I believe that nutrition is the foundation of health. It's a phrase that is used frequently, but what does it really mean? To me it means that without a solid foundation of appropriate nutrition, health will not be achieved. There are millions of chemical reactions that support the health of the body which are not able to occur unless the animal is ingesting the required nutrients for these reactions to take place.
The food our pets eat is broken down in the digestive system. This breaking down process is accomplished by acids, enzymes and microbes. Protein for example is broken down into individual amino acids. Once the food is broken down into nutrients, these are able to pass through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. From there the nutrients can be transported where ever they are needed in the body through the blood. Blood delivers water, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, glucose, oxygen, salts, hormones and proteins to all the cells in the body.
An animal's metabolism is the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions that are constantly occurring within their tissues. The three main purposes of metabolism are to convert food to energy, to convert food to building blocks and to eliminate wastes. These chemical reactions are what allow the animal to grow, repair and maintain their physical bodies. In order to keep up with an ever changing environment, the reactions of metabolism is finely regulated to maintain a constant condition within the cells, a process called homeostasis.
Enzymes are crucial to metabolism because they act as catalysts - allowing reactions to proceed rapidly, and regulating the rate of metabolic reactions. Vitamins and minerals function as co-enzymes and co-factors, which can be thought of as helpers that are required in order for enzymes to carry out a chemical reaction. Most vitamins and minerals need to be supplied from the diet as they cannot be synthesized by the cells.
The food our pets eat is what gives their bodies all the information and materials they need to function properly. If they don't get the right food that carried the right information and materials, they become undernourished, metabolic processes suffer and their health will decline.
Nutrients give our pets:
1)Instructions about how to function and
2)The resources to carry out those functions
The foods our pets eat along with what they are exposed to in their environment directly affects their DNA and its expression. Epigenetic factors (beyond the gene) are directly and indirectly influenced by the presence or absence of key nutrients in the diet, as well as exposure to toxins, chemicals, pathogens and other environmental factors.
Food is the primary way that we are all interacting with our environment and it can alter genetic information in the space of a single generation. Researchers have come to understand that how any particular gene is expressed, is determined by epigenetic up or down regulation in response to certain nutrients. For example - if there is not enough calcium and vitamin D in the body, certain genes remain dormant (turned off) and less bone is built in the body. Until the required nutrients are again available. A dormant or "turned off" gene can be turned back on and function optimally in the right environment.
Your pet can have the a super healthy lifestyle - getting the right amount of exercise and rest, a low stress environment, low exposure to toxins and so on, but without proper nutrition they will still not be able to maintain their health effectively.
You might wonder if your pet needs a vitamin or mineral supplement. Read more about that here.
The bottom line is that food has incredibly powerful effects upon the body and there are no shortcuts or magic pills to pop that will compensate for poor nutrition.
Support your pet's good health with a solid foundation through excellent nutrition!
Check out other blog posts on the topic of nutrition.
Author - Jennifer Lee
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