Nutrition is the Foundation of Health and Longevity
Nutrition is the foundation of health for all life. Our food choices ultimately strengthen or weaken this foundation. Unfortunately, we have been led to believe, that feeding our animals kibble is the only way to ensure a lifetime of balanced nutrition. As I reflect on the health of my animals over the years, my childhood dog Coco and Meg both consumed a diet of kibble and both died of kidney disease. There were no red flags at the time because this was considered normal by the veterinarian community. As dogs and cats aged disease processes such as arthritis, periodontal disease, cancer, liver and kidney disease were all treated as normal and to be expected. This is changing and there are veterinarians on the front line, Ian Billinghurst, Christina Chambreau, Karen Becker, Stephen Blake, and our own Wendy Robinson to name just a few, voicing their support for and encouraging us to feed our animals real food. Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst, author of "Give Your Dog a Bone", refers to kibble as "fake industrial food".
Many opinions have been expressed in books and on the internet, regarding the proper way to feed a fresh food diet and I believe there are some basic principles to consider. Overall, feeding a whole food diet is simple and fairly easy. Giving raw meaty bones to our dogs continues to create some anxiety in pet guardians when making the decision to transition to a real food diet. I have been feeding raw meaty bones to my dogs since 1997 without a problem. Chewing bones stimulates endorphin release and is the perfect source of calcium and phosphorus. However, if you are anxious about letting your dog chew on bones then simply utilize an alternative such as bone dust. If you have reservations about feeding raw meat then cook the meat.
It is important to include organ meat such as liver, kidney, heat, and spleen because of the macronutrients they contain. Organ meat can be rich and cause diarrhea in some animals. At Meg's Meats we have found that a mix of three ounces of organ meat to a pound of ground muscle is the perfect ratio. Liver is filled with vitamins A, B6, B12, folate, iron, phosphate, zinc, copper, and selenium. The cholesterol found in liver helps the body to synthesize vitamin D. Kidney contains vitamin C, B12, selenium, iron, zinc, copper, riboflavin, and phosphorus. Heart is a source of CoQ10, amino acids, vitamin B12, and collagen. Spleen contains pantothenic acid, potassium, zinc, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12, iron, phosphorus, and selenium. When these macronutrients are ingested from a whole food source the body is better able to recognize and utilize them.
Vegetables contain micronutrients, macronutrients and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients provide protection at a cellular level. They protect plants from excess ultraviolet radiation, pests, toxins and pollution which causes free radicles within the cells. Free radicles can bind and damage cell proteins, cell membranes and DNA. Feeding a variety of plants and vegetables will increase this protection. I prefer to feed vegetables in season and include all the colors. Feeding in season insures the highest nutritional value of the vegetables. Edible leaves, roots and stems contain beneficial microbial populations which support a healthy gut flora. Dogs have a short gastrointestinal tract which protects against things like e.coli and salmonella but also makes digestion of plant material difficult. I have found that putting vegetables in the Vitamix and blending them to a liquid consistency optimizes absorption of these valuable nutrients.
Food and love are the key to longevity. We adore our animals and hope they have a long healthy life. Once I made the transition to a real food diet in 1997 kidney and liver disease, arthritis, and periodontal disease have not been a problem for any of my beloved animals. This has been reflected in their lab work and the spring in their step as they age with the benefit whole food nutrition. My clients and friends are also reporting that their older dogs and cats are moving into their golden years with normal kidney and liver values free of the pain that comes with arthritis. I firmly believe that nutrition remains the foundation of health for all life. As we transition to whole food choices for our animals and for ourselves we will see a drastic decline in the chronic health problems that plague people and their animals. Together let's make 2017 a year to transition to fresh healthy food for all. Let's spend more time enjoying nature and less time at the doctor's office. I look forward to hearing your stories of improved health.