Book Review: Eat Right 4 Your Type

Eat Right 4 Your Type
By Peter J. D’Adamo, MD
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1996)
Reviewed by Holly R. Layer, RD


Dr. D’Adamo, a naturopath and physician, asserts that our blood type reflects our “ability to acclimate to different environmental challenges,” including issues with our digestive tracts and immune systems, and influences our risk for certain diseases, our reactions to stress and even the individuality of the bacteria in our GI tract. According to Dr. D’Adamo, Type O hunter-gatherers came first, then Type A developed as our lifestyles became more agrarian, then Type B resulted from the merging of peoples in Africa with those in Europe, Asia and the Americas, and further intermingling of races produced Type AB. He believes that our blood type determines what kind of foods we should eat for optimal health. Specifically, much of the preference for or against a certain food is a blood type’s reaction to lectins, proteins found in food that, according to Dr. D’Adamo, can agglutinate in the body and affect digestion and even lead to other health issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome or cirrhosis.

Synopsis of Diet Plan:

Each blood type includes food recommendations at three tiers (highly beneficial, neutral, avoid) for each food group, and portions per week based on ancestry (African, Caucasian, Asian). Strategies for weight loss—while not the sole purpose of the book—is part of each type’s recommendations. Also included are beverage, spice and condiment recommendations, a three-day sample meal plan and approximately 10-15 recipes. Additionally, he recommends different supplements, stress management, exercise suggestions and a note on each type’s ‘personality.’

Type O = meat-eater

As the ‘original’ blood type and hunter-gatherer, Dr. D’Adamo claims that Type O’s have not only more stomach acid but also a greater ability to digest both fat and protein well. On the flip side, he says, carbohydrates—namely those from grains—are not as well digested and turned into fat and increase inflammation in the body. Type O’s are to eat red meat, poultry and seafood, very little dairy, lots of nuts and seeds, as well as almost all vegetables, except those in the Brassica family (cabbage, cauliflower, etc..). Foods to avoid include most beans, cereals, grains, breads and pastas. Coffee is to be avoided as it leads to increased levels of stomach acid, which Type O’s don’t need. Because of Type O’s high response to stress, exercise is essential, and high-intensity activities, such as aerobics, cycling and contact sports are recommended for 30-60 minutes three to four times a week. (Author’s note: Prior to reading this book, I gravitated to a mostly ‘paleo-style’ diet—heavy on meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables—while limiting grains and dairy—and engaging in high-intensity exercise, such as running, cycling and kickbox, because that diet and exercise regimen make me feel the most healthy. I am Type O.)

Type A = vegetarian

According to Dr. D’Adamo, Type A stomach acid makeup favors the digestion of carbohydrates over protein and fat. He recommends an all/mostly vegetarian diet for Type A, but does allow some fish for those of Caucasian and Asian descent. Wheat and grains are beneficial for Type A, with up to 10 one-cup portions of whole grains allowed per week. He also recommends eating mostly raw, organic fruits and vegetables. For stress relief and exercise, Dr. D’Adamo recommends calming, relaxing activities, such as yoga or walking, and claims that “highly competitive sports and exercises…exhaust your nervous energy…and leave your immune system open to illness or disease.”

Type B = flexitarian

Dr. D’Adamo says Type B’s tend to produce high levels of cortisol, which can lead to higher levels of inflammation and a greater risk for disease. The recommended diet is a mix of meat and plants, but chicken should be avoided, as well as corn, wheat, tomatoes and peanuts, which promote weight gain. Recommended red meats include lamb, rabbit and venison. Other recommended foods include green vegetables, eggs and low-fat dairy. Exercise recommendations for Type B focus on both mental and physical activities, such as golf, martial arts and hiking.

Type AB = A + B (mostly)

The book claims that those with Type AB blood can usually stick to a combination of the recommendations for Types A and B. If a food isn’t recommended for either type, it’s mostly likely not recommended for AB. There is an exception for a specific type of lectin, an example of which is the tomato. According to Dr. D’Adamo, Type AB’s are more energetic than A’s, their immune systems are more ‘tolerant,’ but their digestive tracts are more ‘sensitive’ and that while they have sufficient stomach acid to digest meat, it tends to get stored as fat. Recommended foods for Type AB include seafood, green vegetables and dairy, especially yogurt and kefir. Dr. D’Adamo claims cured meats can cause stomach cancer in this blood type. Smaller, more frequent meals may help digestion, and a mixture of calming and more intense exercise is recommended.

Nutritional Pros and Cons:

On the upside, Dr. D’Adamo recommends only real, whole foods and even provides correct portion sizes and frequency per week. Every blood type benefits, he says, from fruits and vegetables, therefore each recommended diet is sufficient in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fish is also recommended for each diet. However, as almost-vegetarians, Type A’s may need to ensure they eat proper protein sources and variety, not to mention that some Type A readers may not even WANT to become vegetarians. Additionally, while his ‘highly beneficial/neutral/avoid’ list is easy to understand, it might be too restrictive for some readers. In order to ease the transition, Dr. D’Adamo even provides a four-week elimination plan for each blood type. Readers should consult their doctor before beginning a supplement regimen beyond a basic multivitamin. Lastly, Dr. D’Adamo’s recognition of the importance of stress-relief and exercise for overall health is commendable, even if readers don’t all fit into his blood-type boxes.

Bottom Line:

There is no scientific evidence, or even much support for Dr. D’Adamo’s claims, and there is even evidence to suggest that Type A was the original blood type, not O like the author suggests. That being said, the diet itself isn’t harmful. Eating lots of fruits, vegetables and lean meats is a good idea for almost all readers. Highly motivated readers may ’buy-in’ to the importance of individualizing their diet by their blood type; however, they should not forget that there are more important factors to include when adjusting their diet, such as their own medical history, weight loss needs (if any) and preferences. Dr. D’Adamo’s recommended food lists seem arbitrary at best, and should not discourage participants from eating healthy options even if they appear on an ‘avoid’ list.

Each blood type includes approx. 10-12 recipes and a three-day sample menu.