Raw or Cooked?
According to a common, rather simplistic notion, we are what we eat. This view is equally applicable to our companion animals. Eighty million species on earth (about 700,000 of which are animals) thrive on raw food. Only humans apply heat to their food. Humans on average, as a race, die at or below half their potential life span, from chronic illness that is largely related to diet and lifestyle. Modern domesticated pets also are fed cooked, processed, packaged food that likewise is denatured by heat. As a consequence, they also suffer from the diseases of humanity, including cancer, arthritis and other degenerative diseases.
Heat Denatures Food
Food Carcinogens and Mutagens
Carcinogens and mutagens in food can be divided into three groups. The first group is naturally occurring, including plant alkaloids and plant toxins (e.g. aflatoxin). Compounds in this group are usually limited to particular food materials and are easily avoidable. The second group is composed of compounds formed by heating food. Compounds in this group are the most difficult to remove or avoid completely. The third group includes food additives and pesticide residue contaminants.
Food mutagens are or can become highly reactive compounds, which, in this case, means that they bind to molecules such as protein, RNA and DNA in the body very easily. This is not a big deal when the binding occurs to proteins or RNA, because these can easily be replaced. However, if the binding occurs to DNA (this is called adduction) and if the adduct is not removed, the cell, upon dividing will produce the wrong DNA sequence. When a cell divides to produce a "daughter cell", its DNA must be copied exactly so that the daughter cell looks and acts just like its parent. When DNA is adducted, the DNA of the parent cell will not be copied exactly - there will be mistakes. Once a cell divides, the mistake (mutation) becomes permanent in the daughter cell and the daughter cell will pass the mutation on when it divides.
The mutation may have several consequences: no effect, death of the cell, or abnormality of the cell. It's the abnormal cells that can go on to cause cancer.
Cooked Food Mutagens
When fats are burned, compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are formed. The molecules, when eaten, can be "activated" by enzymes in the body, known as Phase I enzymes, to produce a highly reactive molecule that can form DNA adducts. Proteins (and creatine, a chemical found in meat) may react with heat to form compounds known as heterocyclic Amines or HCAs). These, like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, can be activated by Phase I enzymes and form DNA adducts. Companion pets can be exposed to HCAs in kibble and canned pet foods. In 2003 Lawrence Livermore National Lab found 13 out of 14 dry dog foods tested positive for HCAs. Improper processing of soy, a prominent ingredient in traditional pet foods, creates formation of a carcinogen called lysinoalanine. Generally, it is the cause of protein degradation, but could cause DNA damage if it comes into contact with DNA.
The type and the quality of food a pet eats defines its health, growth and development from fetus to old age. As well, there is good evidence that not only nutrients but physical activity influence gene expression and have helped to shape the genome over millions of years of canine and feline evolution.
Although dogs and cats have evolved being able to feed on a variety of foods and to adapt to them, certain genetic adaptations and limitations have occurred in relation to diet. Understanding the evolutionary aspects of their diet and its composition suggests feeding food that is consistent with the diet to which their genes were programmed to respond. After all, this is the diet which gives advantage to reproduction to ensure survival of the species! Dogs and cats are carnivores, plain and simple. They need meat, preferably raw, to really thrive. Many pets can subsist for quite some time on heat-processed food, but more and more often we see diseases such as cancer, hyperthyroidism, IBD, diabetes, and heart disease, all of which can be linked to a history of improper nutrition for the canine and feline species.
Carnivora Dogs | Carnivora Cats | Products | Learning Centre | Shop Online | Contact Us | Site Map | Home