Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Canola oil safety?



Recently I’ve received many questions about the safety of canola oil. The most comprehensive collection of concerns are presented on the Weston A. Price website.

I formulate a great many homemade diet recipes with organic canola oil because it has a very good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. I am convinced of the safety and sustainability of the oil as long as it comes from a reputable organic producer (which is admittedly harder and harder to find - see this NYT article on organic companies being controlled by Big Ag - http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/business/organic-food-purists-worry-about-big-companies-influence.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0)

Below are the concerns listed on the Weston A. Price page, and the real story if you dig further. I'm open to argument and learning differently on this subject, but you had better be able to produce meaningful peer-reviewed scientific references to back up your point of view. This means large epidemiologic studies or clinical trials in people or dogs/cats.  Test tube and lab animal studies don't count.

1. Canola oil is associated with fibrotic lesions in the heart
a. The studies cited are all lab animal studies conducted in rats artificially prone to cardiovascular disease. It is well established that these kinds of experimental studies have limited applicability to clinical patients, especially considering the fact that dogs and cats do not develop atherosclerosis and other types of heart disease typically seen in humans and these experimental animals.
b. In addition, the review of these studies specifically shows that the results are conflicting, and that the conclusion is that the critical factor in development of cardiovascular disease in these animals was the *balance* of fats in the diet, and not the mere presence of canola oil or omega-3 fatty acids. Almost all pet diets are balanced with saturated and polyunsaturated fats, containing a high level of animal fats (which are touted by Weston A Price as the healthiest of fats).

2. Canola oil causes vitamin E deficiency
a. All omega-3 fatty acids cause Vitamin E depletion in the body. A more powerful omega-3 fatty acid source - fish oil- depletes Vitamin E the even more rapidly. This is why all commercial omega-3 fatty acid supplements should be fortified with Vitamin E.

3. Canola oil causes platelet changes
a. Platelet changes are not unique to canola oil - fish oil and other omega-3 fatty acids also cause platelet and blood coagulation changes. This is actually utilized by cardiologists when they recommend fish oil for human cardiovascular patients to reduce the risk of stroke.

4. Canola oil causes shortened life spans in stroke prone rats when it is the only oil in the animals' diet.
a. Not only are these rats not in any way clinically relevant to people who develop strokes, much less dogs and cats, but the experimental situation was artificial - the sole fat in the diet was canola oil. This would be nearly impossible to replicate in any real-life management situation for dogs and cats, and certainly bears no relationship to the fat balance in normal pet foods or healthy human diets. In addition, no food formulator would attempt it as that would clearly lead to nutritional deficiencies in dogs and cats.

5. Canola oil causes growth retardation
a. This claim is not referenced and not explained in the report - they say only that experimental animals given soy and canola oil-based diets grew better when coconut oil was added to the diet. This is not the same as growth retardation and could be explained simply by supplying certain fatty acids in the coconut oil that are essential or conditionally essential in those animals.

6. That all of these issues are mitigated when saturated fats are added to the diet and that the problems seem to be related to high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
a. Again, no food formulator would attempt to supply all dietary fat as canola oil or any other single source unless it was biologically appropriate. In dog and cat diets, a small amount of canola oil (in relation to the large amount of animal fat) supplies omega -3 fatty acid (ALA) that is essential in dogs and cats. This fatty acid is not available in the fat of animals raised by modern agricultural methods and so must be supplemented in the diet.

7. The paper reports increased rates of lung cancer in women who cook with canola oil.
The source is a Wall Street Journal article - this is not a scientific, critical look at actual epidemiologic associations and cannot be considered a credible claim.

8. Processing of canola oil leads to the introduction of trans-fatty acids.
It depends on the manufacturer – I would call them to get their trans-fatty acid analyzed levels.

9.The report implies that the original development of the commercial plant was via modern GMO methods, which is untrue.
"Seed splitting" is simply partitioning the harvested seeds so for analysis by gas liquid chromatography for certain genetic traits, and based on the results of that testing, the other half of seeds with the most desirable characteristics were selected for the breeding program. It is nothing but seed hybridization. The paper additionally claims that almost all canola oil is sourced from genetically modified plants. My understanding is that this is true, and I recommend ONLY organic canola oil for my patients.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Leaky Gut and Intestinal Hyperpermeability are sooooo different!


“Leaky Gut Syndrome” is a diagnosis coined by alternative medicine practitioners in the 1970s.  The syndrome was especially considered in the context of a branch of alternative medicine known as “environmental medicine”.  This field developed from the 1950s and espoused the theory that many modern chronic diseases were due to a plethora of toxins in the environment and environmental allergies1.   

Leaky Gut was and is said to be caused by damage to the gut lining which allows abnormal absorption of bacteria, toxins and gut proteins, and leads to development of a very large number of chronic medical conditions.  Diseases that are said to be initiated or worsened by a Leaky gut include environmental and food allergies, arthritis of several types, eczema, chronic fatigue syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic disease, migraines, autism, celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and fibromyalgia.

The gut is viewed as one important gateway for toxins and allergens from the environment, and constant exposure to these irritants were thought to cause gut pathology, leading to a vicious cycle of gut damage à absorption of toxins, bacteria and abnormally large intraluminal proteins directly into portal and systemic circulation à immune activation and immune-mediated diseases à àdeterioration of gut barrier,  and so on, over and over again.

The pathogenesis of leaky gut is said to include:

·         Altered GI microflora (due to repeated antibiotic therapy as well as many other drugs and a poor diet).  The intestinal microflora have many critical functions, including detoxifying some xenobiotics, maintaining an intraluminal environmental that discourages growth of pathogenic bacterial, maintaining the gut’s tight junctions and barrier function, and dialoguing with the immune tissues of the gut.
·         Overgrowth of the yeast, Candida albicans.
·         Food allergies (which if not a primary problem, becomes an associated illness once gut permeability is altered)
·         Damaged gut mucosal cells become unable to digest food normally, or to detoxify environmental xenobiotics
·         Drugs that cause direct damage to the gut mucosa, such as NSAIDs and steroids, hastened the development of a hyperpermeable gut.

Treatment involve any of the following:
·         Changing dietary components to reduce allergenicity
·         Supplementing enzymes to improve digestibility of the food.
·         Supplementing probiotics
·         Correcting possible nutrient deficiencies with a variety of vitamins and minerals
·         Treating yeast overgrowth
·         Addressing the quality of fat in the diet to emphasize less inflammatory fatty acids
·         Improving gut cell production and turnover with l-glutamine

Just as environmental medicine doctors had reported, many veterinarians using these methods noted dramatic results when pets were treated using the same principles. The problem is that “leaky gut” was never documented as a cause for these immune mediated diseases, and changes in the gut were not monitored as patients got better (although these tests are available). 

While the role of leaky gut in such a wide array of chronic diseases is still considered unproven and under the purview of alternative medicine, “ intestinal hyperpermeability” was becoming increasingly recognized by critical care specialists in the 1980s as a primary initiator of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and death in critically ill humans 2.   And the final results are the same – invasion into the bloodstream by gut microbes and activation of the immune system – but in the case of critically ill patients, the course of the problem was more rapid and easier to recognize.

A 1998 review of “intestinal hyperpermeability” -  the approved name for the more acute condition recognized by conventional medicine – reviewed the mechanisms behind development of the condition.  They are:
·         Oxidative stress
·         Hypoxia
·         Tissue acidosis
·         Nitric oxide – an cell-signallying molecule that influences circulation, and has been shown to have deleterious effects if present in the gut in abnormally high OR low concentrations.’
·         Inflammatory cytokines – which are produced on exposure to luminal antigens and bacteria, which can happen any time the barrier is breached.
·         “Metabolic Inhibition”  - a laboratory condition that causes chemical changes in the tight junctions so critical for maintaining the intestinal barrier. 

When I look at this list, I see mechanisms that are active in chronic disease as well.  Let’s look at what I would consider a typical veterinary patient who is a candidate for management of a hyperpermeable gut.

This theoretical dog is an 11 year old Labrador with chronic osteoarthritis and a long history of allergic otitis and bad skin.  The dog has eaten the same diet for many years, and eats well.  A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug has been administered daily for the past year or so.  And this dog is presented to me for acupuncture to aid in pain control for the arthritis. 

For the past 15 or so years, I’ve handled dogs like this one by delaying the acupuncture, and recommending the following:
1. Change the ingredients in the diet (making it essentially less allergenic), and make sure that it contains antioxidants in the form of vegetables and fruits.  If the dog won’t eat veggies and fruits, supplement a broad spectrum antioxidant containing Vitamins A, E, C, selenium, flavonoids, carotenoids, etc. 
2. Supplementing digestive enzymes (not just because of leaky gut, because there are those who believe that old dogs have decreased digestive function, especially in the stomach, just as geriatric people with atrophic gastritis do).
3. Possibly a probiotic supplement.
4. High doses of fish oil
5. Massage.

It’s amusing how many people attribute the improvement I see on a regular basis to the massage, because it’s just so hard to believe that dietary changes can be so effective in pain control!

I’m simply reporting my clinical experience, and I’m not saying this is right for every old arthritic pet.  But I see that conventional medicine and alternative medicine may be discovering a convergence in one very important anatomical area and organ function.  The gut is the largest immune organ in the body.  It contains more neurons than the spinal cord.  It maintains a very delicate balance between the outside environment and the critical homeostasis inside the body.  And both conventional and alternative medicine are postulating similar mechanisms for the role of the gut in all disease.  I hope this progress continues. 


1Rogers SA, 1997.  Environmental Medicine for Veterinary Practitioners in Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine: Principles and Practice, Schoen A and Wynn S, Eds.  Mosby, St. Louis.

2Fink MP.  Effect of critical illness on microbial translocation and gastrointestinal mucosa permeability.  Semin Respir Infect. 1994 Dec;9(4):256-60.

3 Unno N, Fink M.  Intestinal Epithelial Hyperpermeability.  Gastroenterology Clinics of North America 1998; 27(2):289-307).




Friday, June 3, 2011

Recall: Primal Raw Pet Foods

http://www.primalpetfoods.com/company/recall

Primal Pet Foods News
For immediate release.

May 28, 2011


Dear Primal Pet Foods customers,

Primal Pet Foods has initiated a voluntary recall of their Feline Chicken & Salmon Formula with a "Best By" date code of 043112-17 because this product may be contaminated with Salmonella. The only product affected is limited to Feline Chicken & Salmon Formula with a "Best By" date code of 043112-17. No other Primal Pet Foods products are affected.

The affected product is limited to the Primal Pet Foods Feline Chicken & Salmon Formula packaged in the following forms:

  1. 4 lb chicken & salmon nuggets (UPC# 8 95135 00025 0) with a "Best By" date code of 043112-17

The "Best By" date code is located on the front of the package on the right side of the product label. The affected product was distributed through retail stores sales in the United States.

Please be assured, no human or pet illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this issue. Also, no other Primal Pet Foods products are affected by this issue.

If you have purchased a bag of Primal Pet Foods Feline Chicken & Salmon Formula Raw Frozen Diet (nuggets) with the "Best By" date code of 043112-17, we ask that you take one of the following steps.

  1. If you are a consumer and have purchased the affected product, please contact Primal Pet Foods directly at 866-566-4652 Monday-Friday 8AM-4PM PST and we can assist in getting you a full refund or replacement from your local retailer that it was originally purchased from. You'll be instructed to bring the unopened package to your local retailer for a full refund or replacement.
  2. If your package has been opened, please dispose of the raw food in a safe manner by securing it in a covered trash receptacle. Then, contact Primal Pet Foods directly at 866-566-4652 Monday-Friday 8AM-4PM PST and we can assist in getting you a full refund or replacement from your local retailer that it was originally purchased from. You'll be instructed to bring your receipt (or the empty package in a sealed bag) to your local retailer for a full refund or replacement.

We truly appreciate your cooperation, and we apologize for any inconvenience that this matter may have caused for you. If you'd like to speak with one of our representatives regarding this issue, you can call our customer service line at 866-566-4652 Monday-Friday 8AM-4PM PST.

Our Commitment to Quality
We want to reassure you that Primal Pet Foods is committed to the health and safety of your pets. Our quality control and quality assurance programs include but are not limited to: Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP's), Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP's), a Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) program, regular lot segregation, and other industry best practices. Our manufacturing facility also adheres to these specific quality measures:

  1. Our ingredients are sourced from USDA inspected facilities, and/or facilities regulated by the FDA
  2. We adhere to state and federal regulations regarding product safety
  3. Our manufacturing facilities are USDA and California State Department of Agriculture inspected.

In addition to the industry best practices listed above, and in an abundance of caution, we're taking additional steps in our manufacturing process to help ensure that our products are free of all pathogenic bacteria.

As always, Primal Pet Foods is fully committed to maintaining the highest quality standards in the pet food industry. Thank you for your continued trust in Primal Pet Foods.

Matt Koss
CEO, Primal Pet Foods

Thursday, June 2, 2011

a new fountain for cats

A colleague turned me on to this new drinking fountain - it's mostly ceramic which is a big improvement over the plastic fountains that hold onto contaminants, bacteria and leach things like BPA.

See it here:
http://glacierpointforcats.com/

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Preventing Weight Loss During Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy sometimes makes a patient sick. Unfortunately, it is in the nature of the treatment to maim and kill cells, hopefully more cancer cells than normal ones. But cells of the GI tract are often sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy, and cancer patients sometimes experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Weight loss during cancer therapy is extremely common because patients either feel ill, cannot keep their food down, or cannot smell or taste it well. Significant weight loss is a poor prognostic indicator, at least in people, and presumably in pets as well. If you were to check out the web pages of major cancer centers such as M.D. Anderson in Texas, you'd find multiple references on how to maintain your weight during chemotherapy and radiation treatment. My personal belief is that we need to try just as hard in canine and feline cancer patients.

Recently, one of my favorite patients developed cancer and his owner, an animal behaviorist, decided to start chemo. We discussed the challenges of maintaining his appetite and body weight, and using her comprehensive knowledge of animal behavior, she made certain he lost very little weight indeed.

It involved alot of thought, and use of principles that most of us may not be familiar with or just don't consider putting into practice. I was so encouraged by her success that I asked her to share her methods. If your dog or cat has cancer, whether undergoingg treatment or not, you may want to check it out:

http://www.susanwynn.com/uploads/Feeding_a_Pet_during_Chemotherapy.pdf

Thanks a million to Allison Martin for sharing her insights, and to Brody for inspiring her!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Certain Blue Buffalo dog foods recalled

http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm228986.htm

Blue Buffalo Company, Ltd. Recalls Limited Production Code Dates of Dry Dog Food Because of Possible Excess Vitamin D

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 8, 2010 - Blue Buffalo Company, Ltd., recalls certain dry dog food because of possible excess Vitamin D that can affect the health of some dogs. The Blue Buffalo Company, Ltd., is recalling certain packages of its Wilderness Chicken, Basics Salmon and Large Breed Adult Chicken dry dog foods sold under thc "BLUE" brand which have the potential to contain excessive levels of Vitamin D.

While Vitamin D is a beneficial component of these foods, the Company believes that these products may have levels of Vitamin D that are beyond the formula specifications, and has therefore chosen to withdraw them.

Dogs reacting to the higher levels of Vitamin D may show signs of lethargy or exhibit unusually frequent water consumption and urination. If your pet has consumed the recalled products and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The affected productions of Blue Wilderness Chicken, Basics Salmon and Large Breed Adult Chicken dry dog foods were distributed nationwide through pet specialty stores.

Only these production runs of the products are involved in this recall:

Blue Wilderness Chicken Flavor dry dog food4.5 1b"Best If Used By JUL2611Z"
"Best If Used By JUL2711Z" &
"Best If Used By JUL2811Z"
Blue Wilderness Chicken Flavor dry dog food11 lb"Best If Used By JUL1211B"
Blue Wilderness Chicken Flavor dry dog food24 1b"Best If Used By JUL1211B" &
"Best If Used By JUL1311B"
Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Formula Salmon and Potato Recipe dry dog food11 lb"Best If Used By AUG2111B" &
"Best If Used By AUG2211B"
Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Formula Salmon and Potato Recipe dry dog food24 lb"Best If Used By AUG2111B"
"Best If Used By SEP2311P" &
"Best If Used By OCT2611P"
Blue Life Protection Formula Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Large Breed Adult dog food30 lb"Best If Used By SEP2211P"
"Best If Used By SEP2311P" &
"Best If Used By OCT2611P"

No other BLUE dry or can pet foods are involved in this recall, and only the specific code dates of these products are involved.

To date there have been 36 cases nationwide of dogs reported with symptoms consistent with elevated Vitamin D in their systems while feeding on these specific productions of the products. In all cases the symptoms have subsided upon discontinuing feeding these products, with no apparent long term health consequences.

Blue Buffalo learned of this potential eondition in its products when it received reports of dogs diagnosed with high Vitamin D levels while feeding on the products from these specifie production runs. On further investigation it was learned that a sequencing error had occurred at the supplier of the dry ingredients for these products. Immediately before producing the ingredients for these specific production runs, the supplier had run a product for another customer that contained a more potent form of Vitamin D used in chicken feeds. It is now believed that there was some level of carry over of this Vitamin D product into the ingredients for the specific manufacturing runs of the BLUE products, thereby increasing the Vitamin D activity to unacceptable levels in the Blue ingredients.

Consumers who have purchased any of the products being recalled are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-877-523-9114 from 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time or visit the Company web site at www.bluebuffalo.com/news9 for more information.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hartz Mountain beef treats recalled, possible salmonella

http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm224987.htm

The Hartz Mountain Corporation Recalls Hartz Naturals Real Beef Treats Because of Possible Salmonella Health Risk

Contact:
Hartz Consumer Affairs
(800) 275-1414

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- SECAUCUS, N.J. - September 3, 2010 - The Hartz Mountain Corporation is voluntarily recalling one specific lot of Hartz Naturals Real Beef Treats for Dogs due to concerns that one or more bags within the lot may have been potentially contaminated with Salmonella. Hartz is fully cooperating with the US Food and Drug Administration in this voluntary recall.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, all of whom are at particular risk from exposure and should avoid handling these products.

Salmonella symptoms may include fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea in both dogs and humans. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek immediate medical attention. Owners of dogs exhibiting these symptoms should also seek veterinary assistance.

Hartz Mountain Corporation is recalling 74,700 8-oz bags of Hartz Naturals Real Beef Treats for Dogs, lot code BZ0969101E, UPC number 32700-11519, which were imported by Hartz from a Brazilian supplier, Bertin S.A., and which were distributed to a number of customers in the United States. While regular testing conducted by Bertin (prior to shipment to the US) did not detect the presence of Salmonella in any packages of this product, random sample testing conducted by FDA did indicate the presence of Salmonella. Hartz is aggressively investigating the source of the problem.

Although Hartz has not received any reports of animals or humans becoming ill as a result of coming into contact with this product, Hartz is taking immediate steps to remove the product from all retail stores and distribution centers. Dog owners having purchased this product should check the lot code on their bag, and, if the code is not visible, or if the bag has lot code BZ0969101E imprinted thereon, they should immediately discontinue use of the product and discard it in a proper manner.

Consumers can contact Hartz at 1-800-275-1414 at any time with any questions they may have and for information on how to obtain reimbursement for purchased product.