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Complete And Balanced Diets


Does every meal have to be complete and balanced?

Who should we trust to PRODUCE our RAW FOOD?

This article exclusively written for Carnivora™ by Dr. Ian Billinghurst
BVSc (Hins) BScAgr Dip Ed
Veterinary Surgeon | Acupuncturist | Author | Educator | Nutritionist

The food we feed the cats and dogs in our care impacts their health and longevity. Pet parents who understand this truth seek out the healthiest nutritional program they can find… and afford… with many discovering the ABSOLUTE importance of RAW WHOLE foods. As a result… there is a growing number of pet food manufacturers producing raw whole food products to fill this VITAL need. The question is… how many of these emerging RAW food producers… truly understand the evolutionary principles that are basic to their products?

One glaring problem involves the issue of balancing RAW programs of nutrition. Is it possible to balance raw food programs over a number of meals… or… should every meal be “complete and balanced"… which is the assertion made by the makers of fake industrial foods? That being so… what are we to make of a RAW food producer… who insists that every meal consumed must be complete and balanced… just like the fake foods? Should we trust such a producer? Should we trust their products?

To answer that question… let us examine the relevant evolutionary principles… which today… are often expressed in terms of the latest buzzword… “Nutrigenomics”.  

The people who talk about Nutrigenomics (as if it were a new and revolutionary concept)… have discovered what raw feeders have long known… that the way an animal’s genes express themselves (to produce either health or disease)… depends on the food being eaten. They know that genes can only express themselves in a genuinely healthy fashion… when they are fully compatible with the food being eaten… that is… genes only function to produce health… in the context of an evolutionary program of nutrition. Genuine health… including healthy longevity… is only possible when animals are fed the foods that have worked with their genes… over millions of years of evolution.

To ensure health… we MUST feed those foods that either duplicate or mimic the range and balance of the foods our cats and dogs have been eating during their long period of evolution. When we do this… we will be supplying all the nutrients the animals in our care require… and in a balanced format. Yes… that is a BIG call… but it is an inescapable fact!

In contrast… the (nutrient focused) paradigm under which fake industrial pet food is produced… seeks only to supply defined and minimum amounts of the limited number of nutrients… AAFCO currently accepts as essential… and nothing else. This restrictive approach to nutrition results in products with a severely limited nutritional value. Nevertheless… by supplying this limited number of AAFCO approved nutrients — industrial pet foods are deemed to be legally complete and balanced. Unfortunately… as RAW feeders know only too well… these fake — AAFCO approved — products… are a long way from being biologically complete and balanced. Equally noteworthy… is that AAFCO requires pet foods based on these principals — to supply all of these AAFCO approved nutrients… at EVERY meal.

This nutrient focused approach… produces “food” that is legally complete and balanced… but fails to supply the full range of nutrients essential for genuine health and longevity. It also fails to supply them in a form that accords with the animal’s homeostatic mechanisms. In short… fake industrial food fails to be either… genuinely complete or… genuinely balanced nutritionally… and the net result of such an approach is the disastrous pandemic of degenerative disease — as currently “enjoyed” by the modern cat and dog — a pandemic that supports our ever-growing veterinary profession.

Unlike fake food… which is nutrient focused… the evolutionary approach to nutrition is food focused… and not initially concerned with supplying specific nutrients. However… by adopting the evolutionary approach… where whole raw foods in evolutionary range and balance are fed… the nutritional requirements of the animal in terms of specific and individual nutrients are automatically met. And those requirements are met over and above AAFCO’s current understanding. A properly balanced evolutionary program of nutrition supplies… not ONLY those nutrients currently understood by AAFCO to be essential… it also supplies… all the nutrients AAFCO does not currently know about or does not as yet consider to be… essential. In other words… the evolutionary program of nutrition produces a nutritional millieu that is more than legally complete and balanced… it is biologically… genomically… nutrigenomically… in fact… GENUINELY… complete and balanced. Such a properly formulated program of nutrition works in perfect harmony with our cats and dogs homeostatic mechanisms… and does so in a way that the nutrients in fake foods cannot match.

As can be appreciated from the above discussion… both the fake industrial approach… AND the evolutionary approach… to nutrition… seek (and claim) to provide a complete and balanced diet for any animal. Both approaches recognize that there are individual nutrients that are essential to health. Both approaches recognize that such nutrients require to be supplied in a balanced fashion. However… these two approaches result in entirely different outcomes. These outcomes differ in terms of nutrients supplied, fulfillment of genomic requirements… and ultimately… the health of the animal consuming the food.

This brings us back to the question under discussion — “Should each RAW meal be complete and balanced… or not? This is an important question because fake industrial food is always presented this way and as a result… many RAW feeders automatically assume this is ALSO true for RAW whole foods. Are they correct?

Until just recently… and coinciding with the introduction of commercially produced fake industrial pet foods… no animal in the entire history of this planet… has consumed a complete and balanced meal… every time it eats. This has NEVER been a biological necessity. It simply does not happen. Animals have ALWAYS balanced their nutritional requirements over time… achieving balance over many different meals. This is a basic principle of evolutionary nutrition and makes the answer to the question posed… very clear… to make each meal complete and balanced is for convenience only; it is most definitely not essential for any nutritional program to be presented in this way.

However — while it is not necessary for each meal to be complete and balanced… there is nothing wrong with such an aim and such a concept! Producing evolutionary meals that attempt to be “Complete and Balanced” is both possible and in some cases… desirable and even necessary… for example… in the case of RAW prescription diets… tailored for specific ailments. A clear example of this principle is a dog or cat that has developed diabetes (ALMOST ALWAYS FOLLOWING THE LIFETIME CONSUMPTION OF FAKE INDUSTRIAL FOOD).  Such an animal requires each RAW whole meal to be exactly the same each time it eats — most particularly in terms of energy level… to ensure no problems with insulin dose.

Given the obvious truth that the evolutionary approach to diet construction is the only genuinely scientific way to produce a diet that is biologically “Complete and Balanced”… we come back to the question of deciding which RAW pet food manufacturer you should trust? And by now you should know the answer…

Firstly… Any RAW pet food manufacturer who produces a product that claims to be complete and balanced at every meal is not doing your pet any form of disservice. Assuming an adherence to evolutionary principles of nutrition… such a claim is entirely legitimate….

Secondly… All else being equal… any RAW food producer who produces products that allow you to balance your pet’s nutritional needs over many meals… clearly understands evolutionary nutrition.

Thirdly… any manufacturer of RAW foods… who INSISTS… that every RAW meal you feed your dog or cat MUST BE COMPLETE AND BALANCED… has no genuine understanding of evolutionary nutrition.

Your final choice will be based on many factors… not the least being product quality… but clearly… if a RAW food manufacturer adopts principles that apply only to fake industrial foods… my decision for my animals would be to avoid that manufacturer. I would always choose a RAW pet food producer that demonstrates a clear understanding of evolutionary nutrition… in the manufacture of their products.

Copyright© Ian Billinghurst