As explained in last week’s blog, determinism is the belief that any subject can be best understood by understanding its parts. When determinism is applied to nutrition you get the kind of silly statements that veterinary nutritionists and pet food manufacturers make all the time. These experts will tell you that it is not the ingredients of a pet food that matter but rather it is the nutrients.
Of course, if you believe in the reductionist view that we understand food best by studying its parts, then it does not matter what ingredients provide the calories, protein, and other nutrients. This is the kind of nutrition information that gets spoon fed the veterinary students who become your local pet nutrition experts (your vet). And we all have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. This belief is also what justifies the poor ingredients in the foods veterinarians often recommend.
Such ingredients as “Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, and Brewers Rice” are among the first listed in one feline prescription diet. Now, grains and starches of any kind are not appropriate for pets – especially cats, which are known to be obligate carnivores. And, the protein provided by grains is of poor quality (inappropriate amino acid profile and inadequate absorption).
The notion that nutrients rule is refuted in this research published in the journal, Nutrition Reviews. The title of this article says it all; Food, Not Nutrients, is the Fundamental Unit in Nutrition. Here is what the researchers have to say.
“It seems a good assumption that the vast majority of components of plant and animal-based food is functional, that it has some kind of biological activity…there are thousands of other substances [besides vitamins and minerals] in the food matrix that must be considered as possibly leading to biological activity, possibly synergistically with each other, that in some sense could equally be deemed essential for life because they are not produced by nor do they augment human biological systems.”
Between the number of nutrients in food and the way the body selectively absorbs and utilizes them, nutrition is much more complicated than the veterinary nutritionists and pet food manufacturers lead us to believe. I will write more on that next week along with the solution to the nutrition problem.
Read your pet’s food ingredient label and let us know what questionable things you find.