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Thursday, October 22, 2015
NUTRITION IS AS COMPLEX AS LIFE ITSELF: MEG SMART DVM PhD
I have been retired from academia for over a year now during that period of time I have had time to reflect upon my career and the impact that I might have had on the veterinary students that I was fortunate enough to teach over my academic lifetime. Although I taught in large animal medicine, pathology, clinical pathology, animal science and finally small and medicine the main focus of my academic career has been nutrition. As a veterinary student and as a new academic, I accepted as truth what my professors and what the pet food industry representatives told me concerning nutrition.. When I started teaching nutrition I embraced pet food industry I invited them to come in and talk to my students about their products, I recommended their products to clients I really had only a superficial understanding of nutrition and its influence on both the health and longevity ourselves and pets.
So when did I learn the truth. I was giving a talk to the German Shepherd club of Saskatoon and there was a couple becoming quite angry with my talk as I berated both the raw and homemade diets. Finally I asked this couple what the concern was as they seem quite angry with what I was saying. They told me that they raise German shepherds as functional service dogs, and they imported most of their dogs from Germany. They have feeding these dogs a raw dog food that they had prepared themselves for over 15 years with no problems. Although this wasn't a true scientific study I felt 15 years is long enough study to warrant an investigation into the pet food industry and why there is such opposition to alternative diets. I took up my blinders and open my eyes. This changed my career. The way I taught nutrition and the my relationship with the major pet food companies. Prior to this I was invited to all their symposiums, to their manufacturing plants, to their research facilities along with all my other colleagues with an interest in nutrition.
So what have I learned and what have I taught. I have learned that nutrition is an imprecise science that nutrition is life itself. You can feed your dog but not necessarily your cat almost any pet food kibble,canned, commercially available whole food diets or homemade diets with success.The caveat is your dog or cat need plenty of exercise, environmental stimulation, and a controlled caloric intake to maintain a ideal body condition. A variety of pet foods containing different ingredients is beneficial in that your pet will be exposed to different ingredients,processing methods,textures and flavours. You would not eat the same foods on a daily basis so why should your pet. The early nutrition of our ancestors consisted of variety of foods that were available within their environment. They discovered they could preserve foods through fermentation, dehydration and cooking. But their diet consisted of a variety of local whole foods that they gathered or killed. With these foods came their complement of microorganisms,and dirt,as the food was not peeled and certainly not grown using modern farming practices. Their life was short and harsh going from feast to famine,until they settled into communities where they could raise their own food.
I have learned a healthy body requires a healthy immune system, and endocrine system.that communicate with each other and with the external protective microbial layer on the external and internal surfaces of our bodies. If this communications is disrupted or disturbed then our health suffers.