• Phil

Eating For Your Blood Type - Smart or Stinky?

In 1996, Peter D’Adamo published his book Eat Right For Your Type, positing that a diet tailored to your blood type will make you a healthy SOB. Type A might be vegetarian, Type B, high protein etc. The purpose of this blog is simple. To find out whether the above is a steaming pile of BS.

This blog could go one of two ways: I could dive into the research, paraphrasing other people's work that I do not really understand. I could say things like: "the ABO blood group is a genetically determined host factor, which modulates the composition of the human intestinal microbiota." Basically write 2000 words of Xanax, and expect you to politely sit and listen. The alternative is to apply common sense, with a smattering of bad language, for added flavour. It’s a tough choix.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, animal flesh, plenty of water, sleep, and movement. You can delve a little deeper, but those 12 words provide a pretty decent framework, on which to build a gratifyingly healthy life. The problem is, 12 words doesn't write a book, and even worse, we’ve heard those words before.

If you want to sell 7 million copies, you have to come up with something new. And, without being too much of an arse - because I have to admit I got bored reading the preface - if I had to predict the genesis of this book, that would be it. D’Adamo knew he would never get his Malibu summer home, if he didn’t give the people something “revolutionary.”

But does his revolutionary new diet stand up? Computer says F*CK NO. “Blood Type Diet debunked” yields 120,000 results in 0.59 seconds. Here are 3 facts near the top of the deck:

1. In response to a scathing peer-reviewed attack in Plos One (Read that here), D’Adamo admitted: “the theory is currently unproven by rigorous scientific study. Hopefully in time this can be rectified by studies which accurately and comprehensively prove or disprove the hypothesis.”

2. On his website, D’Adamo claimed there is “good science” behind the blood type diets. He argued that Einstein couldn’t prove relativity without particular conditions being met (a solar eclipse). He claimed the empirical evidence behind blood type diets was “pretty good,” and that you don’t see any studies on it because of “little interest and even less available money.” He did sell SEVEN MILLION COPIES of his book, but did not have the money to prove the central premise of his life’s work. Sounds legit. 3. In the book, he said he was in the 8th year of a 10-year trial on blood type diets and cancer, and that in 2 years, he expects to make it “scientifically demonstrable that the Blood Type Diet plays a role in cancer remission.” 20 years on, tumbleweed.

Why might 7 million people fall for such a demonstrably malodorous rat?

1 – We didn’t understand it – How many of you understand the theory of general relativity? Science can get pretty damn knotty, pretty damn quick. It isn’t hard for a pseudo-intellectual, with a science background, to confuse the general population with complex jargon, speculative observations, and anecdotal stories.

2 – We were desperate to believe it - When I was a boy, I got dropped on my head, fractured my skull, and now have permanent ringing in my right ear. In the years following, I was desperate to find a cure. I wasn’t alone. Tens of people are desperately looking for a solution, creating a huge demand. This is why there are thousands of doctors, and "specialists", pushing products and procedures that promise an end to the problem. I visited many “experts,” spent tens of thousands of pounds, and I got zero results. The lambs are still screaming, Clarice.

The diet industry is an echo of the above. Millions of people are fed up with their weight, feel trapped in their own bodies, and haven’t a clue how to escape. Their collective desperation has mobilized armies of quacks, charlatans, and snake oil salesman, all offering an end to their woes, as long as they hand over "nineteen ninety-nine." People don’t want to buy the fruit, vegetables, and hard work line they’ve been fed a thousand times before. The ear is a much more willing apparatus if it is doused in something shiny, new (and preferably, not their fault).

Where there’s desperation, there’s a market - but nothing cured my tinnitus, and I’m guessing that eating for your blood type won’t solve much for you either. To this day, there exists zero peer-reviewed evidence that matching one’s diet to bloody type will have any great effect on your health, which is why the Norwegian Medical Association concluded: “it’s difficult not to perceive the whole thing as a crass fraud.”

I always try to look at food through the lens of common sense.

Whenever a concept gets complicated or overly scientific, I withdraw, because I don’t think you need a PhD to understand food. When you ascend to 40-thousand feet and take an objective look at Eating for your Type, what it is suggesting, is that whomever made the heavens, the earth, the stars and the planets, made everything perfect, and yet human beings came with one huge design flaw. Namely, that we are unable to correctly feed ourselves, without the aid of a blood test. Make sense? Me neither.