B+. That’s my blood type. Do you know yours? “Knowing your blood type tells you much more than just what type of blood you can receive if you need a transfusion,” says Dr. Tara Nayak, a naturopathic physician in Philadelphia. Here’s why:
Your blood type is basically a magic eight ball for your body.
Okay, so your blood type can’t really tell the future (and neither can a magic eight ball) but it can tell you whether you are at an increased risk of certain health conditions. Having a particular blood type doesn’t automatically mean you’ll develop a disease, but as Nayak tells HealthyWay, “Your blood type also indicates a pattern of inheritance for many other health processes including immune function, stress coping mechanisms, and digestion/metabolism.” However, certain blood types are correlated with higher risk for some diseases. For example, according to a recent article published in Scientific American, people with the rare AB blood type are at a higher risk of cognitive decline, especially when it comes to learning and short-term memory. On the flip side, those with type O blood are at a lower risk of heart disease than people with other blood types, which are more likely to form blood clots, thereby increasing the risk of heart-related problems.
Want to lose those vanity pounds? Consult your blood type.
Knowing your blood type “can help guide you to a healthier lifestyle based on the way that foods interact with your digestive tract,” says Nayak. Dr. Samm Pryce, a physician in Ann Arbor, Michigan, elaborates: Your blood type “actually tells us about lectin (protein) reactivity and how you should genetically eat to regain health and maintain health. There are lectins on our cells and they are reactive with lectins on foods. Kind of like a lock and key or a tennis ball and velcro.” According to Pryce, some foods are more beneficial to your health depending on your blood type. “Certain foods fit nicely in our receptor sites and nourish our cells. We call these foods Super Beneficials, and they act as medicine for our cells. Food that we call Avoids … block the receptor and cause inflammation and do not allow the Beneficials access so that we can get the nutrients that we need.” For example, Pryce recommends that those individuals with blood type A consume Super Beneficials like beans and legumes, while those with blood type B should avoid corn, soy, and chicken.
Check your blood type before the stork visits.
Are you pregnant or thinking about having a baby? You’ll want to learn your blood type to determine your Rhesus or Rh factor (whether you have a positive or negative after your blood type). Dr. Jaime Knopman, co-founder of Truly, MD and director of fertility preservation at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine New York, explains, “Women who are Rh negative (aka a negative sign follows the letter A, B, AB, or O) will need to receive a shot (RhoGAM) at certain points throughout their pregnancy and in the postpartum period.” This test is done to see if a mother’s blood is compatible with her baby’s. If a mother is Rh negative and the baby is Rh positive, she will need to receive the shots to ensure that both she and her baby stay healthy. Knopman continues, “Additionally, if you conceive and miscarry and are blood type negative you will also need to receive RhoGAM. Without RhoGAM, an Rh negative woman is at risk for making antibodies against the Rh positive blood type; this could have a serious impact on any of her future pregnancies.”
Don’t leave your emergency contact in a lurch.
In the unlikely event of a medical emergency, knowing your blood type is ultra important, especially if you’re part of the 1 percent of Americans who have the AB– blood type. Roughly 7 percent of Americans are considered universal donors because they have the O– blood type, but the most common blood type is O+. If you need a blood transfusion in an emergency situation, don’t leave your emergency contact scrambling to find out your blood type. And don’t count on the paramedics either. While they’ll do their best, medical personnel may not have the resources readily available to test and find out your blood type, either. Healthcare providers actually recommend jotting down your blood type and placing it in your wallet with your identification in case of an emergency.
Don’t “B” negative. It’s easy to find out your blood type.
All puns aside, it really is super easy to determine your blood type. “There are a number of ways to find out your blood type. …You could donate blood or ask your doctor to test your blood type,” says Nayak. Sign up for a good cause and donate blood to find out your type. The Red Cross is currently experiencing a major blood shortage and donating blood is easy. Visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood donation site near you. Find out if you are eligible to donate blood, and if so, complete a RapidPass questionnaire prior to your appointment. If you’re ineligible to donate blood, don’t worry. You can still learn your blood type. While doctors no longer recommend the yearly physical for most people, you can schedule a wellness visit with your primary care provider to determine your type and what it means for your well-being.