Nutritional Genomics seems to be the future of nutritional science.
In time, we will be able to take the guesswork out of which foods/nutrients will work best for individuals under virtually any circumstance.
The GenoType Diet, by Dr. Peter D’adamo, suggests that eating based on our genetic make-up is the key to optimal health, fat loss and other desirable attributes.
Revolutionary or a Flawed Attempt?
One of the most formidable flaws of today’s diet book is the one-size-fits all mentality. Ie. diet X is the best/only/easiest/all of the above diet for everyone… all the time. Hence, it is refreshing to see a diet book that makes an attempt to customize eating plans based on a factor that is central to our being – our genetics.
On the flipside, this is the “Blood-Type guy”. Eat Right for your Type scored big with the book-buying public but drew the ire of academics for its lousy science. Regardless, this is a different book and I was determined to approach it with the utmost of objectivity.
Dr. D’adamo paints a very easy-to-understand and yet very clever explanation on our genetic make-up works and how/to what degree we can alter/change it. He compares our genetic codes to a town meeting, whereby we have the capacity to turn up the volume on good genes and silence the bad ones.
Here’s How It Works:
There are 6 different geno-types, each one outlining characteristics such as; body type, traits, strengths, weaknesses and disease predispositions. They are as follows:
- GenoType 1: The Hunter
Tall, thin, and intense, with an overabundance of adrenaline and a fierce, nervous energy that winds down with age. Hunters have swift immune systems which is great on one hand but makes them prone to auto-immune disorders on the other.
- GenoType 2: The Gatherer
Full-figured, even when not overweight, the Gatherer struggles with body image in a culture where thin is “in.” With a “Whoever dies with the most wins” motto, Gatherers have thrifty genes whose primary goal is to hang on to every ingested calorie for dear life — literally.
- GenoType 3: The Teacher
Strong, sinewy, and stable, with great chemical synchronicity and stamina, the Teacher is built for longevity — given the right diet and lifestyle. The Teacher represents the third basic response to a challenging world: altruism. “All you need is love” is the Teachers’ motto, and their immune systems reflect it. Teachers are able to tolerate a wide variety of unfamiliar bacteria, viruses, and microbes, avoiding the hair-trigger symptoms. Unfortunately, they sometimes welcome infectious elements that they would do better to repel.
- GenoType 4: The Explorer
Muscular and adventurous, the Explorer is a biological problem solver, with an impressive ability to adapt to environmental changes and a better-than-average capacity for gene repair. They are good at adapting to different conditions but are vulnerable to hormonal imbalances.
- GenoType 5: The Warrior
Long, lean, and healthy in youth, the Warrior is subject to bodily rebellion in midlife. If Warriors are physically active, their metabolism burns hot; when they lead a sedentary life, they tend to put on the pounds with alarming speed.
- GenoType 6: The Nomad
A GenoType of extremes, with a great sensitivity to environmental conditions — especially changes in altitude and barometric pressure — the Nomad is vulnerable to neuromuscular and immune problems. Yet a well-conditioned Nomad has the enviable gift of the ability to control caloric intake and age gracefully.
There are a series of evaluations/questionnaires offered to help determine which type you are. For each type, there is a description of disease susceptibilities, a metabolic profile, an immune system profile and do’s and don’ts.
If that old bird from the Wendy’s commercials were still around, she would probably ask “WHERE’S THE SCIENCE?”
It would seem logical that we would be evolutionarily geared towards certain diets. It would also seem logical to assume that we can make the most of our genetic potential by eating the right way. In this sense, I agree with the global concept that we can counter genetic predispositions through proper eating. The specifics of the diet however are puzzling.
It just doesn’t jibe with me that my blood type, the shape of my head or the length of my index finger in relation to my ring finger (some of the traits that determine our geno-types) would be sufficient enough data to determine whether certain foods are toxic or healthy.
As an example, according to my profile I am Hunter. In my list of foods, Atlantic salmon is considered toxic to me, while Chinook salmon is a superfood. Huh? I was also devastated to learn that kangaroo and opossum are to be avoided for my type.
The problem with me attempting to rubbish the concept, however is that I am neither a geneticist, an anthropologist a nutritionist or an anthronutritionalgeneticist (I don’t think such a title exists, but hey it sounds cool).
So rather than speculate, I asked an expert on the subject of Nutritional Genomics. The professor (who asked to remain anonymous) told me that he is not aware of any such evidence to support D’Adamo’s claims.
Another red flag is that D’Adamo did not include any journal references and there are none to be found on his website. This leaves me to conclude that he has presented interesting but unproven ideas.
It’s a bit of a task to get through the book and to fully understand the principles (at least for me it was). I think it gives a wonderful overview of the relationship between our genes our pre-natal environment, our bodies, and our environment.
The idea of eating for your own personal genetic code is going to have a bright future when it comes to nutritional science. I don’t think this particular concept is it though. Too many questions still abound about the specifics of his suggestions. There aren’t enough scientific rationalizations to be able to make such specific food selections – at least not any that I know of.
Also, this book is a bit like the last episode of the Sopranos. I was left thinking “That’s it? That’s how it ends? There were no meal plans, recipes or specific guidelines. I later figured out that you have to go to the website and pay for that information.
It wouldn’t hurt to give it a try just for something different – the guidelines are pretty sensible regardless of the geno-type.
Just don’t put too much credence in the science behind it.