Have you ever wondered why your friend can eat dairy without any side effects while you suffer from bloating? How can one person swear by the keto diet while someone else sees no difference? According to Boston Medical Center, an estimated 45 million Americans will try a diet plan each year. Maybe you’re among the millions who have dabbled with keto, vegan, Atkins, Mediterranean, or one of the many other diets out there. You’ve spent time trying different food combinations or rearranging your eating schedule. You’ve told yourself it would all be worth it because this diet will be the one that works. Yet, now you’re six months down the road and don’t see the results you had hoped for.
There’s a reason diet culture is overwhelming and disappointing. The truth is, our bodies are all different. While one diet may make your friend, sister, or coworker feel amazing, it might not be the right fit for you. We’re all about ditching diets and eating whatever makes your body feel good, but there may be an explanation for why different ways of eating work for different bodies.
Enter: the Blood Type Diet. Founded by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo, the Blood Type Diet provides individualized solutions for each person’s blood type. Instead of looking at one diet as a solution for everyone, the Blood Type Diet breaks down each person’s blood type and uses that information as the basis for nutrition. I’m usually turned off by anything with “diet” in the title, but this one seems different. It proves that diets are not a one-size-fits-all method. Read on for my deep dive into what the Blood Type Diet really is and whether or not it’s worth trying out.
What is the Blood Type Diet?
As Dr. D’Adamo explains in his book Eat Right For Your Type, there are four universal blood types: Type O, Type A, Type B, and Type AB. Each type possesses a different antigen with its own chemical structure. Your blood type plays a huge role in how you absorb nutrients. This means that your blood not only affects how you respond to infections, stress, and bacteria, but it also affects the body’s response whether you eat a croissant or eggs for breakfast.
In his research, Dr. D’Adamo found that different foods have different lectins, and those lectins produce a chemical reaction between blood and the food you eat. Sometimes the reaction leaves us feeling satisfied and energized, while other times, the reaction causes us to feel symptoms like indigestion, bloating, or fatigue. The Blood Type Diet looks at how different lectins in foods are absorbed by different blood types. Eating based on your blood type can increase nutrient intake, improve gut health and digestion, and support overall immune function, according to Dr. D’Adamo.
Of course, nutrition is only one piece of the puzzle. Any wellness method is incomplete without factoring in the role of stress and exercise. (We can eat all the healthy food we want, but unless we also factor in high-stress levels and a sedentary lifestyle, we won’t feel our very best.) Dr. D’Adamo agrees. So, he’s included research on how different blood types need different forms of exercise to cope with stress, as well as a stress and exercise plan for each blood type.
Recommendations for each blood type
If you’re Type O
Dr. D’Adamo found that people with Type O blood respond best to a diet based on animal proteins while avoiding dairy and grain products. “Type O’s can efficiently digest and metabolize meats and seafood because they tend to have high stomach-acid content,” I explained. But it’s important to balance meat products with vegetables and fruit to avoid over-acidification. When it comes to exercise, he recommended intense physical exercise like HIIT or weight training because it “makes the muscle tissue more acidic and produces a higher rate of fat-burning activity.”
If you’re Type A
For Type A’s, Dr. D’Adamo recommends limiting meat and dairy products, as they are poorly digested, but moderate quantities of seafood (3-4 times a week) can have beneficial effects. Focus more on plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, etc. Type A’s can tolerate wheat products and gluten more than other blood types. But they shouldn’t eat in excess, or else their muscle tissue will become overly acidic. For exercise, Type A’s thrive by engaging in gentle and meditative movements to help manage stress, such as yoga, Tai Chi, stretching, walking, or Pilates.
If you’re Type B
Type B’s can benefit from a balanced diet of all types of foods, including meat, dairy, seafood, and grains. However, Dr. D’Adamo suggests limiting corn, buckwheat, lentils, peanuts, and sesame seeds, as they contain a certain lectin that affects the efficiency of your metabolic process. This results in fatigue, fluid retention, and hypoglycemia. As for exercise and stress, Type B’s are able to manage stress well. They do best with moderate activities such as tennis, hiking, cycling, walking, yoga, jogging, or light weight training.
If you’re Type AB
For those with the rarest of all blood types, Type ABs, their plan requires a combination of the Type A and Type B plans. Unlike Type A’s, meat in small portions can be beneficial. A balanced diet of all foods works for your system—including dairy, grain products, fruits, and vegetables. The key with Type AB is portion size and frequency, so eat smaller meals more frequently. When it comes to exercise, Type ABs have inherited a Type A stress pattern. So, Dr. D’Adamo recommends following the Type A exercise plan of gentle movement to help decrease stress.
We like that the Blood Type Diet is a personalized wellness plan that looks at a person’s genetics and bio-individuality. However, use it as a starting point or a way to experiment when finding what works best for your body. Don’t follow the plan to a T.As with every diet, some experts swear by it while others disagree. For example, Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC—a leading doctor and founder of Ancient Nutrition—believes that the Blood Type Diet may help some people, but it’s not necessarily the best for everyone. There are other factors that determine how we digest nutrients than just blood type, like hormones.
Bottom line: The best way to determine what foods to eat and what exercise to do is to listen to your body. Period. Looking to your blood type for insight on nutrition and movement might make you feel amazing, but the same effects can be achieved in other ways too. The Blood Type Diet isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it shows that diets need to be more personalized and cater to an individual’s body type, food preferences, and biological history. Our bodies are all different, and how we eat should cater to that uniqueness. If you’re thinking of experimenting with the Blood Type Diet, talk to your doctor and know that your body is always the #1 expert about which foods and exercise are best for you.