Book Review: Eat Right For Your Type

Eat Right For Your Type








Eat Right For Your Type, a New York Times Bestseller by naturopathic physician Peter D’Adamo.  Originally published in 1996 (Putnam), and followed up with an updated “encyclopedia” in 2002.  The official website  claims that there are more than 7 million hardcover copies in print, translated into 65 languages, and that the book is one of the “Ten Most Influential Health Books of All Time”.  There is also a series of ebook cookbooks published for each blood type diet in 2012, each called Personalized Living Using The Blood Type Diet, co-authored with Kristin O’Connor.  More recently, D’Adamo has authored Change your Genetic Destiny, in which he identifies 6 genotypes that, when identified, also allow specific dietary recommendations.

The One Minute Review:  While it is true that both genetics and even specific blood types may predispose or are associated with specific diseases, and there are many who have clearly benefitted from D’Adamo’s dietary recommendations, the consensus among dieticians, physicians and scientists is that the theory is unsupported by scientific evidence. D’Adamo himself has not published any research to support his hypothesis, has provided little understanding of the evolution of blood types and their current distribution, and curiously, did not approach the possible significance of Rh+ vs Rh-.  Since the diet changes recommended in the book are generally good ones, with emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, and less refined carbohydrates and processed foods, it is not surprising to see health benefits for those following this diet, regardless of their blood type.  A 2013 comprehensive systematic review also found no evidence to support a relationship between blood type and disease risk.

The reality is that blood type distribution around the world is complex, and these blood types arose well before hominids were walking upright, and therefore, obviously, before humans were hunting, gathering farming or domesticating animals.  And blood types among existing hunter gatherer populations show no relationship with their diets:  The Saami people of Northern Scandanavia, the Australian Aboriginals, and the Blackfoot Indians of Montana all have much higher A type blood alleles than the world population (a blood type that D’Adamo suggests needs a vegetarian diet), these are mostly meat eating populations.

The short answer:  There is no merit scientifically for D’Adamo’s hypothesis.  His healthy diet recommendations are generally good, but would be useful suggestions no matter what your blood type is, since most avoid processed foods and refined sugar, encourage fruits and vegetables, and avoid wheat, grains and dairy for some, which may also have benefits.

There are many reviews on this dietary approach.  A few are here:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013, here.

A comprehensive review on the Skeptic’s Dictionary, here.

A recent review, on Mark’s Daily Apple, here.

Lectin researcher  Dr. Arpad Pusztai comments here.

Wikipedia, The Blood Type Diet, here.

Quackwatch review, here.