Warning: Grain Free
Fat free, gluten free, and now grain free foods line the shelves of grocery and pet food stores. Millions of dollars are spent on advertising by multi billion dollar corporations to convince us that this is the true path to health and wellness for ourselves, our families and our beloved animals. Removing fat, gluten and grain from our diet and that of our animals has increased the incidence of obesity and diabetes. This is due to the substitution of soluble carbohydrates for fat, gluten and grain. Grain free describes pet food free of corn, soy, wheat, barley, or oats. The grains have been replaced with soluble carbohydrates or starches found in potatoes, rice, peas, lentils and other legume seeds. The basic building of soluble carbohydrates is glucose. This explains why when ingested, starch raises blood sugar and elicits the release of insulin.
Sugar ingestion is responsible for inflammation which manifests in the body as arthritis, leaky gut, allergies, cancer, autoimmune issues, obesity, and diabetes. There is only one hormone in the body, insulin, that lowers blood sugar while there are eight hormones that raise blood sugar. This suggests that as carnivores evolved blood sugar spikes were rare. Another function of insulin is to promote the conversion of blood sugar into fat and protect body fat reserves. When the diet is high in sugar, resulting in constant blood sugar spikes, even with restricted intake weight loss can be a struggle.
Glucagon, mobilizes stores of energy and body fat reserves to support blood glucose utilization in the body. It was intended to be the primary glucose regulating hormone. When insulin is low glucagon is high helping to maintain optimal body condition. Typical dry dog food contains over five times the amount of soluble carbohydrates found in the ancestral diet mammals evolved to thrive on. A system designed to treat rare blood sugar spikes is confronted with regular blood sugar spikes and the result is diabetes and obesity. What we feed our animals can make the difference between just surviving or thriving.
The inclusion of peas, lentils, and other legume seeds in grain free foods may also contribute to taurine deficient canine dilated cardiomyopathy. In July of this year the FDA released an alert to veterinarians and pet owners regarding reports of increased incidence of heart disease, specifically dilated cardiomyopathy, DCM, occurring in dogs fed grain free diets. Many of the dogs were found to have low taurine levels and have responded to taurine supplementation. While this connection to grain free diets requires further study it may be that heat treatment and food processing to manufacture these diets is a significant contributing factor to the increase in DCM in dogs. Ingredients used in pet food products have very specific legal definitions which are quite different from what we understand them to be. Unfortunately we do not have easy access to these definitions.
Mammalian metabolism was shaped through evolution to accommodate deficiency and is compromised by constant excess. How can we correct this problem? Start by feeding meat, organ meat, bones, fiber, fat, and green leafy vegetables. It is time to get the corporations out of our kitchens and return to the healthy wholesome foods we have all evolved to consume. Corporations are thriving with their misleading advertising and cheap processed products as our families and our pets are just surviving. To begin the journey back to health for our pets and watch them thrive, get the fat and protein back into their diet and avoid soluble carbohydrates.
For more information on this topic I would encourage you to read, “Ruined By Excess Perfected By Lack, The Paradox Of Pet Nutrition”, by Richard S Patton PhD. This is a well written and thoughtful look about pet nutrition by someone who has worked in the pet food industry.
For more information about pet food labels and ingredients check out TruthAboutPetFood.com