The 5th Dietary Revolution and It’s Impact on our Fur Kids
If we look at what the world eats, we can see carbohydrates dominate, even for our pets. But perhaps surprisingly there are just four “foods” that contribute to most of the carbohydrate consumption: wheat, corn, rice, and sugar!
Think of the 5th revolution in terms of a split-second in the toxic time dietary continuum of feeding nations. Wheat, corn, and rice are grains. And grains are thought of as ancient foods, daily staples since the beginning of human existence. But if you put all of human existence on a 24-hour clock, grains didn’t become any significant part of the human diet until 5 minutes ago.
For 23 hours and 55 minutes, huumans didn’t eat grains, neither did our dogs and cats. Besides requiring agricultural techniques to consume in any meaningful way, grains are laced with plant toxins and anti-nutrients to prevent herbivores and humans from eating the plant’s offspring. After all, grains are the seeds of grasses.
However, 5 minutes ago we took these plant seeds and made them a significant part of the human, dog and cat diet by artificially breeding and selecting for size and abundance. In this process we realized that there is lots of waste (milling, etc), and found a creative way to make pet food (McKibble and McCan) from this waste.
Then in the last second, during the Industrial Revolution, we began refining them, thereby further concentrating carbohydrates and their prepackaged toxins. During this last second, the Dog Food Pyramid was born to justify switching dogs and cats to McKibble and McCan.
In this last split-second we altered them even further. We began genetically modifying them. Now about 90% of major crops are GMO. We’ve engineered new traits into plants that wouldn’t otherwise naturally occur. We’ve engineered higher lectin loads to deter insects. We began spraying them with pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides. We’ve added preservatives, so we can store and ship these foods around the world. And all of these changes came with a heavy price. For our pets, we furthered the justification of these toxic ingredients through perceived “research” and other “forms of justification” kept from the general public.
Let’s consider some of the building blocks
While gluten is an energy storage protein (not a carbohydrate), it comes packaged in wheat which is a carbohydrate-based food. It’s a good example of how we have fundamentally changed plant-based foods into artificial, synthetic, dangerous foods. When some people eat gluten it triggers an immediate, severe attack on the lining of the small intestines. It’s known as Celiac disease.
Celiac disease dramatically increased in humans in the US in the 1960s and 70s. This is the same time that genetic breeding further transformed wheat. The 4.5 foot “amber waves of grain” turned into 2 foot, semi-dwarf, wheat. Yields went up. Profits went up. And so did the gluten concentration. And it was not only more abundant, but the gluten was fundamentally different. The molecular structure of gluten was chemically altered. It is cheap and abundant, and even more waste became available that started to make its way into McKibble and McCan.
The ability to tolerate gluten is now commonly seen on a spectrum from those who can tolerate it in certain quantities to those who cannot tolerate even the smallest doses. We know that our digestive tract doesn’t handle wheat proteins (prolamins) like gluten and other lectins very well, for humans and our pets alike. Genetically modified wheat and altered proteins are like foreign invaders to the body. They cause damage to the gut (“leaky gut”) that can lead to widespread inflammation, autoimmune disorders, and disease.
But it is not just wheat that we have transformed. There is a big difference between eating an organic ear of corn vs high fructose corn syrup extracted from genetically modified corn. That said, an ear of corn is quite unnatural itself. Originally corn was small, about the size of your little finger. The seeds of this wild grass easily fell off and dispersed.
Today we’ve engineered it to give us massive ears of corn. The seeds cling to the cob so tightly it cannot even exist on its own in the wild. So although an ear of corn is quite unnatural today, it is not even close to the other versions of corn that make up so much of our human diets.
Today most of us, humans, cats and dogs, eat the version of corn that results from steeping it, taking the starch, refining the syrup, and further processing it to yield High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). This is the version of corn that is served in mass.
Corn is a good example of what we tend to do with many plant-based foods. In the wild the plant part is relatively scarce, small, and low in carbohydrates. It would be difficult to eat in large quantities. But we selectively breed, genetically modify, and change these natural plants into unnatural variations for bigger versions, sweeter versions, higher yield versions.
Just look at some of the things we use corn for:
- We take the corn starch made from the endosperm and use it as a thickening agent in human and pet feed. It’s also the main ingredient in biodegradable plastic.
- We squeeze the germ of corn to get oil. We fry our food in it. We coat the McKibble with it. It gets further hydrogenated to make margarine, or synthetic fat that is sprayed on McKibble.
- We use corn to make cereals, snack foods, salad dressings, soft drink sweeteners, gum, peanut butter, dog food, cat food, imitation meat, and flour products.
When we eat these end products, the fact that we are eating a high carb, plant-based food becomes obscured.
Rice, like corn and wheat, is a seed of a grass and it is a worldwide staple food. And like all seeds (grains, nuts, and legumes), it comes with potential problems. Remember – grains are the seeds of grasses. Seeds are vital for the survival and success of a plant species. And because seeds are so important, plants take extra measures to ensure they get protected, spread, and have the best chance of growing and producing their own seeds. Ensuring the offsprings’ survival and success is of paramount importance to the plant, and so Nature lace them with phytochemicals to deter predators from eating them. Contrary to popular belief, the nutrition in seeds is intended for the growing plant, not for human, dogs or cats’ health and nutrition. And trying to steal that nutrition for ourselves often has dire consequences.
Today, these 3 carb-based foods – wheat, corn, and rice – make up about half of the world’s and our pet’s food. Not sure you want to believe us? Have a read at the TruthAboutPetFood.Com on the latest research available.
Metabolic Derangements …
With every carb-loaded meal we create a metabolic panic for our pets, stressing the pancreas to unload insulin to re-establish homeostatic blood sugar. The insulin dump immediately halts fat burning, drops blood sugar, and urges hormones to tell the brain to eat more. In humans, we feel this as a strong craving for more sugar, and we have to assume that our dogs go through similar processes.
Since fat burning is largely turned off thanks to the insulin – the craving can feel more like a panic due to low blood sugar. In humans we cannot use our fat energy reserves to supply the energy we need. With this drop in blood sugar our energy drops, we get tired, our brain gets foggy, and we get “hangry” for more sugar. Willpower gives way, we reach for more sugar, and feel the “reward” from the brain reinforcing this behavior. What results is binging, cravings, and addiction. Imagine the foreign and unnatural feelings that our dogs must go through, given that they would experience similar symptoms!
In this vicious sugar cycle, we are always hungry and always storing more fat. We disrupt hormonal signaling and lose the ability to tap the abundant energy stored in our fat cells. Besides leading to chronic hunger and fat gain, this massively unnatural carbohydrate load and blood sugar rollercoaster wreaks havoc on human health, and even more so on our dogs and cats!
The net result? Metabolic hormones become dysregulated.
The high blood sugar levels disrupt cellular water balance, impair the immune system, and damage vision, kidneys, and nerves. Obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia all became increasingly common step-wise with the ever-increasing consumption of carbohydrates.
Permission to Lie …
Because the public has become comfortable with the idea that commercial pet foods can provide complete and balanced nutrition for the life of the animal, basic diet is no longer generally considered an important source of disease. Pet owners and veterinarians have literally been trained to look elsewhere for causes and treatment options.— Susan Wynn, World Small Animal Veterinary Assn. World Congress Proceedings, 2001
Digestive Differences …
Huumans are omnivores and monogastrics, in other words, we have one stomach. The same is true for our cats and dogs. Digestion is primarily enzymatic, which simply means that we and our fur kids employ enzymes to break down food into simple compounds that can then be either absorbed as nutrients or eliminated from the body.
Herbivores can be monogastrics or ruminants, which have a complex four-chambered stomach. Herbivores digest cellulose – which makes up most of a plant’s cell walls – from plant matter via fermentation. Herbivores need microbes to ferment plant matter, and their nutrients come from that process of microbial fermentation.
There are two types of fermenters: foregut and hindgut. They all digest cellulose with the help of their gut microbiota, but it happens in different parts of the digestive system. Because of this, the plants they eat will be necessarily different from each other to obtain the nutrients they need.
When we or our fur kids eat cellulose, our gut systems cannot break them down using enzymes. Only a small part of the cellulose will be broken down by our gut microbes in the large intestine.
The small quantity of cellulose we as huumans do eat is important to our health because it contains much-needed insoluble fiber, which helps move things along in our digestive systems. The same is not true for our fur kids. However the fact remains that most of our nutrients still come from enzymatic digestion.
Simply put, our pets do not digest like cows. And if we expect our fur kids to eat ‘like a cow’ , in other words, only grasses or the seeds of plants, it would be virtually impossible to get all the nutrients they need.
Sugar me Nice …
And so enter one of the most contentious topics in the whole debate about real food. Carbs! The really sad bit here, is that human food makers is trying to mimic human food making in dog food. The reality is that most ruminants (yes, herbivores), omnivores such as gorillas, and obligatory carnivores such as cats (lions), all eat low or zero carb diets. It is just since the Industrial Evolution that carbs, and thereby sugar, became the cheap caloric content of food. And do not forget, that all study and research materials for canine and feline nutrition clearly state that “dogs have no need for carbs”.
Take cows for instance. Cows are ruminants. They graze on roughage, grasses and shrubs. They eat a lot of cellulose. Humans, dogs and cats cannot use cellulose or fiber for any significant amount of energy, but cows (herbivores or ruminants) can. Ruminants are “foregut digesters”, meaning that they use their rumen, which consist of multiple stomachs filled with bacteria, to ferment fiber. This fermentation produces short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which make up the bulk of the cow’s nutrition.
Via ruminal fermentation, cows are eating a diet that consists of about 70 to 80% fat, mostly saturated, 20 to 30% protein, and virtually zero carbohydrates. And yet, we expect our dogs and cats to thrive on a diet consisting of 28% to 55% of carbs!
And wild gorillas? Normally, a gorilla eat a lot of leaves. Leaves are about 60% protein and 40% carbs, with a minuscule amount of fat, typically less than 5%. And while we might be tempted to equate eating leaves (i.e. salads) and this high protein, low fat diet with a small gut and trim waist, the opposite is closer to the truth. Think again what the wild gorilla actually looks like. Due to the gorilla’s LARGE GUT (yes, they are hindgut digesters), they can take all that fiber, which makes up about 75% of the leaves dry weight, and FERMENT it into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
So in reality, the gorilla eats a diet that is about 20% protein, 10% carbs, and wait for it …. 70% fat! Nearly all of which is saturated fat.
Carnivores, such as cats and dogs, cannot use fiber as an energy source. Carnivores have a much simpler digestive system. But that is not an issue, because wild carnivores eat nutrient-rich prey, typically herbivores, which provide the carnivore with a HIGH FAT, LOW CARB diet. The cow, the gorilla, and the lion all eat a HIGH FAT, moderate protein, LOW CARB diet.
But we must remember that dogs are not human, nor are they wolfs, nor are they omnivores. They are the SPECIES dog, a scavenger, a survivor and a facultative carnivore. And the dog is not the only carnivore that can change his dietary behaviors for a relative short period of time to survive. We tend to ONLY view the DOG and the WOLF when looking at similarities. But the fox, the ferret, the panda, and the polar bear have demonstrated similar survival capabilities, and all have the same ancestry.
We need to acknowledge that dogs are not humans, cats are not small dogs, and dogs have different nutritional programming than humans. Dogs are also not WOLVES, they are their own SPECIES and evolved to survive like the fox, the ferret, the panda and the polar bear. Dogs are scavengers and should officially be classified as FACULTATIVE CARNIVORES. Their primary dietary sources must be real unadulterated animal fat and meat, not carbs and sugars.