The standard for “healthy” pet food has changed a lot over the years, leading to a revolution of high quality, biologically-available diets for dogs and cats.
Historically, pet foods were commercially prepared with rendered and rejected meat by-products from the human food industry, sometimes known as the 4 D’s (meat from dead, dying, diseased, or disabled animals). They also included vitamins, minerals, and low-grade milled grain bits containing a myriad of chemicals, all cooked at excessively high temperatures for sterilization and bacterial contamination purposes. High carbohydrate ingredients (corn, soy, and grains such as wheat, barley, oats and rice) met AAFCO’s minimum protein requirements but lacked vital nutrients and amino acids to promote animal health.
High temperature processing of food diminishes the active levels of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, degrades the nutritional quality of the protein and fats, and leads to unnaturally low moisture content. Over-processing breaks down and denatures proteins into amino acids fragments that are difficult to absorb and can lead to food allergies and protein deficiency. This process destroys active nutritional ingredients, such as enzymes, which are required for proper digestion and assimilation of food. It also inactivates or destroys delicate vitamins such as Vitamin A, E, C, and some of the B vitamins. Direct links between poor diet and skin allergies, arthritis, kidney, liver, lung disease, and even cancer have been clinically validated.
Following this traditional diet, veterinarians and pet parents saw common and persistent issues of obesity, itching, flaky and inflamed skin, brittle and coarse coats, hyperactivity or low energy, digestive issues, and immune-related problems and conditions. When they began feeding a less processed or raw low-carb, high-protein, meat-based diet, they saw their animals’ nagging health issues improving significantly, sometimes even fully resolving.
Gently-made, air-dried, and low temperature-cooked whole foods protect the nutritional value and vitality of exceptional raw ingredients. This results in a nutritionally superior, more biologically-available, highly digestible food that promotes and supports a healthy immune system – the primary building block of good health and longevity. Nutrient bioavailability is the proportion of nutrients that are not only available in the gut (intestines) but are ultimately absorbed into the body for use by the organs, cells, and tissues. Because a highly digestible food provides a higher proportion of absorbed nutrients than a less digestible food, digestibility provides one measure of a food’s nutritional value and quality.
In addition, it has been proven that minimally processed foods also support a healthy microbiome and can reduce or eliminate the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGE), which have been linked to the onset of chronic degenerative diseases such as IBD, arthritis, kidney and liver issues, and cancer.
It has been found that antioxidants, often absent in highly processed foods, are compounds that slow oxidation and help prevent the initiation of the inflammatory process. The inflammatory response is proven to be responsible for premature aging, organ degeneration, and cell death. Phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables are devoid in most commercially available foods. Phytonutrients such as flavonoids, carotenoids, plant sterols, and resveratrol are chemical compounds that are produced by and help in the performance of the metabolic functions of plants. When eaten, they have beneficial effects on the physiology and metabolism of the animal. These are being clinically proven to positively affect health and well-being, reduce inflammation, slow degenerative disease, and play a critical role in the prevention of cancer.
A low carbohydrate, high protein, meat-based diet using sustainably sourced raw ingredients and Global Animal Partnership (GAP-rated), humanely-raised proteins is ultimately a return to the diet that nature designed for dogs and cats, and thus represents their best path to optimal health and longevity.