Lets Talk… Legumes

Legumes are defined as ‘members of the pea family’ 

Legumes: Beans, Peas, Lentils, Soy and Peanuts

Legumes contain Phytic Acid which binds to nutrients in food preventing their absorption, earning them the label ‘anti-nutrients’, the knock on effects of this is highly dependent on intake quantity. Legumes also contain galaco-ligosaccharides which are associated with digestive issues. However, the main issue with legumes is their lectin content.

Lectins are known to damage the intestinal wall by reducing the speed of cell renewal, which leads to ‘leaky gut’, this causes digestive issues, specifically with vitamin and mineral absorption and autoimmune problems. Lectins are a plant form of defence that are resistant to digestion and lead to antibody production to them, which means certain lectin containing foods can literally be intolerable to a body, stimulating an immune response i.e. allergic reaction, and too much lectin consumption leads to vomiting, cramping and diarrhoea. Immune responses include skin rashes, joint pain and general inflammation, thankfully these will stop, as soon as consumption stops.

Legumes are also high in starch, which we know turns to sugar during the digestive process and feeds insulin resistance, weight gain and cancer.

Peanuts (unless you’ve picked them yourself) contain the FDA declared “unavoidable contaminant” aflatoxins, long-term consumption of which are linked to cancer and other diseases.

Soy, ignoring the fact that 93% of soy produced is GMO, as well as containing lectins and phytic acid which inhibit calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc absorption, also contain phytoestrogens, which are hormone disruptors linked with infertility and some forms of cancer. Soy also contains trypsin inhibitors which have a negative effect on protein digestion and increase the bodies need for vitamins B12 and D, as well as a clot-promoting substance called Haemagglutin, which causes red blood cells to clump together, that can be painful and lead to health issues. Its isoflavones have been shown to stimulate growth of cancer cells, its aluminium content is connected to kidney and nervous system issues and soys high levels of goitrogens block the production of thyroid hormone.

Unfortunately the pet food industry have adopted a number of legumes as ‘protein sources’ instead of the species appropriate protein source meat. i.e. soy in ‘cat food’ (those meaty pieces) and ‘pea protein’ in kibble, also peanut husks are used as a source of fibre.

There are a number of ways that lectins can be processed that reduce the negative effects, such as sprouting and fermenting, however these processes are costly and not normally utilised in ‘pet food’ or even in home preparation.

Bearing all of this in mind you can possibly see why personally I recommend against feeding legumes, and in fact other than the odd handful of peanuts or spoonful of hummus, I don’t eat them myself (thankfully coffee beans are not legumes lol).


Spotlight on…. To Cook, or Not to Cook, that is the Question.

cookedH B Turner

The quality of a proteins primary structure has an effect on its nutritional value and functionality upon gastrointestinal digestion (Yu et al. 2016) Cooking ‘denatures proteins, which destroys both the secondary and tertiary structures of proteins, disrupting the normal alpha-helix and beta sheets in a protein and uncoiling it into a random shape (Elmhurst University N.D.) it also effects colour (Suman & Joseph, 2013). Tenderness (Christensen et al. 2000) and gelation (Sun and Holley, 2011).

Cooking meat (to an internal temperature of 75 +/- 3 C) has an ACE inhibitory effect due to a higher thiol content (Simonetti et al, 2016) —ACE inhibitors reduce blood pressure and can lead to kidney failure, allergic reaction, pancreatitis, liver dysfunction, decreased white blood cells and angioedema. In fact cooked meat fed to animals has shown to contribute to pathogenesis of degenerative diseases including:

  • Diabetes (Cai et al. 2012)
  • Hepatic and renal fibrosis (Li et al. 2014)
  • Increased advanced glycation end products (AGEs), linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, decreased renal function and structural changes such as progressive nephropathies glomerulosclerosis, interstitial fibrosis and tubular atrophy.(Poulsen et al. 2013)
  • Increased free radicals, decreased antioxidants increasing protein oxidation and increasing ageing (Soladoye et al, 2015)
  • Increases ageing and age related diseases (Estevez and Luna, 2016)

Interestingly whilst digestibility is lower in overcooked meat, it has a higher ‘protein’ level (Oberli et al, 2016), which would be listed on the proximate analysis of kibble and canned goods, however, the ageing and age related disease creating effects of cooked meats are increased when combined with sugars (found in the starches needed to form kibble and used as a filler).

The fresher the better

When death occurs and circulation ceases lactic acid is produced and pH lowers until glycolytic enzymes become denatured. Once the ATP used for these processes is gone rigor mortis sets in, degrading proteins (Yu et al. 2016), therefore the longer the meat has been dead, the more degraded the proteins, this means that your 21 day hung steak is tender, but has already been denatured by the degradation process. Carnivores in the wild eat quickly, possibly in order to consume the meat prior to it’s nutritional value being depleted.

Three dimensional denaturation

1) Sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar proteins denature at 40 to 52.5°C

2) Loss of fluid from myofibres occurs at 52.5-60°C

3) Partial of complete gelatinixation of collagen at 64-94°C

The effects on the three levels of structural integrity vary dependent on the way the proteins are cooked and the temperature reached, however in general proteins start to denature at 40°C/105.4F, amino acid levels are also negatively effected, as are enzymes efficiencies, Tryptophan, Tyrosine, Phenylalanine  etc. leading to incomplete digestion.

A massive increase in protein carbonyls occurs which modifies histadine, cysteine and lysine and is also known as oxidative stress, and ammonia release increases with temperature/cooking time.

Reading hundreds of papers on the effect of cooking on proteins, from milk to meat, the resultant denaturing, loss of nutrients and ageing effect, it’s not difficult to see how kibble and canned pet food, which is cooked at very high temperatures of long periods of time and potentially under pressure (extrusion process) which increases the loss of nutrients, is leading to our pets getting age related diseases younger and younger in life, and that it is negatively effecting lifespan.  The data is quite clear on that as over a 10 year period a 71% shift to kibble reduced the average age at which a dog is considered ‘geriatric’ from 8.85 to 7, and increased the average vet bill by 410%.

However, when you take into account that our simple processes of obtaining meat, and the delays that occur from death to plate also have an effect, it seems even more important that the food we provide our pets is as fresh and raw as possible for optimum nutrition.
This information is not new, in fact Francis M. Pottenger did his 10 year study on Cats  between 1932 and 1942, and that was raw compared to cooked to the same level that we humans cook our food (Pottenger, 1983). His study clearly showed that carnivores fed cooked diets were more susceptible to parasites, suffered chronic diseases, generationally increased deformities and infertility.  What the science does do is break the information down and prove Pottengers findings.

In conclusion, whilst cooking increases aroma & palatability for people, it is neither species appropriate or recommended for our pets, as it reduces protein quality, nutrient density & increases consumer ageing & age related diseases.


Cai W, Ramdas M, Zhu L, Chen X, Striker GE, Vlassara H. 2012. Oral advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) promote insulin resistance and diabetes by depleting the antioxidant defenses AGE receptor-1 and sirtuin 1. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA109:15888–93.

Christensen M, Ertbjerg P, Failla S, Sañudo C, Richardson RI, Nute GR, Olleta JL, Panea B, Albertí P, Juárez M, Hocquette J-F, Williams JL. 2011. Relationship between collagen characteristics, lipid content and raw and cooked texture of meat from young bulls of fifteen European breeds. Meat Sci 87:61–5. Elmhurst University (N.D.) Denaturation of Proteins [Internet]  http://chemistry.elmhurst.edu/vchembook/568denaturation.html (accessed 20/12/2017)

Estévez M, Luna C. 2016. Dietary protein oxidation: a silent threat to human health? Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr doi: 10.1080/10408398.2016.1165182. in press.

Li ZL, Mo L, Le G, Shi Y. 2014. Oxidized casein impairs antioxidant defense system and induces hepatic and renal injury in mice. Food Chem Toxicol 64:86–93.

Oberli M, Lan A, Khodorova N, Santé-Lhoutellier V, Walker F, Piedcoq J, Davila A-M, Blachier F, Tomé D, Fromentin G, Gaudichon C. 2016. Compared with raw bovine meat, boiling but not grilling, barbecuing, or roasting decreases protein digestibility without any major consequences for intestinal mucosa in rats, although the daily ingestion of bovine meat induces histologic modifications in the colon. J Nutr 146:1506–13. Poulsen MW, Hedegaard RV, Andersen JM, de Courten B, Bügel S, Nielsen J, Skibsted LH, Dragsted LO. 2013. Advanced glycation endproducts in food and their effects on health. Food Chem Toxicol 60:10–37.

Pottenger, F.M. (1983) Potenger’s Cats—A Study in Nutrition. Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation

Simonetti A, Gambacorta E, Perna A. 2016. Antioxidative and antihypertensive activities of pig meat before and after cooking and in vitro gastrointestinal digestion: comparison between Italian autochthonous pig Suino Nero Lucano and a modern crossbred pig. Food Chem 212:590–5.

Soladoye OP, Juárez ML, Aalhus JL, Shand P, Estévez M. 2015. Protein oxidation in processed meat: mechanisms and potential implications on human health. Comp Rev Food Sci Food Safety 14:106–22.

Suman SP, Joseph P. 2013. Myoglobin chemistry and meat color. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol 4:79–99.

Sun XD, Holley RA. 2011. Factors influencing gel formation by myofibrillar proteins in muscle foods. Comp Rev Food Sci Food Safety 10:33–51.

Yu, T. Morton, J.D. Clerens, S. Dyer, J.M. (2016) Cooking-Induced Protein Modifications in Meat. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 16[1]:141-159


Genetics 101

Genetics 101

Most of you are familiar with the beautiful ‘Double Helix’ shape of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) discovered at Kings College London in the early 1950’s by Rosalind Franklin, and you are aware that we inherit our genes from our parents.

When we run DNA test, we distinguish between mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA from the maternal line) and nDNA, (nuclear). These have to be separated out in order to test properly.

We also ‘cut’ the genes, to look for particular areas which are known to hold certain information which has been mapped and we can relate to certain things.

For example, we can test for what colour the fur might be in an animal

Let’s say we have a dna sample of a dog, and two potential owners of that dna, one blue merle, one black and white.

We could match the ‘colour’ genes to the dog.

However, what it they had a puppy, and it’s genes had both blue merle and black and white genes?

This is where epidenetics or gene expression comes in.

A gene can be ‘expressed’ or not, and it’s not always evident by the phenotype (by what you can see on the animal), in this coat colour example, it tends to be obvious, but it may not be on other, more health related genes.

Our genes are static, in that they don’t move around, what you are born with is the sequence that they should stay in, as long as mutation does not occur, however, your gene expression can change.

Gene expression can be changed by environmental factors, stress, illness and stochastic events.

Now, I don’t know anyone whose hair colour went from brown to red overnight without chemical help, but to white, or all falling out – that happens and is obvious due to phenotype.

Now, why have I said all this?

Because I’m increasingly seeing people worried about their genetic tests, which have become more popular since certain people started having body parts removed in order to mitigate the risk of cancer. Now, I’ve done those tests too, and my son has 74 very worrying mutations.

But here’s the thing.

You may have the genes which have been shown to be linked to certain diseases, however, they may not be expressed! In other words, that is no guarantee that you’ll develop those diseases.

Expression can be changed by environmental factors, stress, illness and stochastic events, so, that’s hypothetically you might get in a car crash and it could trigger that gene – which would be completely out of your control. However, it seems that environmental factors are more common for having that effect and that you can control and therefore you can mitigate the risk of the gene switching on, or possibly switch the gene off.

You can eat a clean diet, buy fresh organic produce, eat a paleo or ketogenic diet, avoid processed foods and drinks. Avoid environmental toxins, avoid household toxins, exercise, consume clean supplements, do nutritional balancing and detoxing and live a healthy lifestyle: that is your very best defense from the risk of methylation of those genes.

Join us in the revolution by improving health via nutrition

The risk of the wrong type of oil

Most people are aware of the term Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) and many raw feeders supplement their pets diet with oils, but is there a right and a wrong oil?
The answer unfortunately is yes.
Chemically extracted oils pose a risk for any animal consuming them. The process leads to a chemical reaction between n-hexane and lysine in the original material, this forms 2,5-dimethylpyrrole (DeCaprio, Olajos & Weber, 1982) which is toxic (DeCaprio, Kinney & LoPachin, 2009), degenerating first the peripheral and then the central nervous system.

The other issue is whether the oils you are using are balanced as far as Omega’s are concerned (3, 6 & 9), or if they have  negative effect on absorption.
Cod Liver Oil for example is so high in Vitamin A, that it has a negative effect on the absorption of vitamin D, this has a domino effect on the absorption of calcium, and all that can lead to.
The answer is to only use cold-pressed oils, the two oils recommended by us, and used by Healthful are, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cold-Pressed Linseed Oil, because of their balancing effects and the fact that they are not as immune-suppressing as fish oils

Scare Tactics Regarding Bacteria in Raw Food

Risk of bacterial infection from canine raw feeding

Pet food manufacturers educate veterinary surgeons to tell you that there are major risks involved in feeding raw food with regard to bacteria. Their scientists have identified bacteria in pet food and in the feces of those pets fed it, however they do not inform you that a dog on a fully raw, non-grain diet does not get affected by these bacteria, here is why:
Bile and pancreatic juice released into the duodenum are
bactericidal for :

  • E.coli
  • Shigella
  • Salmonella
  • Klebsiella

bacteriostatic for:

  • Coagulase (+ & -)
  • staphulocci
  • pseudomonas

and inhibit candida albicans
National Research Council (2006) Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. Washington DC The National Research Academic Press

The Raisin Resilience

Risk of grapes and raisins for Dogs

Whilst it is known that grapes and raisins have been shown to be toxic to dogs, with 36% of canines who had ingested them going on to develop symptoms and a 7% death rate, many dogs can eat copious amounts and not have any reaction.
Recently my puppies managed to get hold of a 500g bag of Organic Giant Raisins, this had been put at a height presumed to be out of reach, and is not something I condone or advise, however, thankfully all pups are unscathed.
For those dogs that are susceptible, the toxic dose of grapes is estimated to be 19g/kg and of raisins, 3g/kg. Whilst the mechanism of toxicity is unclear, it is known to lead to renal failure and there have been reports of dogs dying after ingesting just 4 raisins.
Clinical signs are vomiting and diarrhea developing within a few hours of ingestion, with pieces of grape/raisin in what has passed. Acute renal failure develops within 48 hrs.
Please be vigilant, but know that whilst 4 raisins can kill a dog, 1 peanut can kill a person who has an allergy, not all dogs will die from raisin ingestion.

The Spay/Neuter Health Denigration

Risks of Spaying & Neutering Pets

Turner, H.B. (2014) The Spay/Neuter Health Denigration. Healthful Dog 1[2]:52-55 

Sterilization will naturally serve to prevent any unwanted litters. In bitches, spaying will greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer, pyometra, perianal fistula and cancers of the reproductive organs.5

Spay surgery itself carries a somewhat high rate (around 20%) of complications such as infection, haemorrhage and even death.5

Spaying significantly increases the rate of urinary incontinence in bitches….about 20-30% of all spayed bitches will eventually develop this problem. This is believed to be most likely caused by the lack of oestrogen that results from being spayed.1

Sterilization of males may reduce some unwanted sexual behaviours, but there are few other proven benefits to neutering a male dog. Testicular cancer is prevented, but the actual risk of that cancer is extremely low (0.1%) among intact dogs. Contrary to popular belief, studies show that the risk of prostate cancer is actually HIGHER in neutered dogs than in their intact counterparts.5,12

Several studies prove significant health risks associated with sterilization, particularly when done at an early age. The most problematic is a delayed closure of the bony growth plates. This results in an abnormal, skeletal development that increases the incidence of orthopaedic problems like hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. Working and performance dogs, if neutered before maturity, risk the inability to perform the jobs they were bred for.10

But by far the most startling news to surface this year is the result of a study that shows that keeping ovaries to the age of six years or later is associated with a greater than 30% increase of lifespan in female Rottweilers.4 Similar studies in humans reinforce this finding.7,11

A 30% longer lifespan means that you could have many additional years with your bitch simply by delaying spay surgery until middle-age or later.

Behavioural studies show that sterilization increases fearfulness, noise phobias and aggression. Other well-documented adverse health effects of de-sexing include increased risk of bone cancer, haemangiosarcoma, hypothyroidism, and cognitive dysfunction in older pets. Sterilization confers an increased susceptibility to infectious disease, and also a higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines.10

“potential health problems associated with spaying and neutering have also been identified, including an increased risk of prostatic cancer in males; increased risks of bone cancer and hip dysplasia in large-breed dogs associated with sterilization before maturity; and increased incidences of obesity, diabetes, urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, and hypothyroidism.” Ref: AVMA.org

In a study of well over a million dogs, information on breed, sex, and age was collected and reported to the Veterinary Medical Database between 1964 and 2003. Results—Castrated male dogs were significantly more likely than other dogs to have hip dysplasia (CHD) than other dogs and spayed females were significantly more likely to have cranial cruciate ligament deficiency (CCLD).

Dogs up to 4 years old were significantly more likely to have HD whereas dogs over 4 years old were significantly more likely to have CCLD. In general, large- and giant-breed dogs were more likely than other dogs to have HD, CCLD, or both.

Prevalence of HD and CCLD increased significantly over the 4 decades for which data were examined. There was no data reflecting the decade-by-decade increase but one might suspect that the significantly increased rate of spay and castration procedures may be a factor in the overall forty-year increase. ref: June 15, 2008 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

“increased rate of cystitis and decreasing age at gonadectomy was associated with increased rate of urinary incontinence. Among male and female dogs with early-age gonadectomy, hip dysplasia, noise phobias, and sexual behaviours were increased, whereas obesity, separation anxiety, escaping behaviours, inappropriate elimination when frightened…”


Positive for male neutering

  • eliminates the small risk (probably 0.1%) of dying from testicular cancerPicture1
  • reduces the risk of non-cancerous prostate disorders
  • reduces the risk of perianal fistulas
  • may possibly reduce the risk of diabetes (data inconclusive)

Negative for male neutering

  • if done before 1 year of age, significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer); this is a common cancer in medium/large breeds with poor prognosis
  • increases the risk of cardiac hemangiosarcoma by a factor or 1.6
  • triples the risk of hypothyroidism
  • increases the risk of progressive geriatric cognitive impairment
  • triples the risk of obesity, a common health problem in dogs with many associated health problems
  • quadruples the small risk of (<0.6%) of prostate cancerPicture2
  • doubles the small risk (<1%) of urinary tract cancer
  • increases the risk of orthopedic disorders
  • increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccination 13

Positive for spaying females

  • if done before 2.5 years of age, greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors, the most common malignant tumors in female dogs
  • nearly eliminates the risk of pyometra, which otherwise would affect about 23% of intact female dogs; pyometra kills about 1% of intact female dogs
  • reduces the risk of perianal fistulas
  • removes the very small risk of cervical, ovarian and uterine tumours (5)

Negative for spaying femalesPicture3

  • triples the risk of hypothyroidism
  • increases the risk of obesity by a factor of 1.6-2, a common health problem in dogs with many associated health problems
  • causes urinary “spay incontinence” in 4-20% of female dogs
  • increases the risk of persistent or recurring urinary tract infections by a factor of 3-4
  • increases the risk of recessed vulva, vaginal dermatitis and vaginitis, especially for female dogs spayed before puberty
  • doubles the risk(<1%) of urinary tract tumors
  • increases the risk of orthopedic disorders
  • increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccination 13

For Further Information on the dangers of spay/neuter go to our awareness campaign: vplogo

This research is further to that in my previous blog To Spay/Neuter or not to Spay/Neuter issued in May 2011 http://caninehealth101.blogspot.com/2011/05/to-spayneuter-or-not-to-spayneuter.html

1 Bovsun, Mara; “Puddle Jumping; Canine Urinary Incontinence”; AKC Gazette April 2009

2 Fry, Mike, “Reflections from the No Kill Conference in Washington DC”:

3 James, Susan Donaldson (ABC News) “300,000 Imported Puppies Prompt Rabies Concerns”
October 24, 2007 petpac.net/news/headlines/importedpuppies/

4 Nolen, R. Scott “Rottweiler Study Links Ovaries With Exceptional Longevity”
JAVMA March 2010 avma.org/onlnews/javma/mar10/100301g.asp

5 Sanborn, Laura J., MS
“Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay/Neuter in Dogs”; May 14,2007

6 Thoms, Joy “The Importance of Spay-Neuter Contracts” The Orient Express, Nov, 2009

7 Waters, David J., DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVS “A Healthier Respect for Ovaries”

8 Winograd, Nathan J. “Debunking Pet Overpopulation” June 29, 2009

9 Winograd, Nathan, “Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America” Almaden Books, 2nd edition, Feb 25, 2009.

10 Zink, Christine, DVM, PhD, DACVP
“Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete”; 2005http://www.thedogplace.org/Veterinary/0603-SpayNeuter_Zink.asp

11 “Retaining ovaries may be a key to prolonged life in women and dogs”; DVM Newsmagazine; Dec 5, 2009. veterinarynews.dvm360.com/dvm/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/646838

13 Moore, G.E. Guptill, L.F. Ward, M.P. Glickman, N.W. Faunt, K.K. Lewis, H.B. & Glickman, L.T. (2005) Adverse events diagnosed within three days of vaccine administration in dogs. JAVMA 227[7]:1102-1108

Spay photo from http://www.cannonvet.com/spay.htm