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bodycount.jpg (142740 bytes) If you've tried diets and exercise regimes that felt wrong or didn't get you to your goals, this book may give you a new perspective and a solution. --Joan Price for Amazon.com

Chapter Two: The Four Human Genetic Types

In the late 1970's, the age-old argument over nature vs. nurture shifted dramatically toward validating the nature side of the debate. Molecular biologists studying sets of twins from around the globe concluded that, while environment does influence who we are, the dominant influence is certainly heredity. We are like a computer's motherboard, hardwired with inherited characteristics woven into the fabric of our DNA.

Long before the theory of genetic inheritance, Ayurvedic physicians from India recognized That'specific inherited traits come in groups. Oriental skin and hair come with brown eyes, not blue eyes; solid musculature comes with heavier bones and supportive connective tissue, not delicate ones. The Ayurvedists concluded that we are each packaged in complementary ways to help promote natural balance and homeostasis.

Today, as we observe different peoples from around the world, it is obvious that all humans are not the same, in size, shape, or way of life.

For example, the Inuit groups of arctic Canada and Greenland have thrived for generations eating several pounds of whale blubber every day, without any measurable adverse effects, such as high blood cholesterol. Yet by the FDA's measure, these people consume enough saturated fat to clog the arteries of an army.

Most native Chinese live from cradle to grave without consuming any calcium-rich dairy food at all. They don't get near the FDA-recommended 1000 mg. of calcium per day, yet they still have among the world's lowest rates of osteoporosis.

Vegetarians in East India thrive on a diet that provides them with less protein than the FDA'says is needed to avoid negative nitrogen balance.

The point is, no one diet or exercise plan or lifestyle is ideal, or even reasonable, for all human types. Over countless generations, our physiologies have adjusted to our environments through natural adaptation and mutation. Governed by a survival mechanism, our gene pool has evolved to enable the perpetuation of our species by incorporating the many different threads of human history that have contributed to it.

Each of the 100 trillion cells in each of our bodies is carrying this history. It is our history, the history of the human race, perpetuated through all generations of time into this living conglomeration that is today... you and me.

Since America is one big ethnic melting pot, and since most of us don't know our genealogy very well, we may not know exactly which threads from the strand of human history predominate in our physiological makeup. That's why we must use the tools that we have to discover the lifestyle choices that are most harmonious for our own genetic type.

How we can understand our own differences

For centuries, physicians, philosophers and researchers have tried to place humans into categories that would give meaning to the differences between people. Some earlier classifications categorized people according to race, religion, class, or the time of year they were born. Other early methods focused on gender, anatomical build, blood type, oxidation rate or personality type. Most of these methods have at least some validity, but modern researchers have established that, for purposes of determining diet and exercise needs, the anatomical, glandular, and energy methods are the most useful.

Anatomical Types

The modern Western pioneer in this field was Dr. William Sheldon of Harvard, who, working with a team of research physicians in the 1940s and 1950s, grouped humans into anatomical types according to body'shape or general build. This classification system was based on which of the three embryonic tissue layers were most prominent in an individual. The embryonic layers are the three types of body tissue that develop from a growing fertilized egg. In each individual, one of the tissue types - ectoderm, mesoderm, or endoderm - predominates, giving rise to structures that are [I]relatively more dominant in that individual's anatomy.

The anatomical classification system works by measuring and comparing a number of anatomical parameters, including height, weight, and thickness and relative length of the limbs. This "somatotyping," or body typing, placed all humans in one of three general categories:

The ectomorph is the usually taller, bony, thin, small-framed, sharp-featured person who generally has difficulty gaining weight; the ectomorph tends to have a preponderance of body tissue from the embryonic ectoderm layer (skin and nervous system)

The mesomorph is the compactly-built, muscular type with a broad chest and small buttocks and hips; she has a tendency toward more muscle and connective tissue from the embryonic mesoderm

The endomorph is the rounded type with relatively short limbs and a larger abdominal component. His digestive system, which comes from the embryonic endoderm layer, is relatively larger than his musculoskeletal and nervous system, resulting in a tendency to gain weight.

Although Sheldon recognized that not everyone fits exactly into one of these categories, his classification method proved applicable to a wide range of subjects, predicting not just lifelong body type but also some basic personality tendencies.

At Green Valley, our research findings confirm that your anatomical type determines your biological need for body motion (how much and which types). Anatomical body typing also helps to explain why exercise is easier for some people and a struggle for others. Through the years, we've found that exercise is much more enjoyable and more likely to become a continuing part of your life if you do the exercises that are right for your anatomical type (body build).

I'll never forget Judy, a spirited, red-haired client in her thirties. When she came to me she was already exercising a lot - in fact, she exercised nearly every day. She was strong and curvy in her lower body, with plenty of lean body mass. Yet Judy was dissatisfied with her body'shape.

"No matter what I do, I'm just too big in my hips and thighs," she said.

I told Judy about the basic body types, and explained that the weight training was actually working against her desired results. "Your body is programmed to have curvier legs," I said. "All the weight training you're doing is just making them more muscular."

"But my trainer said I had to lift weights to burn more fat," she objected.

I told Judy that was true for certain anatomical types, but not for hers. In fact, a strength building program would cause her to bulk up and actually hinder weight loss. After we talked a little more, Judy agreed to try my suggestions. She gave up her intensive strength-training regimen while continuing to pace walk and swim, and within a few months she'd returned to her optimum size.

Glandular (Metabolic) Types

I told you earlier how I identified that I was an "adrenal" type. In the glandular (metabolic) approach, people are classified according to the characteristics determined by the dominant gland in the endocrine (glandular) system. This classification system, invented by Dr. Lewellys Barker of Johns Hopkins and later refined and popularized by several physicians, posits that we are each born with a dominant gland that influences our body's biochemical functioning. Your dominant gland determines differences in body chemistry balance, metabolic function, and energy usage. Your glandular type, like your anatomical type, is programmed by your genes.

Your glandular type affects your body's usage of basic macronutrients-air, water, protein, fat and carbohydrates, along with micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals-that create the energy and building materials necessary for cellular regeneration. This process of converting raw materials into the building blocks of life is known as metabolism. Each person has slightly different ways of using these raw materials, and needs different relative amounts of them: some require more protein, others need more fat or carbohydrates.

The four major endocrine glands are the adrenals, which regulate appetite and reactions to stress and danger; the gonads, which control growth, sexuality, and reproduction; the thyroid, which governs metabolic rate and energy usage; and the pituitary, the "master gland" that regulates all of the other glands.

Each of the body's four major glands is nourished and stimulated by specific foods. You often crave those foods that most stimulate your dominant gland. The secretions from this gland affect your brain and body chemistry balances, causing specific feelings. When the gland becomes repeatedly overstimulated, however the excess hormonal flood can throw your body chemistry out of balance. The gland can become overstimulated to the point of exhaustion, and stop functioning properly.

To restore a healthy balance among your glandular secretions, you must cut back on foods That'stimulate your dominant gland and eat more of the foods That stimulate the subordinate glands.

In this process, the key to health is balance-although one gland is always dominant, it'should not be too dominant, or it will overpower the contributions of the other glands. You can think of the glandular system as a barbershop quartet, where your dominant gland sings the melody but for good harmony mustn't drown out the others.

Your glandular type is determined by analyzing related characteristics, such as physical shape, the size of your skeleton, the location of body-fat pads, your energy patterns, and how your body responds to proteins, fats, carbohydrates and exercise.

The glandular approach divides humans into four body-chemistry types:

Thyroidal--long, lanky, and restless; corresponds in many ways with Sheldon's ectomorph;

Adrenal--solid, driven, and warm; corresponds categorically with the mesomorph;

Pituitary--detached, dreamy, and round; corresponds basically with the ectomorph, though some pituitary types have an endomorphic base.

Gonadal--applies only to women. This type is generally quite slender above the waist but tends to be larger, with more body fat, below the waist. Although her body has an endomorphic or mesomorphic foundation, she may actually be a combination of anatomical types. Her personality is usually warm, outgoing and people-oriented. At Green Valley, we'refer to this type as the Ovarian type.

Your glandular-metabolic type determines how your body processes nutrients, and the best fuel ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrate for optimum functioning. It also explains why you crave certain foods, and how best to neutralize those cravings.

Eating incorrectly for your metabolic type can have serious health consequences. It took me many years to understand that the high-protein, high-fat, all-American meals my brothers thrived on were overstimulating my dominant Adrenal glands and contributing to my growing obesity.

Energy Types

There is yet another classification system we use at Green Valley, the oldest of them all. Based on the ancient Indian study of Ayurveda, it classifies people according to their underlying energy patterns, or doshas. Named vata, pitta, and kapha, all three doshas work together to achieve balance in all aspects of our biology. Vata regulates movement, pitta controls metabolism, and Kapha oversees structure. Together, the doshas provide the architecture of our being, and, as any architect will tell you, there is more than one way to design a building.

The ancient Ayurvedic physicians anticipated modern physics in realizing that all matter, including the physical matter that makes up human beings, is largely vibrating waves of energy between particles (quantum units). Most of what we truly are is not a tangible mass, but the energy fields between the tangible, physical components.

Ayurveda deals with how the energy fields and the physical mass interact to influence how we feel. In a sense, modern science is beginning to catch up. The new science of psychoneuroimmunology studies the interactions among the nervous system, endocrine (glandular) system, and immune system. It is the key to how body chemistry works on a practical basis. Even though scientists cannot always be sure how these communications take place, more and more evidence shows that our bodies produce a complex network of chemicals (neuro-transmitters, neuro-peptides, and related molecules) that our brain uses to communicate throughout the body.

Although all three doshas influence every human, one is generally dominant. The practice of Ayurveda applies herbs, foods, movement and other principles to the doshas, bringing balance to the entire system. You can think of the doshas as the meeting point between mind and body. Good health is a result of balance between these elements. If you are spiritually minded, you will recognize this as the realm of the spirit or soul, the essence of what you are.

Although the doshas do not correspond exactly with the anatomical and glandular typing systems, there is a basic common ground:

Vata dosha corresponds to the ectomorphic, thyroidal type, and to the sleeker version of the pituitary type.

Pitta dosha corresponds to the mesomorphic, adrenal type.

Kapha dosha corresponds to the endomorphic ovarian type, and also to the less-common cherub, or puffy, endomorphic version of the pituitary type.

Your Ayurvedic energy type determines how you respond to sensory stimulation, and gives you the understanding of how to apply such holistic practices as massage and meditation to balance your body and mind.

At Green Valley Health Spa, we incorporate all of these classification systems-anatomical, glandular, and Ayurvedic--into the four Genetic Types, which determine which diet and exercise plan will work best for you.

When you know which anatomical body build you are-ectomorphic, mesomorphic, or endomorphic-you will know which kinds and amounts of body motion are most effective for you. You'll discover what your type needs from exercise in order to make it an enjoyable, regular part of your life.

When you know which glandular-metabolic type you are-the pituitary, thyroidal, adrenal, or ovarian-You'll discover the nutritional principles that are essential for your metabolic type. You'll learn why you crave certain foods, and how to neutralize those cravings, enabling you to feel satisfied on a balanced diet.

When you know which Ayurvedic energy type you are-vata, pitta, or kapha-You'll begin to understand the principles for balancing your mind and body. You'll see what types and amount of sensory stimulation are right for you. You'll discover what parts of the day are best for you, and what sort of environment you'require for optimum well-being

The challenge

Throughout this chapter, I've talked about how our individual genetic programming--the Body Code-determines our body build, our need for exercise, our appetite, how effectively we're satiated by different foods, our metabolic rate, and even to a certain extent what happens to our excess energy if we overeat. Genetic programming determines what different body types will do with those excess calories, whether the calories will go to expand fat pads or build lean body tissue.

The essence of my program-and what we do in the Body Code wellness plan-is to adjust those elements over which we have control within our genetically programmed range. Each of us possesses a group of protective measures within us that will help us to stay within that range-as long as we provide the basic types of stimulation that our body needs to work toward That'state of balance or homeostasis.

No matter what you eat, no matter how much or little you exercise, you cannot change your basic body code. If you are programmed to be an ectomorph, you cannot turn yourself into a natural mesomorph, no matter how hard you try. You will always tend toward long and bony; you cannot realistically make yourself into a compact, muscular mesomorph.

The Pima Indians of southern Arizona and northern Mexico stand out as casualties of the attempt to be something other than what they are genetically programmed to be. Until the mid-twentieth century, these people had been very healthy, living on a natural diet of mostly desert plant foods, and getting an enormous amount of physical exercise by farming, gathering food, hunting, and walking. All that changed when the twentieth century invaded their lives and they had to give up their traditional ways. Now, the Pimas eat the way many Americans eat, relying on processed, greasy convenience foods. They exercise the way most Americans exercise-very little. But the effects of those unhealthful habits on the Pimas have been dramatic and far more obviously harmful than for most Americans.

Today the Pima Indians (and some other related tribes) are among the most obese people in the world, and have the highest rate of diabetes in the world. Various experts and scientists have been trying to reprogram the Pimas' attitudes and ideas, to get them to change their behaviors and eat less, to follow the sort of low-fat diet often recommended for overweight people. The Pimas are encouraged to work exercise into their lives in small ways-to walk more, for example. But all these attempts aren't working-and I don't think they will work until the Pimas begin to more closely approximate the living conditions they evolved from. Until they begin to again eat the native foods that kept their blood sugar levels stable, and most important, to perform the higher levels of body motion their bodies evolved to need, they won't get better.

Because of their unique genetic coding, the Pimas offer dramatic proof of the negative influence of the typical American diet. But they are not alone. The relatively recent changes in lifestyle and food choices has taken a toll-though somewhat less dramatic--on most of us Americans. Until a short time ago in this society we didn't have so many refined foods available to us. We didn't have remote controls, and most work didn't require hours of sitting in front of a computer terminal. This combination of inactivity and rich foods have combined to make us, as a people, out of shape, overweight, and unhealthy.

And now, it's time to invite you to participate in the Green Valley Body Code Plan. I invite you to discover which genetic type you are, and use the specific foods, herbs, and physical stimulation that will give you what your type needs for balance of mind and body. Simply follow the plan for a few weeks and watch what happens. You will be at least delighted-and maybe even amazed.

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