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Are Beans and Potatoes Species Appropriate
Rodney recently hosted a Facebook Live during which informed us that grain-free diets have been connected to a growing heart condition in dogs. Shortly after that Live, I saw a litany of articles discussing the same issue and the FDA began an investigation.
Earlier this week, I watched a Facebook Live with Rodney Habib, Dr. Karen Becker, and Dr. Steven Gundry that blew my mind and made me take a look at my own diet as I transition to a plant-based diet.
What I took from this discussion is that in an attempt to meet the demand for fewer grains (not species appropriate) in dog food, brands swapped out these ingredients for legumes and potatoes. Pet food today may look like it has a lot of protein (meat is the first ingredient), but when you add up the number of beans and potatoes, we're seeing that this isn't the case.
Grain-Free and Rodrigo's Gut Health
Before I switched to DIY raw feeding, I fed my dogs using a grain-free base mix that contained potatoes. I was worried about my ability to feed my dogs a balanced diet and a base mix took that fear away. While I still think it's a great place to start, I can no longer recommend grain-free given this new (to me) information. As you watch the below video, you'll learn that lectins, which are in grains and potatoes, have a lot of nasty side effects, including inhibiting a dog's system from absorbing taurine (which is leading to heart conditions in dogs) as well as contributing to many gut issues.
Within two weeks of feeding my dogs a partial raw diet, I saw many of Rodrigo's health issues go away, except his gut issues. It took several years to get his gut issues under control and I wonder if it's because I fed my dogs a grain-free base mix for more than a year. Since going DIY, Rodrigo's gut issues have leveled out and are now easily managed with diet. When he was eating the base mix, he had gut issues at least once a month.
7 Foods High in Lectins
- Green Beans
Frankly, the list goes on and on and as I was researching foods with lectins, I found that in some foods, the lectins become highly ineffective once cooked.
Like with everything else, this is information that takes research of my own and, possibly, a discussion with Rodrigo's veterinarian. But when I think back to Rodrigo and Sydney's health issues (gut and joint) that didn't go away with a switch to raw feeding (not saying that raw feeding is the answer to everything), I can't help but wonder if I was helping or harming my dogs when using a grain-free base mix.
That being said, Scout and Zoey did fine on the diet; so who knows?
Transcript of the Facebook Live
This transcript was a pain to put together so it's not perfect, but I wanted to add it because there was a lot of great information that I wish I could have written down when I was watching the video. I've highlighted the key points that I want to remember in pink.
Rodney Habib – All right. There's a whole bunch of people in the room. Round two of this – Hello, Facebook world. We're very tight here. Literally, we just did this broadcast. Thank you to the Santa Monica Inn, I believe…
Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Steven Gundry – Santa Barbara
Rodney Habib – Canadian, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica. Thank you so much. Hello, everybody out there in Facebook World. We're going to do this all over again, so if you haven't been watching the major headlines that have literally broken the Internet as of late, I will flash them to you right now. We're seeing headlines from around the world that [are] scaring the heck out of the dog world. Check it out. NBC News says Dog Heart Disease Linked to Grain-Free Diets. Bloomberg has posted Dog Food with Legumes Tied to Pet Heart Disease, FDA Says. These
headlines are mixed and matched all over the place. Time Magazine saying, Dog Heart Disease May Be Linked to Potato-Based Pet Food, FDA Says. The list goes on and on and on, and it seems to be grain free is the major issue right now that's causing all of this heart disease.
Now, let us explain heart disease for one quick second. DCM, dilated cardiomyopathy myopathy. See tough word for the layman, myopathy. This is one form of heart disease. Now, this was discovered and a huge shout out to Dr. Joshua Stern, who's actually from here from California University Davis. He was doing a study on Golden Retrievers. He found when he was measuring the blood, taurine levels of these dogs, these dogs that were getting DCM also we're having major taurine problems now. Now, this was a huge problem. The LA Times reported this years ago with cats. Literally, tens of thousands of cats were dying because of the taurine issue. They thought they rectified it and fixed it. Now, here we are at Dr. Becker was mentioned, and this could be a continuous problem from way back then would that was just never discovered in dogs.
Now I've already done a Facebook Live about this situation, so I'm going to leave the two experts. I'll be throwing around some props, quite positive. We're in a hotel here, noted Dr. Gundry's team who are watching me and standing by that I don't make a big giant mess in here or a problem. I can't promise anything, but let me introduce. Of course, this is Dr. Karen Becker's platform that we're on, the most popular veterinarian in the entire world, and if you maybe don't have the Internet, this wonderful man here to the right is the world famous cardiologist, lectin expert, Dr. Steven Gundry, human doctor literally on every platform in the world. I've seen them on like Dr Oz. I've seen them on every single social media platform there is. In fact, I read on Buzzfeed, Kelly Clarkson said you saved her life with her diet from American Idol. This man's a rockstar. Karen, I'll hand over the mic.
Dr. Karen Becker – Oh, thank you. Well, you want to. You want to touch on a few key points quickly.
Rodney Habib – Absolutely. So right now where we're at, according to the FDA, is this taurine in issue could be coming from three points. First of all, not enough taurine in the diets. Could that be the problem? Are we seeing an absorption issue or a dog's just not making a properly? What on earth is going on and what should had parents be doing? More importantly, as we discussed this through this Facebook Live.
Dr. Karen Becker – So thank you Rodney, and we do have three big things that could be going on to the FDA is responsible and just going to do their due diligence in determining exactly what's going on. Right now we know it could be lack of actual taurine present in the food and that could be for several different reasons. AAFCO doesn't require the taurine content be measured for dog food, nor do they have a minimum standard of taurine for dog food, so it could just be that there's not enough taurine in the food because we're not measuring to see how much is in
The second issue is because as much as we want to see meat first on the label, the truth, is if you add up all of the carbohydrates, whether it's pea, pea protein combined with potato, potato, starch, as well as all of the other carbohydrates present, the actual amount of meat which contains the amino acids which are necessary for taurine to be produced in a dog's body, there just may not be enough. Not to mention that there could be storage issues, which means we could see that storage, we know that taurine is depleted with high heat temperatures, which we know is what happens in the pet food industry, taurine is also depleted because of the length of storage, so the fact that dog food stays on the shelf for a year or freezing dog food, even, can all diminish the amount of taurine.
The second issue is that we could be dealing with issues with a lack of taurine absorption, which means there is adequate taurine in the food but the fiber in the GI tract is blocking taurine absorption or we could be dealing with polysaccharides or other nutrients in the gut that could be inhibiting taurine absorption. In fact, one of the questions is “why legumes?” and I've asked myself that so certainly Dr. Stern's research was done and the fact that grain-free foods have been particularly implicated in this problem. So when it comes to grain-free foods and when we look at the ingredients, legumes are on the list and potatoes are on the list. So because we're looking specifically at potatoes and legumes, we need to be thinking about, okay, what are legumes and how on earth do legumes could be linked to heart disease. And, to be honest, we don't have a lectin specialist in the veterinary realm. We have a veterinary nutritionist. We have a veterinary cardiologist. But we don't have doctors that have experience and expertise in both realms.
Enter Dr. Steven Gundry who is an expert in both realms. He's an accomplished cardiac surgeon as well as a human cardiologist, famous in that realm, and he also has become a lectin specialist and that's a very interesting story. He wrote this amazing book that explains how he became interested in lectins. But most importantly, the burning question is, cardiologist, amazing, lectin specialist, amazing, but do they have any relationship and correlation. So, we brought you on to answer that question. How on earth, first of all, what is a lectin? And, second of all, how on earth can lectins be at all implicated in heart disease.
Dr. Steven Gundry – Lectins are plant proteins, sticky proteins that bind sugar molecules and, believe it or not, plants don't want us to eat them and this is their defense system against being eaten and lectins are actually the cause of leaky gut. And just to wet everybody's appetite, hold that up to the camera, Rodney. This is from the Atlantic in March of 2018 and I hope you can read it. It says, “something mysterious is killing captive gorillas and they're getting dilated cardiomyopathy” and they don't get in the wild. And it says in the fine print “guess what, it's happening in the food we give them in their gut. And we give them Gorilla Chow, Monkey Chow, which are biscuits.
Dr. Karen Becker – Like Dog Chow.
Dr. Steven Gundry – And we found out, that in fact, all of this in gorillas, who are our closest relatives, and I happen to be an expert on gorillas from my research at Yale, gorillas are like us and if this, feeding gorillas the kibbles that we are actually feeding our dogs and cats, there's a link here to human health. So, believe it or not, we're having an incredible absorption issue with food that we're giving our dogs. These are examples of lectin, which are little PacMan, which actually eat…lectins actually munch through the wall of your gut. And as they munch through the wall of your gut they allow in these proteins which are foreign…and probably, even more important, they allow in bacterial particles that cause us inflammation. They attack our heart, attack our joints, we certainly see dogs with lots of arthritis, I see arthritis reversed in humans when you get rid of lectins. These guys are nefarious and they are really present in beans and legumes. And, unfortunately, the only way we can destroy these is a pressure cooker. Heat alone won't destroy them, just soaking them will not destroy them – it will help, but pressure cooking will. And, unfortunately, in dog food, we're not doing that.
Dr. Karen Becker – We're not doing that. So my gosh. So, and so humans get dilated cardiomyopathy.
Dr. Steven Gundry – Correct.
Dr. Karen Becker – And uh, you have been able to link that as lectins are introduced to the human body, create leaky gut, and then create massive inflammation. And, in turn, then heart disease. If you remove the lectins from human diets, can you reverse the heart issue?
Dr. Steven Gundry – Yes, absolutely. And you know, I presented papers most recently or the American Heart Association, Atherosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology meeting last month showing that when we remove lectins from human's diets, we can actually watch an autoimmune attack on the blood vessels surface and humans disappear.
Dr. Karen Becker – Wow. Wow.
Dr. Steven Gundry – So, and again, this is happening in gorillas just like it's happening in humans is now happening in dogs. There's a link here.
Dr. Karen Becker – So we know what happens in kitties, a little bit different form, but if kitties are getting it, dogs are getting it, humans get it and gorillas get it and it's all heart disease linked to diet, linked specifically to microbiomes. My goodness, we're onto something. So my question is, uh, some of these pet foods are up to 40 percent legumes. Ah, how much is too much when it comes – from people – how much is too much when it…you know, keep in mind dogs and cats don't have a carbohydrate requirement. That's something that you may or may not know. How much or too much when it comes to, to, to humans?
Rodney Habib – Can I, can I, let me jump in very quick because there's been a lot of messages right now. People asking about the brands that we posted here in the beginning. I do want to say this, these are only just some of the brands right now that pet owners right now around the world are experiencing DCM issues. You can go online, there's a couple of Facebook, Facebook groups. Dr. Joshua Western as well. There are people are inputting where they're seeing a lot of these problems and we don't want to pick on these brands by any means. Just some of the brands right now that pet owners are experiencing some problems.
Dr. Karen Becker – Okay, thanks. Nice. Nice. PSA. If 40 percent of pet foods contain up to 40 percent, 50 percent
in some cases, legumes. Oh, what if we reduced…So one of the suggestions last week coming out of PFI was to reduce legumes content and hold it at 20 percent of the diet, would we see less heart disease if we were a person?
Dr. Steven Gundry – If we were a person, probably not because most of the people that I see or are using legumes and don't get me wrong, I'm nothing against them as long as their pressure cooked under high heat, they're safe, but most people don't do that. So they are full of lectins and that's what's happening. Possibly. Yeah.
Dr. Karen Becker – Maybe and just as a side note, these legumes are going into pet foods raw. Now, of course, they are extruded. They're, they're either cooked through the extrusion process, but they're going in raw. Any, um, any concerns about raw beans? Raw legumes?
Dr. Steven Gundry – Yeah, we like, I tell him my, I take care of lots of vegetarians and vegans and I point out that a gorilla, for instance, has never eaten a legume. They're lethal, raw, and have never eaten a grain. There is no protein need for humans or gorillas for the proteins in legumes. We don't need them. A gorilla has more muscle mass than we ever imagined. And they get all their muscle by eating leaves, the protein in leaves. So it's a misnomer that we have to get protein from legumes.
Dr. Karen Becker – So what about potatoes? Because the other thing that's been implicated was potatoes and, in my opinion, legumes and potatoes are quite different. So Rodney is trying to break the potato.
Rodney Habib – Well, let me tell you one thing to everyone out there, in Facebook World, you cannot crack a potato and have very easily. I got to do more push-ups.
Dr. Karen Becker – So potatoes don't have lectins…
Dr. Steven Gundry – Potatoes are part of the night shade family, so they definitely do have lectins. One of the interesting things is humans cannot use a raw potato. We cannot digest the starches in any tuber, even the aborigines always roast their tubers that they find because we cannot digest them. But importantly, potato starch, which is most of the calories of the potato, feeds the wrong kind of bacteria in our gut and it's called an R2 starch. The type of things we want to feed our bacteria called R3 starches like leafy greens. And it turns out a gorilla is supposed to have R3 starches like us. So a potato feeds bad bacteria. And what happens is these bad bacteria make lipopolysaccharides which are pieces of bacteria that get through the wall of our leaky gut. In fact, they don't even need a leaky gut to do it. And they in and of themselves create inflammation.
Dr. Karen Becker – Wow. So if potatoes are damaging to the gut, if legumes or the lectins in legumes are damaging to the gut, if the lectins, what about lectins in and of themselves? One of the other theories is, okay, do lectins, in any way, for people, inhibit taurine synthesis.
So the third reason, let me talk about this. So the third reason, um, that, that, that has been hypothesized about where this taurine deficiency could be coming from is the fact that there's just lack, that all the raw materials are there, but then the synthesis that occurs in the body can't. So kitties have to be supplied to taurine, but dogs have to, dogs can make it, no problem, if they're provided the amino acid methionine and the amino acid cysteine. So my question is, what if, could lectin somehow interfere with the synthesis or the manufacturing in humans taurine?
Dr. Steven Gundry – That's one of the theories of how lectins operate is that they actually prevent natural synthesis of amino acids by bacteria. But more importantly, and I think one of the reasons we're seeing this epidemic is that most of our legumes, most of our grains, almost all of our corn has been treated with glyphosate, Roundup. And there's now very good evidence out of MIT and Harvard Medical School that glyphosate prevents bacteria from manufacturing these amino acids into the types that we need. And it directly causes leaky gut. So what we, what, unbeknownst to all of us is that almost all of our crops, even organic crops have glyphosate on them because it's been sprayed on neighboring fields and it drifts over. So one of the things that we have to realize is that glyphosate is in all of us, it's in mother's breast milk. And so I think a lot of the problem that we're seeing in our dogs, we absolutely have now proven is happening in humans because most of the food wheat has been treated.
Dr. Karen Becker – So it really could be all of these things. It could be raw materials, it's a deficiency, plus the dogs can't make the taurine that they need because of chemicals in their bodies. So what the PFI came up with a couple of weeks ago where a few suggestions…minimize, keep legumes at 20 percent, which we already know is still not low enough. The second suggestion that was made was to feed, to go back to feeding foods that contain corn, wheat, and rice. Thoughts about that?
Dr. Steven Gundry – The same problem. So there are, these are foreign materials to dogs. Dogs don't eat corn and rice, they have lectins in their own right. And they have anti-nutrients in their own right. Dogs were not designed to eat these things, believe it or not, and neither were people, and we do not, not only do we not need these things, they're very new to our diet. You know, dogs are carnivores who can sample around. Cats are obviously obligate carnivores, but these, these are all new things that were introduced to pet food to quite frankly make their poops easy to, to clean up.
Dr. Karen Becker – And cheap, grains are cheap and meat's expensive. You Bet. Okay, so that option out. So going back to grain-based foods, you know, it's not an option in our opinion. And then the other option was just at a wad more of methionine and so methionine is one of the building blocks for taurine. So what if we were to just dump a bunch of methionine in the food? You had mentioned that, that maybe that might because if there's, there might be absorption issues with that.
Dr. Steven Gundry – Right? One of the, one of the things that I find in humans that are so troublesome with lectins, in general, is that lectins are, by their nature, destroy the lining of the gut. And so the less of the lining of the gut that you have to absorb the essential amino acids, that's actually, from a plant system, a very good way to get of a predator. If you have a weak predator, it's not going to go out and get things. So, uh, we, the more I see this in humans, the more I realize, I take care of a large number of humans who have low protein and low albumin and we thought it was just a part of getting older. And in fact, it's not. When we were moved these from our diet, all of a sudden, miraculously their protein levels go up, their albumin level goes help because their gut wall is now repairing itself and they can absorb more broken. So this may be a direct damage to the wall animals' guts.
Dr. Karen Becker – So insightful. So we need to be thinking about gut biome. Obviously, we need to be thinking about pesticides and we need to be thinking about lectins or anti-nutrients in the food. The other thing you mentioned, um, but one of the theories has been is that it could be the synthetic form of selenium that is found in pet foods. We use a lot of [unclear], which is not a necessarily natural form. And you had mentioned that phytates may inhibit some mineral absorption.
Dr. Steven Gundry – Correct. The other plant defense system recalled phytates, phytates work by blocking mineral absorption. So one of our problems in our modern diet, number one is, we have very few minerals like selenium in our soil anymore. Very little calcium in our soil, but then add that to the blocking effect of legumes or corn. And you got a perfect storm.
Dr. Karen Becker – Wow. So thank you for the explanation. I asked Dr. Gundry about his dog. He actually has a dog. You have a Cavalier.
Dr. Steven Gundry – I have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. We've had a bunch of them.
Dr. Karen Becker – Yes. We love it. Avid. Before cardiologist, I'll tell you, he's an avid dog lover. So first and foremost, he's squared away there for dogs. You have a dog that has a heart condition.
Dr. Steven Gundry – Correct.
Dr. Karen Becker – And you were given a very poor prognosis.
Dr. Steven Gundry – Actually, uh, one of our Cavaliers was sent home with nutrient deficiencies and the vet actually told us that he had pancreatic insufficiency and take them home to die. There's no treatment. And I went, that's doesn't make any sense. He's a seven-year-old dog. And so I put him and several of our other dogs on a
raw food diet from, uh, one of our holistic pet food stores. And not only did his massive diarrhea, I mean hit me, it was just a little scrawny, poor thing, returned to normal and I had a great life. And we currently have a dog who blew out her mitral valve about a year ago and we've changed her diet. We've added some nutrients that I use in adults to keep their cardiomyopathy under control. And she goes on our two and a half mile hike every morning now.
Dr. Karen Becker – So great
Dr. Steven Gundry – Couldn't breathe a year ago, literally in Pulmonary Edema.
Dr. Karen Becker – Oh, so, so good. So there is hope and I think that that's a very important thing as well. So when we think of that, so those are the problems. We're going to cover some of the solutions, and when to say solution, some ways that you need to be thinking in terms of strategies that if you're concerned about this with your dog, what you can be doing.
Rodney Habib – Yeah. And so here I'm going to jump in, sorry, don't mean to cut Dr. Karen Becker off – size of the screen. So one of the big issues, and I talked about this last week when I did my grain-free posts, for a lot of people was to contact your manufacturer. This was a recommendation from the pet food industry that by contacting your manufacturer they could talk to you about maybe what's happening and if they're adding taurine because we get it. Not everybody out there can feed whole fresh foods. You're strapped, you're on a budget, you've got five or six dogs, you only got 20 bucks in your pocket. Whatever it is, we want to help. So, that being said, pet food, pet owners were counting, contacting the pet food manufacturers who were sending that sort of standard statement that said, hey look, dogs don't need taurine. They can make it themselves. Not a big deal. Hey look, we're adding a little bit in there. Everything should be okay. And yet the same manufacturers are saying the same statements are showing up in Dr. Stern's work in some of these Facebook groups that are out there having these issues with their foods. So that being said, of course, the pet food industry said go 20 percent or less. This is impossible for a pet or to figure out your best bet and what you're going to be able to do that might help you out is feed fewer carbs. And by that, when you look at a bag of pet food, it should tell you on the bag whether you see how much protein there is in there, how many carbohydrates, legumes. If you look at a bag of food and it's only two ingredients, one of them happens to be meat and the other happens to be a pea or a potato or a lagoon or some sort of lectin, odds are that's at least 50 percent of that problem. Now we have a thousand little calculators that we have out there. I'm going to walk around here because I know it's not going to be easy to see.
Dr. Karen Becker – So just as a caveat you, when you flip over your bag of dog food, it doesn't say how much carb is in there, so you've got to calculate it. Human foods, less carbohydrate load, but pet foods don't as of yet. So this is an easy equation, Rodney, are you going to walk it through.
100 – (Fat + Protein + Moisture + Fiber + Ash) = Carbohydrates
Rodney Habib – Absolutely. So when you flip around in the back of the bag, you look at the guaranteed analysis, super easy, add up the fat, the protein, the moisture, the fiber, and the Ash. The ash is not listed on average, it's around six percent and that's going to give you a carbohydrate load. So if you're finding like 60, 70, 50, 40 percent carbohydrates, odds are you may have that problem.
Dr. Karen Becker – If you're going to continue feeding process food, we're going to recommend that you do this quick carbohydrate calculation and make sure that you, if you're over 30 percent that you switched to a food that has less than 30 percent carb, ideally. One thing that's important for you to recognize is that a dog's ancestral diet was less than 10 percent carbohydrate and that's certainly something that after Dr. Gundry's, wise advice for humans, if we take into account all of those variables, it would be very, very wise to minimize that carb load down to under 10 percent.
Second common sense suggestion, feed more taurine. Now, ideally, we'd like to have you feed taurine from taurine-rich foods. If you can't supply taurine-rich foods, of course, you can give a high-quality supplement, but first and foremost, try and add in simple foods that provide taurine. Now foods, the shellfish particularly very, very rich and taurine. Do you suggest for human patient that they eat more?
Dr. Steven Gundry – Yeah, we want them to eat more shellfish, as much as they can – wild shellfish. It's actually easy to find now.
Dr. Karen Becker – It is. And sardines packed in water, great easy sources. Well, dogs love him. Kitty's loved them too.
The third common sense approach, obviously, feed a fresh, fresh meaning, not frozen more than three months, um, and ideally freshly prepared, either daily or weekly basis, and feed meat-based foods because meat contains the essential amino acids necessary for your dog to potentially make more taurine, which is important.
And last but not least, Rodney…
Rodney Habib – This one is huge. Rotate brands that, look, I learned a lot of pet food manufacturers out there will tell you, oh no, just stick with our brand. You don't need to be going anywhere else. At this point, that's a pile of BS, you should be rotating brands because if one of these brands has that major problem, by moving around, shifting around, you going to lessen your odds of getting into trouble.
Dr. Karen Becker – Well, this is great information. I appreciate both of my guest joining me today. Um, we could not be more honored that you gave us your wisdom and insight. It's good to know that actually all mammals potentially could be suffering from this and it's a pretty easy fix. Ditch the, ditch the legumes, ditch the lectins.
Rodney Habib – So if you're out there in the human world and you really want to know, check out Dr. Gundry's book. This is an awesome book I had this moment. Actually. I'm still in this copy as well. I think Dad wants to read this. Look, here's the deal to all of my fellow pet parents out there, the FDA is investigating this, this could take months or years to figure out. Nobody, no pet parent in their right mind is going to put their pet dog or cat anything at risk at this point so you as the pet parent have to empower yourself and you have to take charge. Adding a little bit of fresh food. If you only got five bucks in your pocket, man, a can of sardines is not expensive. It can help you and get you out of these situations. So until next time…
Dr. Steven Gundry – You and your dog. And for those of you who keep asking me, there is going to be a Gundry MD line of pet supplements and food 'cause I hear ya, it's coming.
Dr. Karen Becker – And maybe a lectin blocker for dogs.
Dr. Steven Gundry – A lectin blocker for dogs is part of it. Absolutely.
Dr. Karen Becker – Yeah. Help for everyone. Thanks, guys. Bye.