There are a lot of raw feeders who say “Fruits for dogs? Carnivores don’t need them!”
But it doesn’t matter if you feed raw, kibble or otherwise. Fruits have the ability to change your dog’s life … in a very good way.
If you’re in the No Fruits For Dogs camp, I’m hoping to change your mind with these top 6 reasons to feed your dog more fruit …
1. Fruits Contain Polyphenols
In the late 1900s, scientists looked at diets rich in fruits and vegetables. They found they protected people from cancers, heart disease, diabetes and more.
Today, they know those health benefits come from polyphenols.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds that come only from fruit and plants. But your dog can’t actually digest polyphenols directly.
They travel to his colon, where the bacteria that live there eat the polyphenols. They then produce healthy by-products like short chain fatty acids.
Polyphenols are found in some spices, herbs, nuts, vegetables and especially in fruits.
Apples, pears and berries contain about 200 to 300 mg of polyphenols per 100 grams of fresh fruit.
2. Fruits Kill Cancer Cells
Studies show that polyphenols reduce the risk of cancer. This is because they can inhibit cells that cause DNA methylation which is a major driver of cancer.
And they can also reactivate silenced genes in cancer cells and cause their death (apoptosis).
A study showed that resveratrol (found in fruits like apple skins), reduced bacteria activity linked to colon cancer. This polyphenol and others can also control cancer cell growth and division.
This means that cancer cells are less likely to spread in your dog’s body.
3. Fruits Reduce Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s defense system. When your dog is sick or hurt, acute inflammation delivers immune cells to the affected area. They help to fight disease and repair damaged tissues.
So inflammation is helpful … but only if it’s short term and resolves quickly. If acute inflammation continues it becomes an unhealthy chronic inflammation.
Unfortunately, chronic inflammation is becoming a common disease in dogs that’s linked to:
- Heart disease
- Joint disease
- Autoimmune diseases
In a 2014 study, researchers fed three groups of rats differently for two months.
- Group 1- ate rat chow
- Group 2- ate a high fat, high sugar diet
- Group 3- ate the same high fat, high sugar diet with some cranberry juice added.
They then analyzed their livers. The rats fed the cranberry juice had fewer inflammatory markers. The polyphenols suppressed inflammatory enzymes and the pro-inflammatory immune cells called cytokines.
Plus, polyphenols fight another common cause of chronic inflammation …
4. Polyphenols Fight Oxidative Stress
Free radicals are another important cause of inflammation.
Oxygen has two unpaired electrons and this makes the oxygen molecule really reactive when it’s used in the body. … and their unpaired electrons molecule is called a free radical.
Electrons like to be paired, so free radicals steal electrons from their neighbors. This stable molecule then becomes unstable too and becomes a brand new free radical.
Billions of these molecules can react every second leading to a lot of damage to molecules.
It’s especially harmful to cell membranes. Free radicals build up like rust in the body. And this rust causes chronic inflammation and ultimately chronic disease and premature aging.
Antioxidants fight free radicals.
They work together to donate an electron to the free radical … but without becoming free radicals themselves.
The polyphenols curcumin and resveratrol are potent free radical scavengers. Feeding these can really help combat oxidative stress.
Sometimes polyphenols can be pro-oxidant … and cause the same damage that free radicals do. However, their free radicals only seem to target cancer cells. And they pump toxic amounts of free radicals into cancer cells to kill them.
Think of feeding polyphenols and fruits as making deposits into your dog’s bank account.
These deposits help your dog’s health account to stay balanced and healthy against:
- Environmental toxins
- Poor diet
5. Polyphenols Balance The Gut
When you feed your dog, you’re also feeding the few trillion bacteria that live in his gut.
Some foods, like protein and healthy fats, have important responsibilities. They feed the friendly bacteria in his gut.
The bacteria inside your dog’s gut:
- produce your dog’s vitamins
- protect his gut lining
- help modulate his immune system.
Toxins and starch in the diet can feed the bacteria that produce inflammatory by-products. But when there is a good population of friendly bacteria, they can crowd them.
They do this by competing for receptor sites in the intestines.
Polyphenols feed the friendly bacteria and can bind to receptor sites on harmful bacteria. This interferes with their activity and growth so that the good bacteria can thrive.
The polyphenol, catechin, can stop the growth of E. coli, Bordetella bronchiseptica (the bacteria that cause kennel cough) and Salmonella.
And quercetin, another polyphenol, can also stop E. coli from growing.
There’s a study from 2016 that looked at the polyphenol lignan. They found it fed the bacteria in the gut known to have tumor cell killing activity.
6. Polyphenols Help Detoxify The Liver
The liver is one of the most critical organs in your dog’s body with two jobs:
- It produces his nutrients
- It processes and removes toxins from food and the environment
But some toxins, especially fat-soluble toxins, are hard for the liver to metabolize.
These toxins are then able to cling to the liver cells. And over time when these toxins build up the free radicals also build up in the liver.
Polyphenols support the liver by activating phase 1 and phase 2 enzymes in the liver.
Phase 1 is the first step in defending the liver from toxins. Phase 1 enzymes help neutralize toxins by converting them into less harmful molecules.
But these molecules can still be harmful to the body. So phase 2 enzymes take those byproducts and make them water-soluble so they can easily exit the body.
Why Fruits For Dogs?
Today’s world is toxic. Your dog’s environment is toxic. His food contains pesticides and other toxins. Not to mention the number of other chemicals, drugs, vaccines and cleaners …
… All these toxins build up in your dog and cause chronic health problems.
Unless you actively fight that damage.
Fruits, veggies, seeds and herbs can, and should, be an important part of your dog’s diet.
Even wolves scour their environment for fruits and veggies. In the summer months, up to 25% of their stomach contents is fruit and other plant matter.
Are you ready to add more fruit and other plant matter to your dog’s diet? If so, let’s talk about some of the most common and important polyphenols for your dog.
Fruit Sources Of Polyphenols For Dogs
Polyphenols are divided into 4 major classes:
- Phenolic Acids
Each of these classes has subclasses. The largest of which is flavonoids with over 5,000 different compounds.
Flavonoids contain several subclasses including:
- Flavones (found in parsley, celery and hot peppers)
- Isoflavones (found in legumes and alfalfa – includes genistein, which can prevent tumor formation)
- Flavonols (found in apples, berries, kale and broccoli – includes quercetin, which can reduce inflammation and fight cancer)
- Anthocyanins (found in red, blue and purple berries)
- Flavanones (found in citrus fruits – includes hesperidin, a special antioxidant that can protect the brain)
- Flavanols (found in berries and apples – includes catechin, which inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria)
Flavonoids are :
- Have anti-cancer properties
- Able to improve cognitive function.
Phenolic acids are found in the seeds and skin of fruits and in vegetables.
Phenolic acids love to scavenge free radicals. One of the most notable phenolic acids is curcumin, which is found in turmeric. Curcumin disrupts cytokine activity, which decreases chronic inflammation.
Lignans are found in apricots, broccoli, and leafy greens, and flax seeds are a very rich source. They play a role in hormone-associated cancers and they can also be antioxidants.
Stilbenes include resveratrol, which is found in blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, and peanuts. Resveratrol is anti-inflammatory and can fight cancer.
So if you’re not adding fruits, vegetables, herbs and seeds to your dog’s diet … you need to.
Fruits and berries offer your dog significant disease-fighting benefits.
Now you might be thinking, “those fruits and veggies are already in my dog’s kibble.” And that leads to the final note …
A Note About Cooking And Kibble
Heating and processing food reduces its nutrition. Heating changes molecules.
On average, 5% to 50% of a food’s vitamins are lost when it’s cooked.
Scientists have found that cooking fruits and vegetables destroy much of the polyphenols.
Boiling foods can remove half their polyphenols while steaming can cause a 20% loss.
And the free radical scavenging activity decreases by 60% with boiling and 30% with steaming.
So fresh is always best when it comes to fruits for dogs.
Make sure you feed your dog some fresh fruits and veggies today.
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