Monday, May 11, 2009

Blood Type 'A' and SCD

This image is from Zazzle

I'm not an 'A' type, but I do have a fair few patients who are. As an 'O' who does very well on a high animal protein and vegetable diet I always struggle inwardly with the blood type principles for the 'A' type diet. That's not to say I disagree, but I have reservations. I think it's easy for 'A' types to unbalance their blood sugar and hormones with the 'A' type diet which can have long term consequences for health and weight. I'll explain below.

According to Peter D'Adamo, 'A' types should get most of their protein from pulses and legumes - as any vegetarian knows - these must be combined with carbohydrates to complete the amino acid chains that make the protein usable in the body. So 'A' types are advised to eat lots of grains - except wheat which is acid forming. Add to this lots of vegetables and fruit, some nuts, fish and the occasional egg and piece of poultry and you have the perfect 'A' type diet. It's a very sustainable diet because it doesn't partake of mass meat farming - unless those fish are trawled or those chickens barn raised. But for someone with a damaged gut who can't digest carbohydrates? How do 'A' types thrive on an SCD diet rich in meat and low in carbs?

In theory an 'A'  type SCDer could get by eating only fish and white meat, allowed pulses, nuts and lots of root vegetables and fruit. Dairy is pretty much forbidden - although small amounts of cultured goat products can be eaten, they should not be eaten more than a couple of times a week.

D'Adamo also recommends soya cheese, milk and flour for 'A' types, alongside lots of tofu and tempeh. But I have a real problem with this. Soya is pretty indigestible raw - it's mostly eaten only as a cultured product in countries where soya is widely eaten. I have found in my practice that the phyto oestrogens in soya can adversely affect women's menstrual cycles, making it a questionable addition to any diet. I advise anybody looking at following the 'A' type diet (especially SCD followers) to think about using nut milk instead and then weaning themselves off milky things gradually.

If you don't need to follow SCD and are just using the 'A' type diet for health, be aware that not all grains are created equal. Some carbohydrates have a very instant effect on blood sugar, notably rice and maize (corn) - these are both recommended for 'A' types. The type of starch in rice and maize is quickly assimilated and can cause a sharp rise in insulin, leading to unstable blood sugar levels. If you are trying to lose weight on the 'A' type diet or have concerns about diabetes or syndrome 'X', go easy on rice (eat only brown basmati sparingly) avoid rice cakes and eat maize products only occasionally (these include cornflakes, polenta, cornbread, tortilla chips and tacos). Non coeliacs should try to choose the low GI grains such as rye, barley, spelt, millet, buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth.

'A' type coeliacs should aim to eat buckwheat, millet, amaranth and quinoa. While D'Adamo doesn't mention teff, sorghum or chestnut flour, I feel sure these would be fine too. Chestnut should only ever be used with another low GI flour as it is high on the glycaemic index. Think about substituting some nut flour, grated or mashed root vegetables and bean flours in baked goods too.

I hardly need to add that although D'Adamo does not give any guidelines for the consumption of sugars, you should avoid them as much as possible - no matter what blood type you are. Treat any form of sugar as an occasional treat - whether refined, unrefined, honey, molasses or agave syrup - it's all sugar and as such it's the icing on the cake, not something to be eaten daily.

So SCD 'A' types, you should be fine with those occasional aduki bean brownies, but what do you do for lunchboxes, breakfasts and meals out? All answers and recipe links left in the comments section will be added as links to this post. I look forward to hearing from you!

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