate of delivery. It’s phenomenally fertile land, and the local people are rumored to be the only people in Spain who can “make bread out of stones.” The closest town, which is at the border between Catalonia and Aragon, was described as being “renowned for its figs, and the thick-headedness of the inhabitants.”
Culture shock soon set in. A shy kid to start off, I was soon just happy to find a quiet place and read my bon voyage present, a huge book on the Battle of Gettysburg. Unlike my little brother, who was muy sympatico, eating in the café and yelling at the soccer games on the one TV like everyone else, I just felt alienated. One had to be careful with their choice of friends. The headless automaton jumping around my aunt’s kitchen spurting blood all over the place was just shortly before the chicken with two different colored eyes that I had so carefully observed that morning. Cute, friendly rabbits were soon rendered into grotesque hanging parodies of the “visible body” model that I had built that Christmas.
Being the wonderful people that they are, my family soon began to try to get me to come out of my shell. One of my uncles took notice of my liking of history, and soon we were off in his tiny car, visiting Visigoth and Roman ruins. Another uncle, a simple but lovable farmer, would take me out to his fields, hold a finger up to his lips so as to say “let’s keep this secret to ourselves” and begin pushing aside sagebrush, rubble and other weeds, revealing a lovely Roman husband and wife gravestone. Gradually, I began to open up to this wonderfully simple and pure world.
Around midday we would break for lunch and siesta, which never varied all that much; a medium sized fish, called a “sardine”, stuck on a branch and placed around perimeter of a small fire, some olives and almonds from the field, followed by a peach or pear. Since it was still too hot to go back to work we’d look at clouds or the distant hills and at one point I asked him what lay beyond those hills.
“Saragossa.” He said.
“And beyond that?”
“And beyond that?”
“The Basques. But they are different than us, and a little crazy.”
It would take a lot for a Catalan to call someone else “different”, and to a Catalan, the Basques may well be the only qualifying group. Like the Catalans, the Basques are very independent minded, with great cultural sensitivity and were consequently heavily repressed during the Franco dictatorship. Similarly, they have experienced a phenomenal cultural renaissance in the years following his death.
An ancient people, or more correctly a “people island,” they have resisted virtually all attempts at assimilation, forced or otherwise. In the Basque language there is no name for “Basque”. There is a name for the language that Basques speak, Euskera and a Basque is simply defined as a Euskaldun, someone who speaks Euskera.
But we would have to go back farther still to get a grip on the Basques. You have to go back to a very cold, dry time without agriculture. The Basques, you see, are sort of living fossils, probably the most direct link we genetically possess to a distinct people that can be traced back to the Pleistocene Age.
The upper right-hand corner of Spain has some of the most interesting dialects to be found in the world over such a small piece of geography. Catalan, the language of my family, is an ancient Latin derived tongue, probably closer to the Latin of the Romans than either modern day French or Spanish.
For a romance language, Catalan has a surprising number of consonants, with the free use of the letter x as an example. But for all its unique qualities, Catalan is a relative newcomer, the Romans having inhabited the area roughly two-thousand years ago. Prior to that the population was a hybridization of two earlier groups, rather short, dark haired and eyed indigenous people, called Iberians and taller, lighter transplanted Celts who arrived a few hundred years prior to the Romans in search (like their modern-day counterparts) of a warmer climate. These two groups intermingled freely, fused and produced what historians called the “Celt-Iberians.”
Yet these modern languages are distinct from Basque Euskera or any of the Semitic or African languages as well. English with it clipped and nasally sounds; German with its guttural mega words; French, with its mellifluous hints of romance and Hindi, with its beautiful Sanskrit writing all share Indo-European as a common ancestor.
Last night I gave a second lecture at the Wilton Library. This was sponsored by the library and open to the general public, so I was surprised and pleased to see standing room only. Despite the fact that I wasn't exactly feeling all that terrific (exhaustion from doing 17 radio interviews the day before and perhaps a bit of food poisoning as well) I gave what I think was one of my best lectures ever. Funny how all the fatigue, aches and pains disappear in me when it's time to talk about this material. Expression really is the best medicine. Signed a lot of books, which were supplied by the local town book shoppe, who sold out their stock. This is a really good thing since Wilton is one of the few towns that still has a local bookseller, versus most towns with their B&Ns and Borders, who have taken over the industry.
Random House has made available a small number of signed first editions of The GenoType Diet. You can read more about it here. They cost a bit more than the jacket price of the book, but I will be donating any of my royalties to a wonderful charity in Africa that helps women develop entrepreneurial skills. Teach an person to fish.. and all that.
Yesterday featured an interesting day of sorts. The amazon.com 'Health Bestsellers' featured 5 books that I have written as part of their top 25 bestselling health books. Cool.
Got a very nice note from Professor Gerhard Uhlenbruck, who had received his copy of The GenoType Diet. The good professor (the only scientist I have meet who has read Emil Cioran) shared these thoughts:
When I worked in the earlier sixties at the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine in London, my famous teacher, Prof. Dr. W.T.J. Morgan, who elucidated the biochemical structure of the ABH(O) and Lewis blood group antigens, used to say at various occasions: "Its all in the genes!". In fact, having experience in more than 50 years in clinical science and immunochemical research, I was so often confronted with this sentence, that it became a credo to me with the value of a proverb, which explained so many phenomena of patients and their very different reactivity to the susceptibility of illnesses, chronic diseases and early aging processes. When I first heard of Peter D'Adamo's blood group diet, of course I was very skeptical: Should we have missed in our book (Prokop/ Uhlenbruck: Human Blood and Serum Groups) such an important aspect? But years later, my interest switched to the nutritional field while working on the so-called Metabolic Syndrome, my interest increased in studying the role of genes in metabolic processes. I found out, that Peter D'Adamo's blood group orientated diet could probably be a first step in the right direction, however it could not be the whole story.
So I was not surprised at all, when now a book on The Genotype Diet by him was published as a next step in this new area. And I am sure it will not be the last one by him, as the role of genes and a subsequent personal, individual view of illness, diseases and health, including aging problems, has widened the approach of medical treatment, lifestyle change and a healthy nutrition.. We all live driven by our genes, sometimes feeling to suffer under their government,, and sometimes having the wish to change over our genetic outfit, to jump over the hurdle of genes or to influence their expression. Fat is not fate! I can confirm Peter D'Adamo in so far, as I have own experience in sport medicine, exercise immunology and in treating the Metabolic Syndrome.
According to the vision of D'Adamo, it seems also to me, that we can switch on the "good genes" and turn off the bad ones. In this context we must keep in mind that more than fifty percent of all illnesses are due to an inadequate nutrition. We know now much about anti-aging genes, which can be influenced by lifestyle (exercise) or by nutrition (as a curious example the action of red winew has been investigated). Looking on Peter D'Adamo's six Genotypes, being a medical doctor too, I must admit and I am a little bit amused, that one has so often met such types in the general medical practice. In any case, the book of D'Adamo is very stimulating, full of new ideas and creative concepts. Of course it will rise criticism and controversy, but at least I have observed, that people are very faithful to these diet suggestions, much more than to other diet programs: Who heals is right?
The sentence "Its all in the genes" has to be enlarged in that way that "its all in genes we ca influence". In this respect, Peter D'Adamo's approach is very optimistic, but this may be good in order to motivate people. To alter the genetic destiny is an old dream of mankind. What can be done in this direction, is limited but very understandably outlined in this book, written in a fascinating language and produced with many pictures and tables. It demonstrates also the profound knowledge of the author, its not a superficial "quicky", but with the aim not to become something like a dogmatic "bible", but a guidance book: Health as a creative process by activating personal thoughts and ideas about a longer healthy life, which is not permanent under the threat of disease. Life-style change means a revolution in the
personal life history.
We generally have the freedom to decide on our health. This book is showing a way, walking this way we must do alone, personally, guided by the genes we activate or suppress. Let me put it together: A person can keep healthy, fit and wise, by doing his diet and daily exercise! What motivates him maybe modified individually and in future. So I can recommend this book of my colleague as a start for a personal, individual life-style change. And
for that it is never too late.
What I so like about this guy (and surprisingly for an academic) is that he understands that there is a bigger game to be played, a greater goal to be achieved, in writing books such as the GTD than just winning some sort of nebulous intellectual argument between scholars. That is important too, but more often than not it is also irrelevant.
Who heals is right. Gotta love that.
Click on the image to listen to this broadcast.
A one-hour interview of Dr. Peter DAdamo by Cary Nostler of KSTE Radio, Sacramento California. The discussion includes the basics of blood type dieting, and how it lead to the development of Dr. D'Adamo's interest in epigenetics and The GenoType Diet.
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.'