Monthly Archives: February 2015

Under Attack!

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I recently gave a day of holistic lectures at the Iowa State Veterinary Medical Association Winter Conference. I was warmly welcomed by the meeting staff and just about everyone who attended my lectures. I say “just about everyone” because there was one veterinarian in the audience of about 50, who for the entire morning portion of my presentation, loudly opposed nearly everything I had to say.

Now, I fully understand that most conventional veterinarians are challenged by much of what I present. In my opening lecture, I very systematically offered research that is troubling for those vets who strongly adhere to the concept of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM). (I discuss the many problems with EBM here).

Well, my friend in the back of the room was incensed at my assault on all he holds dear. He repeatedly interrupted me with his contradictory comments. I cannot imagine any other speaker at a professional conference being treated so rudely by any audience member.

Between his snipes I talked about confirmation bias. That’s the tendency we all have to regard information that reinforces our opinions as true, while attacking or ignoring evidence that refutes our point of view. I also demonstrated how we all can become entrapped in certain paradigms that shape how we see the world. Apparently, none of this sunk in for Dr. EBM.

During my second lecture, which was on natural nutrition, I presented research on the benefits of raw diets. Soon, Dr. EBM started up again trying to refute my studies with others. He announced that during the 15 minute break he had looked ahead at what I was about to present. Then, he ran to the nearest computer and downloaded studies that he thought would prove me wrong. (You have to admire his determination to be a pain in the ass).

We went back and forth for some time. My lecture was starting to devolve into a debate. I was determined stand my ground. I was presenting plenty of scientific studies to back up my points. Finally, an even louder audience member called out Dr. EBM as to why he was so unprofessionally harassing me. We didn’t hear back from my friend the rest of the day.

The funny thing is that Dr. EBM unwittingly gave the audience a perfect demonstration of confirmation bias. He didn’t have to waste his time listening to me presenting “incorrect” information. He already knew the “truth.” Instead of giving my studies serious consideration, he clung to his opinions, oblivious to ideas that lay outside his paradigm.

After the lecture several audience members actually apologized for Dr. EBM’s behavior. The following week, the conference organizers told me that I had very positive reviews, except for one – and they thought that I would know who that came from. (Apparently his reputation preceded him). They recommended me for future lectures. Thanks Dr. EBM!

Have you ever been attacked for your holistic point of view?

Are You Aware of this Dog Food Debacle?

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The importance of a diet’s macronutrient balance cannot be over stated. Studies show that the percentages of protein, fat, and carbohydrate in an animal’s diet affects their grow rate and size, level of obesity, longevity, and disease resistance. In fact, research shows that predators select food on the basis of the macronutrient balance that enhances their survival.

Two weeks ago we explored the ideal macronutrient balance for cat foods. Today we’ll look at research regarding the balance of dog foods.  To this end I have found a very interesting correlation.

In the book Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, Steve Brown estimates the macronutrient content of the diets of our dogs’ ancestors. The idea is that although your dog may not look much like a wolf on the outside, her digestive tract and thus nutritional needs are very similar. From his work I calculated that the ancestral diet of dogs consisted of approximately 50% ME protein, 44% ME fat, and 6% ME carbohydrate.

Recent research looked at the nutrient profile selection of present-day, adult dogs. They studied 5 diverse breeds including the papillon, miniature schnauzer, cockerspaniel, Labradore retriever and St. Bernard. They found that all of these very different dogs consistently chose a diet consisting of 30% ME protein, 63% ME fat, and 7% ME carbohydrate. Now we can quibble over the percentage of fat and protein, but look how close these levels of carbohydrates are to those of Steve Brown’s estimates. Two independent studies find that the ideal level of carbohydrates for dogs is between 6% and 7%.

Interestingly, the research on dog nutrient profile selection concluded that “the recent rapid divergence among dog breeds is not substantially reflected in their macronutrient priorities compared with other phenotypic features such as size, color, and temperament.” It follows that even though dogs look and act very different than wolves, they require similar diets.

Meanwhile, back at the AAFCO ranch, adult dog food standards call for diets consisting of 19% ME protein, 12% ME fat, and 69% ME carbohydrates. Once again, AAFCO and the pet food industrial complex are way out of range. Why they insist that grains and other sources of carbohydrates are good for pets is beyond me.

Actually, the reason for the excess carbs is clear. It has nothing to do with the healthiness of the food. It is all about keeping the pet food cheap and convenient (you can’t make kibble without starch to glue it together). Cost and convenience are important, but not more important than the health of our pets.

As one of my holistic clients put it last week, “You can pay for good food or you can pay expensive veterinary bills.”

What’s your choice?

Avoid These Dangerous “Natural” Supplements

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On a daily basis, clients come to me with bottles of supplements (sometimes bags full of them), and ask me if I think they are any good. In almost every case my answer is, “I don’t know.” Sure, I can look at the label and see what it says is in there. But there is absolutely no way for any of us to know if what is listed on the label is what is actually in the capsules. News last week proves my point.

On Monday, Feb 2, 2015 the New York State Attorney General’s office announced the results of their investigation into popular supplements. They tested top-selling store brand herbal supplements from GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart. Four out of five of the products tested did not contain any of the herbs listed on their labels!

Not only that, many of the supplements contained contaminants or fillers that were not listed on the label. For example, Walmart’s ginkgo biloba contained powdered radish, houseplants, and wheat. Mind you, the label specifically claimed the product was wheat- and gluten-free. Can you imagine the problems this could cause a person or animals with a wheat or gluten allergy? Who would suspect the supplement?

The New York State Attorney General’s investigation was inspired by a previous study by researcher from the University of Guelph. In October of 2013, they published the results of their analysis of 44 herbal products sold by 12 companies. Only two of the companies provided authentic products without substitutions, contaminants, or fillers.

Almost 60% of the herbal products contained plant species not listed on the label. They discovered product substitution in 32% of the samples. More than 20% of the products included fillers such as rice, soybeans, and wheat not listed on the label. The researchers stated, “We found contamination in several products with plants that have known toxicity, side effects, and/or negatively interact with other herbs, supplements, and medications.”

When it comes to supplements, I have no way of knowing/recommending supplements that have been obtained from outside sources. On the other hand, I do fully trust the supplements that I carry.

  1. I have meticulously researched all of the companies.
  2. I have visited the manufacturing facilities of some of them.
  3. I have been using most of them for over 20 years on my patients.
  4. I have been using most of them for over 20 years on myself and my pets.
  5. I have seen and personally experienced their effectiveness.

Ultimately, choosing a supplement comes down to trust. None of us can oversee the harvesting of the herbs, their processing, or their packaging. But, how do you know which company to trust? For me it all comes down to my experience with the company and their products.

Do you trust the supplements you give your pets? Why?