A report from the Royal Veterinary College in London, Professor D.L. Chan, points out that veterinarians should begin to look at nutrition to play a larger role in the health of pets. Similar to human doctors, most veterinarians don’t write ‘prescriptions’ of nutritional supplements for their pet patients. However, Professor Chan believes nutritional therapies need further veterinary exploration.
The very first sentence of a recent paper published by Dr. D.L. Chan of the Royal Veterinary College in London explains it all; “Nutrition plays a critical role in the proper development and maintenance of optimal health in animals.” Dr. Chan not only acknowledges the power of nutrition in maintaining optimal health in animals, but his paper cites many clinical studies where nutrition actually improves and eliminates disease. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1748-5827.2008.00589.x
One of the most promising nutritional supplements discussed by Dr. Chan is Omega-3 fatty acids; a source of Omega-3 is fish oil. Research has existed for years regarding maintaining good health by adding fish oil supplement to a human and animal diet; Dr. Chan quotes some very interesting research of Omega-3 actually treating and/or curing disease. He quotes a “landmark study” that demonstrated a diet enriched with Omega-3 greatly improved the health conditions of patients suffering from respiratory and lung disease.
Another amazing example of the power of fish oil is the brain recovery of Randal McCloy Jr, the only surviving coal miner in the 2006 Sage Mine disaster (West Virginia). After more than 40 hours of exposure to carbon monoxide, Randal McCloy “had a massive heart attack from the carbon monoxide exposure, he was in kidney failure, liver failure, he was dehydrated, he was hypothermic, and he was in the deepest of coma.” Neurosurgeon Dr. Julian Bailes and other doctors were “uncertain if his brain would recover from its extensive injuries.” Randal McCloy was given extremely high doses of fish oil, and his brain functions started to improve. http://www.oprah.com/article/oprahandfriends/moz/20080602_oaf_moz_amazingomega3s
Dr. Barry Sears, a leading U.S. researcher of Omega-3 states fish oil is so remarkable because if its ability to reduce inflammation, especially ‘silent inflammation’, which is “below the perception of pain.” Per Dr. Sears, silent inflammation is the first clinical sign that you are no longer well. Dr. Sears’ website states fish oil is the nutritional way to “reduce silent inflammation, then your state of wellness could be extended indefinitely.”
Unfortunately for pet owners, as stated in Dr. Chan’s paper, very few studies are available for veterinarians researching diets enriched with fish oils treating critically ill pets; he states human studies suggest “a great potential to benefit such patients.” However, research is readily available and vast on the health maintenance benefits of fish oil for humans and pets. Because of known contaminants, fish oil supplements for you or your pet should be of a pharmaceutical grade or very pure. Look for five star rated fish oils (five star being the purest); available at most health food stores (make sure and ask the rating) or one such five star rated fish oil available online at www.TrilogyOnline.com
Antioxidants were the next topic; Dr. Chan’s report suggested veterinarians incorporate antioxidants into animal health maintenance and treatments of disease. “With the depletion of normal antioxidant defenses, the host is more vulnerable to free radical species and prone to cellular and sub-cellular damage (for example, DNA and mitochondrial damage). Replenishment of antioxidant defenses attempts to less the intensity of the signals that eventually leads to multiple organ dysfunction.” Various studies of companion animals benefiting from antioxidants include positive improvement of congestive heart failure, pancreatitis, gastric and renal diseases.
The USDA’s list of top 20 food sources of antioxidants are: small red beans, wild blueberries, red kidney beans, pinto beans, blueberries, cranberries, artichokes, blackberries, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, Red Delicious apples, Granny Smith apples, pecans, sweet cherries, black plums, russet potatoes, black beans, plums, and Gala apples.
Lastly, the veterinarian directed paper of Dr. Chan’s reports on the importance of amino acids. “Certain amino acids also serve as an energy source for certain cells; perhaps the most pertinent example being glutamine, which is the preferred fuel source for enterocytes and cells of the immune system.” Studies have shown that in response to stress, ‘there may be a dramatic increase in demand of particular amino acids and they must be obtained by the diet’. Recent studies have shown positive responses of the amino acid glutamine including cellular expression of ‘heat shock proteins, which enable cells to withstand a great deal of injury and remain viable and functional.” Dietary sources of L-glutamine include beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products, wheat, cabbage, beets, beans, spinach, and parsley.
Dr. Chan continues on the importance of glutamine, “As the gastrointestinal tract is in fact the largest immune organ, dysregulation of the immune response further compromises the host and leads to multiple organ dysfunction. Given the relationship between critical illness and gut atrophy, supplementation with the gastrointestinal tract’s preferred energy source, glutamine, is an attempt at restoring the integrity and function of this vital organ system.”
While more than likely it will be years in the future before veterinarians as a group begin utilizing nutritional therapies to treat disease and illness in our pets, the above research can be put to good use by pet owners to maintain the good health of their pets. A health promoting pet food provided to your dog or cat needs to provide quality meats, supplemented with Omega-3 and antioxidants. Call the pet food manufacturer and obtain their assurance meats provided in the pet food are human grade/quality; and look for several different quality meat proteins in the pet food. Look for berries and other antioxidant providing ingredients on the pet food label, and look for fish meal or fish oil ingredients. Avoid pet treats that don’t provide the same health promoting ingredients. An alternative would be to give your dog treats of apple slices and your cat canned pumpkin as a treat; both are natural sources of antioxidants. Furthermore, add fish oil supplements to their diet on a daily basis. Science has proven the tremendous benefits of these foods and food supplements; let your pet show you how well they work!
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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