Gluten intolerance and your pet
"CHOMP, chomp, chomp, chomp....GULP. Slurp, slurp, slurp, slurp....BELCH." This is the sound of Fido eating his scientifically formulated, well-balanced dog food. It can be purchased at the grocery store, but the discerning owner travels to the local pet shop to buy the better quality food. Most people know that you get what you pay for in a pet food and that the higher grade foods come from certain recognizable manufacturers and can only be found at specialty pet supply outlets. But, is that axiom true? Does purchasing the most expensive food guarantee that your pet will be receiving the best in nutrition that the industry has to offer?
The unfortunate truth is that pet food is not as scientifically formulated as most would like to think. For the most part, Fido's food is made with convenience and cost of manufacturing in mind more than science. Yes, the first few ingredients look appetizing enough and there are essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals added to the mix. But are these ingredients natural for the pet and are they readily available for absorption and use by their body? Herein lies the crux of the matter.
The wake-up call comes when one realizes that once the meat source is removed from the diet, the remaining ingredients are mostly unnatural for the pet. If we exclude the beef, poultry, fish, and lamb, the remaining calorie sources are mostly wheat, barley, corn, rice, and oats, all of which are man-raised crops that the dog and cat would never consume in the wild. I love to inquire of my clients "How would a pet get rice? Swim to Viet Nam?"
But what is the problem with these complex carbohydrates being in the diet? Humans consume these with every meal and they are doing just fine, aren't they? Ahhhh. Are we? If we were, those reading this paper would be reading something else right now, wouldn't they? The problem is that the grains listed above have some universal problems among humans and pets alike, as do a couple of other problem foods that eclipse even the grains in health issues.
I am a recovered celiac. For forty-something years, I suffered like most other celiacs of a myriad of symptoms, including allergies, heart burn and intestinal problems, depression/chronic fatigue, memory and balance difficulties, joint pain, and even fibromyalgia. I was taking at least four drugs twice daily; caffeine addicted, and was quite frankly not having any fun any more. I am now two and a half years gluten AND casein-free, off all drugs, symptom-free, and feeling better than I did when I was 12. How could this be? How could I be suffering from what millions of people and pets were experiencing but be well in such a short period of time? How could all of these conditions be linked together?
The fact is that the celiac is a who's who of what is wrong with human beings but the conditions that we suffer from are not limited to those who walk upright. When I read the list of conditions that we as gluten intolerants experience, my first thought was that this describes everything that is wrong with everyone, including their dogs and cats." And it does.
And, the answers did come one after another. I launched into two years of intensive research while applying the newly unveiled principles to my patients as well as myself. Allergies abated, intestinal problems cleared up, older pets became less painful and more active, and yes, even their epilepsy stopped. How that occurs is totally explainable but beyond the scope of this article. It can be found in my paper entitled The Answer on my Website.
In a nutshell, I found that the center of our health universe lies in that J-shaped stretch of intestine known as your duodenum. Most celiacs are aware of the pathophysiology of their condition and are familiar with the terms malabsorption and leaky gut syndrome. There are three food ingredients that adhere to the villi of the duodenum and induce the change that is characteristic of celiac disease known as villous atrophy. These three substances are gluten (from the grains), casein (from cow milk products), and soy protein.
What is it that links these substances together? For one, they are all use as adhesives, either as non-food glues or as binders in the foods we consume. Gluten, casein, soy and even corn are all used in industry as adhesives, some even being waterproof. They are not only used in the food industry to hold items such as oats together but they are put to use in industry to hold just about anything together.
As we all know, it is the nature of the starches to be sticky. And, as it turns out, the foods that are the stickiest are the ones that cause the most problems. Casein and gluten are used for the most powerful adhesives. Therefore, it should be not be a shock that they are the number one and number two childhood food allergens according to the FDA. Number four is soy and number three is eggs (this is the first secondary allergen brought about by the damage done to the gut by the first two).
Now, imagine these proteins leaving the stomach of a human or their pet. You have an idea of where we are headed, you can imagine the stomach is filled with glue-containing food. This glue leaves the stomach after it has been worked on as much as possible by that organ. Of course, not being a ruminant like a cow or sheep, these foods are not completely broken down any more than the cellulose that they eat that non-ruminants are unable to digest. As simple-stomached animals, our pets and we are not designed to eat grasses like the ruminants do and all of the grains are in the grass family. They are all grasses that man has chosen to consume, with those in Asia picking their grass (rice), the Europeans choosing their grasses (wheat and barley), and those in central America picking corn. Here in America, we consume them all and in abundance.
In an attempt to digest these grasses and their glue (along with dairy and soy), our stomach adds as much acid as possible to break them down. Heart burn, anyone? But, the increased acid is inadequate to eliminate the glue. It is this sticky substance that adheres to the villi of the duodenum. Whether it be from wheat, cow milk, soy, corn, or the others mentioned, it adheres to these finger-like projections of the intestine that are vital for the absorption of nutrients, effectively reducing the amount of those essential ingredients that would be absorbed into the bloodstream.
The vital substances are calcium, iron, iodine, all B complex, vitamin C, most water-soluble vitamins, and most of our trace minerals such as zinc, boron, manganese, magnesium and more. In other words, just about everything that is important other than our proteins, fats, and calories is absorbed by the duodenum. How well can this organ function when it is coated with glue?
This happens to everyone and just about every simple-stomach creature that eats these foods. We have simply focused on the worst-of-the-worst.... as in the celiacs, casein intolerants, and soy intolerants...in which an immune response is mounted against the glue leading to severe villous atrophy. This immune assault also generates the warning antibodies that we call allergies to tell you that this process is taking place. It happens in pets and their people all of the time.
In the pet, every bite of the average commercial food has glue in it, whether it is of wheat, barley, soy, corn, or rice origin. Wheat and soy are the worst (now that dairy has been eliminated from pet foods) while oats and rice are the least sticky. Corn is in the middle. This is exactly what we see as the main sources of food allergies in the pet, a problem of huge importance in dogs and cats. Now people can understand why lamb and rice foods have become so popular. Rice is the least of the adhesives and thereby less allergenic and lamb is an unusual protein source compared to beef and others, which have become the main secondary allergens in the pet.
Celiac disease has occurred in the dog. It has been definitively identified in one breed, which is almost extinct now.... the Irish setter. This hapless breed was effectively sent the way of the buffalo when the industry added wheat, the number one dog and cat food allergen, to the pet foods about 15 years ago. Thanks to the wheat glut in this country, corn-based diets were quickly replaced with wheat and the subsequent decline in our pet's health began.
The main cost is the disruption of duodenal function. Once the essential nutrients have been malabsorbed for a long enough time, Pandora's Box is opened. This may occur very early in life or very late, partly governed by the degree of immune-mediated component. The worst of the worst will experience severe problems by the time they are adolescents while the more resilient will not be affected until late in life. But, as I tell my clients, I believe that with the top three foods...wheat, dairy and soy...it is a matter of when they cause problems, not if.
Suddenly, conditions such as hip dysplasia, elbow and shoulder problems, intervertebral disc syndrome, cruciate ligament ruptures, and even heart valve failure all have better explanations. All of these problems are caused by failing cartilage and connective tissue, both of which are structured similarly and made up of calcium and collagen. Collagen is the building block of most of your skeletal support structures. The principle component of collagen is vitamin C. Therefore, when it is understood that calcium and vitamin C are absorbed by the duodenum, then it is easily seen that inadequate amounts of these in the diet or failure of their absorption will compromise the integrity of these structures...all of them.
Certainly, the worst affected...the celiacs, casein intolerants, and soy intolerants...have the most to be concerned about. But, with these trouble foods, it is a matter of when they will create a problem, not if. Those who test negative for these food intolerances should not be lulled to sleep with a false sense of security. These fortunate souls will just be healthier longer. This is clearly one of the things that make us individuals, placing us on a spectrum of wellness that ranges from serious illness during the first year of life to a clean bill of health well into the twilight years. The same is true of our pets.
One important determinant will be the length of time it takes for an individual to deplete their reserves of these vital nutrients. We must realize that a condition like osteoporosis is an end-stage result of chronic calcium deficiency and that there existed less identified but significant symptoms that preceded this dreaded outcome. Certainly we can affect the pace of these syndromes through supplementation and eating correctly in other regards. However, if we continue to consume the blocking agents, I am afraid that we will eventually lose the battle. If we don't understand this, it is a matter of when...not if.
Article reprinted with the kind permission of Dogtor J. To find out more on the subject or to read other related articles visit www.DogtorJ.com