Does The Blood Type Diet Work?

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– by Anel Kirsten (Dietician for LK Fitness App)

The Blood Type Diet has been popular for almost two decades now. Proponents of this diet suggest that your blood type determines which foods are best for your health. Many people used to swear by this diet, but what are the details of the blood type diet, and is it based on any solid evidence? While Paul D’Adamo, a naturopathic physician, claimed the diet recommendations are based on rigorous clinical evidence, independent reviews conclude that evidence is effectively non-existent.

Still curious about what the diet entails? Let’s have a look and here is what you need to know.

What is The Blood Type Diet?

The blood type diet, also known as the blood group diet, was developed by D’Adamo, and first published in his 1996 book, “Eat Right For Your Type.” His book, was incredibly successful. It was a New York Times bestseller, sold millions of copies. In this book, he claims that the optimal diet for any one individual depends on the person’s ABO blood type. He claims that each blood type represents genetic traits of our ancestors, including which diet they evolved to thrive on.

This is how each blood type is supposed to eat:

  • Type A: Called the agrarian, or cultivator. People who are type A should eat a diet rich in plants, and completely free of “toxic” red meat. This closely resembles a vegetarian diet.
  • Type B: Called the nomad. These people can eat plants and most meats (except chicken and pork), and can also eat some dairy. However, they should avoid wheat, corn, lentils, tomatoes and a few other foods.
  • Type AB: Called the enigma. Described as a mix between types A and B. Foods to eat include seafood, tofu, dairy, beans and grains. They should avoid kidney beans, corn, beef and chicken.
  • Type O: Called the hunter. This is a high-protein diet based largely on meat, fish, poultry, certain fruits and vegetables, but limited in grains, legumes and dairy. It closely resembles the paleo diet.
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Is There Any Scientific Evidence Behind The Blood Type Diet?

Research on ABO blood types has advanced rapidly in the past few years. There is now strong evidence that people with certain blood types can have a higher or lower risk of some diseases. However, there are no studies showing this to have anything to do with diet. Not a single well designed study has been conducted to either confirm or refute the benefits of the blood type diet.

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Should You Choose a Diet Based On Your Blood Type?

Dieticians and nutrition researchers agree there’s virtually no evidence to support the notion that your blood type should determine what you eat. There is little research supporting the idea that eating for a specific blood type affects health. According to experts there is no consistency or logical reasoning behind this diet because it makes broad generalisations about billions of people and how they should eat. Nutritional guidelines in the blood type diet can be restrictive and are not necessarily cost-effective, since it may require specialty and organic products. Furthermore, the blood type diet does not take into account individual health issues and simply offers suggestions based on blood type. The diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies and even encourage harmful eating behaviours.

I am of the opinion that any of these dietary patterns would be an improvement for most people, no matter what their blood type is. All 4 diets (or “ways of eating”) are mostly based on real, healthy foods, and a huge step up from the standard Western diet of processed junk food. So, even if you go on one of these diets and your health improves, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it had anything to do with your blood type. Maybe the reason for the health benefits is simply that you’re eating healthier food than before.

I do not doubt that many people have experienced positive results by following the diet. However, this does NOT mean that this was in any way related to their blood type. Different diets work for different people. 

Regardless of your blood type, people should aim to eat more high-fiber, nutrient-rich, plant-based foods. Instead of following the blood type diet, it is better to consume a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods and make healthy choices that are sustainable and realistic. 

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Dietician Anél Kirsten: anel@paarldts.co.za