Original post: September 13, 2010
Every cell of the body depends on nutrients digested, absorbed and sent on their way by the digestive system. Compromised digestive health quickly leads to a domino-effect to compromise general health of your companion animal. The benefits of any diet—healthy or otherwise—cannot be delivered if even mild gut insufficiencies hamper digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Poor gastrointestinal health can result in premature aging in younger animals and accelerated aging in older ones. Anxiety due to separation, depression, excessive physical work, poor quality food, illness, injury, or the stress of surgery all interfere with digestion and nutrient availability. These factors can set in motion the progression of general malaise and allow genetic predispositions for disease to develop due to nutritional limitation. Preventing these nutritional limitations sets the stage for better general health and reduced risk for disease. Poor mineral absorption can be caused by gastric acid deficiency and intestinal disease. Mineral deficiencies lead to hormonal inefficiencies and antioxidant impotence that in turn lead to illness that may never be linked to mineral deficiency. Here again, digestive inefficiency can lead to the development of disorders who’s origin is next to impossible to pinpoint. Maintaining digestive wellness to prevent the onset of these problems is critical to long lived health. Just as much as gastrointestinal inefficiency will eventually result in multiple illnesses; illness increases the demands for nutrients to aid recovery setting the stage for ongoing disease. Digestive health is the foundation of general health and digestive health depends on many things. The gut-friendly bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract can make up 40-50 percent of immune system activity. Antibiotics, stress, poor quality feeds, chemical toxins, microbes, and more can obliterate this health supportive bacterial culture in a matter of days. To combat the ill-effects of antibiotic use or simply restore the good bacteria after a stressful period or exposure to toxin, gut-friendly bacteria (probiotics) must be re-introduced to the digestive system. Otherwise pathogens in the form of yeast, other fungi, or more dangerous invaders like e.coli or streptococci strains can infiltrate and weaken the immune system. Digestive wellness can be supported with a supplement that supplies general support for the gastrointestinal lining. This can come in the form of glutathione or glutathione precursors like cystine, or n-acetyl cysteine. A good supply amounting to about 500 mg per 10 pounds of animal of l-glutamine or the keto acid of glutamine, alpha keto glutarate supports digestive health. A broad array of digestive enzymes to support general nutrient digestion is crucial to gastrointestinal health especially for seniors. Regular inoculation of probiotics helps maintain gut friendly bacteria and supplying sufficient prebiotic fuel for these symbiotic microbes to flourish with. These strategies work for both the human and canine family members but each requires species specific formulation. Your dog’s digestive system operates at a different pH, a shorter length and with different enzyme and gut-friendly microbe (probiotics) profiles than our human digestive system. These distinct characteristics create a highly specialized demand that cannot be supported effectively using human-intended supplementation. Digestive health is the foundation of general health for you and your pet, maintain it proactively and guard it because too many factors in life intrude on it from basic stress to unknown food borne and environmental toxins.