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Biology 103
2003 First Paper
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Biology Student 2003

Are people with certain blood types more susceptible to chronic seizures than others? Can a simple diet reverse this medical condition? And why didn't anybody think of this before?

There's a myriad of fad diets out these days: Atkins, the fruit juice diet, Russian Air Force diet, and the Zone to name a few. However, the most recent craze is, "The Blood Type Diet", based on the book, Eat Right 4 Your Type by Doctor Peter D'Adamo. The diet focuses on an individual's genetic makeup (blood type) in determining which foods are best digested. D'Adamo heads up the Institute for Human Individuality (IfHi), which "seeks to foster research in the expanding area of human nutrigenomics. The science of nutrigenomics (naturopathic medicine) seeks to provide a molecular understanding for how common dietary chemicals affect health by altering the expression or structure of an individual's genetic makeup" (1). On the website, the "five basic tenets of nutrigenomics" are listed as:

1. Improper diets are risk factors for disease.

2. Dietary chemicals alter gene expression and/or change genome

3. The degree to which diet influences the balance between healthy and
disease states may depend on an individual's genetic makeup.

4. Some diet-regulated genes (and their normal, common variants) are
likely to play a role in the onset, incidence, progression, and/or severity
of chronic diseases.

5. "Intelligent nutrition" - that is, diets based upon genetics, nutritional
requirements and status - prevents and mitigates chronic diseases. (1).

The Blood Type Diet is founded upon the microscopic observation of how ABO types break down different foods, suggesting that one person's nourishment may be another's poison. The book examines the demographic distributions of different blood types, and proposes that "the variations, strengths and weaknesses of each blood group can be seen as part of humanity's continual process of acclimating to different environmental challenges" (2). D'Adamo asserts that blood groups "evolved as migratory mutations," with type O being the most "ancient" of the ABO group, and housing the largest population (40-45%), second to type A (35-40%), dwindling in B (4-11%), with the rarest being AB (0-2%). People with type O blood (hunter-gatherers) are encouraged to be carnivores, while type A's can survive solely as vegetarians. Explaining the origin and spread of blood type B, D'Adamo states, "Two basic blood group B population patterns emerged out of the Neolithic revolution in Asia: an agrarian, relatively sedentary population located in the south and east, and the wandering nomadic societies of the north and west" (2).. Most Jewish populations have average blood type rates of B; specifically, B group is most frequently found in Europeans: Asians, Poles, Russians, and Hungarians.

The book stresses that certain blood types are more susceptible to specific diseases than others, because of dangerous agglutinating lectins which attack the blood stream and lead to disease. Specifically, people of blood type B are more prone to hypoglycemia, stress (type B's show higher than normal cortisol levels in situations of stress), MS, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, auto-immune and nervous disorders. D'Adamo writes that type B's "sophisticated refinement in the evolutionary journey;" was "an effort to join together divergent peoples and cultures. Usually type B's can resist the most severe diseases common to modern life" (2)., i.e., heart disorders and cancers; however, their systems are more prone to exotic immune system disorders, in this case: epilepsy.

About 1% of the world's population are affected by seizures. A person who experiences seizures is not an "epileptic" but rather suffers from the disorder epilepsy. Epilepsy is a chromosome abnormality or inherent genetic trait where "chronic or spontaneous, abnormal and excessive discharge of electrical activity from a collection of neurons arises in the brain as electrical misfirings" (4).. The exact cause of epilepsy has yet to be specifically determined, thus characterizing it as an idiopathic disease, or a disease without any real identifiable origin. The electrical misfirings, which arise within the cerebrum, are usually traceable to some form of injury as a child to one or more of the brains lobes. Via an EEG machine, it's been discovered that seizures seem to originate most often in the temporal lobe, occurring in the gray matter of the brain. The gray matter in the brain is composed of cell bodies of neurons, the white matter is composed of axons of neurons, coated with insulation made from fat (hence the white color). The focus is the damaged gray matter, which is abnormally excitable, and when it spontaneously discharges, the result is a seizure.

According to D' Adamo, B group is prone to magnesium deficiency, which plays a crucial role in this disorder. "Magnesium acts as a catalyst for metabolic machinery in the B's blood type. B's systems are very efficient at assimilating calcium, and thus risk creating an imbalance between their levels of calcium and magnesium" (5). Believe it or not, this seemingly simple imbalance can lead to nervous disorders and many skin conditions (my sister has grand mal seizures and eczema). B's also have severe neurological reactions to vaccinations; because their nervous systems produce an enormous amount of B- antigens, when a vaccine is introduced into the system, there is a cross reaction, which, as D'Adamo points out, "causes the body to turn and attack its own tissues. These war-like antibodies think they are protecting their turf. In reality, they destroy their own organs: inciting an inflammatory response" (5).

What exactly happens in the brain when someone has a seizure? The first seizure is directly related to the location of the focus (the damaged gray matter in the brain); with time, the electrical explosion continues to travel rapidly throughout the brain, becoming more pronounced, more dramatic, like a forest fire spreading from tree to tree. This activity spreads along the surface of the brain cells by the sequential opening of tiny pores, which act like channels, permitting small, charged particles of sodium and calcium to enter the nerve cell. This wave of sodium and calcium ions entering the nerve cell sequentially along the surface of other cells leads to electrical excitation. Drugs that block these channels decrease the spread of abnormal electrical activity. Conversely, a lack of calcium and sodium ions, or an imbalance in the system will causes abnormal electrical activity.

"Balancing the system," is the foundation of "Eat Right For Your Type." Foods such as corn, buckwheat, lentils, peanuts, and sesame seeds affect the efficiency of the metabolic process, resulting in fatigue, fluid retention, and hypoglycemia (severe drop in blood sugar after eating a meal). The gluten found in whole wheat and wheat germ adds to the digestive and distribution problems. One of the "non brain" causes of epilepsy is a disturbed glucose metabolism (often associated with diabetes). Simple sugar used by the brain is an important form of energy. To produce glucose, the body needs insulin. Too much glucose (hyperglycemia) or too little creates the imbalance needed to trigger seizures. One of the key foods B blood types should avoid, D'Adamo says, are beans: lentils, garbanzos, pintos, and black eyed peas. Why? They interfere with the production of insulin.

A second cause of the chronic seizures disorder known as epilepsy is an electrolyte disturbance: occurring when the levels of salt in the blood stream (i.e. sodium chloride) fall too low. This can happen when bodily fluids are lost through severe diarrhea or vomiting, after extended exertion. D'Adamo attributes diarrhea to nutrient deficiency in essential fatty and folic acids (5). To compensate for this, lecithin (a lipid), choline, serine, and ethanolamine (phospholipids) supplements should be taken. While rye, corn, buckwheat, tomatoes, olives, and adaptogenic herbs (used to increase concentration and memory retention) should be avoided at all costs.

Grand Mal seizures, or Tonic Clonic seizures are perhaps the most severe and debilitating over time. To paint a picture of what happens when a person experiences a Tonic Clonic seizure, let me take you back to my first day of senior year in high school... Everyone is gathered in the auditorium for an opening day speech by the Headmaster. Mary, my 16 year old sister, 12 at the time, had had a rough morning waking up. She was tired, and my parents forced her to choke down some Farina (warm wheat-meal). It is It is early morning, and sitting in the top row, Mary gave a little cry as the air was forced out of her lungs. She slumped in her seat so her head fell on the boy next to her. Thinking she was playing a trick, he gently pushed her. Mary falls to the ground, unconscious and unresponsive as her body begins to stiffen - this is referred to as the Tonic phase. She begins to jerk - Clonic phase, as the electrical explosion spreads to both sides of her brain. The breathing slows and stops. She bites her tongue, frothing at the mouth. Her skin turns bluish gray as her air supply is cut off, putting enormous stress on her heart.

This moment can be absolutely terrifying for a family member to watch. Grand Mals reek utter havoc on the body, and often, when the affected wakes up, she is completely exhausted, feeling as if she has run a marathon. A common misconception about children is that they need excessive amounts of physical exercise. However, D'Adamo points out that stressful situations, fatigue, and unbalanced nutrition have been shown to trigger seizures, and B blood types should focus more on strengthening and toning exercise then strenuous physical exertion (substitute yoga for field hockey). Children are most prone to seizures when they wake in the morning, as their body desperately needs nutrients, what is eaten is essential. Mary, a B blood type (my brother is also a B and has Tonic Clonic seizures) had a bowl of wheat farina, which inhibits the production of insulin. We were in a rush that morning and enormous pressure was on her (she's pokey) to get out the door and off to school. In the car she tried to sleep but was restless, complaining of a headache. Mary also has very low blood pressure and had not had any juice to drink for breakfast, instead, had a glass of milk, perhaps causing an imbalance of electrolytes, or salt ions in her blood stream. Because B's are very efficient in assimilating calcium, they risk creating an imbalance between calcium and magnesium in their systems: magnesium being the chief catalyst for the metabolic machinery in B blood types. The summation of observations here? If there is not enough magnesium in B's digestive system, it cannot metabolize food properly and thus lacks any of the appropriate nutrients needed to run the body. If an agglutinating food is the first thing eaten (such as Farina), it attacks the blood stream, interfering with the production of insulin. An excessive amount of calcium in the blood first thing in the morning would create the imbalance between magnesium and calcium. A flux of calcium ions entering the nerve cell, coupled with the inability to produce insulin (hypoglycemia) is the exact recipe for an electrical storm inside the brain.

Thirty-five years ago, in a proprietary formula used for bottle feeding babies, "the vitamin B6 was inadvertently destroyed during sterilization, causing widespread seizures in infants. The newborns were cured with a B6 supplement, but this situation dramatically shows the impact B vitamins have on the nervous system" (6).. By the way, babies who are breast fed by mothers eating a low B6 diet can also have seizures. Why isn't there more information about the glaring connection between seizures and nutrition? There is a "seizure diet" on the market, the Ketogenic diet, however, it's only recommended for children 1-6 years (7)., and even then in extreme cases. Does this indicate that there's no hope for people who suffer from seizures and that they will be on medication for the rest of their lives? I don't know. Generally speaking, epilepsy is still a mystery to scientists, and in more than half of all cases of people with recurring seizures, scientists have yet to identify a cause. Research is slow, and due to the severe impact a seizure has on the brain- participants are scarce. Nervous disorders seem to occur when our systems are out of wack, or out of balance. D'Adamo's assertions ring of truth, and I believe there's matter to his words, matter worth looking into.


1) D'Adamo, Peter. Eat Right 4 Your Type. New York: Putnam Pub Group, 1996. Learn the whole philosophy/ anthropology behind the Blood Type Diet, including the foods your type best metabolizes, and natural options for treating and preventing disease.

2)IfHi Homepage, A very informative and enlightening web site about the group's dedication to naturopathic medicine and their goal in benefitting mankind through the development of new applications and practices in Naturopathy.

3)Eat Right 4 Your Type Home page, This site has a long excerpt from D'Adamo's book, "Eat Right 4 Your Type Encyclopedia." In it, D'Adamo outlines the origins of the ABO blood groups and talks about the prevention and treatment of diseases specific to the different types. An excellent introduction into this arena of ideas.

4)Epilepsy Home Page, Provides information about different types of seizures, support groups, treating the disease, stories, and new research on the disease. Please visit this site so you may become more educated about this little known disease.

5)Doctor D'Adamo's Nutritional List, This is a wonderful site to visit, even if you don't believe anything I've said. Scroll down lists of symptoms and trace their origins to vitamin deficiencies, at the same time, take notes on how to get yourself back on the nutritional track.

6)Article by Dr. Aesoph on B vitamins, The importance of B vitamins to our body's health should never be taken for granted. The site provides detailed information on the essential vitamin, B6. Doctor Aesoph offers some compelling reasons to start taking

7)Ketogenic Diet UK Home Page, Provides basic information about the Ketogenic diet, which is high in fat, and sometimes used as a last resort in young children to aid in curing seizures.

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