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BEVERLY NADLER, CH, CMT - Speaker, Author, Trainer, Re-Programming Coach and Consultant

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List of Nutrition Articles

Is Metabolic Typing a "Missing Link" In Nutrition?
Part 1

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 to exercise.

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.

 

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