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Is Metabolic Typing a "Missing Link" In Nutrition?
By Beverly Nadler, CHT, CMT © 2007
What “Metabolic Typing” IS, How to Recognize Different Metabolic Types,
“The Kelley Program” and the Role of a Metabolic Technician
Before I get into the details of this fascinating
subject, I want you to know that I had no intention of writing this article. I wrote
it because it occurred to me that when you read “I’m certified as a Metabolic
Technician” in the page that described my nutrition
background, you might want to know what that means
– and not knowing could interfere with your ability to focus on and gain value
from the rest of that page.
This article was intended to be short, but as I realized the importance of
knowing and understanding “metabolic typing,” I felt that more information was
necessary. Therefore, the article is in two parts, with Part 2 following Part 1.
Part 2 is “Using Knowledge of Metabolic Typing for Health and Healing; Applying
It to Relationships; Case Histories”
What Is Metabolic Typing?
Metabolic Typing is based on the strengths and weaknesses of a person’s
autonomic nervous system. Metabolic types are classified as “sympathetic
dominant”, “parasympathetic dominant” and “balanced.” Different metabolic
types have different nutritional and life-style needs.
Most of what we know about metabolic typing is based on the research and
experience of Dr. William Donald Kelley, a dentist who was dying of pancreatic
cancer in the 1960s, and the research of biochemist Dr. George Watson on
fast-slow oxidizers. Dr. Kelley incorporated Dr. Watson’s work into what became
known as “The Kelley Program.”
What Is the Autonomic Nervous System?
The autonomic nervous system is one of the two components of our nervous
system. The central nervous system (CNS) consists of our brain and spinal
cord. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) connects our musculature, organs and
systems to the CNS via our nerves. It is the “master regulator” of metabolism
(explained below) – the system that directly controls energy utilization and
metabolic efficiency. It regulates life-sustaining functions of the body through
its control over glands and organs, the digestion and utilization of foods and
nutrients, and many other essential activities in our body.
The ANS has two branches, sympathetic and parasympathetic. Each branch
controls specific systems, organs and glands in your body. The sympathetic
branch “speeds up” metabolism and includes the muscular system, heart, thyroid
and parathyroid glands, gonads, (ovaries or testes), uterus or prostate and
adrenal medulla (the medulla secretes adrenalin). The parasympathetic branch
“slows down” metabolism and includes the immune system, lungs, pineal gland,
adrenal cortex (which secretes cortisone) and the organs of the digestive system.
Below you will read what it means to have a sympathetic dominant, parasympathetic
dominant or balanced metabolism, including some of the characteristics, strengths
and weaknesses of each type. Meanwhile, here’s a brief description.
Sympathetic dominant people are “go-go-go” left-brain Type A personalities,
in which the organs, glands and systems of the sympathetic branch are stronger.
They have a speeded up metabolism. Parasympathetic dominant people are more
relaxed, easy going and tend to be right-brained. The organs, glands and systems
of the parasympathetic branch are stronger and they have a slower metabolism. With
a balanced metabolism, neither branch is stronger.
What Is Metabolism?
Metabolism refers to the chemical and physical processes continuously going on
in living organisms and cells. These processes release energy for all vital
functions taking place in your body. Metabolism especially refers to the way you
assimilate and utilize food and nutrients in the building up process of making new
cells (called anabolism) and the breaking down process of eliminating waste
(called catabolism), both of which are essential to life.
Sympathetic Dominant Type
Sympathetic dominant people have a stronger muscular system, heart, thyroid
gland, parathyroid gland (responsible for calcium metabolism), kidneys, gonads,
(ovaries or testes), uterus or prostate and adrenal medulla (the part of the
adrenal gland that secretes adrenalin). The adrenal medulla is often over-active
in sympathetics and they are typical “fight or flight” Type A people – “workaholic”
executives, self-motivated leaders and high-pressure business people.
They have lots of nervous energy, are ambitious, enjoy exercise, love mental
stimulation, have excellent powers of concentration, seem to be in constant motion
and function well under stress. Sympathetics are anxious, impatient, quick to anger
and have emotional swings, but they are rarely depressed. They enjoy vegetables,
fruits and sweets and have good calcium metabolism. They are slow oxidizers
(meaning they digest food and burn sugar slowly) and their cells are more
“acidic.” They generally thrive on vegetarian or modified vegetarian diets, with
chicken, fish and just a little meat.
Sympathetic dominant people tend to be slender and pale, with big eyes. The
conditions they are prone to include constipation, diabetes, digestive problems,
anemia, cancer, high blood pressure, bacterial infections, non-fatal heart attacks,
poor circulation, migraine headaches, insomnia, rheumatoid arthritis and hardening
of the arteries. Because they are so busy, they may “forget” to eat. They tend not
to “feel” sick (no time to be sick), so they don’t slow down even when they need
to, which can lead to their physical and mental decline.
Parasympathetic Dominant Type
Parasympathetic dominant people have a stronger immune system, pineal gland,
lungs, adrenal cortex (which secretes cortisone), spleen and digestive
system -- stomach, intestines, liver, gall bladder and pancreas. They have good
digestion and are fast oxidizers (meaning they digest food and burn sugar rapidly).
They tend to be relaxed and easy-going, even lazy or lethargic, and don’t like to
be rushed. They are strong people with enduring energy and a high stress tolerance,
unless the stress becomes too much for them and then they fall apart. They have
large appetites, are usually hungry, enjoy fatty and salty foods, and don’t like
Parasympathetics are generally slow to anger, are friendly and talkative and
make great salespeople. Their body cells are alkaline, so in spite of the prevalent
belief that meat is unhealthy for everyone, they need to eat meat. If they are very
parasympathetic, they especially need liver and other glands. (Organic meat
preferred. Kosher is second choice.)
They tend to have large frames, ruddy complexions and small eyes. The conditions
parasympathetic dominant people are prone to include hypoglycemia (low blood sugar),
diarrhea, overweight, low blood pressure, depression, heavy sweating and frequent
urination, viral infections, allergies, asthma, cold sores, leukemia, osteoarthritis,
and sexual problems (impotence in males and menstrual/menopause problems in females).
If they have a heart attack, it is usually massive and kills them.
The above is a partial listing of the characteristics and tendencies of both
types. Also, be aware that almost no one is purely sympathetic or parasympathetic,
and that regardless of your dominance, “prone to” does not mean you will develop
a specific conditions associated with your metabolic type.
Balanced Metabolic Type
In people who have a balanced autonomic nervous system, neither branch is
stronger. They neither burn their food too fast or two slow, and they do equally
well (or poorly, if they are sick) on all variations of foods. When they become
sick, they can be prone to the conditions of either sympathetics or parasympathetics,
but generally not to the extreme of either type.
It is not better or worse to have a sympathetic or parasympathetic dominant or
balanced metabolism, although balanced metabolisms have more freedom in food choices.
Regardless of your dominant metabolic type, you can be healthy or sick.
What Determines Your Metabolic Type?
You are born that way. While it is possible to “tone down” the anxious Type A
behavior that is characteristic of a sympathetic, and bring up the lethargic
nature that is typical of a parasympathetic, these personality traits come with
our metabolic type. They are not something we choose, anymore than we choose our
height or eye color; it’s the result of genetics.
A major factor is your ethnic, nationality and ancestral background – where
your ancestors came from. According to the theory, in spite of the belief that
humans are “supposed” to eat foods that grow in the earth, many people cannot be
healthy if they remain on a strict vegetarian diet. While the human race may have
started out in “the garden of Eden” eating foods that primarily grow on trees and
in the ground, as humans migrated to areas where fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds
were not plentiful, their digestive systems either adapted to digesting what was
available for food (animal meat) or they died. Their descendents (and that could
be you) were born with meat-eating digestive systems. Protein from non-animal sources
cannot take the place of meat (beef, lamb, game animals, organ meats) for
parasympathetic dominant people.
Since most people’s descendents came from a mixture of different backgrounds
and countries and intermarried, most people (especially in America and Canada)
are mixtures of metabolic types, with one predominating. Your natural (genetic)
dominance can “switch” under certain conditions, such prolonged stress and illness.
The Kelley Program
When the medical profession gave up on Dr. Kelley and expected him to die of
pancreatic cancer that had spread to other parts of his body, he changed his
nutrition and life-style and began intensive research. What he learned, and the
vegetarian diet he devised for himself, saved his life. Years later, when he was
working nutritionally with patients, he used the same diet on a very sick woman
(who later became his wife and business associate) and it nearly killed her. Thus,
he discovered that different metabolisms have different nutritional needs, and he
developed “The Kelley Program” in the 1970s. Dr. Kelley came up with 10 different
metabolic types within the framework of the three basic types -- sympathetic,
parasympathetic and balanced.
His classifications related to how well one metabolizes and assimilates food
and nutrients, within his or her “type.” How well you metabolize and assimilate
food and nutrients is a huge factor in health and disease, regardless of your
metabolic type. A person can have a “balanced” metabolism, and yet only assimilate
10% of the nutrients from the foods she eats and supplements she takes.
What Is a Metabolic Technician?
A Metabolic Technician (MT) is certified to use Dr. Kelley’s computerized
nutritional and life-style program. The MT works with clients (or patients, if
the MT is a doctor) using the customized Manual prepared for them, based on their
specific metabolic type, and helps them implement the recommended foods,
supplements, detoxification procedures and life-style changes.
When I was practicing as an MT, my clients completed a very long, in-depth
questionnaire with thousands of questions and took a hair analysis. The
information and hair sample was sent to a laboratory that used an intricately
programmed computer system to analyze the results and prepare customized
Kelley Programs, based on each individual’s metabolic type. The programs came
as Manuals that explained dietary and supplement recommendations, detoxification
procedures and life-style changes.
I know The Kelley Program intimately because I used it to heal from a painful
sciatic condition that refused to respond to other care. After learning about it,
I decided to travel to Winthrop, Washington to study with Dr. Kelley. Excited by
my results after having been in severe pain for 18 months, I become certified as
a Metabolic Technician.
This is the end of Part 1. You can continue with
Part 2 or go back to top
of page or to Nutrition Page. Naturally I
recommend that you continue reading. Part 2 contains valuable information that
is rarely explained.
For more information contact www.metabolictypingonline.com
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