By Dr. Angie Stamm
You’ve all heard me recommend that you reduce or eliminate the dry kibble—but is it really all that bad? Dogs and cats have been living on these diets for years. Why change?
There are several reasons, but they all point to the same issue—INFLAMMATION.
There is an epidemic of inflammation among humans and pets. Most diseases including cancer, allergies, arthritis, pancreatitis and numerous others are a result of inflammation. Inflammation weakens our immune system and allows disease to progress more rapidly.
The first reason that kibble is inflammatory is the high-heat processing called extrusion. In order to get the food into that convenient shape, size and firm, crunchy texture, it must be cooked at about 400°F. This high heat extrusion destroys many vital nutrient and enzymes. In addition, it creates compounds called heterocylic amines (also found in grilled meats) which are well-known carcinogens.
Another reason dry food causes inflammation is the high starch content of the kibble. All kibble must contain a starch to allow it to “stick” or bind together. Commonly used starches include various grains (corn, wheat, oat, rice, millet), pea, potato or tapioca among others. These foods are not inherently “bad”, but larger amounts of starches (which are essentially sugars to the body) cause inflammation by stimulating insulin release. High insulin levels over a lifetime can lead to a host of inflammatory processes.
Finally, the “dry” nature of the kibble can, in and of itself, cause inflammation. This is because it causes a short-term dehydrated state in the intestines, making the digestive process more difficult.
So, what is the moral of my story?
If you do need to feed kibble (because you have 4 Newfoundlands or a cat that is addicted to its crunchies), follow these guidelines:
- Consider a kibble that is baked, not extruded. The only one I have found so far is called Lotus—I only recommend their grain-free line. (That’s a whole other blog . . .)
- Consider the starch being used and the carbohydrate levels in the food. Look for lower glycemic starches such as tapioca, pea and chick pea flour. There is a non-starch dry food by Wysong for dogs AND cats called Epigen 90.
- Simply wet the food before you serve it. Warm, filtered water will do, but if you are feeling ambitious, try a crock-pot bone broth—yum!