The Blood Type Diet first came to the fore back in 1996, but for some reason, it’s now back on our radar. There’s no new research, but what the diet does play on is our obsession with bespoke experiences. Health and beauty suggestions based on our DNA are on the rise, so eating according to our blood type fits neatly in with the trend for customisation. The diet was designed by naturopath Peter J. D’Adamo, who believes that what you eat reacts chemically with your blood type and that should be the blueprint of what and how you eat. With that in mind, you can choose foods that your body will digest better. In a nutshell, if you eat like your ancestors (with the same blood type), your body will be able to digest the food better, and you’ll have more energy and be able to ward off disease and illnesses.
There are four blood types: O, A, B and AB. Gold star for you if you know which one you are without having to phone a friend. Or your mum. Or your GP. In fact, unless you’ve had a blood transfusion, you might be hard-pushed to glean the information out of your doctor at all as it’s not often information that’s readily available for UK patients, explains registered nutritionist and YouNeedaNutritionalTherapist.com co-founder Kay Ali. However, once you have that nugget of information, you can get underway with D’Adamo’s tailored meal plans.
O blood types: Ali explains that this means your blood dates back to “hunters,” so you should feel better on a high-protein diet. A bit like Paleo, this should be light on the grains, beans and dairy and heavy on lean meat, poultry, fish and veg. You could be prone to ulcers and thyroid problems, says D’Adamo, and need short, sharp bursts of exercise to flourish.
A blood types: Your ancestors are “agrarians or cultivators.” “Your body should respond better to a plant-based diet, in other words—vegetarian,” explains Ali. Oh, and D’Adamo warns you type A’s will have a sensitive immune system, so keep it organic if you can. You’re also more susceptible to stress, OCD and insulin resistance, so small, regular meals are key to keep your cortisol levels nice and even.
B blood types: Hi there, “nomad.” Strong immune system and a flexible digestive system you can go all out on dairy, says D’Adamo, and please do, because you’re the only blood type that should. You might struggle with lentils, tomatoes, peanuts and chicken, though.
AB blood types: If you’ve got one parent with A blood and another with B, chances are you’ll be a hybrid or using the diet lingo “the enigma,” although there are only around 5% of the population who are AB. Refer to what A’s and B’s can and can’t eat, but as a heads-up, you might want to cut back on caffeine, alcohol and smoked meats. With a tendency to overproduce adrenaline, balance intense exercise with calming practises like yoga or tai chi.
According to D’Adamo, yes, and in the 6617 individuals who were monitored for a month, three out of four saw their health improve, with weight loss the biggest change noted, although mental clarity, energy and stress levels improved as well. However, that could also be a side effect of four weeks of eating cleaner, healthier foods than before. We asked several nutritionists and the unanimous answer when asked if they would ever recommend the Blood Type Diet to their patients was a “no.”
“There just isn’t enough science backing D’Adamo’s theories, and I can’t help but think that if the claims were true, there would be a body of scientific research backing it by now,” continues Ali. “Also, a lot of the principles in the diet just don’t stand up. Take the theory of how our blood types adapted. It implies that ABO blood types are unique to humans and that they evolved through certain adaptations—i.e., A types evolved from agriculture, and B types evolved from dairy consumption. However, ABO blood types exist in primates like gorillas and orangutans, none of which have changed their diets over millions of years. If there were some truth to the claims, then we’d see monkeys cultivating cereal grains and gorillas milking cows for dairy, which is obviously not the case! Plus I’ve seen several type B clients who have tested positive to dairy intolerance.”
Nutritionist and Be Good to Your Gut author Eve Kalinik is another pro not convinced. “I think our body is way too complicated to fit into a specific type, shape or list of foods,” argues Kalinik. “It’s usually multi-factorial and not always entirely food related as to why someone is struggling to shift weight since that seems to be the main motivation for going on one of these programmes in the first place. Plus there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to back up a lot of the claims.”
Their advice is to look for something that fits into your lifestyle and daily habits because add a partner or child with a different blood type into the mix and imagine the mayhem come dinnertime. Some scientific backup wouldn’t go amiss either as removing large food groups for no valid reason could cause other nutrient deficiencies in the long run.
That’s up to you. Gabriela Peacock, nutritionist to an armful of celebs suggests that rather than the Blood Type Diet with its lack of medical support, she employs a method called the Metabolic Balance Plan. It still assesses your blood, but rather than just blood type, it looks at your metabolism, hormone function and biochemistry too.
And credit where credit’s due to D’Adamo. “It does promote a way of eating that is ancestral, and I always say that following your great-great-great-grandmother’s diet is usually a good thing,” says Ali. Basically wholesome, organic and unprocessed is the way to go, regardless of whether you’re a hunter or a gatherer!
Next up: What’s the deal with the keto diet?
Opening Image: @freepeople