Friday, July 10, 2009

Nutritional Heresy

Tonight, I watched that great documentary "Fathead", by Tom Naughton. In the back, in the extended interviews section, Dr. Al Sears talks about the relationship of grains to heart disease, and he tells a great story.

It seems back in the 60's, they were trying to prove that fat caused heart disease. So they fed dogs just tons of saturated fat, but none of the dogs got heart disease! So the researchers concluded that dogs just could not get heart disease, so they abandoned their study of dogs, and turned to rabbits.

Well, guess what happened. They fed rabbits saturated fat (not a nutrient you commonly get from grass) and those rabbits developed heart disease in a matter of weeks.

"Eureka!" The researchers cried. And they concluded that saturated fat caused heart disease in mammals (humans, rabbits etc.) Except dogs. Dogs just didn't get heart disease.

Dogs, just don't get heart disease. Right.

Heart disease is a huge medical industry for dogs these days. Weight loss is a huge problem too. What's the connection? Same one humans suffer from, Carbohydrates.

And rabbits are a great model for human cholesterol and saturated fat processing, right? Rabbits are notorious for having bodies low in saturated fat. And their natural diets are, of course, fat free. They are strict herbivores. They even have a disease named after them, Rabbit Starvation. It's what happens when you eat a high protein low fat diet. In short, you get sick and die.

I'm quite sure any of my readers are smart enough to figure out that perhaps, rabbits were an inaccurate human model when it comes to dietary fats.

Speaking of fat dogs, our second topic for nutritional heresy: Spaying Makes Your Dog Fat.

Gary Taubes (of Good Calorie, Bad Calorie and "What if it's all been a big fat lie" fame) explains this phenomenon at this lecture (beginning about 38:00, but you should watch the whole thing).

Removing the estrogen makes the animal accumulate fat in its fat tissues. Because the fat is going into the tissues, there is an energy deficit elsewhere in the body so the dog has to eat more. If it can't eat more (and many owners try to reduce food intake after spaying) then the metabolism and energy expenditure will just slow down.

In short, you feed your dog a certain quantity, lets say 1 cup of food per day, and the dog maintains a normal weight. Then you spay the dog. After the surgery you continue to feed your dog one cup of food per day, but now your dog will get fat.

In short, your dog isn't getting fat after spaying because it is overeating. It gets fat after spaying because you made it get fat.

Pet owners are lied to about this one on a regular basis. Ms. X has a mission to shine the truthlight on false teachings, and the myth that spaying (or neutering) won't make your dog fat is just that. A myth.

Website after website blames the owner when a dog that has been fixed gets fat. I'm willing to blame owners for lots of things, like not training their dog and then turning it into a shelter because it misbehaves.

But I like to assume that pet owners are intelligent and responsible, and can handle the truth about spaying and neutering. I like to enable them to make the best decisions for them and their pets.

The truth is the best medicine.

1 comment:

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