Every year as we approach June 14, World Blood Donor and Blood Type Awareness Day, I am reminded of the vital role blood type plays in our lives. It is a unique genetic marker that influences many areas of our health and well-being.
Knowing your blood type is an important tool for understanding how your body reacts to food, your susceptibility to disease, your natural reaction to stress, how you age, and so much more. A single drop of blood contains a biochemical makeup as unique to you as your fingerprint.
Five Facts About Blood Types:
1. Your blood type may predict certain diseases.
Research has found that individuals of certain blood types may be at a higher risk for certain diseases; studies have found that people with blood type O have a lower risk for heart disease, but a higher risk for developing stomach ulcers. People who are blood type A have higher risks of microbial infections, and blood type A women experience a higher rate of fertility. Other research has found that people with type AB and B blood have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer, and your blood type can influence the development of the nervous system and predict how your brain will age.
2. People of different blood types react differently to stress.
The stress hormone cortisol tends to be more persistent in types A and B. On the other hand, people with type O blood, have a “fight or flight” reaction to stress which results in the overproduction of adrenaline. It takes type O’s longer to recover from stress because it is more difficult for them to clear the adrenaline from their bodies.
3. Your blood type antigens are not just in your blood.
They are everywhere in your body, particularly in the surfaces that interact with the environment. These include your digestive tract, from your mouth to your large intestine, as well as your nasal passages and lungs. Because these blood type antigens are everywhere, they influence how your body reacts to the food you eat through several factors. For example, the lectins in certain foods bind to your blood type antigen and cause your blood to agglutinate (stick together), resulting in feelings of fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, skin problems, and a host of other health issues.
4. Gut bacteria and digestive enzymes related to blood type.
People of different blood types have different gut bacteria, in fact, certain bacteria are 50,000 more likely to turn up in people with one blood type or the other. This originated from our ancestors whose digestive tracts developed to accommodate one type of diet over another. For example, the microbiome of certain people developed to break down carbohydrates much more efficiently (blood type A). Blood type O’s, on the other hand, manufacture up to three times more of an enzyme in their intestines that helps them break down cholesterol, while also increasing their absorption of calcium.
5. A one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition does not work.
Food fads come and go, but the facts are clear: No two people have the same basic nutritional needs. We all know someone who is a strict vegetarian and thrives on that diet, while others swear by Atkins or similar low-carb plans. I’ve found that your nutritional needs can be determined by your blood type. Take a look at the food lists in Eat Right 4 Your Type; they are a guide for choosing the foods that will allow you to lose weight, reduce inflammation, increase energy, and lead a longer, healthier life.
As you’ve learned, your blood type affects more than just the type of blood you’d need in the event of a transfusion – your blood type is a genetic factor that plays many roles in the human body. Following a diet that is designed just for you promotes optimal gut health, improves overall vitality, and assists you in creating an effective lifestyle strategy for every stage of life.