Pet Improvement: Rusting from the inside out

A botanical rainbow of plant pigments rich in antioxidants: blueberry, spirulina, ginger, garlic, turmeric root and cranberry are some of the colors of the rainbow.

The recent fires and smoke created a health hazard for many people and animals. The associated gases and particles can be dangerous when inhaled, particularly the particulate matter (PM). Large PM typically only irritate the eyes, nose and throat, but fine particles can make their way into the deepest part of the lungs, causing respiratory distress.

Young and old pets, or those with certain pre-existing conditions such as heart or lung issues, will be more at risk from the effects of smoke. Birds are extremely sensitive.

In addition, the chemical residues, flame retardants and other toxins settle into the earth and water and open the door to toxins polluting water supplies and food chains. With pets, this can present serious health challenges.

According to Randall Thomason, nutritional biochemist, the particles, gases and residue can lead to inhalant allergies, toxicity and free radical production.

Free radicals are the negative byproduct created when the body produces energy or reacts to pollution, diseases, illnesses, food carcinogens, mental and emotional stresses, and even excessive sunshine. This is a stressor on the system and can lead to oxidation at the cellular level in the host and immune suppression or oxidation can lead to free radical production.

What is a free radical? These are unstable atoms inside of us that have lost one or more electrons. They have an abundance of negative energy and go around looking for donors to complete them. Free radicals can damage cells and cause oxidative stress throughout the body. The damaged cells can lead to a host of issues, including accelerated aging, vision degeneration, heart disease, inflammation and cancer.

Thomason likes to say, “We rust from the outside in and the inside out.”

What can we do to offset this? Eat fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are phytochemicals found in these foods that are willing to give up one or more donor electrons to satisfy the free radical electron deficiency. They also contain the cofactors necessary to make this happen and help reduce the taxation on the body. 

The color in plant pigment typically contains the antioxidant components. The yellow, orange, red colors known as carotenoids are rich in beta carotene, lutein and lycopene. Carrots, squashes, tomatoes, pumpkin and sweet potatoes are all examples of this. 

Blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries contain anthocyanins and some contain proanthocyanins, which are also found in the stems, leaves, skins and bark of many plants. 

Dark green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, broccoli and collard greens, are powerhouses, but even garlic contains potent antioxidants. 

Fresh fruits and vegetables are also rich in vitamin C and other crucial nutrients, and in its natural form, C is already known as a potent antioxidant.

The best way to consume these fruits and vegetables for the potent effect is fresh and raw. For pets they need to be pureed. If that is not possible, then try lightly steaming the vegetables. Remember to thoroughly clean the outside of the plant before preparation. 

Study after study has shown the positive effects to health from just eating good, healthy, wholesome and organic produce. 

Learn more online at agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/1996/nov/plant.

Jane Laulis is an avid pet lover. She hosts a pet talk radio show and is involved with pets from research to retail, nutrition to pet food manufacturing. She lives on the coast with her scientist husband, ocean faring dogs, indoor cats, exotic snakes and a charm of hummingbirds. She may be reached at [email protected]

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