By Molly Graham, BFA, B.Ed., HD, DMH
The first thing to consider on the “goodness” scale is the freshness and quality of the food. Organic produce, for example, is generally accepted as being healthier for us. Many of us are deficient in trace minerals because commercial farming practices – which depend on chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides and herbicides – have depleted our soils of these nutrients, and important enzymes, by destroying micro-organisms in the soil.
Studies show organic produce contains, on average, 50 per cent more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micro-nutrients than commercially grown produce. In fact, researchers have discovered an enzyme in organic fruit and vegetables that actually targets and kills cancer cells. This same enzyme is not found in commercially grown produce.
Secondly, good quality food is digested with the least amount of effort by the body. Failure to fully digest our food creates an immune reaction, because foreign substances are allowed to enter our system as a result. This stress on the immune system can weaken the body, making it more susceptible to disease.
We must already be in a state of health to digest food properly. When this is the case, we are naturally attracted to the foods that are best for us. People in a diseased state will typically be attracted to unsuitable foods. This presents a dilemma in the sense that we need to eat properly to stay healthy, yet if we’re sick, we often turn to foods that send us on a downward spiral.
Therefore, we must have a scientific means of consciously choosing the best foods for us to eat. We need a way to figure out the optimal diet for us as an individual.
We can do this by considering three different physical typologies that affect how we process and digest food – blood type, glandular type and metabolic type. The key to choosing the foods best suited to you is to integrate the diets suited to your three specific typologies.
Blood type – Your blood type influences your digestion, and different blood types have different strengths and weaknesses. The chemical interaction between the lectins in foods and the blood type antigens often determine what foods are good or bad for a particular type.
Anthropology has shaped the characteristics of each blood type. The oldest and most common blood type is O. When humans were hunter-gatherers, they lived mostly on meat and fish, supplemented by wild fruits and vegetables. To digest all that animal protein, they had an acidic digestive tract. When people started to grow grains, some developed a more alkaline system in order to digest carbohydrates. These are the A blood types. They do not digest meats well and are the blood type best suited to being vegetarian. B blood types have evolved from nomadic people who were good at adapting to their environment, and can digest both meat and carbohydrates. Blood type AB is the most recent to develop. They have the characteristics of both A and B types.
To know more about what to eat for your blood type, look for the book Eat Right 4 Your Type by Dr. Peter D’Adamo or visit his website.
Glandular type – We all have a dominant endocrine gland and crave foods that will stimulate that gland when we are stressed or need a boost in energy. If your dominant gland is pituitary, you tend to reach for dairy products; thyroid for sweets and breads; adrenal for salty foods and meats; gonadal for spicy and fatty foods. Over-stimulation by these foods places stress on the gland, which in time creates an imbalance in other endocrine glands. Endocrine imbalance is also reflected in emotional stress. To rebalance the system, you need to avoid the very food you crave. Is it any wonder there are so many thyroid problems in our sugar-addicted society?
To determine your glandular type you need to consider your body structure and energy patterns, as well as your food cravings. The book Body Type Diet and Lifetime Nutrition Plan by Dr. Elliot Abravanel explains the diets and how to determine your glandular type. More information about his Body Type System is available online.
Metabolic type – Identifying your metabolic type will help you determine exactly what foods are compatible with your body chemistry, and how to combine proteins, carbohydrates and fats in a ratio that is just right for you.
One option is a diet high in protein and fats and low in carbohydrates for the fast oxidizers – people who process carbohydrates quickly and feel hungry again shortly after eating. This is why they need protein and fats with meals.
Another is higher in complex carbohydrates (vegetables and whole grains) with light protein sources (poultry, fish, low fat dairy). This diet is suited to slow oxidizers – people who process carbohydrates slowly and take much longer to digest heavy proteins like meats, legumes and fatty fish.
The third option is a mixed diet that falls between the first two. If you’re a mixed type, you need to eat relatively equal ratios of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. This will keep your cellular oxidation rate, which is neither too fast nor too slow, in balance.
To learn more about balancing your metabolic system, refer to Dr. William Wolcott’s book The Metabolic Typing Diet, or the website.
Integrating these three typologies to find your ideal diet may seem overwhelming. It can be made simpler by considering the following: If you are relatively healthy with normal body weight, you will likely do well on just the blood type diet. If you are over or under weight, or have low energy or high nervous energy, you will have to also consider your glandular type. If you are seriously or chronically ill, you will need to consider all three diet types.
The best way to get started is to eliminate troublesome foods one at a time, and replace them with something appropriate to your typology. If you try to change everything at once, you may give up in frustration.
Once these habits are integrated into your lifestyle, you will find it is not so difficult to eat for health as well as for pleasure.