A Thumbs Down Book Review
The Genotype Diet: Change Your Genetic Destiny to Live the Longest, Fullest and Healthiest Life Possible
by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo
Reviewed by Selina Rifkin
Peter D’Adamo, creator of the blood type diet (Eat Right 4 Your Type), has taken his program to the the next level and added a series of genetic and developmental characteristics to his dietary regimen. He has categorized his assessments into six fun and nifty categories which all require slightly different dietary approaches including the Hunter, the Gatherer, the Explorer, the Teacher, the Nomad and the Warrior. As with the blood type diet, he claims that these various genotypes evolved to handle different life and environmental conditions, and he gives considerable focus to the immune system responses of each type to these challenges.
The process of determining your genotype can be done on three levels, depending on how much information you have available. The variables are quite interesting and include the quality of your fingerprints, the proportions of the upper and lower body, length of ring finger versus fore finger, and whether or not you can taste the chemical propylthiouracil, a drug used to treat hyperthyroidism.
The explanations for how these variables arise and affect our health are a great argument for superior pre-natal nutrition. Body symmetry— in the form of fingerprints—is a consideration in the assessments. This is strongly related to pre-natal stresses, and correlates with overall health.
However interesting these variables may be, (they were the reason I bought the book) D’Adamo never offers any clear explanation of how they relate to the genotypes. The book promises further information on its website, but the material there provides no more than the book, except for the opportunity to spend some money to join up for coaching and recipes, and a cool online genotyping tool.
The diets themselves seem rather arbitrary and there is no explanation of why, for example, beef and beef liver are beneficial to the Hunter type, but this type must never touch beef heart or caviar. Some of the food recommendations—as well as some of the foods to avoid—were things that I’ve never heard of and are unlikely to be part of the typical American diet. Explorer types are supposed to benefit highly from camelina oil, for example, but quark cheese is toxic for them. This same genotype is characterized by exhibiting inflammatory conditions, but omega- 3 rich flaxseed and cod liver oils are verboten. In fact, D’Adamo gives somewhat confusing advice about EFAs, suggesting that omega-6s are helpful in reducing inflammation. Perhaps the most absurd suggestion is his recommendation to take supplements instead of real food. Teacher genotypes should take a paltry 400-800 IU of vitamin D daily, yet all forms of liver are purportedly toxic to this type.
No doubt Dr. D’Adamo has been able to help people with his methods, or he would not have such a following. But this is more likely to be because of his general food recommendations, which represent an overall improvement in the standard American diet. He does suggest high quality foods including grass-fed meats, for example, and advises against farm-raised fish and rancid oils. Not smoking and regular exercise are also part of his program, and as with any multipronged approach, it is hard to tell what might be providing the most benefit.
On the whole, despite some intriguing information, The Genotype Diet is a disappointment.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2008.