Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Would You Eat Your Dog’s Food?

We love our pets and want to make them happy and we know that we shouldn’t feed them scraps, but most of us give in once in a while. We may think that it isn’t doing our doggies or kitties any harm by giving them a human food treat, but we are really doing more harm than we may think. Although some foods are much more toxic for animals than others, here is a list of human foods that you should never give to your dog:
  • Grapes and raisins can cause irreversible damage to the kidneys. Ingesting 4-5 grapes or raisins is said to be potentially poisonous to a 20 pound dog.
  • Onions and garlic contain N-propyl disulphide which destroys red blood cells and results in hemolytic anemia called Heinz body anemia. Kidney damage may follow. This poisoning can occur with any form of onion or garlic, raw, cooked or powdered. This is true for cats as well.
  • Chocolate or cocoa contains theobromine which can adversely affect the heart, lungs, kidneys, and central nervous systems of dogs and cats. Any type of caffeine has a similar effect.
  • Macadamia nuts are not fatal but tend to affect the muscles, digestive and nervous systems causing illness.
  • Fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis
  • Large amounts of liver can cause vitamin A toxicity which affects the bones and muscles.
The foods listed above should also NOT be fed to cats, some others include:
  • Green tomatoes, green/raw potatoes contain a bitter, poisonous alkaloid called Glycoalkaloid Solanine which can cause lower gastrointestinal disorders. The leaves and stems are especially toxic.
  • Salt can cause electrolyte imbalances if eaten in large quantities.
  • Mushrooms can contain various toxins that affect multiple body systems, cause shock and possible death
  • Milk contains lactose which can cause stomachache, cramps, gas and diarrhea since cats are lactose intolerant.

IMPORTANT for both cats and dogs—Do NOT feed them each others’ food. Dog food is for dogs and cat food is for cats. Why? Cat food contains taurine, which cats need, but is toxic to dogs. Cat food is also too high in protein and fats for dogs. Likewise, consumed regularly, dog food can cause taurine deficiency and heart problems in cats.
Also--NO raw meat for pets as it can cause food poisoning and parasites and NO Junk food (read: anything with sugar, salt caffeine or anything fried).

This is not to say that all human foods are harmful to dogs, in fact some are very good for them. For instance:
  • Bananas and sweet potatoes are high in potassium, fiber, magnesium and vitamin B6 all of which aid the metabolism and regulating the blood. Serve mashed and mixed with dog food.
  • Flax seeds contain ALA and Omega 3 fatty acids which are excellent for a dog’s coat, skin, bones and brain function. You can add ground seeds or a tsp. of flax oil to your dog’s regular food.
  • Salmon is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids and is a great source of protein. Best if served cooked, plain and in chunks.
  • Yogurt contains probiotics which can improve gut function and keep harmful bacteria away from your dog. Only give dogs, plain low fat yogurt.
Cats can safely eat:
  • Plain, trimmed deboned meats
  • Canned tuna for the Omega 3 fatty acids and protein. Although this should only be an occasional treat, too much can cause malnutrition.
  • Barley, oat or wheat grass (also known as cat grass) aids digestion and is full of vitamins and mi

*I’d like to thank SOJOS Natural Pet Food for the inspiration for this article

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Treatment Tuesday - Premenstrual Syndrome

Today, PMS still is often misunderstood and mistreated. Unfortunately, conventional medicine tends to emphasize treatment of PMS symptoms rather than the hormonal imbalance that is the true underlying cause.

PMS is not a disease but a syndrome; that is, it is a pattern of symptoms that may or may not have a logical connection. Symptoms vary from woman to woman, with the most common being cramping, bloating, breast tenderness, leg aches or backaches, nausea and various indigestion problems, diarrhea, headache, pimples and skin rashes, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, weepiness, and increased fastidiousness. It is therefore not surprising that conventional medicine has not found a cure for this syndrome.

PMS is common, occurring in 75% of women of reproductive age. For two to ten days before the onset of menstruation, millions (if not billions) of women are affected by a wide range of physical discomforts and mood disorders, including bloating, depression, insomnia, severe pain, uncontrollable rage, crying jags, and, in the most severe cases, suicidal depression.

Treatments for PMS

Start with foods. Strawberries, watermelon, artichokes, asparagus, parsley, horsetail herb (or organic silica), and watercress are all great natural diuretics, and should be added to the diet during PMS. Other beneficial foods include raw sunflower seeds, dates, figs, peaches, bananas, potatoes, and tomatoes. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates and watch your sodium intake (use natural sea salt).

Diet plays a role in PMS, and avoiding the following foods can help to lessen the severity of the discomfort for most women: salt and licorice (licorice stimulates the production of aldosterone, which causes further retention of sodium and water). Likewise, avoid cold and icy drinks/foods. Here are some additional treatments:

  • Herbal treatments may work by stimulating the pituitary gland or by affecting dopamine or opioid receptors. There are several herbs that can help alleviate the symptoms of PMS. Dong Quai works for many women by eliminating water retention, and chasteberry and the Chinese herb xiao yao san are great for relief of abdominal cramping. Black cohosh herb is great for counteracting night sweats. You can also take 500 mg of evening primrose oil for an overall tonic and St. John’s wort for calming the nerves. 
  • Maca root is reported to help with PMS and has been used for centuries by women in the Andes region. 
  • Supplement your diet with foods high in calcium and B vitamins, like green leafy vegetables and legumes,  and exercise will help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.
  • Stay away from caffeine, which destroys B vitamins, potassium, and zinc while irritating the alimentary canal and increasing the desire for sugar, which further exacerbates PMS. 
  • Don’t drink alcohol, as it depletes magnesium and damages the liver, and like coffee, leads to an acid condition.
  •   Get out in the sunshine, it increases your vitamin D intake and may help elevate your mood.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Treatment Tuesday - Heartburn

Well Labor Day is now over and so are the barbecues. It's fun to cook outside in the warm weather for your friends and family. However, one thing that those kinds of foods (especially paired with beer or soda) can cause to unsuspecting attendees is heartburn.

Although heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, the primary symptom is a burning sensation around the heart area, or just below the breast plate. It can rise into the esophagus and even affect the throat. For some, heartburn is an uncomfortable sensation. For others, it causes acute pain and damage to the esophagus, and it can last for days.

Avoid using over-the-counter antacids. Prolonged use of these products can cause severe kidney damage and other problems resulting from aluminum and sodium bicarbonate.

What Causes Heartburn?

Most people believe too much stomach (hydrochloric) acid causes heartburn. Usually, however, the problem is too little acid. Eating only small meals after 3 p.m. and avoiding all caffeine, fried foods, spicy foods, and tomato sauces in the evening can eliminate many of your serious gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) problems.

Additionally, some behaviors cause heartburn and, in these cases, the only way to prevent and relieve heartburn is to change those behaviors. Overeating, for example, is a major cause of heartburn, as the excess food causes pressure changes in the stomach that push food up into the lower part of the esophagus.

Natural Treatment and Prevention

Let’s start with some ways to treat heartburn. Here are some ways to quickly recover and restore your normal stomach pH. Try different ideas from this list until you find a solution that works for you:
  • Drink a cup of cold milk. The milk will coat your stomach and esophagus, providing quick relief from the burning acid.
  • Take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (acetic acid) to aid digestion and stop the heartburn.
  • If you need a little more help, take a teaspoon of baking soda (not baking powder, which is full of deadly aluminum) in half a glass of warm water and drink. This will cut down gas and heartburn.