Do you know your blood type?
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Most people may know their blood type, but only think about it in the context of blood transfusions – universal donor (Type O), universal recipient (Type AB), or somewhere in between (Types A and B).
However, one diet – creatively named “The Blood Type Diet” – suggests that knowing your blood type is the key to understanding how your body works, allowing you to live, eat, and exercise in a way that is best suited to you.
Sounds intriguing – but let’s look further before drawing any conclusions.
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First introduced in 1996, The Blood Type Diet suggests that people of each blood type (A, B, AB, and O) react to the environment differently. Thus, a substance that is neutral or beneficial to one blood type may cause harm to another.
The diet sets dietary guidelines for each blood type, suggesting certain foods to eat or avoid depending on the ‘lectins’ (a type of protein) present in the food. Lectins are said to interact with the body, and can be positive or negative depending on whether they are compatible with a person’s blood type.
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The dietary recommendations are summarized as follows:
Type A: Said to be able to digest carbohydrates well, but not animal protein and fat. Thus, the diet for Type As prohibits meat, but focuses instead on (preferably organic) fruits, vegetables, grains, and plant proteins.
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Type B: Said to be the most able to adapt to different environmental conditions. They are to stay away from a specific list of foods, including chicken, corn, wheat, peanuts, and sesame seeds.
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Type AB: Said to be a combination of both types A and B, type ABs are advised to stay away from smoked or cured meats, caffeine, and alcohol, but are encouraged to eat dairy, seafood, tofu, and green vegetables. They are also encouraged to eat small frequent meals.
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Type O: Said to digest protein and fat well. They are advised to go heavy on the meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and avoid grains, legumes, and dairy. (This diet is similar to the Paleo diet we talked about 2 weeks ago!).
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So, can following the above diet recommendations really make a difference? Although the diet has been around for 20 years, there is unfortunately little research to support the theories behind it. Available studies are poorly done, or show that people can lose weight by following any of the above diets, regardless of blood type.
This could be due to the restrictive nature of the diets, as well as the heavy emphasis on fresh, organic, unprocessed food – which can automatically result in a reduced intake of excess empty calories.
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As for the other claimed benefits of increasing energy levels and reducing disease and inflammation – no studies have yet been able to prove them to be true.
In addition, the much-feared “lectins” are actually mostly found in raw grains and legumes, and not so much in other foods. These lectins can be neutralized by sprouting, soaking, and cooking the grains and legumes – thus, it is likely they don’t pose much of a threat in a normal cooked food diet.
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The logistics of The Blood Type Diet (as with the Paleo and Atkins diets) are also rather prohibitive. Costs can run high as eating organically is strongly recommended. It also takes time and effort to prepare meals fresh, as processed food is generally not allowed in this diet. Lastly, since specific foods or even entire food groups are restricted for some of the blood types, the diet tends to be inflexible and cannot be customized to specific taste preferences.
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So what can we learn from The Blood Type Diet (if anything)? As with the previous two diets, the emphasis on fresh, unprocessed food is always a good takeaway. Eating fresh food already automatically reduces the amount of extra salt, unhealthy fat, sugar, and additives that are commonly found in processed food.
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We can also learn to listen to our bodies more, and to pay closer attention to how the foods we eat make us feel. Hunger crash at 3 pm? Reflect on what you had for lunch – was it balanced and filling, and was the portion sufficient? No appetite for dinner? Maybe that afternoon snack was unnecessary, or too generously portioned. There’s no right or wrong answer – just learning how you function, and what is best for you!
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So here’s to a week of mindful eating and self-reflection, Grazers! Maybe not necessarily on your blood type, but on your body, state of mind, habits, likes, dislikes – and everything else that makes you your Amazin’ self!
And don't forget to stock up on some Amazin' snacks while you're here - after all, deliciousness is good for every blood type! :)