WHAT MARKETING COMPANIES NEGLECT TO TELL YOU
As guardians of our animal companions, we most often do our best to give them the best quality of life that we can. Despite this common interest of cat and dog caregivers, many lack much information on the contrast between what their store bought food lacks and what the animal’s body actually needs in order to function at its healthiest.
One such prime example is an animal’s digestive health. When we examine the content of store bought foods (as opposed to raw or homemade) we will find that there is a wide variety of brands that claim to have adequate sources of fibre to aid in the digestion and elimination process of foods through the gastrointestinal system. Fibre is a necessary ingredient in any diet. Fibre is responsible for digestive health and regular bowel movements. Healthy sources of fibre in the diet for animals and people help to prevent constipation, improve blood sugar, helps us feel fuller for longer, prevents heart disease, bowel cancer, IBS, inflammatory bowel disease and other types of gastrointestinal cancers and diseases.
Surely, every dog/cat food marketing company will tell consumers the same thing; adding “several types of fibre” into our cans and bags of companion animal food. However what they do not tell you is that most of the sourced fibre in these foods is insoluble fibre. Within the spectrum of available processed foods; lowest to highest quality, there is a dire lack of soluble fibre.
The difference between soluble and insoluble fibre is simply that soluble fibre is digested along with the other food components. Once digested, it becomes a gel-like substance that coats the digestive tract to allow for a much easier time digesting food, processing and eliminating through softening the stool as it passes through the body. Insoluble fibre is found mainly in grains. While it does help the elimination process, it is geared toward passing stool more quickly through the body as opposed to allowing the nutrients of the food to be absorbed and stored in the body to optimise health. Both are necessary in any diet of an animal and person to live an optimally healthy life.
Both of these fibres sound fairly effective so far, right? Well what many of these popular food brands neglect to tell you, the consumer, is that their sources of insoluble fibre are not from grains. They are not from wheat bran, vegetables or psyllium. They are from chicken beaks. They are from chicken feet. They are from sawdust. SAWDUST. Sure, chicken beaks are high in protein and fibre. But the protein in chicken beaks is keratin, the same proteins found on our hair, skin and nails. This protein is NOT a soluble form of protein. In fact, it does nothing but pass right through the digestive system unhinged, not allowing for any of it to be absorbed into the body to nurture and heal our animal friends. Further, the concept of adding sawdust to dog and cat food and passing it off as digestible fibre is outlandish and appalling.
To add to the mix, cats are physiologically unable to digest grains altogether! They lack the digestive enzyme that is responsible for the digestion of grains. This means, even if cat food only had sources of insoluble fibre, we would be causing harm to our kitty friends by feeding them these grains. Any cat food whose first several ingredients include; brewers yeast (a preservative), barley, oats, brown or white rice, corn gluten (another preservative), psyllium, etc, have the potential to negatively impact our cats’ health. Because they are not genetically wired to digest grains, when they do eat them regularly, the grains get metabolized as sugar. If the sugars are not adequately burned off, they inevitably cause insulin spikes. And as many of us are aware, insulin imbalances lead to diabetes. The trouble is that when cat food brands eliminate fibre sources altogether, our kitty companions are rendered with tummy aches and an inability to properly pass stool through their bodies. Thankfully, there is a welcome solution.
With all of this misleading information, what happens to our animals? The simplest way to answer that would be to put ourselves in their position. What would happen to our bodies if daily, we consumed chicken beaks and sawdust in place of whole food fibre sources? To list a few side effects, we would surely be gassy, constipated, have irregular bowels, tummy aches, obesity and overall lethargy. The chronic pain and suffering that stems from obesity would be enough to deter us from this fibre-less lifestyle in a heartbeat. To make matters more severe, some of us could acquire cancers from consuming non food items daily.
How do we remedy this? Of course, as always, researching what we feed our animal friends is crucial. We must research the ingredients, brands and where the foods were sourced. In addition to research, it will do wonders to supplement our animal companions’ diets with whole food sourced fibre. Below are five choices of high quality, effective and nourishing sources of fibre that can be safely added to the dietary regimens of cats and dogs. Be sure to ask your holistic animal care practitioner which choices are best for your animal companion. It is unnecessary to add all five. You may begin with one at a time as well to see which source is most agreeable to your animal friends.
1) CHIA SEEDS
2) PAPAYA SEEDS
3) CANNED PUMPKIN
4) SLIPPERY ELM
5) COCONUT OIL
Adding healthier sources of fibre to our animal’s diets will improve the balance of intestinal bacteria. Often, with a lack of fibre, there will be an imbalance resulting in inconsistent bowels. Due to inflammatory bowel disease, other gastrointestinal inflammation and an inability to properly flush out the gastrointestinal system, this limiting intestinal behaviour can cause a weakening in the immune system and open the door to chronic and life threatening health problems.
Understanding the benefits of adding fibre to our animal’s diet is the first step in giving them the quality of life that they each deserve. Knowledge is power. The more we know about what our animals’ bodies need, the longer we can keep them in our lives and in our hearts!