Over the past week I've had occasion to counsel a couple of different O people on getting started with the blood type diet. One of these was a 55-year-old male with Rx-treated health problems; the other a 41-year-old female in good health but overweight. Following is my basic prescription:
1. Understand the O Type.
Get the overall lay of the land. I like Dr. D'Adamo's book, Eat Right 4 Your Type, for a general introduction to blood types, the medicine and the anthropology. But, if you only buy one book, I suggest diving right into his Live Right 4 Your Type. I like the latter's numerous charts, showing health strengths and vulnerabilities and offering so many helpful tips for different age groups and conditions. It also treats of "secretor status", which you may or may not choose to investigate.
2. Take a look at those O potential weaknesses:
The general list includes: Inflammations, allergies, arthritis, ulcers. Depression/bipolar illness, anger management problems, impulse control problems – addictions, alcohol abuse; thyroid problems, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis. O's can get a pretty good sense of their general health by noting which, if any of the above, affect them noticeably.
3. Look at D'Adamo's food recommendations
See the overarching shape of D'Adamo's recommendation for your type. For the O, this means emphasizing animal protein – especially red meat, your highest octane fuel. It means de-emphasizing dairy and grains/starches and liberally using green vegetables and beneficial fruits, e.g., berries. Analyze your current practice, and compare it to D'Adamo's model.
A note on meat for the O type: This is my own particular image, but I see the O stomach as a piranha, hungry for animal flesh. My favorite childhood TV sitcom, The Addams Family, featured a pet piranha in a fish tank. A whole fish would be dropped into the piranha's tank; the water would be intensely roiled by the feeding, and the complete skeleton of the piranha's meal would be ejected from the tank within seconds! Consonant with that image, I tell O's: "Feed your stomach acid! Give it something to do! Employ it, so it doesn't eat your stomach!" The stomachs of those who are not of type O do not produce this abundance of protein-dissolving acid. You've got it: Use it. Toss it some red meat to keep it docile!
4. Look at D'Adamo's fitness recommendations
For the O, this means a daily sweaty workout! I've found that many O's notice more-even moods and less anger-outbursts when they work out hard at the outset of their day. They seem to enter the fray with equanimity and balance, less likely to be addled by annoying circumstances. Obviously there are many other benefits to the right program, too, but evenness of temper is often quickly and dramatically appreciated.
5. Prioritize your Beginner Program
(a) Add Beneficials
With Dr. D'Adamo's program, I like to think: Lifetime maintenance plan, from the get-go. I do not recommend "hitting the ground running": Choose one suggestion such as "eat more lean red meat" and focus on that for at least a week, noting any changes in overall health or well-being.
Choose easy things first. Adding red meat portions. Then adding leafy greens. Then adding berries.
[b] Increase the rigor of morning workouts. If you don't work out at all, then adding a weekly intense workout, or doing some yoga or stretching for ten minutes every day for a week. (Obviously your health and age must be factored-in)...that sort of thing.
(c) Subtract Avoids
Once you've gotten used to bennies and workouts, lighten up on the avoids. Usually the practice of (a) results in improved morale and motivation to drop bread or pasta somewhat. Switching from bread to crackers is an interim step many O's have found helpful in the weaning process. Look at your dairy consumption and switch from avoids to beneficials/neutrals where that's most comfortable for you.
6. One-at-a-Time Food Category Focus
Look at, e.g., your beverage consumption habits. How compliant is it? Switch types of tea or wine: That sort of thing. Oils? Drop sunflower and go with olive. Easy stuff first!
I do not recommend shooting for "100% compliance"; it is far less likely, with most relatively healthy people, to eventuate in an enjoyable lifelong practice. When in doubt, choose the easy way over the difficult one. At the beginning, do not necessarily obsess on minors such as spices or even individual fruits and vegetables. Three to four weeks thus, at a slow pace, will usually yield positive results, boosting morale and preparing for the next phase. These can be improved by knowing your secretor status. I explain what this is/means.
7. Learn about/take into account Secretor Status.
Approximately 80% of the population secretes blood type antigen in body tissues other than on the red blood cell surfaces, and this secretion is a boon, increasing immune defenses. The non-secreting minority is more susceptible to health challenges and is likelier to have a number of hard-to-diagnose or -to-treat ailments. Begin with the assumption you are a secretor, however, unless you identify with my description of the non-secretor. Live Right 4 Your Type will offer somewhat different dietary recommendations for the two groups. The secretor test is based upon a saliva sample (to determine whether you are secreting blood type antigen in your saliva). It is available for home-administration through Dr. D'Adamo's website.
The foregoing represents a general introduction to practicing Dr. D'Adamo's guidelines for the O newbie. If your blood type is not O, take a look at the doctor's books and look up your own type, taking the same overall approach. There are cases in which I'd advise greater stringency, but in most I recommend what's more enjoyable.
Last night, the 41-year-old woman said to me, "I really appreciate your attitude: I tend to go to extremes. I get overly serious and harp on the details." She was relieved by my permission to lighten up.
"If you want to lose weight quickly, only to put it back on again," I said, "go with some other diet. If you want to really live right for your type, however, for the rest of your life, learn about this way, and take it up gradually."
Today I ordered a home kit for self-blood-typing from North American Pharmacal (1-877-ABO-TYPE or right4yourtype.com), taking advantage of the Free Shipping special. At $9.95 it's a great buy!
This is far from the first time I'm mid-wifing someone's initiation into blood type medicine; this one is for a friend, long familiar with my approach, but other times it's been on behalf of friends, yes, and clients. I've even stabbed their fingers for them if they were afraid to do it themselves. Apparently many people can not bear to see blood on their fingers; they might even feel faint if they do.
For my part, I stabbed my own finger in seventh grade Science, back in the 1960s. It was our first "lab". I discovered my B-ness then. When I was in college, as a preMed student my first job was at a hospital blood bank. It was my responsibility to screen potential donors - take their histories and vital signs, blood samples, and perform the hematocrits. My supervisor, a medical student, wanted to train me to draw the pint, but I was at that point reluctant. Instead I monitored post-donation status, restored fluids and nutrition, and sent the donor on his/her way.
As for modern self-typing kits, the new lancets, in their little casements, are very user-friendly. Somehow not seeing the actual weapon renders its use more benign. And within - oh - ten minutes of opening the package, you know your blood type. At a doctor's office, the ABO test can add seventy or more dollars to your lab bill, and you won't know the results right away.
Knowing your blood type grants you entry to the marvelous world of Blood Type Medicine pioneered by Dr. D'Adamo. I am personally more a Blood Type- than Genotype-follower (there's a quiz on his website that might help you decide which model would be most appropriate for you), but even the Genotype teaching is informed with blood type principles. Know your blood type - yes, even you, fellow American! Find a friend willing to perform the test on your finger if necessary, but order it and do it! Free shipping, $9.95 the pop. What's your excuse?
Last night we ate at an atypical Mexican restaurant with amazing food. It looked to me as though persons of every blood type could wrest a multi-course meal from its bold, extensive menu.
Called "Mamacita's", it is located in San Francisco's "yuppiest" neighborhood - The Marina. It was a Monday night, and the place was packed. There was a busy bar scene, too, viewed from afar.
We started with a shared appetizer of grilled scallops, served with a black bean coulis, a variety of tiny, kumquat-sized potatoes of various colors, miniature (Japanese?) artichokes, and grilled pencil asparagus. The scallops (a Nomad superfood) were dense and beefy, and very flavorful: The best scallops I've ever had. I wasn't crazy about the artichokes. For a B-nomad, the scallop/asparagus combination was perfect.
Then I actually passed over the lamb and kale taco for the carne asada taco, being in the mood for steak. It featured Niman ranch "organic" beef, a chili sauce, arugula, and flecks of goat cheese. David (type O) ordered the duck leg taco, with a sweet barbecue sauce and fruity slaw. The meat was perfectly marinated, very moist.
Okay, so we did order margaritas and enjoyed the chips and (tomato) salsa prelude. It would be worthwhile to go back to try the lamb, the mahi mahi, the various tuna dishes...
A Mexican restaurant with something for any and everyone. "Avoids" are easily dodged here; there's so much to choose from, and virtually everything is grilled. Clean food. Hooray!
Following up on my previous blog ("Taking it Easy: Life in the Normal Lane", 12 Feb. 2011), I notice that one of the terms in vogue on the dadamo Forum lately, in describing adherence to Dr. D'Adamo's principles, is "this lifestyle". I confess I don't know what this means.
The Bloodtype and Genotype diets are adaptable to almost any lifestyle, as I see it. To call their use - and/or Dr. D'Adamo's view of medicine - "this lifestyle" is alien to what his work means and has always meant to me. Are "Individualists" thus becoming conformists? Choosing a "lifestyle" wholesale is often related, rather, to cult-involvement!
My own lifestyle doesn't involve inordinate attention to the purchase of foodstuffs at the market, their preparation and their analysis. So I don't share what Forum participants proudly call "this lifestyle", even though I've been an avid D'Adamo proponent for 14 years.
When you call it a "lifestyle", that implies you have more of life in common with the Forum's other people (sitting in front of computer screens across the globe) than you do with human beings (in your actual vicinity) who shop and eat differently from you. If two neighbors are carpenters and each has a wife, 2.3 children, a dog, and drives a Jeep and belongs to, say, a bowling league, do their lifestyles differ that much if one avoids dairy products? Me, I don't think so. Does the vegan I know have a different lifestyle from his meat-eating friend? Not necessarily. Does Dr. D'Adamo expect his readers to adopt a lifestyle? I don't think so.
I confess: I've never really sweat this diet much. I've been more or less compliant at different points along this 14-(!) year-long path thus far. I go a year here or there without a tomato product, and then a year of having some tomato sauce once a month - much longer without peanuts, buckwheat or lentils - that sort of thing. But I generally opt for my beneficials wherever possible. Dr. D'Adamo has written that he doesn't have a problem with 60-70% compliance as the norm for someone in good health - as we B-secretors so often are! So I'm no stickler.
Maybe B is the easy blood type. We're the most omnivorous, after all, and we're frequently recognized for easy-goingness and "balancedness". That holds true for me, thanks be to God.
Being of the Nomad genotype, I've found that diet to open up even more former avoids to occasional use.
I generally avoid most: Corn, soy, buckwheat.
I'm not a big bread-eater.
I don't go for hard liquor.
I lay low on tomatoes, pork, lentils, peanuts, shellfish.
But most important is that I favor lamb, turkey, fish, eggs and beef as my animal foods, plus some dairy, almonds as my nuts, rice as my starch, that sort of thing. I favor beneficial vegetables and fruits over "avoids". I favor green tea over black, generally. I drink coffee on-again-off-again (usually year-long breaks between months-long morning coffee ways). I don't smoke or take medications/drugs.
I think it's important to remember that any American who generally opts (as I do) against corn, soy, chicken, tomatoes, pork and shellfish, say, is already an oddball. To add plenty of other items to that list is really unusual. And then to favor one's beneficials goes a lot further. So I'm definitely "on board" with D'Adamo, even though I'm casual about it.
If you're one of those B's who takes an approach similar to mine and is also sensitive to the positive effects of certain permitted foods (the energy-zap of hot peppers, for instance, or the power-station that is eggs), then there's room for you, too, at the dadamo table, IMO. Pull up a chair.