The most confounding enigma in our work is why certain foods acidify the blood of one individual but alkalize the blood of another. George Watson Ph.D painstakingly explained in his out-of-print classic, Nutrition and Your mind, how the process of oxidation renders certain foods acid forming and others alkaline forming. This occurs through the biochemical transmutations that nutrients undergo as they are processed through the Krebs cycle inside each of our cells. Even more perplexing is how the very same foods that alkalize the Oxidative types (Fast and Slow Oxidizers) acidify the Autonomic types (Sympathetics and Parasympathetics), and foods that acidify the Oxidative types alkalize the Autonomic types. When I first observed this phenomenon in one of my patients, it was a truly enlightening experience! While much is now understood about the role of the Krebs cycle in controlling the process of oxidation, less is known about autonomic dominance, or why foods have the opposite pH effect in the Autonomic types as they do in the Oxidative types. Nonetheless, this empirical finding represents a monumental breakthrough in the practice of nutrition, as well as having significant implications for the practice of medicine. Addressing the acidity or alkalinity of an individual's blood is of paramount importance in promoting the successful outcome of any imbalance or disease.
This is the situation with the autonomic pathway of energy production. We do not know why autonomic dominance leads to foods having opposite effects on blood pH than oxidative dominance, but we are certain, based on many years of clinical experience, that this is indeed the case. For example, proteins and fats alkalize the Oxidative dominant types, but acidify the Autonomic types. Noting this phenomenon every day in my practice has validated it beyond a shadow of doubt in my own mind - true to the empirical approach. However, we are still unable to offer a scientific explanation for this phenomenon. Hopefully, as Metabolic Typing becomes more established, funds will be made available to conduct a rigorous scientific investigation of this enigma.
I wish to reiterate that when the patient is balanced metabolically I see many disease symptoms subside. This includes chronic conditions with no (previously) observable cause. Allergies that a person might have had for years disappear. Fatigue problems will be alleviated. Digestive disorders most likely will be ameliorated. This is because the body will now utilize its nutrients optimally. However, it is important to understand that in none of these instances is the condition itself being treated. Rather, the imbalance in the underlying homeostatic control mechanism-the Metabolic Type-is addressed.
Because any nutrient can be acidifying or alkalizing, stimulatory or inhibitory, depending upon one's Metabolic Type, when health practitioners use nutrition to address disease states in humans without taking into consideration their Metabolic Type, it is an allopathic approach. The success or failure of the treatment is hit-or-miss, a matter of chance and not predictability. Whether the treatment is right or wrong will depend, I believe, on whether (or not) the recommendations are suitable for the person's Metabolic Type. Keep in mind, most foods and supplements are either acid or alkaline forming in one's body dependent upon the dominant system. An example of this is giving calcium to a person with osteoporosis; it would be great for the Fast Oxidizer (acid type) but would compound the problem for the Slow Oxidizer (alkaline type). It would also be good for Parasympathetic dominants (alkaline types), yet would be bad for Sympathetic dominants (acid types). The reason being that calcium is alkaline forming in the Oxidative types and acid forming in the Autonomic types.
Whenever most people hear the name Francis Pottenger, they automatically think of Pottenger's Cat Studies. Indeed, the cat studies were most valuable for their contributions to understanding the influences of certain nutrients, or lack thereof, on processes of growth, reproduction, and degenerative conditions. Probably of equal importance, though not as widely known, Pottenger carefully delineated in his Symptoms of Visceral Disease (FN2), the relationship of nutrition to the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Further he illuminated the autonomic influences as essential components in defining metabolic individuality. From his valid and reproducible research (FN3), we have extrapolated many of his findings and built them into our metabolic testing protocol. Dr. Francis Pottenger is truly the father of the neuro-endocrine aspect of Metabolic Typing.
In my practice I see many type O's who thrive on a meat-based diet. But I also see many type O's who have become unwell on such a diet, and actually need a mainly vegetarian diet in order to feel their best. Conversely, I often see type A's who need to eat a lot of fat and meat to achieve optimal health. Other researchers and practitioners report the same experience: blood type is an unreliable indicator of dietary needs. Robert Crahon, a renowned nutritionist in Boulder, Colorado, has concluded that you cannot simply eat for your blood type. Bill Wolcott of Winthrop, Washington, who has created the Healthexcel program, states that you cannot rely on blood type to determine your most healthful diet and supplements. Dr. Guy Schenker, a chiropractor who runs the Nutrispect Company, is a renowned writer and publishes a monthly newsletter. He too is convinced that "eat for your blood type" is an erroneous prescription. The successes are balanced by too many failures. To be useful, the theory must produce consistent results.
Eating for your metabolic type is not quite so easy to use - it requires a series of tests to determine type - but the consistent results make it worth the extra trouble. In order to efficiently determine each patient's metabolic type, Bill Wolcott and I have developed a series of tests which can be completed in one office visit. Before the visit, the client is asked to complete a questionnaire which includes both physical and psychological characteristics which are linked to metabolic type. In the office, we take physiological readings, including blood glucose level, pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and several others. In addition, we ask for the patient's subjective experience of well being, energy level, hunger, etc. We then give the patient a high glucose drink. We do this in order to challenge the system, and measure its reactions. We repeat the physiological tests and the subjective questions at specific intervals over the course of the visit. The entire process takes about two hours, and the results, combined with our extensive research data, allow us to determine each patient's metabolic type, with 80% accuracy on the first visit. Further testing, including a protein challenge I have recently developed, helps us to classify the 20% of patients who yield ambiguous results from the standard series of tests (see Additional Information at the end of the article: 3).
In order to make the benefits of metabolic typing more widely available, my colleagues and I have developed a two part program for teaching medical and nutritional professionals how to use the system. In the Level One seminar, we outline the entire program, including hands-on practice at performing the tests and interpreting the results. This two-day seminar prepares the participants to begin using metabolic typing with their own patients. Consultation by telephone is available and generally necessary at this stage, until each participant becomes thoroughly proficient at using the system. To this end, we highly recommend that participants follow up by taking the Level Two seminar. In Level Two, we cover in depth the use of supplements as well as foods to resolve imbalances in the system. This information is fairly intricate, as well as extremely useful. In addition, we go through more complicated case studies, adding further details and refinements that cannot be covered in the basic program.
Watson, Dr. George. Nutrition and Your Mind New York: Harper and Row, 1972. Wiley, Dr. Rudolf. Biobalance. Tacoma, WA: Lifesciences Press, 1991.
D'Adamo, Peter J., Catherine Whitney. Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type: Staying Healthy, Living Longer, Achieving Your Ideal Weight New York, N.Y.: Putnam Publishing Group, 1997
Different nutrients and foods have varying effects on the different divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Some stimulate, strengthen, or support the sympathetic system, thereby producing an acidic shift in metabolism. For example, potassium is a powerful stimulant to the parasympathetic system, and magnesium has an inhibiting influence on the sympathetic system. Thus, these nutrients tend to increase the parasympathetic activity and decrease the sympathetic activity. On the other hand, phosphorous and calcium powerfully activate the sympathetic system, thereby increasing sympathetic qualities and decreasing parasympathetic qualities. Significantly, it should be noted that those foods and nutrients (in general) that product an acidic shift through sympathetic stimulation have the opposite pH effect on the oxidative system, producing an alkaline shift. And those foods and nutrients that have an alkaline influence through acceleration of the parasympathetic system will actually produce an acidic response via the oxidative system. I (Wolcott) observed this phenomenon in 1983 and named it The Dominance Factor This explains why what works for one person an fail or even worsen the same condition in another and exemplifies the necessity of first determining the metabolic type before making dietary or nutritional recommendations.