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Although all blood is made of the same basic elements, not all blood is alike. In fact, there are eight different common blood types – A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+, and O-, which are determined by the presence or absence of certain antigens – substances that can trigger an immune response if they are foreign to the body.
Blood types don’t only matter for safe transfusions, but these can also disclose complex features of personal health.

Heart Disease
At-risk: AB
Harvard University conducted a study in 2012, which found that people with non-O blood are more susceptible to cardiovascular disease than other blood types, and those with AB blood type are at a 23% higher risk of suffering from heart disease than type O subjects.

According to the study author Dr. Lu Qi, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition, the specific structure of people’s antigens should be taken into consideration as much as cholesterol and blood pressure. In his words “while people cannot change their blood type, our findings may help physicians better understand who is at risk for developing heart disease.”

At-risk: A
According to research, people with A blood type are more prone to feeling stressed and find it more difficult to cope with problems. These people generally have higher cortisol levels, and when the adrenal gland releases more and more cortisol into the blood, people’s stress response becomes more severe.  That’s why stress-reducing exercises, like Tai Chi and yoga, are more recommended for this blood type by doctors than running or weightlifting.

Memory Problems
At-risk: AB
As found by a recent study, people with AB blood type are at an 82% higher risk of having difficulties with memory recall, language, and attention than people with other types. Scientists believe that this is the result from the key clotting protein, known as coagulation factor VIII, which may in fact decrease the quality of blood flow to the brain, rather than close injuries.

Mary Cushman, author of the recent study explained “Since factor VIII levels are closely linked to blood type, this may be one causal connection between blood type and cognitive impairment.”

Pancreatic Cancer
At-risk: Non-O
As revealed by a recent Yale University study on bacterial infection, people with O blood type are less susceptible to pancreatic cancer than people with other blood types. During the study, scientists from the University’s Cancer Center examined cases of a common species of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori which live in people’s gut, and found that people affected with these bacteria are at a considerably higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer as a result of the way A and B antigens support bacteria proliferation. Surprisingly, people with O blood type carry no antigens on the surface of their red blood cells, which, by the way, allows them to donate to anyone.

Gut Bacteria
Approximately 80% people have antigens in the lining of their digestive tract apart from having them on their red blood cells. Unfortunately, many of the gut bacteria feeds on these antigens, which largely determines which bacteria thrives and which becomes eliminated. According to research, people with B blood type have up to 50,000 times the number of strains of beneficial bacteria than people with either A or O type blood.

In the words of Dr. Peter D’Adamo, physician and author of Eat Right 4 Your Type: “Increasingly, studies are showing that changes in the microflora content of the digestive tract can be linked to metabolic illnesses, including type II (adult onset) diabetes and obesity. Blood group and secretor status play an important role in conditioning the overall characteristics of the digestive tract.”

Exercise Demands
In general, the structure of a person’s antigens on his or her red blood cells can determine the amount of a hormone being released. Thus, people with A and B blood type react better to calming, low-intensity exercise like yoga, especially if depression is genetic. Similarly, well-rounded workouts that keep their immune systems regulated are more beneficial for people with AB blood. On the other hand, type O people are completely different.

According to Dr. Ginger Nash, a naturopathic physician “Type O’s are more prone to problems that arise from an inability to clear stress hormones from their system quickly. It takes more to get a Type O stressed but it takes more to de-stress them as well.”