In our modern world of cell phones, iPads, and Starbucks, it is hard to imagine that we have within us a direct link to our past. As we get into our cars and drive to the grocery store, the idea that we once had to hunt for our food and gather what we could find is so far from our consciousness that it seems like the plot of a Hollywood movie. And yet, as hard as it is to believe, every single one of your 75 trillion cells contains this link. But what you may not realize is that this link to your past has profound implications on your health today.
This link to your past is your genetics, or more specifically, your DNA. Each cell of your body, about 75 trillion of them, contains the complete genetic blueprint (DNA) that creates you. And it is this DNA that carries the genetic information from generation to generation.
Genetics is a VERY complicated science and we are only now beginning to scratch the surface of its true importance in health and well being. Fortunately we have a wonderful marker in our genes that can help us understand our genetics a little more easily. This marker is your blood type. Think of it as a signpost on the road to understanding your specific genes. Picture a road that branches into four different and distinct roads. When you get to the crossroads, you see four signs. Type O blood? Please go down this genetic road. Type A? We'll need you over here. Type B? Your genetic road starts here. Type AB? See that rarely used road? That's you. And down your particular road you go.
So what lies down these genetic roads? What differences do we see between blood types? It turns out that there are many differences along the respective genetic roads. So many, in fact, that there are numerous books and studies with this information. What follows are summaries of four specific areas where we see major differences.
Blood type influences how well you make immune proteins and how easily you recognize pathogens and cancerous cells.
Type O – very aggressive immune response leads to hypersensitivity and inflammation
Type A – low levels of immunoglobulins IgA and IgE; weaker Natural Killer response to foreign anitgens
Type B – slow to clear bacterial infections and susceptible to viruses
Type AB – Very similar to Type A
How you deal with stress and make stress hormones is influenced by your blood type.
Type O – Make more epinephrine (quick-acting stress hormone) but make less cortisol (chronic stress hormone)
Type A – Make more cortisol, less epinephrine
Type B – Similar to Type A
Type AB – More similar to Type O
Metabolism can show up differently in the blood types. This means more than just weight loss: impaired metabolism can lead to things like insulin resistance and heart disease.
Type O -very efficient metabolism but gains weight on high carbohydrate diets.
Type A and AB– Make more cholesterol and lipoproteins
Type B – Like type O, very sensitive to high carbohydrate diets. Also makes less Nitric oxide so may have high blood pressure.
Blood type influences how well you digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
Type A – less stomach acid, therefore has more difficulty digesting animal proteins. Easier time with carbohydrates.
Type O – Makes plenty of stomach acid and alkaline phosphtase. Animal proteins a must. Does poorly with wheat, corn, etc
Type B – Most balanced digestively. Does well with a good combination and variety of foods.
Type AB – Usually very similar to Type A.
Likely we would all agree that simply lumping all humans into four categories is a little too reductive. The interaction between genes, the expression and regulation of genes, and the role of nutrition, emotions, and thoughts on our genes, are all areas that are only beginning to be researched. Without a doubt, we are very complex creations. But by knowing your blood type, you have a great place to start in understanding your particular physiology. You know what foods are more easily digestible. You know what to do to enhance a weak area. You find ways to exercise and move your body that support you. All of this is very empowering. It allows you to take steps to prevent disease and enhance your overall health. And it links you to your ancestors. All from just one gene marker. Pretty amazing.