FIBERS FEED BACTERIA
Natural and holistic dog food labels may list bizarre ingredients that makes consumers retch - and could make pets sick!
March 1, 2021 Update from April 2010
Nel Liquorman, Health & Nutrition Editor
Needing a new vocabulary to read labels on the new "natural" pet foods, owners wonder what these substances are and how they are affecting their pets.
Some pet owners are already seeing undesirable changes in their pet’s health and behavior after a short time on these new trendy products but how are they to know they have made misinformed choices in pet food?
Live bacteria, such as lactobacillus acidophilus and bifid bacterium, will multiply every twenty minutes when adequately fed by fiber additives, now referred to as prebiotics. You should know that prebiotics is not one or two ingredients, but an incomprehensible assortment of indigestible plant foods that sustain an entire marketing industry.
In a clever marketing ploy, industry refers to foods containing probiotics (the bacteria) and prebiotics (fibers that feed bacteria) as functional foods. Prebiotics sometimes appear on labels as burdock root or chicory root but most will be unfamiliar names like fructooligosaccharide (FOS), oligofructose, inulin and even more obtuse trademark names.
Fibers can be chemically extracted from more than 36,000 plants. In plain English, these plant materials are indigestible carbohydrates, that will make the bacteria multiply in the colons of our dogs and cats.
Bacteria and fiber additives are basically untested potential problems that could remain in the food supply for years to come. Don’t forget how high fructose corn syrup flooded the entire food chain and although Kraft Foods is starting to rid recipes of this harmful ingredient, the marketing department of the corn products industry is busy telling us how good it is for us. Since the fiber industry is likely to follow a course similar to that of high fructose corn syrup, we must be careful that our food choices are not based on marketing propaganda.
Remember that Communist China, the county that supplied deadly melamine which killed pets and sickened children, is a big exporter and many pet food fibers will come from China.
Knowledgeable people worry that these fibers will flush valuable nutrients from the body. Also, it would be almost impossible to trace an allergic reaction back to any particular plant used by laboratories extracting and processing the fibers.
But apparently the natural pet food industry does not think that laboratory extracted prebiotics can do the job alone, so they also include foods that have natural prebiotics in cat and dog food recipes. Foods that will feed live bacteria are asparagus, apples, barley, beans, berries, garlic, honey, onions, pears and rye. Adding both prebiotics and natural bacteria-feeding foods could be overkill, a word that could take on even more meaning!
We all know that too much grain in pet foods can limit absorption of vitamins and minerals. But too much fiber may be even worse, not only blocking absorption of nutrients but actually flushing them from the body. And, too much grain or fiber results in a gassy pet that vomits and/or has runny stools, both are symptoms of bigger problems such as "bloat" (gastric torsion).
The pet food industry has been in trouble since 2007 and it will take more than the “all natural” marketing ploy to regain the confidence of wary pet owners. Emerging information about fibers and bacteria as probiotics and prebiotics in “natural” pet foods signals danger for pets and the human population as these markets begin to explode.
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