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Metabolic Typing - Part 1

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in metabolic typing, originally published in issue 65 - June 2001

Body typing is a health system that takes into account people's unique, distinctive qualities, which can be distinguished by considering a variety of factors such as personality, appearance and biochemistry. Once these characteristics are identified, the person is then classed as a particular body type, and precise health recommendations are given based around nutrition, or nutrition and lifestyle practices. It is a way of preventing and combating disease by understanding the client rather than the details of the disease itself.

This is not a new concept, as in the 4th Century BC the Greek physician Hippocrates specified that it was more important to know what kind of patient has a disease than what kind of disease a patient has. Since that time many systems of body typing have evolved including: the Chinese system based on the five elements – fire, wood, water, metal and earth; the Ayurvedic system founded on the doshas – pitta, kapha and vata, and Wolcott's system of health care based upon metabolism (metabolism meaning how we function physically, mentally and emotionally).

It is Wolcott's nutritional analysis, termed 'metabolic typing', that I would like to consider. His approach is the culmination of many years of research focusing on biochemical individuality. Amongst the researchers are Roger Williams Ph.D., Dr Frances Pottenger, William Kelley DDS, George Watson Ph.D. and Dr Peter D'Adamo. Each of these men made unique discoveries and Wolcott drew together the information from their respective, collective contributions to provide us with a clinical system that identifies each person's metabolic type.

He also presents nutritional guidelines for each type to achieve health, and reverse and prevent disease.

In order to comprehend Wolcott's system we need to understand Kelley and Watson's methods as they form the foundations of his metabolic programme. Both systems work on achieving a venous blood pH of 7.46, as deviation from this ideal results in symptoms and disease states.

Kelley's story is fascinating in that he cured himself of pancreatic cancer and metastases in the liver and intestines using a specific nutritional methodology. He used this same programme to help many people, but found that in some cases he had to change his approach so that his clients were actually eating the opposite regime.

Realization dawned that identical diets do not suit everyone. This inspired Kelley to develop a biochemical individuality assessment based on the two divisions of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. These systems work together to regulate involuntary activities such as heart rate, blood pressure and cellular activity. In general, the sympathetic uses energy and the parasympathetic saves energy and is involved in digestion and repair.

Everyone's neurological biochemistry is influenced more strongly by one of three categories: sympathetic with an alkaline deviation in blood pH; parasympathetic with an acid deviation in blood pH; and balanced with a balanced blood pH. The intentionality was to return individuals to the centre of autonomic balance by manipulating the blood pH with diet and supplementation.

Watson's story is equally intriguing as he discovered, in his role as a clinical psychologist, a distinct correlation between people's psychological and emotional characteristics and their oxidation rate (the rate at which cells convert nutrients into energy). By prescribing foods and nutrients to balance oxidative imbalances, Watson discovered that he was able to resolve many people's clinical problems, including depression, mood swings and concentration disorders. His oxidative system has three classifications: fast oxidizers who produce an acid deviation in blood pH, slow oxidizers who produce an alkaline deviation in blood pH, and balanced oxidizers who produce a balanced blood pH.

There were, however, two main problems with these models. Firstly, each worked to a degree, but was not totally successful.

Secondly, there was an anomaly in that the systems contradicted each other, as the influence of foods and nutrients on pH appeared to have opposite effects in each system. For example, in Watson's model potassium has an acidifying effect and in Kelley's model potassium has an alkalizing effect. Wolcott recognized that both models were correct and that it was not some inherent quality of food or nutrient that determined changes in pH, but the physiological / biochemical environment in the body. Consequently, there was no food or nutrient that would have the same effect on everyone's body. His metabolic typing system then evolved with a successful formula to determine whether the oxidative or autonomic system was dominant in each individual. Once the dominant system was identified, specific foods and nutrients were given to balance blood pH. Nutritionally there are two identifiable metabolic groups: group I and group II. Group Is need high carbohydrates in order to strengthen the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system by alkalizing the acid blood or to accelerate slow oxidation by acidifying the alkaline blood. Group IIs require a high protein intake in order to strengthen the sympathetic system by acidifying the alkaline blood or to slow down fast oxidation by alkalizing the acid blood. Wolcott also meticulously specified precise vitamins and minerals to balance each type.

Wolcott then built this two-dimensional perspective into a nine-dimensional paradigm to assess all metabolic processes. These included: anabolism and catabolism (production of energy and cell membrane permeability), electrolyte stress and insufficiency, acidosis and alkalosis (involving lung and kidney function), endocrine, constitutional, prostaglandin and blood types. It is the complex interrelationships of these systems that determine the individual's unique metabolism and whether they are healthy or not. Imbalances in each dimension can be corrected through foods and supplements.

The benefits of having a diet designed to support one's unique body chemistry are many, and include: preventing and reversing chronic disease, natural and permanent weight loss without dieting, enhanced immunity, high energy and peak performance, and slowing of the ageing process.

Wolcott's remarkable system certainly proves scientifically the power of nutrition as an effective tool for healing, and promises such good results that I would like to explore the practicalities of his system and a case history with you next month.


Wolcott William L. The Metabolic Typing Diet. Doubleday. ISBN 0 385 496915. 2000.


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About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;

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