Natural Healing and Supplements Can you depend 100% on an organic real food diet as the only natural remedy for reversing a degenerative condition and strengthening your pet's immune system? The answer would probably be yes, if we lived decades ago in an environment where the soil was rich with mineral sediments and as a result the plants were enabled to produce their own nutrient richness from their primary growth medium (soil). Animals eat such nutrient rich foods and their bodies get all the necessary daily biological requirements. Macro and micro nutrients are best if our animals can access them through real foods from nature. For example, "Life as it used to be...the cat would eat the mouse: In so doing, it would consume enzyme rich tissues and organs, the friendly bacteria contained in the intestines, the pre- or partially-digested grains and vegetation in the intestines, the naturally combined amino acids, vitamins, minerals and co-factors that were a part of the whole (complete) mouse" (Bennett, p. 7). But foods today seldom contain enough essential nutrients, because our farmland has been ruined. Soil is sprayed with chemicals to produce vegetation growth. Animals eat them and end up deficient in nutrients plus exposed to many of the chemicals in these vegetations. It only takes ten years of intensive modern farming methodology to exhaust nutrients in any tract of land. Agricultural land is typically fertilized with only potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen.. Unfortunately, many other essential minerals such as molybdenum, manganese, magnesium and zinc are not replenished. Therefore, nutrient deficiencies for all animals have become an undeniable reality. The solution is to supplement with nutrient rich foods. Between improving your pet's diet by giving them real foods instead of canned and dry processed foods and by supplementing with whole foods as will be discussed in the following pages, you have an unbeatable diet and supplement program to help most degenerative conditions and bring back the kind of health and vitality that pets deserve. A Health Model That Makes Sense There is a new medical discipline called Nutritional Medicine being practiced today by holistic doctors outlining how to address health challenges. Many of the books written by nutritional medicine doctors present information as to why degenerative conditions occur and logical step by step solutions to such conditions through the use of diet and supplements. Even though this article is written about a health model that applies to humans, it also applies to all animals. Thousands of people and their pets have followed this Nutritional Medicine health model and as a result they are experiencing health and vitality. I will share with you in the next few pages details about this health model. Nutritional Medicine The Nutritional Medicine principles support the following: 1) better digestion and assimilation of foods through the use of probiotics and enzymes; 2) better nutrition through nutrient rich food supplements and; 3) increased protection against free radical damage (oxidative stress) through whole food antioxidants. Tens of thousands of people and their pets have used this health model to help themselves from many chronic degenerative conditions. Additionally, many of the studies and books written by Nutritional Medicine doctors give us the scientific reasons behind why this specific health model and the supplements used have helped with a wide variety of health-related conditions. Today there is a large number of alternative, allopathic, naturopathic doctors and veterinarians practicing the Nutritional Medicine approach to health. What Is Nutritional Medicine? Nutritional Medical physicians believe that most degenerative conditions have their origin in the malfunction of the digestive tract and the liver's elimination processes. In other words, illness can be directly related to problems of the digestive and liver detoxification systems and their related influence on immune, nervous and endocrine system functions. Therefore, when the health of the digestive and liver detoxification systems is addressed, the body is given the opportunity to reverse many degenerative conditions. If the degenerative condition is labeled lupus, diabetes, or eczema, etc., a Nutritional Medicine doctor will first recommend addressing the health of the gastrointestinal tract (GI). Once the GI tract is normalized, then the liver detoxification system should be supported and strengthened. Today, through the efforts of Nutritional Medicine doctors, we have hundreds of clinical studies and scientific research that confirm what many of us have heard so often from folk medicine practitioners: "Stomach problems are the cause of all ills" or "Death begins in the colon." Jeffrey Anderson, M.D., wrote an article called "How Problems with Digestion Can Cause Illness Anywhere", and in this article he explains why you should address the health of the gastrointestinal tract first, no matter what the name of the degenerative condition. He explains that "new information on the dynamics of the body make it clear that conditions in the digestive tract affect the entire system" (Nichols, et al., 1999, p.125). The "...degradation of the gastrointestinal environment is one of the primary points at which health is lost. What we now know is that the same toxins associated with GI dysfunction are frequently absorbed and distributed to other parts of the body. First they place a burden on the liver and the immune system. If liver overload occurs, there will be spill over, and some of the toxins will be passed on to other organs or tissues" (p. 125). "Often, it's a weak link in the system that will be hit by the damage - an organ that can be anywhere in the body that is most likely to be vulnerable. The vulnerability may be inherited, caused by physical injury, toxic exposure, or poor diet" (p.125). For example, "if the sensitive system is the lungs, toxins that originate in the gut and circulate in the bloodstream may manifest as asthma or allergies" (p.125). Len Saputo, M.D., in his article,"Harmful Flora", believes that if the gastrointestinal tract gets out of balance that this will put the burden of digesting foods on the liver's detoxification system which will eventually break down. As a result our entire immune system will malfunction in three ways. First, it can be weakened and the result called an immune suppression disease (cancer and AIDS). Second, it can overreact and become hyper responsive to normal stimuli; this occurs in asthma, eczema, migraine, and food allergies. Third, a malfunctioning immune system can cause auto immune reactions (auto immune diseases) where antibodies target our own tissues, as in rheumatoid arthritis or lupus (p.60). Jerry Stine, M.D., in his article, "How Digestion Works", explains that the gastrointestinal tract is the largest immune organ in our body. Eighty percent of all our protective immune globulins are produced in the digestive tract (p.16). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that when this large, strategically placed immune system member isn't working well, our defenses are lowered and once our barriers are down, it becomes more difficult to defend against invaders. Nutritional Medicine Strategies to Help with Degenerative Conditions: Nutritional Medicine doctors including, Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, Dr. Len Saputo and Dr. Jerry Stine, believe that cleansing and supporting the GI tract and the liver can and will clear the body of any and most degenerative conditions. - First you detoxify the GI tract. - Then get the liver detoxification system working. - And finally clean up the downstream consequences, which includes the toxins in the tissues and cells. Nutritional Medicine doctors believe that you can't deal with the downstream conditions (symptoms in the body such as lupus, arthritis, eczema,....etc.), until you've treated the upstream problem(s) in the gut and liver (p.132). When you clean up the upstream issues and the liver, then the downstream consequences tend to go away. Nutritional Medicine Solution as an Aid to Most Degenerative Conditions. The 4Rs Solution: 1) Remove: Abnormal kinds/amounts of intestinal microorganism (parasites, bacterial pathogens, small intestinal overgrowth such as yeast, and food antigens). This can be done by repairing "leaky" intestinal membranes. 2) Replace: Hydrochloric acid, enzymes, and fiber deficiency can be addressed and replaced with friendly bacteria, digestive enzymes and fiber supplements. 3) Restore: Symbiotic bacteria and GI bacteria through the use of full spectrum friendly bacteria (L. acidophilus, B. bifidus, L. planetarium, L. salivarius, L. bulgaricus, etc.). 4) Repair: Replace or augment with nutrients necessary to support healing of intestinal lining, plus adequacy of calories, and adequacy of fiber. Support the liver detoxification system through the use of antioxidants and food based nutritional supplements (pp. 181-182). The Difference is in the Quality of the Nutritional Supplements: There are a multitude of allopathic and naturopathic doctors and veterinarians practicing Nutritional Medicine today, and they recommend supporting better digestion, better nutrition, and better protection against oxidative stress. However, when it comes to supplements, most Nutritional Medicine doctors recommend standard man-made supplements in their isolated, single, separated or chemically-manufactured form, such as zinc, copper, vitamins B, C, E and beta carotene, to reverse degenerative conditions. Vitamins and minerals should not be taken in single and chemically-manufactured forms. For example, Vitamins are intricate, interrelated, integrated, united organic nutritive groups. Nature made them as an indistinguishable part of foods for the benefit of human health. Vitamins are inseparable as working nutrients from trace elements, minerals, proteins, and other nutrients. Chemists have attempted to isolate and identify some of the components of these food complexes, labeling the seemingly "active" elements as vitamins or other nutrients. Yet, there is no possible way that even the sum of the parts is equal to the whole. It is only the whole food, intact and unaltered, that works as a nutritional source. The isolated parts are not recognized by the body as foods. In large amounts, these isolated chemicals function more like drugs, which stimulate or suppress biochemical functions, instead of providing nourishment for the cells to carry on their vital activities. Natural, food-source vitamins are enzymatically alive. Man-made, synthetic vitamins are dead chemicals. Human and pets health require "live" biochemicals. It is simply a matter of chemistry versus biochemistry. I believe that nutritional medicine doctors are "right on the money" when it comes to explaining why degenerative conditions occur, but when it comes to the solution which is their supplement program, they are mainly providing the typical man-made and chemically-manufactured supplements. Many of us prefer the use of whole food supplements based on the philosophy that "food is the best medicine." Searching for the Ultimate Whole Food Supplements: There are certainly better alternatives than man-made supplements; i.e. organic whole food supplements. Whole food supplements are far superior in their quality and effectiveness for reversing degenerative conditions because they are produced in their natural and complex configuration. Why whole food products work better is based on the philosophy that animals' body is a marvelously designed living organism with the ability to grow, regulate, repair, and defend itself when given natural, high quality, full spectrum nutrients. Not too many companies produce high quality whole foods supplements. However, the few companies that do produce good quality whole food supplements believe in preserving the quality of their supplements from the time the foods are harvested to the time they are introduced to the public as supplements. Hundreds of thousands of people have been helped with our whole food products. This should not be a surprise to anyone because when it comes to healing the body, there is nothing more powerful than supplementing with whole foods, especially if they are organically grown. If your goal is to find a natural remedy for your pet's health challenge, may I recommend that you follow this health model which is the same as the Nutritional Medicine health model with the exception that I recommend the use of wholefoods and not man-made supplements: 1. Better digestion and assimilation of foods through the use of probiotics and enzyme supplements. 2. Better nutrition through food-based supplements (consuming nutrient rich foods such as wheat grass, organic micro algae...etc.). 3. Better protection against free radical damage (oxidative stress) through whole food supplements (wheat sprouts, red algae, oat sprouts..etc.). With the use of whole food supplements you can improve your pet's GI tract environment, decrease the burden of the toxins and thereby take the stress off the liver. With less toxins there is less need for a constant high level defense effort and everything in the body just starts to work better. Dr. Jeffrey Anderson summarizes the whole concept of healing so beautifully when he said: "You can't deal with the downstream problems (symptoms in the body) until you have addressed the upstream problem(s) (i.e., malfunctions in the gut)" (p. 132). References: Nichols, Trent W., and Faass, Nancy. (1999). Optimal Digestion. New York: Avon Books, Inc.