[book rec] The Genotype Diet by Dr. Peter D’Adamo

May 14, 2017

I really enjoyed this book a lot!
If you’re open-minded and enjoy things like genetics and epigenetics, this book is an attempt at finding the right diet based on your genetic characteristics.

The Genotype Diet was released back in 2007, way before the current popularity of self-testing sites like 23andme. Since most people may not have their actual genetic data, Dr. D’Adamo uses other clues to figure out which of the 6 Genotypes you will fall into.

You measure things like torso height compared to legs, if your lower legs are longer than upper legs, and even better if you know your blood type. There are additional optional clues you can look at like your head shape, angle of your jaw, and if your teeth show clues of meat-eating vs plant-based. You can even look at your finger prints, to see if you had stable or unstable growth in the womb, and if you currently have gluten intolerance and gut issues. How cool!

I recently learned from other sources that gut health shows itself on your tongue and even nails. So this new information was right up my alley.

The great part about the book is that you can read all your relevant parts in one sitting. Since there are 6 different genotypes, once you find your type, all you gotta do is read only your sections.

The 6 types are based on common archetypes, things in our collective unconscious that folks like Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell talk about. They are: Hunter, Gatherer, Teacher, Explorer, Warrior, and Nomad.

Based on my information, I am a Hunter and should mainly focus on a something like a Paleo Diet though carbs like rice are not restricted.

Background
I first heard of Dr. D’Adamo through his blood type book, Eat Right For Your Type. At that time, I thought it was very silly that we should eat according to our blood type and didn’t think much of the book. It happened to be just one of the dozens of books I read on diets.

Fast forward through my many experiments in various diets: calorie restriction, high caloric expenditure, moderation diets, meal delivery, hcg hormone spray diet, paleo diet, and most recently a plant-based aka vegan diet.

Recently I got really into nutrigenomics, which is looking at your genetic data to figure out what your body needs and dislikes. For example, I wrote a while back that according to my genetic data, I do very poorly from high fat diets. I have multiple genetic markers for “abnormal fat metabolism.” Anecdotally, I did very poorly on high fat paleo diets, no matter how hard I tried to make it work.

My recent eating style has been 95% plant-based + some healthy fish like sardines and wild salmon. No meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, gluten, or processed food, limited nightshades. So basically, I eat a lot of carbs like rice, potatoes and fruit, plenty of veggies, and keep it lower on fats except for some fish.

I took a lot of good things away from my genotype that I can have it handy in case my current eating style doesn’t work out. For example, my type will do very well with chamomile and green teas and poorly on black tea and coffee. This was a conclusion I was coming to already and this just happened to confirm my suspicions. Caffeine was negatively affecting my already poor gut health and IBS symptoms. I will also do well on beef, buffalo, goat, lamb, chicken, and duck but I’m not planning on eating those at the moment. Sardines and wild salmon are highly recommended.

Dr. D’Adamo also has a website full of free information and even a food list where you can search various items to see how it would affect you.

Debunking The Debunkers
Of course there are many debunkers out there, with information pulled from pubmed and various scientific journals saying how the blood type diet (or the genotype diet) is junky.

I get it. The diet sounds silly.

But if you zoom out for a moment and look at it from your genetic information, there has to be an ideal diet that exists for your body. This diet isn’t to just live but to thrive. Our bodies are so efficient that one can live on twinkies and donuts for their whole lives but I’m talking about reaching our highest nutritional potential.

That data must be in encoded in our genes. Right?
And there are around 30,000 total genes in our body. One of those genes is in charge of our blood type, whether that turns out to be A, AB, B, or O. When Dr. D’Adamo wrote about this back in the day, before we all had genetic information easily available, that was one of the markers he looked at to figure out what our body wants. There is a reason why there are various blood types and how not everyone can accept your blood type.

I’m not saying Dr. A’damo is right or wrong. I’m saying that it seems like he’s on the right path, to look at our genetic characteristics to figure out which diet our body prefers.

Humans are omnivores.
We eat plants and animals.

And we don’t eat every plant and animal, because most things are toxic to our system. For example, we don’t eat pine trees or snake plants. Most of us don’t eat squirrels, dogs, or wolves. We only eat certain plants and animals. Out of that subset, some of us must have adapted to eating more of one over the other, based on the genes that were passed onto us from thousands of years of adaptation. Am I wrong in assuming this?

Wouldn’t mostly meat eaters have different types of teeth than mostly plant eaters? Wouldn’t there be other genetic clues in our bodies that show us what we’re meant to eat?

Anyways, so I saw this video by Dr. Gregor, who is a plant-based vegan, who “debunked” Dr. D’Adamo’s blood based diet book. I actually like Dr. Gregor and his information on the benefits of plants for our health but I feel like his video is incorrect, even though he’s much smarter than me and is looking at “scientific analysis.”

First of all, he’s biased.
He’s a vegan. He believes we should eat zero meat, fish or animal foods. That’s a strong viewpoint, even if it’s backed by his scientific research. By contrast, the blood based diet recommends eating animals. Anytime an expert already has a strong view point and they disprove their opposing side, it raises some flags for me. That goes for paleo doctors who “disprove” vegans and vegans who “disprove” paleo.

Secondly, scientific studies and journals are not infallible, especially when it comes to diet and nutrition. From my perspective, I value anecdotal evidence more than peer-reviewed studies. Studies have their flaws and biases. I’d much rather know that something worked for someone than studies saying that certain thing will not work.

He also doesn’t really prove that the diet doesn’t work, but rather reads parts of couple of journal studies that go against the blood type diet, like one from Norway. He also suggests Dr. D’Adamo is just making a lot of money selling books using a fraudulent diet. If your goal is to make a ton of money, your first option probably wouldn’t be writing books.

The book may cost you only $14, a pittance, or even $5 if you buy it used. The only reason it keeps selling is because it has great anecdotal reviews and it must work for some people. Everything he says you should eat, you are buying from a grocery store! He’s not selling special meat or some type of magical elixir for $1000.

Lastly, there’s really no risk in following a blood type based diet or a genotype diet. Why? Because it’s not like the diet recommends you all of a sudden start eating rocks and grass. Or that you have to hunt down wolves and eat their raw livers.

You already eat some plants and animals!
The blood type and genotype diet tries to further specify which of those foods are likely to be beneficial for your type.

Maybe you shouldn’t eat wheat and gluten because your type is much more sensitive to that. Maybe you should try adding some meat because it looks like you’re bred for that type of food. If you choose not to eat meat, that’s fine, there’s no pressure. No one’s going to come to your home to force feed you bacon. Maybe beans and lentils are noted as being tougher on your system. There’s plenty of other food you can eat!

And of course you may already be healthy following the opposite diet. For example, there may be healthy blood type O vegans out there who scoff that they’re supposed to eat meat. That’s fine, you don’t have to eat meat. Folks who usually peruse diet books are ones who are having health issues. They may have tried dozens of theories over their lives and this is just another experiment.

Even if Dr. D’Adamo’s science is 100% wrong, nothing bad is going to happen if you eat clean food, lean towards more plants, and add in some clean animal products as necessary. 99% of people are eating way worse on the Standard American Diet!

Calm down!

Resources:
TypeBase V – Dr. D’Adamo’s food database

The Genotype Diet
Eat Right 4 Your Type