Goshen News, Goshen, IN

December 29, 2013

WHOLE FAMILY: Sqeemish about blood? Oh-postive well

Goshen News

---- — I should start by noting I’m just beginning to dabble in this information myself. And I’m operating on some hunches, second-hand endorsements and a loosely formed theory or two.

I’m talking about blood types and how they might or might not relate to what we eat, how we exercise, maybe even how we sleep, reproduce, lactate or handle stress. In short, what do blood types tell us about ourselves? Anything? Can we modify our lives to better suit our blood types? Should we?

Since there is nothing new under the sun, of course others — far smarter others — have thought about blood types and their relation to human health, personality, even socialization. A quick Internet search finds some of the following conclusions, many unproven:

• Type Os are confident, strong-willed and judgmental.

• Type As are obedient, careful and sympathetic.

• Type Bs are cheerful, outgoing and optimistic.

• Type ABs are sensitive, proud and diplomatic.

• Some of the best-selling books in Japan in the past five years have been about blood types and personalities.

• Blood types proved, at times, to be integral in Nazi Germany as Adolf Hitler sought to preserve German-only blood and weed out races deemed inferior.

• Queen Elizabeth II, like me, has type O blood; Mick Jagger is an AB.

• Some people strongly consider blood type when considering a mate.

• Some suggest you can consider finding the exercise regimen that’s right for you based on your blood type. ABs, for example, would do well with a morning Yoga routine, while Os lean more toward vigorous, athletic-type exercise.

• Korean movie “My Boyfriend is Type B” was popular in some Asian cultures when it came out in 2005. In the movie, the boyfriend is portrayed as a playboy and a jerk and is destined, according to some theories about blood type and personality, to be incompatible with the blood-type-A girl.

• Some people theorize that Rh-negative blood, which is less common than Rh-positive blood, can be traced back to some supernatural ancestor. Really.

Interesting. But is any of that accurate? I don’t know.

The idea that our blood types matter and tell us something about ourselves intrigues me. The idea we might do well to learn more and to amend our lives based on this biological marker also makes sense.

But first, let’s make sense of blood types.

Professor and pathologist Karl Landsteiner of Vienna discovered in the early 20th century that humans could have bad reactions when receiving blood transfusions from other humans. Landsteiner was a “prosector,” a pathologist who performs autopsies; obviously, these blood reactions had been deadly to his subjects.

Like any good scientist, Landsteiner asked, “Why?” and began to compare and contrast different humans’ blood. Until the late 1800s, most known medical research had only compared animal blood to human blood, so this was a new step.

Ultimately, Landsteiner found and classified in 1909 the four human blood types — A, B, AB and O — and was awarded in 1930 a Nobel Prize for his work. Over the next decades, he worked with others to help further classify what’s today known as the “Rh factor” on blood. If you’re a woman and you’ve ever been pregnant, you know a little something about the Rh factor, especially if you’re Rh negative.

Each human has an ABO and an Rh classification. I’m type O, Rh positive.

The classifications are based on what antigens sit on your red blood cells. Antigens are agents that, when detecting something that doesn’t belong, will develop antibodies — little fightin’ cells — to attack the foreigner. So my O antigens like other O antigens, but if they were to encounter an A antigen, they would start attacking. Same with the Rh antigen.

You can watch this “attack” — called “hemolysis” or breakdown of the blood cell — at home on a $10-$15 blood-typing kit you can pick up at some drug stores or buy online. With a fairly painless finger stick, you can find out in minutes your blood type and enjoy the show of watching antibodies attack.

I plan to type my whole family — homeschool science, we’ll call it — as I work on a health plan for each of my children. They’ll probably freak out about the finger stick.

As I dig in to this subject — being mostly curious how blood types affect us and how we might interplay with what we learn about them — I plan to read this book: “Eat Right 4 Your Type” by Dr. Peter D. D’Adamo. Nearly 4 million copies have been printed, so I’m definitely not the first to think about it.

And I do not plan to go off on some tangent, as I’m convinced no magic answers to health questions exist in the tangents, but I’m curious to see what others have discovered and if those discoveries might be useful in helping people develop health plans.

Personally, I fit many of the O-positive stereotypes and learned the long way how I have to eat to be lean and fit, for example. Dr. D’Adamo’s works seems to echo my own amateur findings about my blood type.

(Oh, hey: If you see me and see that I am not, yet, lean and fit, remember that knowing what to do and doing it are two different things.)

Off to order the book and the kits and get out the Band-Aids. I’m telling ya, they’re going to freak out about the finger sticks but Oh-positive well. For science’s and health’s sakes.

Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, midwife’s assistant and nursing student from Elkhart. Contact her at wholefamily@goshennews.com, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”

Want to learn more? Here are a few Internet resources regarding human blood types: • Simple explanation about blood types from the American Red Cross: http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-types • About Noble Prize winner Karl Landsteiner: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1930/landsteiner-bio.html • To buy a home blood-typing kit: Ask the pharmacist or search at Amazon.com for an "Eldon Card." Amazon had them recently for $13.46. • "Eat Right 4 Your Type" information and products from Dr. Peter D'Adamo: http://www.dadamo.com/ or call (877) 226-8973.