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Dr. D’Adamo: On Holidays and Stress

Ever get the feeling that the so-called light at the end of the tunnel is in fact an oncoming train? I certainly do. Fall always seems to be such a demanding time for me; lectures and public appearances seem to multiply; patient contact at The Center of Excellence always picks up after the summer doldrums, and there are the ever-present demands of family and parenthood. Add to that the pleasures and pressures of an oncoming holiday season, closed windows and forced hot air heating, sniffles and uncovered coughing mouths and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm for colds, flu and exhaustion.

Studies show that end-of-year holiday time ranks very high on the stress scale—exceeded only by the death of a spouse. Many people feel depressed at this time of year, perhaps due to loneliness, lack of sunlight, or as a reaction to the inherent superficiality of many of the public displays and celebrations.

However, at their core, these holidays contain very helpful messages. Thanksgiving celebrates the bounty of the Earth and reassures us of the immense regenerative capacity of Nature. Christmas and Hanukkah are festivals of joy and rededication to a new purity of intent. New Year’s is a time of new beginnings.

The other day I was reading an article on Spam (the pork version; not the email one) and how Hormel, the manufacturer, cannot keep up with consumer demand for it as a ‘hardship food’. Although a bit disturbed by the notion that a food such as this should be considered a ‘value’ when other healthier foods are available and are even better bargains, I did happen to notice that in a separate table of ‘things which were up or down due to the economy,’ nutritional supplement sales were actually way up. My father often said that ‘Stress is best handled by a healthy body.’ and I guess that a lot of folks feel the same way. Not sure what to do with this paragraph… Omit it completely?

However, which supplements? Here are a few that I’ve used over the years to help patients restore from the ill effects of stress, fatigue and depression:

l-theanine (NAP ‘Tranquility Base’)

Theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green tea (Camellia sinensis) that has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress and produce feelings of relaxation. Interestingly, when combined with caffeine it helps to improve cognition and mood. Theanine also has beneficial effects on the immune system as well. Blood sample analysis found that the production of anti-bacterial proteins was up to five times higher in the tea-drinkers. One of the actions of theanine is to increase the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) an important neurotransmitter, so I usually maximize the effect by also supplementing with a bit of GABA as well.

Blood Type and Stress (NAP ‘Cortiguard’ and ‘Catechol’)

There are significant differences between the blood types regarding how they handle stress. Type O individuals tend to over-accumulate adrenaline at the expense of adequate levels of dopamine. Types A, AB and B folks tend to have trouble adjusting their levels of cortisol properly in response to stress (Type As are the worst at this!) We’ve long used two specific NAP supplements as ‘blood type specific stress busters’ in the D’Adamo Clinic: NAP’s Catechol for type Os and Cortiguard for the As, Bs and ABs. Catechol has a nice blend of amino acids and herbs which helps to flush excess adrenaline out of the body, which in combination with the high protein, low wheat type O diet, can do wonders for their moods. Cortiguard helps those other types to better control their metabolism (and prevent excess weight gain during stress) by using herbs and nutritional co-factors to help blunt the effects of excess cortisol when taken in concert with the diet for your blood type.

These are just a couple suggestions that can help you navigate through these challenging times. Be optimistic. Stay connected with friends and family. Express yourself. Recommit yourself to the principles of personalized dieting and optimized nutrition.

Be ready for it.



Dr. Peter D'Adamo is a naturopathic physician, author, researcher-educator and software developer. He is considered a world expert on glycobiology, principally the ABO blood groups and the secretor (FUT2) polymorphisms. He is the author of the international best-seller, Eat Right 4 Your Type and the Blood Type Diet series of books, and he is currently a Distinguished Professor of Clinical Sciences at the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

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