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Health and Fitness News

Bloody Business

Myths and facts about your blood.

Carrying oxygen and nutrients to every cell, maintaining body temperature and pH level, and playing an important role in the immune system, your blood is vital for life. An average adult carries around an estimated four to six liters (one to one and a half gallons) of blood. That's approximately seven percent of your total body weight.

You may think that blood is just blood, but there are actually eight different types of blood, and whatever type you have, you inherited from your parents. Knowing what type of blood you have is important for donating blood or if you need a transfusion.

In a nutshell, here's what you need to know about blood types.

What's Your Type?

All blood contains the same basic ingredients, but some blood contains certain antigens (foreign substances that trigger an immune response) and some doesn't.

The two types of antigens found or not found in red blood cells are A and B. Type A blood only has antigen A, type B only has antigen B, group AB has both A and B, and group O doesn't have A or B.

These four groups are divided again depending on the Rh (Rhesus) factor. Some blood has an Rh factor and is therefore positive, while some blood doesn't have an Rh factor and is considered negative. This creates eight types of blood: O negative, O positive, A negative, A positive, B negative, B positive, AB negative, and AB positive. O positive is the most common blood type and AB negative the least common.

A Safe Transfusion

Someone who's lost a lot of blood, whether from an injury or disease, may require a blood transfusion. Receiving a compatible type of blood is essential to avoiding an immune response and serious side effects. This is why blood banks use extreme caution when categorizing blood.

Here's how it works. Anyone can receive type O blood, so people with type O blood are considered universal donors. This is why blood banks are so eager for O donors. But those with type O can only receive type O. Those with type A or AB can receive type A, those with B or AB can receive B, and those with AB can receive from any type, making them universal recipients.

Eating for Your Blood?

You've heard of the lemonade diet or the cabbage soup diet, but have you heard of the Eat Right for Your Type diet? Considered a myth with little evidence to back it, this diet recommends what you should eat based on your blood type.

Here are the basics.

Those with blood type A should eat an agrarian vegetarian diet of grains, soy proteins, and vegetables and get low-intensity exercise. Folks with type B blood are more tolerant of various foods and are able to eat meat, produce, and low-fat dairy, but should avoid corn, wheat, and lentils. Moderate exercise is recommended. Type O stands for “old.” You're from the oldest bloodline and can eat meat, fish, and poultry. However, it’s recommended you avoid breads, grains, and legumes and get high-intensity exercise. Lastly, type AB folks shouldn't eat meat, pork, or poultry, but can eat seafood, dairy, and produce. Calming exercises are recommended for AB folks.

Your Future, in Your Veins

Similar to astrology, many people believe your blood type determines your personality. Have type A? You're trustworthy and calm. Type B people are generally excitable and creative. Those with type AB are considered emotional and thoughtful. And if you have type O, you're a confident leader. Do you fit?