This week's TIME magazine featured an execrable perspective on The GenoType Diet courtesy of columnist Andrea Sachs. In a column called Calorie Countdown she treats TIME readers to an array of her opinions on the various 'notable diets of 2008.'
The GenoType Diet gets short shrift from the pen of Ms. Sachs. In an analysis which appears to me no deeper than the back cover of the book's dust jacket (while also deriving substantial inspiration from The Fifth Dimension) she writes:
By Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo, with Catherine Whitney (Broadway; 317 pages). Naturopathic physician D'Adamo has identified six "GenoTypes"--the Hunter, the Gatherer, the Teacher, the Explorer, the Warrior and the Nomad--and gives food dos and don'ts for each. The book comes off about as scientific as telling Scorpios they should eat only food grown when Jupiter aligns with Mars.
Trying to learn more about who writes this type of article for America's most beloved weekly illustrated magazine, I retrieved this biography off the TIMES.com site:
Andrea Sachs is a former English major whose dreams were fulfilled when she became TIME's publishing reporter in 1995. What could be better than interviewing authors, reading fabulous new books, and going to publishing parties?
I guess Goethe was right. You do see what you know. Ms. Sachs never interviewed me, and seems to have not actually read my 'fabulous new book.' As far as the parties... well.
Some people seem to just get things wrong. One can only suppose that in world of Andrea Sachs I actually think that the universe splits up into Teachers and Nomads and that Teachers should teach stuff and Nomads should wander around. Those are just memes. Science writers often do this in an attempt to bring complex characterizations to life for laymen. That, as any good English major should know, is called a literary device. Read The Seven Daughters of Eve by Brian Sykes for a similar treatment. In the last third of the book Sykes writes narratives about fictional clan mothers ('Helena', 'Tara', etc.) which correspond to one (or more) human mitochondrial haplogroups.
A friend of mine was fond of saying that "You can always spot the pioneers. They are the folks with the arrows in their backs."
Now, that's real science.
*. The phrase 'file under futile' is from 'Back In Judy's Jungle' by Brian Eno
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.'
There are no "combination types'--every type has its own unique logic.
If you're used to other systems for identifying types--Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, the system of somatotypes developed by William Sheldon, you may be used to thinking that there are broad categories and then many combinations. Ayurveda, for example, has three major types of people--Air, Fire, and Earth--and then four combinations (Air-Fire, Fire-Earth, Air-Earth, and a triple type that partakes of all three).
The GenoTypes don't work like that (though they do overlap with some of the types from other systems). Instead, they represent coherent wholes, six self-sustaining efforts to solve the problems of survival that our ancestors encountered.
I think of the GenoTypes as six different types of tractors, each designed to solve the challenge of a particular type of terrain. One tractor is built very high off the ground so that it rolls right over any stones or stumps it encounters. Its weakness, of course, is that it's not always so stable. Another tractor is build low and squat. You couldn't knock it over if you triedâ€”but when it runs up against even a small stone, it's stuck. There's no one model you can invent that will encounter all difficulties equally well.
Likewise, you don't have an infinite number of solutions. Rather, there's a natural limit to the number of solutions and combinations you could come up with. Once you've given yourself a choice between big, small, and medium wheels, and between wide, narrow, and medium tread, you've pretty much exhausted the possibilities of wheel sizeâ€”after that, the differences aren't so significant. And since you can't put giant wide-tread wheels on a small, agile tractor that's built for easy steering, or tiny little wheels on a huge, wide, bulldozer-like tractor, you've got a kind of natural limit to the ways the combinations can come out as well.
'The GenoType Diet" page 111
I think some readers may have difficulty with this idea, since it is almost impossible to have ALL the characteristics of one GenoType and NONE of the characteristics for any of the others, though perhaps our minds would like things to work that way, since we most often think in a bivariate (low number of variables) world, but inhabit a holistic, multivariate world.
The GenoTypes are actually clusters of data characteristics: Genes (like blood type), anthropometrics (like leg length or somatotype) and other traits, such as dermatoglyphics (fingerprints). These traits themselves overlap in their significance; blood types influence somatotype (some, like the A antigen, more than others); fingerprints, a measure of fetal-placental nutrient balance, are also a good indicator of asymmetry, another marker of developmental instability.
Clusters come in two flavors, ones where each datum is limited to one cluster (and one cluster only) and 'fuzzy' clusters in which the data can belong to more than one cluster. The key concept behind the latter is the idea of membership i.e what gets you into a particular cluster (or GenoType). Fuzzy logic allows partial membership in a cluster.
This is usually determined by distances between the data points and variations between the clusters with regard to membership criteria; the closer that two data points are the more likely it is that they will share the same cluster. Distances here can be measured in the normal (Euclidean) way; i.e "it's ten miles to town." or in something called the "Manhattan or Taxicab" method, which, if you've every lived in New York City, DOES qualify as its own unit of measurement.
You keep adding clusters until you hit what is euphemistically called the The Elbow Criterion: a point where adding another cluster doesn't add sufficient information or encompass any more variation. At that point you're done. Initially it looked like there were going to be a LOT of GenoTypes (like, 32!). But then it kept falling: to 16, then 8 and finally 6.
I was hoping for 7 (for good luck) but the elbow kicked in and that was that.
So, if despite the last last five minutes you are still left wondering why are there no combination types, let me give you the simple answer:
They already overlap each other!
Well, the cat's officially out of the bag. The GenoType Diet ships to all locations from here on in. I can't help wondering how it will be received. Like anything with beginnings an endings, you have to make see possibilities even in that which you compromise.
- The book had to be accurate and truthful, but you can't bury people with every single fact. Metaphors and parables can often be used to animate complex principles so they can be seen as the commonplace occurrences that they are.
- The book was written from a non-defensive standpoint. By that I mean, if it was important that something be said a certain way so as to make the point more intelligible by a larger audience, it was. Early on I decided to not write a book to please skeptics or critics of my earlier works. They would never be happy no matter what I would be willing to do, and besides, they wouldn't buy the book anyway.
- The book had to be helpful and prescriptive. It is not very useful to write a tome on how epigenetics interacts with the environment and not make it relevant to the reader in some simple way: perhaps the repurposing of a food or supplement, perhaps a whole new perspective on looking at their diet and lifestyle.
- The book had to be in sync with the past, but also unafraid to change as new facts and methods of analysis developed. Most long term readers will see a direct thread from GTD back to my earlier work with BTD. Others may be somewhat shaken by the difference that result from the new ways of analysis and classification. There are differences. Blood Type Dieting is a more 'idealizing model' and the GTD is a more 'abstracting model'. They get at their information from fundamentally different avenues of approach. Hopefully everyone who has an interest in this type of work will be able to find a spot along the continuum that is just right for them.
I think this is the most profound book I have authored, and it is the work I would like to be most remembered for. To take nothing away from the "Right For Your Type' books, I'm just a more mature author at this point in my life, and many things came together for this book that are dependent on being alive long enough to have a certain number of dreams. It was certainly the most difficult book I have every written. I felt from the beginning that this book had to be as perfect as I could get it, and I was lucky to have people around me who felt the same way. Whether any degree of perfection was actually achieved will have to wait for the test of time.
Spent a pleasant morning yesterday with Mehmet Ã–z, his lovely wife Lisa and Michael Roizen. Mehmet has a radio show on XM that I was a guest on. I think it will air sometime mid January. Michael is the author of the 'Real Age' series of books, and together with Mehmet, they wrote a bestseller called YOU: On A Diet. Mehmet's wife Lisa was also part of the show. It was an interesting hour, and I was surprised by how much leeway I was given to go into some of the more technical aspects of the book. Both these guys are doctors and when their gears are turning you can see that they almost forget that they are doing a radio show.
Christmas day dinner was delicious and made more pleasant by the return of our guests from last year. Jon Humberstone is the head of NAP customer service but in reality does incredibly much more than that. He does a lot of the back-end programming for the NAP e-store, and was critical in aligning the new NAP GenoType store with the genotypediet.com site. Keith McBride is our marketing wizard who made the liaison with Random House so breezy and effortless.
The guys gave me an unexpected but entirely welcome gift: Edward Tufte's Beautiful Evidence having read in a prior blog that I was especially fond of his earlier great work The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. I am so looking forward to curling up with this baby.
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The GenoType Dietâ„¢: Change Your Genetic Destiny
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Peter J. D'Adamo, ND
Author of Eat Right for Your Type & The GenoType Diet
What if you were handed the perfect diet, a diet literally programmed for your unique genetic makeupâ€”a diet that will maximize your health and well-being? The GenoType Diet is that revolutionary step. Using inventories of key genetic information, family history, blood type and individualized diagnostic tools such as fingerprint analysis and measurement of jaw angle, finger length ratios and space between knees and feet, you will be able to determine your genetic makeup and design your own dietary, therapeutic and preventive strategies. The GenoType Diet shows which genes are turned on and which are turned off and gives you a plan of attack for changing the expression of your genesâ€”you're not stuck with what you were born with. Whether you're 18 or 80, you can unlock the keys to your genotype, the previously hidden strengths and weaknesses that inform your destiny.
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An Evening Talk, Q & A and Booksigning
Friday, February 15, 7:30pm
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Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo is a naturopathic physician, educator, researcher and author of The GenoType Diet: Change Your Genetic Destiny to Live the Longest, Fullest and Healthiest Life Possible. His first book, Eat Right 4 Your Type, is a New York Times bestseller translated into over 50 languages. He is the author of 13 other books in the "Blood Type Dietâ€? series, including Cook Right 4 Your Type. Dr. D'Adamo is cofounder and academic dean of IHI, the Institute for Human Individuality.