Are you one of those people who think knowing your blood type is only important in the event of a transfusion?If so, perhaps you should rethink that as research indicates that your blood type can be a a key genetic factor that influences many areas of one's health and well-being.
When it comes to following a diet - and by that I mean how and what you eat - rather than following a set of prescribed rules a la Atkins, Banting, any random 'soup diet' (as examples) - to maintain and / or lose weight. I am of the thought that a little bit of everything, in moderation, will probably do you no harm; combined with some form of exercise that suits your lifestyle, then you're winning in my books.
I like to think I am doing my best in trying to put healthy, home prepared and cooked meals on the table for myself and Chris at the end of each day - there are and will always be a sneaky takeout ordered - but that's an exception, not a rule. I also have a soft spot for woolies chuckles and digestive biscuits. Chris loves his wine gums and potato chips. So invariably these, in some form or another, will always be in the house but I won't deprive ourselves of our little indulgences - what's the point of exercising and eating as healthily as is possible if you can't treat yourself? It makes no sense to me but then again that's just me.
I know I may sound like a stuck record but I am and will always be a strong proponent for trying to exercise on a regular basis - you can follow the strictest diet but if you're not burning more calories than you're consuming - you're never going to lose weight (if that's your goal). Mine is to maintain my weight and yes, I would never have had to lose the - roughly - 35kg's that I put on over the 2 1/2 years after the accident if I had not been in a self-induced funk and pity party of sorts; but for the almost 3 years since I started my first walking session I can proudly say I have managed to keep it at bay. I am certainly not as toned as I used to be, but I will never be that person again, nor do I want to be. I am as happy as I can possible be - right now.
I found walking enjoyable and eventually I returned to yoga. My yoga journey started almost 10 years back - yes, there was an almost 4 year gap in the centre where I didn't practice it - but the accident left my collar bone rather damaged and after the weight gain that followed, I felt really insecure about whether or not I could do it again. Also, if my arm could handle it without hurting myself. I have become so self-aware of my ever recovering injury and how it effects my day-to-day life. At my peak, prior to the accident, I was super toned and had rather good core strength. I had finally found a form of exercise that I loved and that felt right for me. At the time most people were like, 'yoga as exercise? that's so out there, how esoteric of you, that's so new-age, how can bending and stretching - coupled with measured breath - be considered an exercise'? It had me thinking.
I digress though.
Me, doing the hands to feet pose back in the day!
Whilst I was injured and indulging myself, the Atkins and Banting diets started gaining traction and it seems everyone and their dog is either following one or the other. Truth be told, I can't be bothered to weigh out this amount for veg, that amount for protein, etc. I won't lie, and fully admit that I haven't delved too much into the respective theories behind each diet. In the interests of enquiry, I have done some light research - nothing annoys me more than someone who has an opinion on a topic they haven't even read up on - and the one thing I have noticed though is that they tend to focus only on what you eat and how it affects you, as opposed to taking a holistic approach to it. I like looking at things as a whole, instead of in isolation.
I don't believe a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition can work.
Over the last year or so I have started developing an interest in the living - note: not just eating - according to your blood type theory - again, it's just a theoretical approach to a certain lifestyle. I am not saying the one is better than the other - my choice does not necessarily suit yours, but what I do like about living according to your blood type is that it is centred around you as a person and not just around watching what you eat as most other diets do.
Here are a few interesting facts that I have come to learn.
Your blood type may predict your susceptibility for certain diseases.
Various research has indicated that individuals of certain blood types may be at higher risk for certain diseases; studies have found that people with blood type O may have a lower risk for heart disease but have a higher risk of developing stomach ulcers. People who are blood type A may have a higher risk of microbial infections and those with blood types AB and B may have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Your blood type may indicate how you react to stress.
People with blood type A naturally have higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in their bodies and produce even more in response to stressful situations. Whilst people with blood type O have a 'fight or flight' reaction to stress - which in turn results in them overproducing adrenaline - which then extends their recovery period from said stress as it is more difficult to clear the extra adrenaline coursing through their bodies.
Your blood type antigens (molecules capable of inducing an immune response) are not just in your blood.
They happen to be everywhere in your body - particularly in the surfaces that interact with the environment - think of your digestive tract, your nasal passages and lungs, not to forget your mouth through to your intestines. These blood type antigens are everywhere and they influence how your body reacts to the food you eat through several factors. As an example, the lectins (a type of protein that can bind to cell membranes) in certain foods adheres to your blood type antigen and can cause your blood to agglutinate (just a fancy word to say that your blood cells clump together) which can result in feelings of fatigue, headaches, digestive issues and skin problems - to name a few.
Gut bacteria is related to blood type.
People with different blood types have different gut bacteria and this originated from our ancestors whose digestive tracts developed to accommodate one type of diet over the other. As an example, in blood type A individuals the micro-organisms developed to break down carbohydrates much more efficiently than people with blood type O, who tend to store carbs as fat.
I could go on for a while describing everything - but this isn't a dissertation, it's merely an introduction - below is a quick summary of the different blood types and what best suits them.
Type O: People with type O blood benefit best with intense physical exercise - ideally aerobics, running and contact sports - and on a diet of animal protein. They don't do so well on dairy products and grains, with their leading weight gain factor being the gluten found in wheat products.
Type A: People with type A blood are more naturally suited to a vegetarian diet and tend to be predisposed to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. They also derive significant benefits from calming, centering exercise such as yoga.
Type B: People with type B blood have a generally robust immune and a tolerant digestive system and tend to resist most of the severe chronic illnesses - or, at the very least, survive them better than the other blood types. They fair best with moderate physical exercise requiring mental balance, namely: hiking, cycling, tennis and swimming.
Type AB: People with type AB blood - the most recent blood group in terms of evolution - is the most biologically complex. People in this group fair best a with combination of exercise and dietary habits taken from blood types A and B.
I am type A and Chris is type O, so on paper we are on the opposite ends of the dietary and exercise model for living according to your blood type. I'm suited to a vegetarian diet whilst Chris can handle animal protein better than I can; with exercise I'm more suited to yoga and walking whilst Chris benefits more from a plan that includes physical activities like running. We try and meet someplace in the middle; some meals may be more veggie packed than others and we team up to do our jogging at Parkrun every Saturday and try walking with the hounds at least twice a week - I slot my yoga in and around this schedule.
That's the thing, for us as a couple, it's not about religiously following a diet it's about working one around us - as individuals - to suit our needs and that works for us.
In closing, and totally off topic: I achieved my personal best time at Parkrun this past Saturday, it took me 24min 53sec to complete the 5km course! Well done me!
Until next time,
About 11 days (or so) back both myself and Chris went for our annual health assessment, flu vaccination, etc. at Dischem's Pharmacy - we have been doing it for years now - and apart from the obvious benefits of knowing your health status, we also do it because we earn points towards our wellness programme status. So, essentially, the more points we earn the sooner we climb the various tiers - in other words, the higher one works themselves up the various levels, the more benefits in the form of discounts and preferential rates are offered through the various health, wellness and rewards partners.
We moved over to Discovery's Medical Aid on 1 January 2016 - so we had to start at the bottom (after spending years on Chris' previous employer's top tier) but through our persistent perseverance of reaching certain daily and weekly targets and going for our necessary check-ups and taking part in events like Parkrun we are comfortably on Silver, almost Gold - moving up and forward as we go. It does help that we are both competitive - which makes Discovery's Vitality even more exciting as it's so interactive and with the correct apps on your phone and distance-walked monitors (I wear a FitBit) - one gets to see how far you have to go to achieve your daily and weekly targets - I usually overachieve but like I said, we're both competitive! All one has to do is meet certain fitness and wellness targets - if anything, it helps to motivate one to stay or at the very least try and get fit. Which, ultimately, benefits you as a person. Nothing like having a carrot dangled in front of your face to get you moving!
It's not only fitness that Discovery monitor, Discovery Insure monitors your driving skills too, namely: acceleration, braking, cornering, cellphone motion and speeding. So if you drive with care, you are rewarded, that's not much of a trade-off if you ask me.
Even though we had made an appointment, there was only one Sister on duty, so we had to wait for over an hour! #Grumpy-face
I know some people who have medical aids but don't use these benefits at all, which is just silly in my opinion - if you're lucky enough to be able to afford medical aid or have a policy or two - why not? Medical aids do cost money (what doesn't these days...) but if you follow the system systematically, you can make the perks - in the form of their rewards partners - work for you and in the process recoup some of your money spent.
Just finding out that my cholesterol and glucose levels are well within the ideal range! #Happy-face
One of said perks of Vitality and Insure (if you reach your health and / or driving targets) is that you're eligible for a free drink from the menu of one of two coffee outlets found in most centres around South Africa., a week. If you have two or more friends linked to your 'team' and they achieve their targets, this perk is doubled. I have lost count of the number of free iced-coffees and cappuccinos I have had from Vida e Caffe - at around R32 a pop for an iced-coffee and say R20 a cappuccino (if not more?) for free - and all for driving with care (well mostly!) and keeping fit and active. It's a no-brainer really.
Another two perks we take full advantage of is that we subscribe to a number of magazines at a reduced fee - I love my home, travel and decor magazines - and accommodation (at certain hotels and lodges) again with a reduction in the cost. Not to mention HealthyFood at Woolworths, flights (both local and international) - in fact the list is endless!
Chris is loving his Apple Watch, which costs nothing as Discovery pay the instalments on it if he reaches his daily and weekly targets - so proud to see him monitoring his activity levels and getting fit at the same time. In fact I have just said to Chris as I type this that as a whole we are working more cohesively as a team to reach our individual and family targets than ever before - which makes it fun as opposed to a schlep - which is also always a good thing!
I started wearing my FitBit on 13 January 2016 - prior to that I used a pedometer - and according to my FitBit App, I have achieved the following in a few categories from that date up until now:
Steps taken: 1 199 945 - that is over a million steps!
Distance: 923,51 Km's - okay, even I am a little shocked at these stats!
Active Minutes (10mins or more of continuous moderate-intense activity): 6136 minutes
Calories burned: 297 295
Wow! Now that I am looking at the above, I am quite proud of myself! Are my legs looking the best they ever have, definitely! Will I need a knee or hip replacement in the next 20 years or so? Maybe!
But enough about medical aid's and their rewards partner's - there are so many options out there to help get you fit, I just adore Parkrun - it costs nothing to join and you get to spend some time in the sun exercising. That's the thing about exercising, it can be a battle to start but once you have a routine in place, it becomes easier to follow - I'm not saying that I stick to it religiously, life happens and sometimes one needs to prioritise but it's about being consistent - if you fall off the horse today, just get back on it tomorrow.
My exercise motto is: Low Impact, High Repetition.
My only two forms of exercise is walking (I attempt jogging at Parkrun) and yoga - both essentially low impact activities but I try do either one of these 7 days a week, so if I walk today, yoga tomorrow, etc. Some days if I walk in the morning and practice yoga in the evening - I may skip a day - it works for me, all depends on time permitting.
Find something that works for you - and run with it, so to speak - and if you spend a lot of time in the sun, remember your sunscreen!
Until next time,