Should you try the ‘blood type diet’?

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What if information as simple as a person’s blood type could determine exactly what foods work best with their unique body chemistry? That’s exactly what the blood type diet promises to do.

The blood type diet originated in 1996 by naturopathic physician Peter J. D’Adamo. The idea behind it is that your body’s response to food is directly linked to your blood type, based on what your ancestors with the same blood type ate. According to D’Adamo, each blood type has its own guidelines about specific foods to eat and to avoid. The diet claims to help people lose weight, improve digestive health and boost overall well-being.

For example, those with type O blood are said to do best with a largely plant-based diet, with plenty of lean meats and cutting out wheat and dairy.

For those with type A blood, the diet recommends a vegetarian-based diet high in carbohydrates and cutting out meat.

Type B and type AB blood are said to work best with a balanced omnivorous diet.

While the premise of the diet is intriguing, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support it .

The blood type diet contains many foods — particularly fruits and vegetables and lean meats — that are beneficial to a person’s overall health. But as any dietitian will tell you, the key is to make a lifestyle change that includes meaningful dietary choices and continue them — not to follow a crash diet for a few weeks and then revert.

When discussing diet options with clients, I tend to steer people toward the Mediterranean diet or a variation of that like the DASH (Dietary Approaches for Stopping Hypertension) and the anti- inflammatory diets. These diets are roadmaps for healthy eating that include many plant-based foods, lean proteins and whole grains – all of which have been shown beneficial to human health.

While many of the foods included in the blood type diet are also part of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, parsing things by blood type doesn’t really make sense. What makes more sense is to follow a diet based on current health concerns and family history. For example, if you have a strong family history of high blood pressure, eating many fruits and vegetables high in potassium and magnesium while avoiding sodium is ideal.

As a registered dietitian, I’m always looking for what’s beneficial for human health – regardless of blood type. We all know the basics of a healthy diet: mostly whole foods and plant based.

Liz Weinandy is a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

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