What Does My Dog's Fur and Our Nutrition Have in Common?
Why would dog food companies put ingredients in their food that make dogs sick?
Years ago, I had a nutrition teacher tell me that like human food, dog food is filled with all kinds of chemicals and fillers that are harmful to them. I found that hard to believe. Why would they intentionally do that?
Around the same time, I was on my own nutrition journey and was also shocked to discover that the "food" items on grocery store shelves were filled with much of the same chemicals and fillers. I thought, "How is that possible? How did that pass government standards? They must be harmful to us too, right?"
I just found it all impossible to swallow.
So, I started digging into all of this. If we take a look at the big picture, we can easily see that out of all the living things on the planet, there are only three animals that deal with obesity: domesticated dogs, cats and humans. And sure, you could brush that off as coincidence, but doesn't that seem troubling?
Why would human food companies put ingredients in our food that make us sick?
As time passes and the food industry stays the same, humans are dealing with more and more interesting diseases that didn't exist before. Conditions like fibromyalgia and and all kinds of unique and different food allergies that were never a problem before. Do we think people were just dying before from these things undiagnosed? Maybe. But, maybe not.
We also can't say that this phenomenon is happening for all humans. If you look at statistics around the planet, different countries deal with different issues, but our country, the US. is dealing with it a lot. And, we could say it is due to more testing and medical advances, but are we sure? Maybe. But, maybe not.
Much of these ingredients didn't exist when I was in elementary schools.
I was born in 1964 (yes, yes... thousands of years ago!) and during my elementary school years, I remember two to four kids having been "heavy." Now, when you look at statistics, the obesity in children now is rising at an incredibly high rate, over half are over weight.
This is NOT about vanity, I am strictly speaking in terms of a person's health based on their age and height.
There is also the rise in prescribed medication, anxiety diagnoses and diabetes all increasing in children.
How can this be? Well, it is a combination of several poor aspects all working together creating a terrible system for health and wellness for children that they carry into adulthood.
The lack of funding for physical activity in schools paired with the abysmal food programs (and think about it, restaurant kids' menus aren't much better). Then add on all the food that is geared toward and advertised to kids is incredibly refined and basically lacks any nutrition. I am referring to everything from morning cereals to little snack bags to "all in one" meal boxes, etc. They are all loaded with sugars, salts, fats and preservatives.
They have been designed and manufactured within the last 20+ years with tons of research behind it figuring out which "foods" would be the most appealing and addictive. Not what is actually good and nutritional for them.
If this is hard to believe, look at the ingredients.
What do you see? How much of those "ingredients" do you recognize? If you have never seen the word, or do not know what it means, I can assure you that it is not fit for human consumption, much less a child's digestive system.
In much the same way, our pet food has gone through the same transition.
Take a look at the ingredients on any pet food. What is in there? If there is anything other than fruits, vegetables or meat, you might have issues with the health of your pet.
Let's talk about the pet food for a bit:
Remember the teacher I referred to in the beginning? He talked about the great lengths fur baby parents will go through to make sure their pets eat right. It is somehow easier to take on their pet's nutrition than their own. They have no problem getting healthier foods for their dogs and/or cats, but disregard themselves and don't do the same with their own food.
Look at the state of pet food, and you will see a reflection of human food. The lists of ingredients are always long and most of it consists of words that are not in our regular vocabulary. Why is that?
They don't really want you to know what any of it is.
I know, it's a lot of disheartening information. And so much seems out of our control. But know, what you decide to feed yourself, your children, and your pets is in your control.
Here is what can happen if you choose to change the way you eat.
First, let me tell you this story.
I have two furry babies that are my heart and soul. I adore them. I am one of those annoying dog owners that treats them like my children. I do it all, I have baby pictures that I look at often and I spoil them with affectionate.
So, when my bulldog, Bella, was having skin issues, I went to great lengths to find out why. I consulted with this incredible dog nutritionist who reminded me of the refinement in dog food. She had me go to a raw food diet for Bella. And because I want the best for both of my fur babies, I put them both on this new diet.
I give them raw meat (and yes, I am a vegan so it was hard in the beginning), fruits, vegetables, natural fats and starches like potatoes and squash. Keeping them away from dairy, grains, refined sugars, raw hides and dog biscuits.
The most amazing thing happened.
First, my bulldog's skin issues totally cleared up, just like that. It was incredible! But, the most interesting part of this story is what happened to my other dog. His name is Pumpkin.
My sweet boy, Pumpkin, is a rescue off the streets by Southern State. He had really bad fur, meaning it was quite corse and had weird growth patterns. I chalked it up to a rough first year as it did improve a little bit when we adopted him. But then the real change began to happen. After a few months of Pumpkin getting this new raw food, his whole coat changed. His hair became finer, softer and just gorgeous. The growth patterns basically normalized. He suddenly became "fluffy" to the touch.
Now, how does all of this relate to you?
Can you imagine now how food can drastically affect humans?
If this can happen with a dog's fur, imagine what food is doing or not doing to us on the inside and the outside? Imagine what small changes could do over time, and even better, what big changes could occur to our bodies?
Do you understand why it's vital to not eat refined and processed foods? Do you understand the difference now between an organic apple or a regular one?
The regulations have definitely changed over time regarding our food sources. And, because of that,I think it's fair to say food companies are able to stay steps ahead of these restrictions. It feels like a conspiracy, but I choose to not think that way and instead be responsible for myself and for the ones I love.
Like most business, food companies are in the business of making money. My business is to get healthier and feel better. Those two goals do not align. So, looking to someone else, the food industry and restaurants, to feed me, "nourish"me is kind of like barking up the wrong tree (just continuing a theme here, did you see that?).
Let's choose to be healthier.
My choice is health and wellness, so I have an extra lens on what I eat. Before I made this choice, I wouldn't feel well, I had acne, I didn't have much energy, my belly was often bloated, I had circles under my eyes... and I was so depressed. None of this was a vanity issue. It was about life and actually living and thriving because of it.
So, I do not depend on a food company to make my food. I can't depend on a restaurant either for the same reasons. Not because they are evil, but because they are concerned with other things that have nothing to do with my health and nourishment.
This does not mean I never ever someone else's food.
Of course I do! I just look into it, I do a little digging. And when I don't, I notice my body always reacts poorly, i.e. a headache, swollen fingers, a pimple, all because I didn't pay attention to what I put inside my body. They are always linked. And so, I am careful and purposeful in choosing what I eat. You always have the choice.
These are the simple changes I made to eat healthier:
First off, I do not RESTRICT! This is not about eating less, taking in fewer calories. This is about taking ownership of what you put inside your body, how you choose to nourish yourself.
- When I go to the grocery store, the bulk of my cart is filled with produce.
- When I do buy things in areas OTHER than the produce section, I know that those things are "fancy" foods and side dishes.
- I read ALL the ingredients. There are refined foods and then there are REFINED foods. Even snacks like chips have a hierarchy of healthy and non healthy.
- Fruits are snack foods. Protein bars are just candy.
- I avoid teflon like the plague.
- I avoid aluminum foil also like the plague.
- When there is a choice, I go organic.
- I quit soda.
- I drink bottled or filtered water whenever I have the option.
I could go on and on. But, I would rather leave you with these simple changes you can make and get you on track to what works best for you towards healthier eating.
This might seem obvious after all I have said, rest assured the yerba I work with is only organic. The products I sell are only glass, wood and stainless steel. It was imperative that I hold my business to the same standard I have for myself, elevated and and a living example of health and wellness.
So, we can use our sweet pets as a litmus test.
We should care for our own health as much as we do theirs right? Can we at least start there? The choice to eat well and healthy is all yours.
Much love, Caio!
Ana and Chelsea
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