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Raw or Cooked

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
Burn your finger and skin tissue dies. When plant and animal tissue is cooked, its molecular structure is permanently altered and nutrients no longer bear any relationship to their original form. Any temperature over 130 degrees causes all essential fats, fatty acids and numerous vitamins and minerals to become useless. Such is the case with pet foods that are cooked in an extruder at temperatures of over 300 - 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This method of processing pet food strips away natural anti-cancer agents and the intense heat can form cancer-producing chemicals in the process. It is no coincidence that since the proliferation of processed food, beginning about 1950, cancer rates in companion animals has steadily increased and are now at an all-time high.

Food Carcinogens and Mutagens
By definition, a carcinogen is a substance or agent that causes cancer. A mutagen is a substance that can produce heritable genetic changes, or mutations, in the genetic material of an organism (except for some viruses, this genetic material is always DNA). Some mutagens convert a healthy cell into a cancerous one.

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
Cooked food mutagens can be formed from carbohydrates, fats, proteins or combinations of these. Carbohydrates by themselves or along with amino acids can form brown products when heated. The brown color is due to polymer formation in the food. These reactions include caramelization and Maillard Browning. Examples of this include the browning of sugar when it is heated (caramelization) and the browning of bread when toasted (Maillard Browning). Some of the polymers formed are 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 the 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.

Raw Food
“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” You might say that when Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine made this statement, there were no industry conglomerates plaguing modern nutrition and you would be right. Today we have a much better understanding of how food changes biological processes and the expression of genetic make-up.

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 the 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.