One way to truly screw up the truth is to subject it to public debate; since our minds want some sort of resolution, but out of inbred nicety we often want consensus as well. Problem is, as Winston Churchill so accurately pinned it, consensus is often “the sum total of everyone’s fears.”
People seem to have a love-hate relationship with genetics, or perhaps more accurately, an “awe-hate” relationship. Ask the average person what genetics means to them, and they will typically respond with a litany of dread, largely courtesy of the news media. Cloning. Stem cells. Genetically modified “Frankenfoods.” Yet ask that same person where they envision science will find the cure for cancer, or aging, or diabetes, and they will probably answer genetic research as well.
There are indeed aspects of genetics that are potentially disturbing. Consider the genetic modification of our foods. To a certain degree we are becoming one big uncontrolled experiment, as biotechnology inserts genes from one species into another, often for supercilious reasons. Do we need pesticide-resistant plants, courtesy of genetic engineering, or do we need more pesticide-free organic gardening?
It is precisely when biotechnology becomes the enabler of our existing bad habits that we lead ourselves into uncharted territory. It is also the time when the counter argument in favor of genetic modification of foods, that “nature does it all the time” rings hollow. “Nature” is a vast, living breathing mega-structure. To me Nature might more likely try to destroy pesticide manufacturers rather than re-engineer everything to be able to withstand their wares. It would certainly be easier.
In addition, we have the problem of the politically correct scientific conclusion. Scientists are human beings just like anyone else (stupider actually, if DNA pioneer James Watson were to be believed) and the pressure to conform or arrive at conclusions that are not socially distasteful (and hence not publicly fundable) is great.
But here’s what should be the goal: Take the gobs of generalized information out there, filter and analyze it, then let it guide our actions through the process of making the sort of useful decisions and actions that can produce positive change in public health. Our goal is not Eugenics (getting rid of genetic undesirables, like what the Nazis tried to do), but rather Yougenics --the science of studying yourself. As long as our fact-finding is based on the results that pertain only to you, the individual reading this blog, we will always remain on a strong, fair and firm ethical base.
I would go so far as to say that the absence of Yougenics is the main problem with nutrition as it is practiced today. All too often we read studies done on large groups of individuals and can only be left wondering if these results apply to us. Since nutrition began its meteoric rise in the public consciousness thirty years ago, we’ve been barraged with studies that have lead to sweeping conclusions and have then seen these same conclusions laid to rest, one after the other.
A lot of this is the result of nutrition being largely disease-based, a legacy of its years of discovery centered on finding the cause of deficiencies. Conventional nutritional wisdom came to define health as the absence of nutritional deficiency. Some of this is probably a ripple effect from the major developments that have taken place in the field of pharmaceutical drugs. But foods work differently than drugs. For example, we don’t make energy out of drugs; they don’t fuel or cellular processes. Foods are functional entities in our bodies, not drugs that prevent deficiencies, and our reactions to food are much more individualized than those we have to drugs.
Since nutritional science has such a rudimentary approach to food, it is not surprising that most nutrition research yields results that typically conflict with other results. And although it will eventually be yanked, no doubt kicking and screaming, into the genomic age, nutritionists still clamor for the next “one size fits all approach”, substituting one fad for another, each with its own army of disciples and detractors, the cycle to be repeated again and again.
An interesting observation on the Autism website points to the possibility that The Blood Type Diets can be helpful in managing kids with autism. We've seen some indication of this in the Clinic, and I've speculated in at least one book (Live Right For Your Type) that lectin avoidance may be the mechanism by which this occurs. Would be nice to see a good independent study on this. We can at least hope!
Just the other day, Martha reconnected via email with an old friend of ours, John Weeks. I first met John back in the mid-1980's when he was the first Development Officer for Bastyr College. I got to know him much better while was serving with him on the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) Board of Directors.
John has gone on to carve out a career as the Editor/ Publisher of The Integrator Blog, a website devoted to "a health care system that is multidisciplinary and enhances competence, mutual respect and collaboration across all health care disciplines."
In emailing back and forth with Martha he directed us to a little blurb he had just published on the recent AANP Convention which had mentioned a long forgotten (although not by John) suggestion of mine about creating 'model states' as part of our drive to secure license in all 50 states.
That was interesting enough, but more jostled me out of my typical late morning indolence was a discussion elsewhere about the chronology and authorship of the phrase 'Integrative Medicine'.
In another move undoubtedly destined to make me even more popular with Andrew Weil (who is widely credited with it authorship) I wrote John a quick note that mentioned off-the-cuff that I had used the phrase long ago when I was part of a small committee responsible for formulating the first clinical curriculum at Bastyr College.
Well, after we conducted a see-saw email interview, John wrote a rather nice little blog about it.
Spent the last week lolling around Lancaster County Pennsylvania, one of my favorite places in the world. If the twenty-four hour news media leaves you with the notion that there is nothing that America can do right, visit Lancaster County. There is a lot of tourist stuff, but there are also fields and fields of the great agricultural bounty to be found in America. Corn, beans, lettuce, you name it. Rows upon perfect rows, fading endlessly into the horizon. Sturdy stone houses and hideously expensive (but quite beautiful) hand made quilts.
I was happy to learn that almost 100% of the fertilizer is natural manure-based; which, although it can be a problem with ground water runoff if improperly managed, is still better than the Monsanto-based explosives we've relied on in the past.
We were looking at schools for my oldest child, Claudia, a high school senior who will start college next year. We toured Franklin and Marshall and Gettysburg colleges. Both are gorgeous, small and inviting; just what a liberal arts college should be.
The usual protocols prevailed, typically a slide show ‘orientation’ followed by a tour headed by one of the students. I learned that at both schools, the washing machines in the laundromat will send you a text message when your wash is finished, and that at 12:00 midnight the week of the final exams, you can get free hot chocolate at the library. When I asked about the number of technical and scientific journals each library subscribed to, nobody knew the answer.
Of course, nobody ever talks about the 8000-pound elephant in the room: “Hey, just how much is this going to cost?” For kicks, I'd typically gesture to raise my hand when it got to question and answer time, at which point my legs were vigorously kicked by my younger daughter, nervously anticipating future mortification at the hands of dad's latest déclassé question.
Gettysburg College almost did the ‘anti-orientation.’ The assistant dean of admissions just went up to the front of the auditorium and proceeded to do 30 minutes of shtick. Some of it was tedious, but a lot of it was peppered with great advice, good tips to the kids about how to write the application essay and comport themselves during the interview.
- “If you don’t know Winston Churchill personally, please don’t write about how he is a role model”
- “Make a point to provide at least 50% of the total conversation.”
- “Look me in the eyes.”
- “This is not a good time to be shy or modest.”
If you have a teenage child, you will understand the benefits of this sage advice.
Gettysburg is of course the site of a famous Civil War battle, one of two that provided the turning point in fortune for the forces fighting for the maintenance of the Union. It is also the home of The Gettysburg Address, which I was surprised to discover, was not used as a name by any of the town shops or restaurants. By the way, the restaurant eating is much better than I remember from years back.
I fancy myself a fairly knowledgeable on the battle and tactics and looked forward to driving the park and discussing the history of the battle with the kids. It was pretty rough at first, since neither child is all that much into history. Sort of like our earlier trip to Cordoba. However a trip to the new Gettysburg National Visitor Center did sort of hook them in, especially the very cool 3-D type movie narrated by Morgan Freeman, which takes you through the battle, causes and aftermath, all in the very teenager friendly time-frame of 24 minutes.
Tonight is the first of the NAP Professional Webinars, and I’m told that it is standing room only (25 people are the maximum). We are using a service called GoToMeeting that allows people to hear what I’m saying on their computer speakers, see my desktop, and ask questions. Hopefully I can get the thing under my belt by show time. I'm told that it can be 'recorded' and if so, we will make it available to doctors and other professionals.
The Connecticut Post ran a very nice article on me the other day. Unlike that terrible article in Time a while back, this reporter actually took the time to try and understand the material. Of course, the comment sections of these online articles always seems to attract a screwball or two. Like Sister Marie Francis used to tell our fifth grade class at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Brooklyn, “Empty barrels do make the most noise.”
While on the subject of criticism, we’ve finally got round to developing a standardized response area for the myriad of articles on the Internet that are critical of all the blood type and GenoType theories. In time, we’ll just keep adding to it.
Other news: I’ve just received test batches of the skin toner, cleanser and moisturizer. People who have tried the day crème are usually pretty enthusiastic about the line, and they will probably like these as well.
Have been re-reading Vivian Perlis' great book Charles Ives Remembered: An Oral history.
I’ve drawn much comfort from Ives over the years; certainly through his music, but also with many of the corollaries between his life and my own. Our homes are within ten miles of each other, and we both shared the benefits (and challenges) of being the sons of men who were themselves geniuses ahead of their time.
Ives was a musical genius, anticipating the serialism of Schoenberg and many other elements of modern music, such as microtones, by many decades. Unfortunately, this placed him squarely in the path of the conventional musical minds of his time. What frustration he must have felt reading reviews of his work, where instead of seeing the horizon line of a new art, the reviewer merely saw an amateur composer who just wrote down the wrong notes!
Ives had no patience for these people. On top of one review, he simply scribbled the phrase ‘rot and worse.’ To Ives, these were just mediocre minds, steeped in the traditions of the past. Problem was, they taught in the conservatories, wrote the reviews and set the standards.
"Stop being such a God-damned sissy! Why can't you stand up before fine strong music like this and use your ears like a man?"
- At a 1931 concert when a man booed during one his friend Carl Ruggles's works
Reading about Ives has also reawakened in me a sense of outrage which I had sequestered a few years back. For example, as the previous blog described, I had never actually read the Wikipedia entry on The Blood Type Diet, trusting that somehow, a fair representation would emerge.
It's not that I can't handle the personal attacks, I can. It's the gratuitous assaults on the research and its benefits that I just refuse to put up with any longer. Basically if 'debunkers' are going to knock my work because it sounds like the wrong notes to their ears, they should be prepared to defend their assertions.
Like my favorite peripatetic scientist, Andrew Weil.
Dr. Weil, America’s holistic doctor and author of numerous books on the benefits of hallucinogenic drugs, seems to have a thing for the Blood Type Diet. Dr. Weil, whose book sales have been sagging for the last few years but appears to have no difficulty getting major media attention, now seems to have now taken the road common to many scientists at the twilight of their careers; that of ‘debunker’. In a short article on the AARP online magazine, Weil again argues that the Blood Type Diet should 'be sacked.'
Jettisoning his previous criticisms, including the rather odd observation that animals have blood types and yet don’t follow the Blood Type Diet, Dr. Weil, now a lectinologist and glycobiology expert, instead offers his opinions on lectins and blood types:
D’Adamo theorizes that the basis for such differences is our reactions to certain food proteins called lectins. Lectins are common in plant foods, especially grains and beans, and may be involved in food allergies and some immune disorders. But there is no convincing evidence for any interactions between lectins and the molecules that determine blood type.
Weil should really do his homework before committing himself to the further erosion of his nutrition credentials. Certainly he should have consulted the work of Boyd or Nachbar before making such claims, since he is essentially just plain wrong.
On the other end of the spectrum we have Dr. Joseph Mercola. Dr. Mercola, who for a time shared the same literary agent with me (at his request) and claims that his website is one of the most popular health sites on the internet with a very high circulation email newsletter. Mercola recently wrote in an email newsletter that following the blood type A diet and walking a lot gave him diabetes:
I am blood type A, so I switched to a high grain diet and changed my high intensity aerobic type exercises to walking like he suggested. Well, in a few short weeks my fasting blood sugar rose to nearly 130. This told me two things. The first was that I had diabetes, and the second was that Eat Right for Your Blood Type is a flawed theory that helps some, but can really harm and damage others.
Now, Dr. Mercola is a well-trained physician, so I have a hard time thinking that he actually believes this, since I doubt that any type A I know on the diet would ever call it ‘high grain.’ But imagine if you read the following; would you believe it?
I read in a book that people with legs should move around, so I walked down the street. Well, in a few short minutes I got hit by a car. This told me two things. The first was that I had to look at the stop signs more carefully, and the second was that moving around is a flawed theory that helps some, but can really harm and damage others.
What I find especially interesting is that if anybody advocates a high grain diet it is clearly Andrew Weil.
Now, I don’t have problems with either of these two guys; I just wish they would leave me out of their marketing plans. It would really be in their own best interests as well since one of the first things any salesmanship course will teach you is 'don't knock your competition.'
I've made point of never actually reading the Wikipedia entries on myself and The Blood Type Diet. However, I was playing around with the new www.cuil.com search engine and the Wikipedia entry came up for the BTD. I was pleased to see that the entry on me personally has been deleted, as I had requested. However, that was just about all I was happy to read.
I've known all along that a lot of 'Diet War' well-poisoning goes on at Wikipedia, so I was not surprised to see the normal stable of misrepresentations and deliberate factual cherry-picking that characterizes the entry. More surprising was the deliberate attempt to put various statements and values into my mouth which I had never said or written. One of the cited 'criticisms' is just a page from a MLM website.
Well, sadly enough, one just can't ignore Wikipedia, since thousands of people depend on it for information. I changed a few things up front with the entry, leaving what I thought were valid comments, even if they were negative. I tried to footnote everything where possible.
I left the following message on the Talk Page:
Rot and Worse
I extensively added my own input in response to some of the more unctous paragraphs, in an otherwise terrible entry. I've removed one criticism, which actually did nothing but link back to a general page on my own website. I've also countered several efforts to inveigle points by putting words in my mouth, including the notion that I have claimed that lectins are the 'cornerstone' of the theory and that '1000's of references cited by D'Adamo do not specifically support his associations between blood type and foods' with the obvious reducio ad absurdum that if any one of them actually did, I would suspect that they could justifiably be considered the originator of the theory.
Finally, on the subject of research. By all means. Now, what would be the null hypothesis, and how would we dispove it? Obviously to prove the whole theory, we would need to run controlled studies on each blood group versus some sort of placebo. True, the ABO testing part is simple, but don't be silly; that's only the start. What biomarkers shall we monitor? E-selectin might be a good one, or maybe just weight loss. What numbers would we need? Couple of hundred; maybe a thousand. What pre-study baselines should we have? CBC? CRP? Lewis Antigens? Follow-up? Staffing? Anyone want to hazard a guess at the price? I'd say maybe 7-10 million.
Now, without this 'burden of proof' I should not write anything, hypothesize anything or claim anything until we get the money and get the test done, even though I would be more than happy just considering the whole thing still a theory. Nothing distasteful there. Einstein had theories. He didn't have to show burns on the seat of his pants from riding light beams across the universe. Me, I just run little studies to try and poke wholes in the one-size fits all diet/disease concept.
Anyway, OK.. I get the money and get the study done. Oiula! My theory is wonderful! A medical breakthrough!
Not so fast.. 'Of course he got those results, he did that study himself. We need independant corroboration.'
Now, how many scientists do you think are going to stick their neck out on this type of research? The internet is full of 'diet war skullduggery': vegan websites which trash the theory because it tells some people to eat meat; and paleo websites that attack it because it tells some people that carbohydrates and soy may not be so bad for them.
Does Wikipedia have an entry on 'Diet Wars'? It really should.
On the other hand people can at least look at some simple anecdotal evidence (aka 'self-reported outcomes' when you are Dean Ornish).
But where this entry really misses the point, is its complete lack of any attempt to fit the Blood Type Diet into any historical context, a sad oversight for an 'encyclopedia' if you ask me. This theory was advanced almost three decades ago, with the idea that there may well be something such as a 'personalized diet.' Ten years ago it was low-fat versus low-carb. Ornish versus Atkins. Here was a system that said in essence they were both correct... to a degree. And a determinant was a simple gene that anyone could discover for free. Like it or not, from a historical perspective it will always be the first nutrigenomic diet.
So... lack of independant verification? Yes. Large body of anecdotal evidence?... Yes. Conclusions albeit circumstantially supported by the general body of evidence?.. Yes. Blood group characterizations in keeping with parameters as observed in the literature (myocardial infarct, blood rheology, soluable endothelial factors, intestinal enzymes, brush border hydroxylases, pepsinogen, etc).. Yes.
This entry sort of reminds me of the cover of 'Beggars Banquet' by the Rolling Stones. Not the nice one with the engraved invitation... The first one with the toilet bowl and the graffiti..
PeterDAdamo (talk) 12:31, 30 July 2008 (UTC)
I guess I'm going to have to pay more attention to this in the future. My advice is save a copy of the current page while you can. No doubt it will be 'reverted' as soon possible.
'I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!'
-Captain Renault, 'Casablanca' 1942)