The basis of health is correct nutrition. Without correct nutrition there is no healing modality in the world that can create restore or maintain health.
This is the philosophy, which underpins my approach to the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery.
My name is Ian Billinghurst. I am a veterinary surgeon. As a vet, I have only ever worked as a solo practitioner and mostly with companion animals. I graduated with an honours degree in Veterinary Science from Sydney University in 1976, after obtaining a degree in Agricultural Science in 1966, and a Diploma in Education in 1969. I passed my final exams in a diploma of acupuncture course in 1986. It was while studying acupuncture – together with herbs and homoeopathy – I came to realize that nutrition is the major contributing factor to either health or illness. I realized that it is the artificial grain-based foods we feed our dogs and cats that produce the ill health I dealt with daily as a veterinarian. I discovered that by feeding a properly formulated diet based on whole raw foods – with no grains – we cannot help but produce health and well being in our pets. It became clear that this was true for all animal species, including humans. Since that time, nutrition for both humans and companion animals has been the focus of my research and professional life.
As a veterinary surgeon, my practice has always been fairly conventional, the only difference being that I do use some of the complementary modalities I was taught in the eighties: acupuncture, some herbs, some homoeopathy, and lots of raw whole food nutrition.
After studying acupuncture, herbs, homoeopathy and nutrition, I came to appreciate that each modality relied ultimately on correct nutrition to be effective. I realized that most health problems dealt with by modern medicine AND by complementary modalities simply disappear if the diet is right. To put that another way… with properly formulated raw whole food nutrition, the need for most of the healing arts begins to disappear. Nutrition is indeed the Prince, the King and the Queen of all medicines!
“Let medicine be your food and food your medicine” has been the catchcry of dedicated healers down the ages.
My obsession with nutrition has resulted in lots of writing: three books and numerous articles, for veterinary, canine and Natural Health publications. I have also been involved in radio talkback and numerous lectures for veterinarians, breed societies and dog-training clubs. These have taken me throughout Australia, the UK, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada and the US.
As I travelled and met people from all walks of life, I found it hard to accept that commercial pet food is universally accepted as the normal way to feed cats and dogs throughout the civilized world. Daily in my practice I see the enormous difference in health between dogs and cats raised on cooked and processed commercial pet food compared to those raised on a raw evolution-based whole food diet.
An alarming fact of life is that we vets receive very little worthwhile training in nutrition. No training in the use of raw whole foods and a biased approach to our understanding of commercially produced pet foods.
It is relevant to ask what do we veterinary surgeons really know about pet foods? Unfortunately the answer translates as… “Not very much”. Regrettably, our lack of knowledge concerning nutrition has become the basis (or the excuse) for recommending processed pet food!
Most vets who are interested in their own health will acknowledge raw whole foods as basic in the formulation of their own healthy diet. Why then do most vets insist on our pets being fed cooked and processed pre-prepared pet foods? Sadly we vets have been hoodwinked into accepting the hype regarding this stuff. Unfortunately, these products do not produce the lifetime health seen when a properly formulated raw whole food diet is employed. Most degenerative disease processes in pet animals are the direct result of a lifetime being fed cooked and processed foods. This includes those so-called super-premium foods, which have their own set of unique nutritional problems.
The super-premium pet foods have most of the drawbacks commonly associated with “ordinary” pet foods, chief among which is the fact they are based on cooked – and often gluten-rich grain. However, they have an additional problem. In their attempt to remedy another common problem associated with dry foods – a lack of essential fatty acids, both omega 3’s and omega 6’s – they contain a very high level of cooked polyunsaturated fats. This makes the coats of the creatures that consume these products look good in the short term, but in the long term, the inclusion of high levels of heat-damaged essential fatty acids contributes to an enormous range of degenerative diseases including many of the auto-immune diseases and cancer.
In all my lectures and writings I strive to make it known that the chronic degenerative diseases need not be accepted as an inevitable part of being old in years. They are in fact the result of the ageing phenomenon… a process of degeneration, which is the direct result of a lifetime of inappropriate food choices. I also stress that such diseases are rarely if ever linked to their true cause by the veterinary profession. Meanwhile, it is my continuing experience, that by switching an animal to a properly formulated raw whole food diet, those problems begin to disappear. I receive written and verbal testimonials to this from pet owners worldwide. These are people who have switched from feeding commercial pet food because of innumerable health problems in their pets, and have instituted the nutritional principles outlined in my book “Give Your Dog a Bone”. They remain incredulous at the outstanding results they witness.
It is important to realize that processed foods are highly biologically inappropriate. That is why they cause problems. I believe that when we vets recommend any form of cooked and processed food we are failing our clients and their pets in a major way.
The sad truth is that prepared pet foods help provide patients for vets.
When we Australians as a nation of pet owners fed our pets on home-produced food, the worst we did was to produce a few simple and very obvious problems of nutritional excess and/or deficiency. Chief among these was a calcium deficiency, with the odd vitamin B1 deficiency, vitamin A excess and rarely… a vitamin E deficiency. These were problems that commercial pet food is touted as preventing; problems that have a simple basis and are easily remedied. As our pets moved onto a steady diet of processed foods, we swapped a few easily remedied straightforward nutritional problems for the vast array of degenerative diseases, which now afflict our pets, fill vets waiting rooms and massively expand our textbooks. These are complex problems with expensive and often difficult medical and surgical solutions. In too many cases there is no effective solution. The veterinary profession never questions their origin. These problems are almost never linked to their true cause, the biologically inappropriate foods that spawned them.
The proof concerning these products is found in the long-term results of feeding them. Over ninety-five per cent of the degenerative diseases, we vets deal with, develop in pets that have been fed cooked and processed pet food.
The philosophy behind the production of even the “best” of these awful products is flawed. It is based on the requirements of the manufacturer, not the needs of the consumer. That is cost and availability of basic ingredients, combined with what is currently known and legally determined as the minimum nutrient requirements for a pet animal. To the recipes formulated using these principles is added much in the way of non-nutrition. These additives include whatever flavour enhancers the manufacturer deems necessary to ensure the animal eats it, and whatever chemicals will prevent it from becoming rancid, together with coloured dyes to attract the purchaser. The result is a cooked “complete and balanced at every meal” product which contains substances inimical to health. And let me stress that “legally complete”, is a long way from biologically complete; there is a vast difference. Let me also stress that no matter what the spin placed on these products, the aim is not health. The aim is to make money, to not appear harmful while appearing to do good..
Pet foods contain barely adequate levels of the known vitamins. The cheaper ones will often contain a range of toxins from the cell walls of the bacteria present in the dead dying and diseased animals used in their production. Many contain biologically inappropriate antioxidants, enormous levels of refined sugars, together with an almost complete absence of biologically appropriate fibre. Note that the fibre – sourced and used by modern pet food manufacturers who have only recently discovered its importance – is not biologically appropriate. It is totally different from the healthy raw fibre found in whole raw fruit and vegetables.
Cooking renders these products biologically inappropriate in a fundamental way. It is now widely recognised that cooked food has lost much of its nutritional value. Cooked foods are devoid of enzymes and biologically active essential fatty acids. This is due to heat denaturation. Once denatured, enzymes are no longer biologically active. They are simply cooked proteins. Denatured essential fatty acids, which should be the backbone of health, become slow poisons, doing irreparable damage. In fact, all processed pet foods are disease-producing, simply because all of them lack biologically appropriate essential fatty acids. They are either not added in the first place, or have been denatured during processing by heat.
Cooking causes complexes to form between proteins and starches, between vitamins and trace minerals, and between minerals and minerals. By this method carcinogens and anti-immunogens are formed and many minerals, essential amino acids and vitamins are lost to the animal in the process.
Processed foods are biologically inappropriate because they lack nutrients, which are only present in fresh whole raw foods. These are the nutrients the body requires for healthy longevity. They include biologically appropriate anti-oxidants… substances present in raw whole foods, but totally lacking in the processed stuff that so many pet owners (who think they are doing the right thing) force their cats and dogs to eat. They include the phytochemicals, which number in excess of 100,000 and counting. In short, these modern products do not contain those known, unknown (and yet to be recognised) health-promoting, degeneration reducing factors present only in raw whole foods.
It takes many years for the loss of these nutrients to be noticed. Even then, the degenerative diseases, which develop are generally assumed to be part of the “normal” ageing process and are rarely if ever linked to the processed foods, which caused them.
Biologically inappropriate pet foods attempt to be balanced at every meal rather than producing a situation where the diet is balanced over time. This, when combined with cooking makes many nutrients unavailable and others become toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic. Dangerous nutrient excesses are present in most of the supermarket brands of “pet foods”: nutrients such as phosphorus, calcium and salt. These excesses are insidious, wreaking enormous havoc over the years and are never linked with the diseases they promote and exacerbate.
The vast majority of processed pet foods are based on cooked grains. This alone makes them biologically inappropriate. At no time in their evolutionary history (except for the last 50 to 150 years) have cats and dogs been subjected to cooked grain in any amount, and certainly not as the basis of their diet. Our pets in Australia have only suffered eating this way for a relatively short period of time: since the 1970’s. In that period, much has changed. We have seen a population of mostly healthy pet animals exchange a few simple deficiency diseases for a whole range of complex degenerative diseases. These are problems that were largely unknown prior to that time.
That is why, as a veterinary surgeon I cannot knowingly recommend these foods. That is why the food I recommend is raw whole food. The evolutionary diet of the animal in question.
A biologically appropriate diet is simple in philosophy and construction. It is the very essence of common sense. It looks at the diet of a wild or feral animal and duplicates that type of feeding regime using available whole raw foodstuffs. These diets may be enhanced with appropriate supplements. Once the principles are understood, anybody can do this. No great education is required.
In the case of the cat, which is an obligate carnivore and a hunter, the biologically appropriate diet is based largely upon animal-derived foodstuffs. Basically, whatever nutrition can be derived from a whole fresh raw carcass constitutes a biologically appropriate diet for a cat.
In the case of the dog which is an omnivore, a hunter and a scavenger, the diet can be based on a wider range of whole raw foods of both animal and plant origin, with the further proviso that the foods may be either fresh or auto-decaying via endogenous enzymes.
Both species rely on bones as a major part of their diet for a variety of reasons including teeth-cleaning and the myriad benefits which flow from that together with the nutritional attributes of bones, their psychological benefits and so on.
For more information on how to feed your dogs (and cats) a biologically appropriate diet please refer to my three books:
“Give Your Dog a Bone”, “Grow Your Pups With Bones” & “The BARF Diet” available from my website www.drianbillinghurst.com
Copyright © Ian Billinghurst