How Adopting Personalized Nutrition Has Improved My Overall Health
In an article published earlier, My Journey Into and Out of Veganism, I detailed my health journey and what led me to adopt the Blood Type Diet as a lifestyle choice rather than a “crash diet.” In this article, I’m going to share with you some of the practical steps I have made to switch my eating habits to suit my blood type so that I could reap the health benefits of this very individualized approach to nutrition.
First of all, to be “compliant,” I have had to minimize the amount of processed food and maximize the amount of whole food that I ate. I also had to find clean sources of food, such as organic vegetables, grass-fed meat, free-range eggs and poultry, as well as wild-caught fish.
These are the steps commended by anyone promoting a healthy way of eating. But specific to the Blood Type Diet, I have had to replace a number of ingredients that are harmful to my health. Since I am a Type O individual, I have had to replace food made with or that contains wheat, sugar, dairy, corn, soy and pork, all of which I ate on a regular basis in the past.
What does it mean when it comes to my daily diet? That means I have to eat a lot more grass-fed red meat, fish and vegetables and a lot less grain-based food. This is what I’d call a “crowding out” strategy.
When I fill my plates with beneficial foods, I get a wonderful feeling of satiation so that I won’t be craving sweet or starchy food, both of which have contributed to my ill health and weight gain in the past.
As for beverages, I had to replace my beloved coffee with something else that is beneficial. I found green tea, yerba mate and lemon water to be excellent replacements.
As a result of adjusting my diet to what my body truly needs and can assimilate, I experienced a series of amazing health benefits:
I wake up feeling truly refreshed. No more brain fog. No more need to drink coffee to wake up. No more midday drowsiness.
I used to have mucous, cold sores and sore throat regularly. And every day, after breakfast, which consisted of wheat bread, cheese and a cup of coffee with milk and sugar, I would always have diarrhea. Not anymore!
Acid reflux, stomach aches or constipation were “normal occurrences.” Not anymore! No even farting–the foul-smelling type!
No more “random” vomits and passing out at restaurants because I know I can’t eat cheese or other dairy products while pairing them with white wine or beer. These are all “avoids” for my type.
No more frequent headaches and migraines.
My skin clears up. I seldom get breakouts. When they do appear, I would be able to trace back to what I have eaten.
No more cold hands and feet, because my thyroid has become healthier.
No more allergy. That’s a big one. I used to have such bad seasonal allergies that I wasn’t able to function normally for at least two months out of the year.
I have much fewer colds and flus.
I thought switching to beef would be difficult but actually my body started craving for it and other types of red meat. The fact is that I didn’t like beef because I was eating conventionally raised, feed-lot beef, which has an awful taste and smell. Grass-fed beef turns out to be a totally different animal!
And that leads to another pleasant surprise! I realized that eating grass-fed beef actually helps me to lose weight. I have been able to burn fat effortlessly and maintain a healthy weight thanks to that. If you want to know more about how that is even possible, check out my Open Box video on Butcher Box.
There were some surprises about the food that I ate a lot during my raw vegan period. I learned that certain foods that are considered “superfoods” by the healthy eating community are actually “avoids” for most blood types. This means that they are actually harmful to the majority of people (read more about the scientific reason behind this in my article about lectins.) Such foods include avocados, coconut oil, cashews and Brazil nuts.
The most pleasant surprise of all is that, for a sweet tooth like me, I can still have some wonderful desserts without gaining weight, such as a little bit of dark chocolate and some other gluten-free and dairy-free desserts, provided they are made with ingredients that are beneficial for my type. But since I have started to eat more meat and vegetables, I actually have less craving for sweet and starchy food.
Another pleasant surprise is, I used to think that alcohol and I just don’t belong to each other because, like most Asian people, my liver doesn’t have the enzyme to process it–or so I thought. However, it turns out that red wine is neutral for me. And after following the Blood Type Diet for a while, my liver cleared up and I started to be able to drink a small glass of red wine without feeling any discomfort, even though I still have a bit of that Asian flush.
These are some of the most prominent changes that I have noticed in my physical health. But eating right has also improved my mental and emotional well-being. I find that my mood is much more stable than before. In the past, I got cranky very easily as soon as I got hungry and my blood sugar level dropped quickly. I would feed myself with cookies, biscuits or cakes, which in turn spiked my blood sugar and gave me a sugar crash quickly afterwards. When I fill my plate with beneficial meat, fish and vegetables instead, my blood sugar level evens out, and I feel satiated for a much longer time. That way, I don’t have those sugar crashes and so I don’t get “hangry” so easily.
Of course, adding rigorous aerobic exercises to my weekly routine played an important role in regulating my overall mood and keeping my weight in check. This is recommended by the Blood Type Diet, too, as the diet is not “just a diet” but a holistic health system. So, eating the right food and exercising according to your specific blood type’s needs have the effect of helping you disperse stress hormones accumulated in the brain. (For example, Type A should avoid rigorous cardio exercises because they increase cortisol accumulation and makes you more stressed and could make you gain weight. But for Type O, rigorous exercises will help you tone your muscles and lose weight.)
As you can see, the diet is not just a diet in the sense that its goal is not primarily to help you lose weight. If you lose weight (or gain it to what is optimal for your body), it is a wonderful by-product of following the lifestyle.
The Blood Type Diet is holistic in its goal: to help you stay fit, prevent long-term inflammatory diseases and manage stress from day to day.
Obstacles Along the Journey
In the beginning, I realized that I had to give up all processed food because they contain ingredients that are toxic for my blood type. Among them are all the corn-derived products that are so rampant in processed food, disguised in preservatives and flavorings in the names of citric acid, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), “natural flavorings” and so on.
Even foods that seemed to be healthy alternatives turned out to be unfriendly to my system. For example, those gluten-free products often contain corn starch, potato starch, tapioca starch, xantham gum, etc, which are all “avoids” for me.
As for restaurant food, most dishes are out of the questions because they contain “avoids” one way or another. One big problem is the choice of oil that they cook the dishes in. Soy oil is most commonly used in restaurants as it is the cheapest type of oil. But soy is an “avoid” for me (and for most other blood types) and most of it is GMO anyway. So it’s really not a good idea to eat out — unless you know the restaurant uses other types of oil that are OK for your type, such as olive oil, which is beneficial for all types.
As a result, I realized that I have to do all of my cooking at home and even bring food with me when I go out so I don’t have to eat any of the non-compliant or junk foods out there.
This means that I have to spend a lot of time on food preparations, making everything from scratch. But the nice thing is that I have learned to make many healthy and traditional foods such as non-wheat sourdough bread and fermented vegetables.
Over time, I have found a way to grocery shop and do meal preps in a very efficient way so that eating healthy doesn’t have to be a drag. I even figured out a way to prepare dishes for two different blood types in my household.
Not being able to eat at most restaurants means that I am sometimes considered anti-social by my friends. But there are ways to work around this. For example, pot-luck dinner can be organized, so you can pick what works for you. If nothing else works, you can always go back to your own plate!
One more thing: I found a lot of the food that I grew up eating was actually not good for my body. So I had to give them up and find replacements. But once I realized how those foods were giving me troubles, I was willing to forget about them once and for all.
One example is soybean products. Growing up in a Chinese household, I ate soy products every single day. Soy sauce was in almost every dish. But since I stopped eating it, I realized that I no longer had the phlegm and mucus that used to be there all the time.
I also gave up eating pork. Pork is the meat that has the highest virus load and causes red blood cells to clump up in all blood types. After a while, I realized that my immune system has improved and I no longer craved it. In fact, it started to smell awful to me. So it just felt like I had nothing to lose. Instead, I replaced it with grass-fed beef and started to appreciate what it does to my body — it healed my acid reflux, gives me steady energy, builds lean muscles and balances my blood sugar.
You see, once I have found what is beneficial for my blood type, I naturally don’t miss what I had to give up. The benefits far outweigh the short bursts of gratifications that I obtained from eating the “avoids.” In the long run, my body has trained itself to recognize what is high-quality “fuel” that makes it run more efficiently and stay robust, so that I will have the energy and well-being that allow me to do what I want to do in life.