Starting in Africa 40,000 years ago, life-style
changes prompted evolution of blood types

If your blood type is B or AB and you’re a female of about 158 cm or a male of 163 cm chances are you are a descendent of Genghis Khan — even if you have blue eyes. Following is a fascinating article about blood types and their history and why B types are well equipped to handle stress.

By Paul J. Dunn, MD

(Dr. Dunn is a charter member of the American Holistic Medical Association, member of the American College of Advancement in Medicine, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, and the Academy of Orthomolecular Medicine, and member and past president of the International Academy of Nutrition and Preventive Medicine, with a private practice in holistic medicine in Oak Park, Illinois.)

Most people have heard about blood types. Many, however, do not know their own type and fewer still are aware of the relationship of blood type to nutrition, exercise, personality, and susceptibility to different diseases. My purpose here is to bring about an awareness of the concept and to elaborate on some of these relationships, especially with nutrition. For more complete information on specific details for each type I strongly recommend reading the book, Eat Right for Your Type by Peter J. D’Adamo, ND.* This article and, to quote the author, "This book is not intended as a substitute for the recommendations of physicians or other health care providers. Rather, it is intended to offer information to help the reader cooperate with physicians and health professionals in a mutual quest for optimum well-being."

Origin of Blood Types

The explanation for the differences among the different types lies in their origin. Type O is the oldest and the most common type. About 40,000 BC our ancestors in southern Africa had weapons and tools and they hunted in packs. They were hunter-gatherers, who thrived on meat, which led to their digestive characteristics. In time, hunting grounds became depleted of big game. To survive, the human race migrated to northern Africa. Eventually good hunting there was eliminated leading to migration out of Africa into Europe and Asia. Thus, the basic population of the planet was type O for "old." In time, depletion of large game in Europe and Asia occurred so different kinds of food were needed. Our ancestors survived on berries, small game, nuts, grubs, and fish. Overpopulation by early man led to increasing competition for the remaining meat, which led to war and further migration.

Many, however, do not know their own [blood] type and fewer still are aware of the relationship of blood type to nutrition, exercise, personality, and susceptibility to different diseases.

According to D’Adamo, type A first appeared in Asia or the Middle East between 25,000 and 15,000 BC. Type A mutated from type O because the increased population and major diet changes resulted in many infections. This mutation occurred rapidly. The gene for type A thrived. Characteristics of the culture were agriculture and the raising of domesticated animals. Dietary and environmental changes led to further digestive and immune system mutations. People became better able to absorb and tolerate grains and other agricultural products. They were able to sustain themselves and stable communities arose, which led to networking and cooperation. Eventually the type A gene spread into Western Europe.

Type B (for balance) developed between 15,000 and 10,000 BC in the Himalayas. Changes in climate from hot East Africa to the cold Himalayan highlands may have brought about the mutation to type B. It was characteristic of the Steppe dwellers of the Eurasian plains. Some of these were nomads, who penetrated far into Eastern Europe; while others, agriculturally based, spread through China and Southeast Asia. Movement of type B into North America was prevented by the disappearance of the land mass between it and Asia. Earlier populations in North America were all type O.

Type AB is found in less than 5% of the population and did not exist prior to between 900 and 1,000 years ago. When eastern Mongolian invaders (type B) overran the last of European civilization, type AB came into existence. AB’s inherited the tolerances of A and B, which gave them enhanced ability to counteract infections, allergies, and immune diseases. However, they have some increased susceptibility to certain cancers.

Blood Types and Health

Our blood type is significant for our health because of three classes of chemicals—antigens, antibodies, and lectins. An antigen is any chemical that generates an antibody by the immune system in response to it. An antibody is a substance, an "immunoglobulin," made by cells of the immune system specifically to identify foreign material in the body of the host and to adhere to the foreign material. A lectin is any compound, usually a protein, found in nature, which can interact with surface antigens found on the body’s cells causing them to agglutinate or clump together.

Antigens and antibodies

As far as antigens are concerned, we each have a variety of our own that enable the immune system to decide whether a substance in the body is foreign or not. They are located on the cells of the body. Every form of life from the simplest virus to human beings has a unique set of antigens. In the human body one of the most powerful of these is the one that determines blood type. When the immune system senses a suspicious invader it looks first to the blood type antigen to decide whether or not it is friendly. Our blood type is named for the blood type antigen found on the red blood cells. Thus, type A has A antigen, type B has B antigen, type AB has both A and B antigens, and type O has no antigens.

When a blood-type antigen senses that a foreign antigen has entered the system, it alerts the immune system to create antibodies to that antigen. Immune system cells manufacture these antibodies, which attach themselves to the foreign antigen for destruction. Over time we develop an increasing number of different antibodies. When an antibody meets the antigen of a bacteria or virus or parasite it causes the microorganism to become sticky or agglutinate. The organisms clump up and can be disposed of more easily.

Besides detecting and destroying microbes and other invaders, there are other important aspects of blood-type antigens with their resulting antibodies. About a hundred years ago, an Austrian physician and scientist, Dr. Karl Landsteiner, discovered that blood types produced antibodies to other blood types. This explains why some people can exchange blood and others can’t. Thus, blood-type A carries antibodies against type B. Type B carries antibodies against type A. Type AB carries no antibodies against either type A or type B. Type O carries antibodies against both type A and type B. Anti-blood-type antibodies are extremely powerful and can clump (agglutinate) blood cells of the opposing type in seconds.

Unlike most other antibodies that require some sort of stimulation, for example, vaccination or infection, for their production, blood-type antibodies appear automatically at birth and, by four months of age, have attained almost adult levels.

In addition to blood-cell agglutination by anti-blood-type antibodies, it was found that many foods agglutinate the cells of certain blood types but not of others. A food that may be harmful to the cells of one blood type may be beneficial to the cells of another. Many of the antigens in these foods have A-like or B-like characteristics. This discovery led to the link between blood type and diet.

Lectins

Which brings us to lectins. Lectins are abundant proteins, found in foods. Their agglutinating properties affect blood and other tissues, organs, and body systems. If you eat a food that has protein lectins that are incompatible with your blood-type antigen, they attack an organ or system and begin to agglutinate cells in that area. Many food lectins are close enough to a certain blood-type antigen so as to make that food detrimental to another type. For example, milk has B-like qualities. If a type A drinks milk, agglutination begins immediately to reject it. Cells in the target area are clumped together and destroyed. However, there is some protection from lectins. Our immune system actually sloughs off 95% of the lectins in our food. The other 5% can cause problems if a particular blood type is reactive.

Lectins are abundant proteins, found in foods. Their agglutinating  properties affect blood and other tissues, organs, and body systems. If you eat a food that has protein lectins that are incompatible with your blood-type  antigen, they attack an organ or system and begin to agglutinate cells in that  area.

Some variations within each blood type

In addition to diet, Dr. D’Adamo’s book includes sections, under each blood type, about stress/exercise, meal planning, supplements, weight loss, and personality. At this time I will consider the broad aspects of diet and exercise. The details of these and the other actors are nicely discussed in Dr. D’Alamo’s book, which I strongly advise reading. There are some variations within each type because of size and weight of various peoples as well as geographic variation. Also, people from different cultures and races don’t always have the same frequency of the gene. For example, one type A person may be AA if both parents were A, another may be AO, if one parent was O.

Food suggestions

As to diet, foods are classified into beneficial, neutral, and avoid. These are further classified into fifteen types of foods—meat, fish, oils, nuts, beans, cereals, breads, vegetables, fruits, juices, condiments, etc. Following are a few examples of the three basic classifications for each blood type. Further reading will give the reader all the details.

Type O

Highly Beneficial:Beef, lamb, liver, eggs, salmon, whitefish, olive and flaxseed oils, onions, kale, garlic, spinach, plums and prunes, pineapple juice, to mention a few.

Neutral:Chicken, turkey, bass, shrimp, lobster, butter, goat cheese, cod. liver oil, almonds, pecans, string beans, rice, rye bread, many vegetables, most fruits, most juices, most spices, mustard, mayonnaise, chamomile tea, beer, red and white wine, plus many other items.

Avoid: Pork, ham, bacon, catfish, lox, milk, goat milk, cheese, peanuts, cashews, navy beans, lentils, wheat, oats, corn, white potato, cabbage, olives, oranges, honeydew melons, strawberries, apple juice, orange juice, vinegar, black peppers, ketchup, coffee (even decaffeinated), tea, and sodas.

Type O‘s have a hardy digestive tract and thrive on animal protein. Organic, free-range meats are preferable.

Type A

Highly Beneficial:Rainbow trout, sea trout, whitefish, salmon, soya cheese, soy milk, olive and flaxseed oils, peanuts, lentils, black eyed peas, buckwheat, amaranth, Ezekial bread, rice cakes, broccoli, carrots, kale, spinach and many other vegetables, apricots, grapefruit, pineapple, juice of these fruits, ginger, garlic, mustard, rose hips tea, coffee, red wine, and green tea.

Neutral: Chicken, turkey, ocean perch, sea bass, swordfish, goat cheese, yogurt, kefir, cod liver oil, almonds, filberts, macadamia nuts, green peas , snap beans, rice, corn flakes, gluten-free bread, wild rice, spelt noodles, cauliflower, celery, corn, apples, grapes, melons, peaches, pears, apple and grape juice, very many spices, pickles, jelly, dandelion tea, senna tea, and white wine.

Avoid:  All red meats, anchovy, catfish, clam, American cheese, cottage cheese, brie, buttermilk, corn oil, peanut oil, brazil nuts, cashews, navy beans, kidney beans, red beans, grapenuts, shredded wheat, granola, whole wheat bread, white and whole wheat flour, cabbage, all potatoes, bananas, oranges, tomatoes, black pepper, catnip tea, beer, and distilled liquor.

Type A’s flourish on somewhat more vegetarian diets.

Type B

Highly Beneficial: Lamb, rabbit, venison, cod, halibut, salmon, cottage cheese, goat milk, skim milk and yogurt, olive oil, navy beans, oatmeal, puffed rice, Ezekiel bread, rice, kale, cabbage, carrots, and many other vegetables, bananas, grapes, pineapple, grape juice, cranberry juice, cayenne pepper, ginger, rose hips tea, and green tea.

Neutral:  Beef, liver, turkey, whitefish, catfish, white perch, buttermilk, Monterey Jack, cod liver oil, flax oil, pecans, walnuts, white beans, snap beans, grape nuts, granola, gluten-free bread, oat bran muffins, quinoa, brown and white rice, garlic, cucumber, white potatoes, and very many other vegetables, apples, peaches pears, apricot juice, orange juice, most spices, mayonnaise, mustard, many herbal teas, coffee, and red and white wine.

Avoid:  Bacon, ham, chicken, duck, pork, shrimp, lobster, anchovy, American cheese, ice cream, peanut oil, safflower oil, peanuts, cashews, filberts, lentils, pinto beans, wheat cereals, corn flakes, multigrain bread, rye bread, buckwheat, couscous, yellow corn, all olives, coconuts, rhubarb, tomato, black pepper, ketchup, senna tea, distilled liquor, and cola.

This type diet represents "the best of the animal and vegetable kingdoms."

Type AB

Highly Beneficial:  Lamb, rabbit, turkey, salmon, mackerel, sardine, cottage cheese, goat milk, olive oil, peanuts, walnuts, chestnuts, navy beans, green lentils, oatmeal, Essene and Ezekial bread, rye crisp, white and brown rice, broccoli, celery, kale, garlic, grapes, figs, pineapple, grape juice, carrot juice, horseradish, ginger tea, hawthorn tea, rose hips tea, coffee, and green tea.

Neutral: Liver, pheasant, catfish, carp, sole, snapper, skim milk, soy milk, cheddar cheese, peanut oil, cod liver oil, cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, green beans, northern beans, domestic lentils, grapenuts, seven grains, cream of rice, whole wheat bread, multigrain bread, couscous, quinoa, asparagus, carrots, red cabbage, white potatoes, and many other vegetables, apples, peaches, pears, various melons, apple juice, pineapple juice, prune juice, very many spices, mustard, mayonnaise, jelly from appropriate fruits, catnip tea, peppermint tea, beer, red and white wine.

Avoid:  Anchovy, sea bass, lobster, haddock, lox, bacon, beef, pork, veal, venison, ice cream, whole milk, buttermilk, sherbet, corn oil safflower oil, filberts, sesame seeds, lima beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, kamut, buckwheat kasha, lima beans, all white and yellow corn, red and yellow peppers, bananas, oranges, rhubarb, white vinegar, cayenne pepper, ketchup, relish, fenugreek tea, senna tea, distilled liquor, diet and other sodas.

Handling Stress

The amount and type of exercise recommended is related to how different blood types respond to stress. Each type attempts to overcome stress through a distinct, genetically programmed instinct. The ancient hunter ancestors of type O’s had an immediate, physical response to stress that goes directly to muscles. With a physical release at this time a positive effect may come from a bad stress. Type O’s then are suited for intense, physical exercise.

The type A person reacts to the alarm stage of stress intellectually, producing anxiety and irritability. As the stress continues, the immune system is affected, leading to further problems. These negative effects of stress can be countered by quieting techniques such as yoga or meditation. Other quieting type exercises like hiking, swimming, and bicycling are also helpful.

The type B response to stress is a balance of types A and O. The physical response of type O and the nervous and mental response of type A complement one another very nicely allowing type B to respond very well to stress. Moderate activities that involve other people, such as group hiking or biking, Tai Chi, tennis, and aerobics classes.

Type AB’s respond to the initial stage of stress intellectually much like type A’s. Exercises that provide calm and focus bring relief. This type would benefit from moderate, isotonic exercise like hiking, swimming, and bicycling done even vigorously. Hatha yoga, Tai Chi, Aikido, and golf are other good exercises.

Conclusion

Specific guidelines for each blood type regarding specific exercises, with time and frequency, are beautifully outlined in Dr. D’Adamo’s book. The same is true for dietary guidelines as well as the other elements of a blood-type plan. Hopefully, the information contained herein will motivate the reader to think about these ideas and, working with one’s individual health practitioner, decide whether or not to implement all or parts of them into one’s lifestyle.

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*G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1996, 392 pages, hardcover, $22.95.
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