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.
Had a few obligations to tie up last week in the EU, which allowed for a few days rest and relaxation in the south of Spain. The area is one of my favorites, with good food, sunshine and great culture. Revisited the famous Mezquita (mosque) in Cordoba, one of the true architectural delights of the world. At one time the second largest mosque in the world, the mosque was turned into a cathedral with the Christian capture of the city in the 12th century. Although there are numerous naves to various saints, these are all relatively underwhelming when compared to the intoxicating forest of columns, spandrels and arches that immediately confronts the visitor.
Here are a few pictures that don't do it justice:
The wonder of having two teenage daughters is that at the end of the day I'd calculated that we'd spent more time (45 minutes) at the local department store (El Corte Ingles) then at what is widely considered one of the greatest buildings in the world (35 minutes). Oh well, I have my video tapes.
Also took the time to reread James Mitchener's wonderful book Iberia which should be mandatory for all who visit the country. Although written in the 1950's and '60s, it is still a fresh and relevant look at the Spanish psyche, written by a true student and devotee.
During our all too brief time we stayed at a few of the government run hotels, called paradors. They are often in castles, palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries and other historic buildings. Surprisingly from my last visit, in addition to the often ponderous local fare, which can vary from great to abysmal, there are now special menus for vegetarians and celiac diners, which are what we often chose from.
Although I have family in the north of Spain (near Barcelona) we were not in country long enough to travel the distance necessary to visit them, however hopefully in the fall we'll get a chance to shoot up there.
Returning back to New York's JFK airport we were assaulted by the aftereffects of a rather large ice storm, which blanketed the area with almost a foot of snow, which then compacted down to a blue stone-like ice, so I spent my first day back chiseling out our cars from the snowy depths.
IfHI 2007 has hit the magical 60 day mark, which traditionally ramps up my stress levels a bit. Personally, I feel more comfortable going into this conference that with either of the prior two, having perhaps a surplus of material for the first time.
Enjoying Rex Dwyer's wonderful book about programming bioinformatic computer code Genomic Perl. Not for the fainthearted, but gosh, what a treasure trove!
Stay tuned for a major announcement concerning IfHI 2007:
We have just received confirmation that one of our featured speakers will be Professor of Medicine Gerhard Uhlenbruck from the University of Cologne. Dr. Uhlenbruck will be joining an international faculty of experts including Dr. William Mitchell (Washington, USA), Dr. Thomas Greenfield (Kent, UK), Dr. Walter Crinnion (Arizona, USA), Dr. Emily Kane (Alaska, USA), Dina Khader (New York, USA), Dr. Erika Klus (Minnesota, US), Dr. David Bove (Oregon, USA) and myself.
Dr. Uhlenbruck is a legendary figure in lectin and blood group research. His seminal work has led to the discovery of new and novel lectins (such as peanut agglutinin) and the characterisation of lectin activities and antigen specificities (the chemical structure of T antigen was established in 1969 by Prof. Uhlenbruck and his colleagues). You can not read any modern textbook on lectinology or immunology without encountering Dr. Uhlenbruck's research legacy.
(photo from 'Lectins", Second Edition, by Sharon and Lis.
"From Fast Food to Fast Feet and from General Feeding to Individual Food."
You will not want to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to meet such an important figure. Thanks to IfHI fellows Cocky van Hesteren and Isa-Manuela Albrecht for initiating the the European contact and to Martha D'Adamo and Carol Agostino for the follow-up.
We now have the full IfHI 2007 conference website up and functional. However, we are probably close to half-booked to capacity, so if you didn't add your name to the preregistration list and you are planning to attend, you probably should think about registering ASAP.
I've long thought of using the measurement of breath hydrogen levels as a way of gauging digestive and detoxification improvements in those individuals following the BTD. Last week, I bit the bullet and went ahead and purchased a unit.
Carbohydrate in the intestines can be fermented by bacteria in the small intestine, forming hydrogen as one of the by-products. Some of this hydrogen is absorbed into the blood stream and there is a direct relationship between the hydrogen concentration in expired breath and the amount of unabsorbed carbohydrate in the intestine.
The Hindenberg was full of hydrogen gas.
Each test takes about two hours, since you need several readings. The readings are then sent over to a computer program, which inventories the results.
When I get all the kinks worked out, I'll set up some sort of research study (should be easy to double blind and control it: Randomized assignments. A's who get the Standard American Diet (SAD); A's who get the A diet, etc.
â€˜Unabsorbed carbohydrates from the small intestine are rapidly broken down in the large intestine by colonic bacteria. This degradation liberates hydrogen, which passes into the circulation by diffusion and is then exhaled. The main source of endogenous carbohydrate secreted into the colon is mucus, an intestinal glycoprotein that is 80% carbohydrate.' â€“Pizzorno and Murray Textbook of Natural Medicine
Probably looking at doing the study sometime in the late fall. If you are in the Metro NYC Tri-state area and want to participate, there will be an announcement posted on the website.
Brutally cold in the NE USA. Always seems to happen at about this time, when you've just about had enough of indoor heating, early darkness, greys and browns. However, spring is going to have to arrive eventually. I'm hoping to get out on the Sound more this spring and sail. Anything to get away from the computer.
A morning spent trolling through the medical literature. In subsequent blogs, I'll add a few about each type. Some interesting findings, predominantly about type O:
People who are Type O appear less likely to kill themselves, but more likely to want to kill you:
Probably because they get a bit more depressed:
Considering the lack of any results from supplementing post menopausal women with calcium, which in the Women's Health Initiative Studies was shown to be of no benefit, perhaps those researchers should have looked at ABO blood type, since there appear to be almost three-fold differences in the rate of osteoporosis:
If you are type O, you'll want to take those headphones off:
If you are type O, your predilection for inflammation may play a role in obesity:
Decided to take a break from working on the final third of The Genotype Diet and post a little blog. I've been almost addicted to getting this manuscript as informational as possible, but also trying to skirt a thin line between being too technical as to off-put people who want to try it but are easily frustrated by complexity. To that effect I've be so indebted to many of the wonderful mathematical tools which have been so helpful in allowing these true genetic archetypes to emerge from the hue and cry of all the conflicting information that we hear of when we read about the risk factors or diseases linked to single genes.
Unlike most other diet books, including those that I have written in the past, this system is quite flexible. Over time, and with proper catalysts, it is actually possible to transition from one series of food recommendations into another, hopefully passing the improvements onto subsequent generations as well. I think this is probably the greatest breakthrough with the GTD concept: that genetics and environmental influences can point the way to a ever improving and evolving diet rather that just function as a simple deterministic tool with no beginning, middle and end.
It will be nice to get this book monkey off my back and get back to life as other people know it. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It has been a wonderful process of discovery and I'll look back on this last year as one of the more fruitful and rewarding in recent memory. But deadlines are deadlines. I'm dreaming about putting a new ceiling in the laundry room and doing a bit of sheet rocking there as well. Anything other than something having to do with computers!
The Holidays were quiet and homespun â€“just the way I like them. Did a lot of group cooking and menu planning.
Tomorrow and Friday I do what are called "Satellite Radio Toursâ€? to mark the tenth anniversary of the publication of Eat Right for Your Type. What happens is they connect you by phone to various AM radio stations, one right after the other, during the morning drive time and you go on for about 5-10 minutes, after which they move you one to the next station. You do it for about four hours, starting first on the East Coast and working, as with the sun, westward. It grueling, but infinitely better than the dreaded "Author Toursâ€? of years gone by. Some people like that kind of stuff. Not me.
Martha gave me a fascinating book called "The Demon Under the Microscope" by Thomas Hager. It is the story of the discovery of the antibiotic properties of the Sulfa class drugs by the chemists a Bayer in the period between the wars. Great book if you like history with a bit of good science writing thrown in as well.
Was saddened to hear of the death the great Joseph Barbera who with William Hanna produced all those great Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 1960's, friends to all kids of that age home from school with with measles, chicken pox and head colds. My favorite was "The Flintstones", a very droll paleo-suburban take on "The Honeymooners" which featured my favorite cartoon bit character, "Joe Rockhead."
Rockhead's entire role usually consisted of dancing an exhausted Wilma around the room as his feet created this almost electron cloud of activity ---all the time repeating "I'm telling you Wilma, Fred won't be back for at least an hour."
Perhaps the reason Joe Rockhead is not better known is that Hanna-Barbera drew him differently in every episode he appeared in. This is the only know picture of him on the internet:
Well, that's it for now. Stay warm and safe.