Balance your Serotonin, Dopamine and Endorphins with Happy foods

dopa ser.JPGPain and itch are influenced by two chemicals , Serotonin and Dopamine. Eat the following whole foods to balance Serotonin, Dopamine and Endorphins and do get a hug too.  Hugging can increase the production of dopamine in your brain.  Endorphins are endogenous opioid neuropeptides and peptide hormones in humans and other animals. They are produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland.  Scratching an itch causes minor pain, which prompts the brain to release serotonin. But serotonin also reacts with receptors on neurons that carry itch signals to the brain, making itching worse.  It has been observed that the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine stimulates this brain center to feel pleasure in “peak experiences,” such as from solving a difficult problem.

Raw pumpkin seeds
Spirulina
Raw spinach
Sesame seeds
Raw almonds
Bananas
Raw dried dates
Oats
Watercress
Sunflower seeds
Horseradish
Pumpkin leaves
Turnip greens
Cacao
Buckwheat
Millet

All of the above are geared toward a vegan diet and they all offer the perfect balance to help enhance your mood through the natural production of serotonin.

Non-vegans may add:

Mussels
Lobsters
Eggs
Cottage cheese
Turkey

aym pumpkin 4aym pumpkin 3aym pumpkin 2aym pumpkin

 

Coconut and yams or sweet potatoes vs whole wheat

Phytic acid prevents mineral absorption resulting in rickets and osteoporosis

High-phytate foods: The bran portion in whole wheat, grains, nuts and seeds contain phytic acid molecule (unavailable phosphorous) that readily bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, making them unavailable as well.

Phytic acid occurs in nuts and seeds in two forms—phytic acid and phytic acid salts [Reddy, NR and Sathe, SK (Eds.) Food Phytates. CRC Press, 2001]. Both are generally referred to as “phytates.” Together, these two compounds make up the total percentage of phytates reported in various foods. However, they do not possess the same chelating power. So the chelating effect of the phytates in corn, wheat, or soy are not the same as those in coconut. You cannot predict the chelating effect based on total phytate content alone.

The solution is to eat these foods with Vitamin A, C and D3 or soak them first for 24hrs (with 10 percent whole rye flour) and boil them well.

Vitamin C reduces the iron and perhaps other mineral losses from phytic acid. Vitamin D can mitigate the harmful effects of phytates. Calcium (think raw milk, raw cheese, yogurt, and kefir) balances out the negative effects of phytates.

Coconut and yams or sweet potatoes do not have phytic acid and do not need to be soaked for 24hrs.

IRISH AND SCOTTISH OATMEAL

Commercial oats in the U.S. are heat treated to about 200o F for four or five hours, to prevent rancidity—oats are rich in polyunsaturated oils that can go rancid within three months, especially at warm temperatures, and oats are harvested only once a year. Heat treatment kills enzymes that accelerate oxidation and helps prevent a bitter taste, although it surely damages the fragile polyunsaturated oils as well.

While Irish and Scottish oatmeal is said to be “unheated,” this is not exactly true; these oats are also heat treated —for the same reasons, to minimize rancidity—but usually at lower temperatures. McCann’s Irish steel cut oats are heated to 113-118o F but Hamlyn’s heats to 212o F. Truly raw rolled oats are available from www.rawguru.com.

The Alford brand, available only in the U.K., is kiln dried for four hours according to their website www.oatmealofalford.com; they do not provide temperatures.

Hulless oats that have not been heat treated are available from www.sproutpeople.com; these can be ground or rolled at home before soaking and preparation as oat meal.

Coconut

The mineral-binding effect of the phytates in coconut is essentially nonexistent. It is as if coconut has no phytic acid at all. In a study published in 2002, researchers tested the mineral binding capacity of a variety of bakery products made with coconut f lour. Mineral availability was determined by simulating conditions that prevail in the small intestine and colon. The researchers concluded that “coconut flour has little or no effect on mineral availability.” (Trinidad, TP and others. The effect of coconut flour on mineral availability from coconut flour supplemented foods. Philippine Journal of Nutrition 2002;49:48-57). In other words, coconut flour did not bind to the minerals. Therefore, soaking or other phytic acid-neutralizing processes are completely unnecessary.
Soaking has been suggested as a means to reduce the phytic acid content in grains and nuts. Some suggest coconut flour should also be soaked. To soak coconut flour doesn’t make any sense. The coconut meat from which the flour is made, is naturally soaked in water its entire life (12 months) as it is growing on the tree. To remove the meat from the coconut and soak it again is totally redundant. After the coconut meat has been dried and ground into flour, soaking it would ruin the flour and make it unusable. You should never soak coconut flour.

FIGURE 1: FOOD SOURCES OF PHYTIC ACID
As a percentage of dry weight

FOOD MINIMUM MAXIMUM
Sesame seed flour 5.36 5.36
Brazil nuts 1.97 6.34
Almonds 1.35 3.22
Tofu 1.46 2.90
Linseed 2.15 2.78
Oat meal 0.89 2.40
Beans, pinto 2.38 2.38
Soy protein concentrate 1.24 2.17
Soybeans 1.00 2.22
Corn 0.75 2.22
Peanuts 1.05 1.76
Wheat flour 0.25 1.37
Wheat 0.39 1.35
Soy beverage 1.24 1.24
Oats 0.42 1.16
Wheat germ 0.08 1.14
Whole wheat bread 0.43 1.05
Brown rice 0.84 0.99
Polished rice 0.14 0.60
Chickpeas 0.56 0.56
Lentils 0.44 0.50

FIGURE 2: PHYTIC ACID LEVELS8
In milligrams per 100 grams of dry weight

Brazil nuts 1719
Cocoa powder 1684-1796
Brown rice 12509
Oat flakes 1174
Almond 1138 – 1400
Walnut 982
Peanut roasted 952
Peanut ungerminated 821
Lentils 779
Peanut germinated 610
Hazel nuts 648 – 1000
Wild rice flour 634 – 752.5
Yam meal 637
Refried beans 622
Corn tortillas 448
Coconut 357
Corn 367
Entire coconut meat 270
White flour 258
White flour tortillas 123
Polished rice 11.5 – 66
Strawberries 12

FIGURE 3: QUINOA PHYTATE REDUCTION34

PROCESS PHYTATE REDUCTION
Cooked for 25 minutes at 212 degrees F 15-20 percent
Soaked for 12-14 hours at 68 degrees F, then cooked 60-77 percent
Fermented with whey 16-18 hours at 86 degrees F, then cooked 82-88 percent
Soaked 12-14 hours, germinated 30 hours, lacto-fermented 16-18 hours, then cooked at 212 degrees F for 25 minutes 97-98 percent

 

FIGURE 4: PHYTATE41
As Percentage of Dry Weight

Sesame seeds dehulled 5.36
100% Wheat bran cereal 3.29
Soy beans 1.00 – 2.22
Pinto beans 0.60 – 2.38
Navy beans 0.74 – 1.78
Parboiled brown rice 1.60
Oats 1.37
Peanuts 1.05 – 1.76
Barley 1.19
Coconut meal 1.17
Whole corn 1.05
Rye 1.01
Wheat flour 0.96
Brown rice 0.84 – 0.94
Chickpeas 0.28 – 1.26
Lentils 0.27 – 1.05
Milled (white) rice 0.2

FIGURE 5: BREAD PHYTATES42
As Percentage of Weight

Cornbread 1.36
Whole wheat bread 0.43-1.05
Wheat bran muffin 0.77-1.27
Popped corn 0.6
Rye 0.41
Pumpernickel 0.16
White bread 0.03- .23
French bread 0.03
Sourdough rye 0.03
Soured buckwheat 0.03

 

PREPARATION OF BROWN RICE

1. Soak brown rice in dechlorinated water for 24 hours at room temperature without changing the water. Reserve 10% of the soaking liquid (should keep for a long time in the fridge). Discard the rest of the soaking liquid; cook the rice in fresh water.

2. The next time you make brown rice, use the same procedure as above, but add the soaking liquid you reserved from the last batch to the rest of the soaking water.

3. Repeat the cycle. The process will gradually improve until 96% or more of the phytic acid is degraded at 24 hours.

 

Note:  We should not eat bran if the soil is healthy.

 

FIGURE 7: NUTRIENTS IN GRAINS AND OTHER FOODS67
In milligrams per 100 grams.

Calcium Phosphorus Iron Calories
Whole grain wheat flour 34 346 3.9 339
Unenriched white flour 15 108 1.2 364
White rice 9 108 0.4 366
Milled rice 10-30 80-150 .2-2.8 349-373
Brown rice 10-50 170-430 .2-5.2 363-385
Blue corn mush (Navajo) 96 39 2.9 54
Acorn stew 62 14 1 95
Milk 169 117 0.1 97
Free range buffalo steak 4 246 3.8 146
Cheese, mozarella 505 354 0.4 300

Hypocretin, Insomia or Sleep Disturbances, Narcolepsy, Depression and Parkinson’s

Drowsy Driving

Driving and feeling sleepy. Repetitive tasks make you sleepy because you already lack sleep. You have taken your calcium and magnesium and melatonin and the bedroom has cool environment. Still, you have worries and you keep tossing back and forth on your bed. You cannot get the more than 5 hrs sleep. Your regular sleep hours are from 12midnight to 5pm and you cannot seem to add 1 more hour to it. You have a busy day and are driven to perform more and bring work at home.

What is the root cause of insomnia, narcolepsy, depression and Parkinson?

Is it because of poor muscle tone, cataplexy?

Is it because of alcohol, lifestyle, work shift pattern, caffeine, use of sedating medication, anxiety or problems or age?

The root cause if hyprocretin, a brain chemical. Eat happy foods/omega 3 such as yams, eggs, bananas, dates, cherries, hummus, a little MSG in Asian dish and fish. Avoid sugar and eat more fermented veggies (prebiotics and probiotics). Do weight bearing exercise and work in getting more sleep.

If your bedtime is 12midnight, try to calm down by 11pm (repetitive tasks-repetitive prayers/counting – leaving your worries away, no TV light, dim light, cool air, relax).

sleep


What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder involving the loss of the brain’s ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles.[1] Symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness, comparable to how people who do not have narcolepsy feel after 24–48 hours of sleep deprivation,[2] as well as disturbed sleep which often is confused with insomnia. Another common symptom of narcolepsy is cataplexy, a sudden and transient episode of muscle weakness accompanied by full conscious awareness, typically (though not necessarily) triggered by emotions such as laughing, crying, terror, etc.[3] affecting roughly 70% of people who have narcolepsy.[4]

The system which regulates sleep, arousal, and transitions between these states in humans is composed of three interconnected subsystems: the orexin projections from the lateral hypothalamus, the reticular activating system, and the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus.[5] In narcoleptic individuals, these systems are all associated with impairments due to a greatly reduced number of hypothalamic orexin projection neurons and significantly fewer orexin neuropeptides in cerebrospinal fluid and neural tissue, compared to non-narcoleptic individuals.[5] Those with narcolepsy generally experience the REM stage of sleep within five minutes of falling asleep, while people who do not have narcolepsy (unless they are significantly sleep deprived)[6] do not experience REM until after a period of slow-wave sleep, which lasts for about the first hour or so of a sleep cycle.


Hpocretin or Orexin, is a neuropeptide that regulates arousal, wakefulness, and appetite.

The most common form of narcolepsy, in which the sufferer briefly loses muscle tone (cataplexy), is caused by a lack of orexin in the brain due to destruction of the cells that produce it.[2]

Cataplexy is a sudden and transient episode of muscle weakness accompanied by full conscious awareness, typically triggered by emotions such as laughing, crying, or terror.[1] It is the cardinal symptom of narcolepsy with cataplexy affecting roughly 70% of people who have narcolepsy,[2] and is caused by an autoimmune destruction of the neurotransmitter hypocretin (also called orexin), which regulates arousal and wakefulness.

There are approximately 70,000 orexin producing neurons in the human brain that project from the lateral hypothalamus to neurons and brain regions that modulate wakefulness.[1][2] However, the axons from these neurons extend throughout the entire brain and spinal cord,[3] where there are also receptors for orexin.

Orexin was discovered in 1998 almost simultaneously by two independent groups of rat-brain researchers.[4][5] One group named it orexin, from orexis, meaning “appetite” in Greek; the other group named it hypocretin, because it is produced in the hypothalamus and bears a weak resemblance to secretin, another peptide.

Link Between Parkinson’s And Narcolepsy Discovered Parkinson’s disease

Link Between Parkinson’s And Narcolepsy Discovered Parkinson’s disease is well-known for its progression of motor disorders: stiffness, slowness, tremors, difficulties walking and talking. Less well known is that Parkinson’s shares other symptoms with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized by sudden and uncontrollable episodes of deep sleep, severe fatigue and general sleep disorder.

Now a team of UCLA and Veterans Affairs researchers think they know why — the two disorders share something in common: Parkinson’s disease patients have severe damage to the same small group of neurons whose loss causes narcolepsy. The findings suggest a different clinical course of treatment for people suffering with Parkinson’s that may ameliorate their sleep symptoms.

In their report in the May issue of the journal Brain, Jerry Siegel, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, assistant resident neurobiologist Thomas C. Thannickal and associate research physiologist Yuan-Yang Lai have determined that Parkinson’s disease patients have a loss of up to 60 percent of brain cells containing the peptide hypocretin.

In 2000, this same group of UCLA researchers first identified the cause of narcolepsy as a loss of hypocretin, thought to be important in regulating the sleep cycle. This latest research points to a common cause for the sleep disorders associated with these two diseases and suggests that treatment of Parkinson’s disease patients with hypocretin or hypocretin analogs may reverse these symptoms.

More than 1 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and approximately 20 million worldwide. (The percentage of those afflicted increases with age.) Narcolepsy affects approximately one in 2,000 individuals — about 150,000 in the United States and 3 million worldwide. Its main symptoms are sleep attacks, nighttime sleeplessness and cataplexy, the sudden loss of skeletal muscle tone without loss of consciousness; that is, although the person cannot talk or move, they are otherwise in a state of high alertness, feeling, hearing and remembering everything that is going on around them.

“When we think of Parkinson’s, the first thing that comes to mind are the motor disorders associated with it,” said Siegel, who is also chief of neurobiology research at the Sepulveda Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Mission Hills, Calif. “But sleep disruption is a major problem in Parkinson’s, often more disturbing than its motor symptoms. And most Parkinson’s patients have daytime sleep attacks that resemble narcoleptic sleep attacks.”

In fact, said Siegel, Parkinson’s disease is often preceded and accompanied by daytime sleep attacks, nocturnal insomnia, REM sleep disorder, hallucinations and depression. All of these symptoms are also present in narcolepsy.

In the study, the researchers examined 16 human brains from cadavers — five from normal adults and 11 in various stages of Parkinson’s — and found an increasing loss of hypocretin cells (Hcrt) with disease progression. In fact, said Siegel, the later stages of Parkinson’s were “characterized by a massive loss of the Hcrt neurons. That leads us to believe the loss of Hcrt cells may be a cause of the narcolepsy-like symptoms of [Parkinson’s].

http://www.hypocretin.com/


From Dr Mercola:

The brain chemical hypocretin, a neurotransmitter that helps keep you awake, is most widely known for its role in the sleeping disorder known as narcolepsy.

Narcoleptics, who uncontrollably fall asleep during the day and have much higher rates of depression than the general population, are unable to produce hypocretin. This not only interferes with their sleep-wake cycle, but also may also disrupt their emotional state – a new finding that has implications for everyone.

Hypocretin May Regulate Your Levels of Happiness

A new study, which used epilepsy patients who had special electrodes implanted in their brains that could monitor hypocretin levels, found that levels of the neurotransmitter soared during positive emotions, anger, social interactions and upon awakening.1

Hypocretin has been previously associated with reward-seeking behaviors, and the researchers suggested it may have a very specific role in human arousal and happiness as well. The study’s lead author, Dr. Jerome Siegel, told the New York Times:2

“This [study] shows that hypocretin is related to a particular kind of arousal … There is an arousal system in the brain whose function is keeping you awake for pleasure, to get rewards. It is related to positive effects, and in its absence you have a deficit in pleasure seeking.”

This explains why people with narcolepsy, who are lacking hypocretin, also commonly suffer from depression. Interestingly, it also suggests there may be other arousal systems in your brain, driven by different brain chemicals, that may be in charge of regulating other specific emotions.

A Warning About Hypocretin-Blocking Sleeping Pills

If an important new biological pathway is discovered you can bet your bottom dollar that the drug companies will not be far behind to manipulate that pathway in some way that will not correct the problem, but merely relieve the symptoms and make them a boatload of money. And that is precisely what has happened.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted a new drug application for Suvorexant, a new insomnia medication made by Merck.3 This is the same company that brought you Vioxx, which killed 60,000 before being pulled from the market.

The new drug works by targeting hypocretin, temporarily blocking it to help you fall asleep, or, as the New York Times put it, “essentially causing narcolepsy for a night.”4

The concern is that if reduced hypocretin may be responsible for causing depression in narcoleptics, could it also cause depression, or interfere with mood, in healthy people using the hypocretin-blocking drug Suvorexant? So far Merck claims no connection has been found, but there is likely reason for caution:5

“The initial reports are rosy,” Dr. Siegel told the New York Times, “But they come from a drug company with an enormous investment. And there is a long list of drugs acting on the brain whose severe problems were only identified after millions of people were taking them.”

More Proof Lack of Sleep Leads to Weight Gain

Research has only scratched the surface of the far-reaching implications of a disrupted sleep-wake cycle. But in addition to impacting your emotions, it’s known that a lack of sleep causes changes in the hunger and satiety hormones ghrelin and leptin – changes that impact your food intake and ultimately your weight.

The latest research showed the effects of sleeping just five hours a night for five days. The study participants actually burned more energy than those who slept longer, but they had less restraint when it came to mealtime. The sleep-deprived subjects ended up eating more, so that despite their increased energy burning they gained nearly two pounds, on average, during the five-day study.6

Researchers noted:

“Our findings suggest that increased food intake during insufficient sleep is a physiological adaptation to provide energy needed to sustain additional wakefulness; yet when food is easily accessible, intake surpasses that needed … These findings provide evidence that sleep plays a key role in energy metabolism. Importantly, they demonstrate physiological and behavioral mechanisms by which insufficient sleep may contribute to overweight and obesity.”

The good news is that the opposite also held true: when participants started getting more sleep, they subsequently started to eat less and lose weight.

Too Little Sleep Wreaks Havoc on Your Insulin Levels, Leads to Food Cravings

Sleep deprivation tends to lead to food cravings, particularly for sweet and starchy foods. Researchers have suggested that these sugar cravings stem from the fact that your brain is fueled by glucose (blood sugar); therefore, when lack of sleep occurs, and your brain is unable to properly respond to insulin (which drives glucose into brain cells) your brain becomes desperate for carbohydrates to keep going. If you’re chronically sleep deprived, consistently giving in to these sugar cravings will virtually guarantee that you’ll gain weight.

Getting too little sleep also dramatically decreases the sensitivity of your insulin receptors, which will raise your insulin levels. This too is a surefire way to gain weight, as the elevated insulin will seriously impair your body’s ability to burn and digest fat.

According to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine,7 after four nights of sleep deprivation (sleep time was only 4.5 hours per night), study participants’ insulin sensitivity was 16 percent lower, while their fat cells’ insulin sensitivity was 30 percent lower, and rivaled levels seen in those with diabetes or obesity.

Sleep Deprivation Linked to Psychiatric Disorders

Getting back to the link between sleep, or lack of it, and mood, sleep deprivation is linked to psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and bipolar depression, while getting the right amount of sleep has been linked to positive personality characteristics such as optimism and greater self-esteem, as well as a greater ability to solve difficult problems.8

So there’s no doubt about it: too little sleep can seriously impact your mood and your ability to be happy. If you feel well-rested in the morning, that’s a good sign that your sleep habits are just fine. But if not, you might want to investigate your sleep patterns more closely.

10 Reasons Why You Might Have Trouble Sleeping

There are many factors that can influence your sleep. For my complete recommendations and guidelines that can help you improve your sleep, please see my article 33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep. Following are 10 often-overlooked factors to address if you’re having trouble with your sleep:

    1. Too Much Light in Your Room

Even the tiniest bit of light in the room, including those emitted by electronic devices, can disrupt your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin, thereby disrupting your sleep cycle.

So close your bedroom door, install black-out drapes, use a sleep mask, get rid of night-lights, and refrain from turning on any light during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom. If you have to use a light you can use a red flashlight, as that wavelength of light has a minimal impact on melatonin production.

    1. Exercising Too Close to Bedtime

Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day can improve your sleep. However, don’t exercise too close to bedtime (generally not within the three hours before) or it may keep you awake.

    1. Drinking Alcohol Before Bed

Although alcohol will make you drowsy, the effect is short lived and you will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol can also keep you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where your body does most of its healing.

    1. Your Bedroom is Too Warm

Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees F. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep. When you sleep, your body’s internal temperature drops to its lowest level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep.

Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.

    1. Caffeine is Keeping You Awake

Caffeine has a half-life of five hours, which means some will still be in your system even 10 hours later, and 12.5% 20 hours later (see the problem?). Plus, in some people caffeine is not metabolized efficiently, leaving you feeling its effects even longer after consumption. So, an afternoon cup of coffee or tea will keep some people from falling asleep at night. Be aware that some over the counter medications contain caffeine as well (for example, diet pills).

    1. You’re Watching the Clock

The more you watch the clock when you wake up in the middle of the night, the more stressed and anxious you will become, and the more you may actually “train” yourself to start awakening at the same time each night. The solution is simple: Remove the clock from your view so you actually have to sit up or change positions to see the clock.

    1. Watching TV to Help You Fall Asleep

The artificial glow from your TV can serve as a stimulus for keeping you awake and, possibly, eating, when you should really be asleep. Further, computer and TV screens (and most light bulbs) emit blue light, to which your eyes are particularly sensitive simply because it’s the type of light most common outdoors during daytime hours. As a result, it can disrupt your melatonin production and further interfere with your sleep.

    1. Worrying in the Middle of the Night

If stress keeps you up at night, try keeping a “worry journal” next to your bedside so you can jot down your thoughts there and clear them from your head. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can also help balance your body’s bioenergy system and resolve some of the emotional stresses that are contributing to your insomnia at a very deep level. The results are typically long lasting and improvement is remarkably rapid.

    1. Eating Too Close to Bedtime

Although you might struggle with this initially, it is ideal to avoid eating any foods three hours before bed, as this will optimize your blood sugar, insulin and leptin levels and contribute to overall good health.

    1. Smoking

The nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant, which can keep you awake much as though you just drank a cup of coffee.

 

 

Inflammatory bowel disease in pets

Inflammatory bowel disease in pets can give us  health cues as humans have similar body functions. Pets do not eat sugar, dairies, trans fat, smoke or stress out like we do.
We can start with cleansing and then nourishment. Do drink raw carrots juice with garlic and ginger. Limit refined foods, sugar, alcohol, smoking and unhealthy fats/trans fat. Email motherhealth@gmail.com for personal health coaching.
Connie
———-
Listen as Dr. Karen Becker discusses the very common problem of IBD in companion animals – how it starts, what to look for, treatment options and how to prevent this miserable disorder in your furry family member.

Dr. Becker’s Comments:

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a condition of inflammation of the intestines.

There are four common types of IBD, classified by what kind of white blood cells infiltrate the intestine: lymphocytes, plasmacytes, eosinophils and neutrophils. Without a doubt, the most common cause of IBD in pets is lymphocytic-plasmacytic enteritis, gastritis and colitis.

If your pet’s intestines are inflamed long enough, the situation can create a host of other debilitating health conditions.

IBD and Leaky Gut

Both cats and dogs get IBD. Both are susceptible to dysbiosis or ‘leaky gut,’ which means the balance of bad to good intestinal bacteria gets out of whack.

Leaky or permeable gut is a condition in which inflammation weakens the tight junctions of the cells of the GI tract, allowing partially digested proteins and potential allergens to escape into your pet’s bloodstream.

Allergens in the bloodstream trigger a systemic immune reaction – your pet’s body senses foreign invading substances and mounts a powerful defense. The result is allergies or worse – autoimmune or immune-mediated disease. A simple explanation for this condition is that your pet’s body is attacking itself.

IBD Leads to Secondary Infections, Organ Degeneration, Nutritional Deficiencies and Even Cancer

Secondary infections are very common in dogs and cats with inflammatory bowel disease. This is the result of not having a balanced, healthy digestive system.

Over half your pet’s immune function is located in his GI tract, so if the intestines are inflamed and compromised, the immune system is compromised right along with it.

Secondary organ degeneration is common with IBD, especially in the kidneys and liver.

Nutritional deficiencies are also typical in IBD pets because inflammation disrupts the normal absorption and processing of nutrients from food.

With kitties, there’s a correlation between GI cancer (lymphoma of the GI tract) and chronic IBD.

A Common Cause of IBD – GI Parasites

There are a few common causes of inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats.

One that is often overlooked is the presence of parasites.

My estimate is the vast majority of puppy mill pets and abandoned/rescued animals left at shelters are positive for parasites – roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, coccidia, and Giardia. Parasites cause GI inflammation.

Another source for parasite infestation is in litters whose mothers were not tested or treated prior to being bred. Responsible breeders arrange for testing and deworming of females before they are bred, which insures litters will be parasite free.

Less responsible or unknowledgeable breeders don’t take the same precautions and end up selling litter after litter of puppies and kittens that have GI parasites.

The next problem arises at the veterinary clinic, where broad spectrum dewormers are given to infected animals at regular intervals until 16 weeks. At the end of the 16 weeks, the pets are re-checked to see if the parasites are gone.

But here’s the issue: if the specific parasite isn’t identified, it may not be killed by a broad spectrum dewormer. So pets wind up with several weeks of unnecessary medication that doesn’t even solve the problem.

Many dogs I see at my Natural Pet hospital have been dewormed three or four times but are still having problems. When I check fecal samples for these pups, I often find they are coccidia or Giardia-positive. Broad spectrum dewormers don’t take care of these particular parasites. Giardia, for example, causes intermittent diarrhea and chronic low-grade inflammation of the GI tract. It is not responsive to the dewormers most vets prescribe.

A saner, safer approach is for your vet to do at least three fecal analyses one month apart to determine the type of parasite and to confirm your pet is rid of them. Selecting the appropriate dewormer for the type of parasite, and treating the pet until the parasites are completely resolved is a crucial part of decreasing GI inflammation and preventing full-blown IBD.

By the time these unfortunate pups are seen at my practice, they are over 16 weeks old, with intermittent soft stools indicating GI inflammation, and they typically still have a parasite problem which requires treatment before any other symptoms can be resolved.

Another Root Cause – Antibiotics and Steroids

Another of my frustrations is that animals with low-grade GI inflammation are treated with antibiotics by the traditional veterinary community.

Antibiotics are a second common trigger for inflammatory bowel disease.

GI antibiotics kill the healthy bacteria right along with the bad guys. When all bacteria is obliterated from your pet’s gut, the regrowth often results in an imbalance featuring too many gram-negative, unhealthy bacteria or opportunistic yeast and not enough of the friendly variety. This is the definition of dysbiosis.

Now we have a 16+ week old puppy or kitten that has had several weeks of GI inflammation, ineffective deworming treatments, one or two rounds of antibiotics which have obliterated all the bacteria in his GI tract, and no re-seeding of bacteria with an appropriate probiotic to insure a healthy balance.

This little guy is well on his way to low-grade GI inflammation and IBD.

I’ve also seen dogs and cats that at six months of age are already on Prednisone therapy for GI inflammation. Prednisone is an immunosuppressive steroid, which turns the immune system down or completely off, wiping out troublesome symptoms and giving the appearance of a ‘cure.’ Unfortunately, this treatment doesn’t do a thing to uncover the root cause of the GI inflammation and ultimately postpones true healing.

A Third Culprit: Food Intolerance

In my practice I see many pets brought in for intermittent soft-to-watery stools, a situation many pet parents dub ‘sensitive stomach.’

Typically, this ‘sensitive stomach’ means the dog or cat cannot undergo any sort of dietary change without major GI consequences. This isn’t what nature had in mind when it built your favorite furry friend.

Just as you are designed to eat different foods at every meal without GI disturbance, pets with healthy, resilient GI tracts should be able to tolerate changes in the food they eat without negative consequences.

Probably more than half the pet owners I talk to assume it’s normal for their dog or cat to have GI sensitivity to changes in diet. But what’s really going on is the animal’s gut is in some way compromised and therefore cannot withstand dietary variety. It could be a low-grade inflammation that has been present for weeks, months or even years by that time.

Food intolerance or sensitivity can begin with a poor quality, non-species appropriate diet – one that is high in unnecessary carbohydrates. Processed pet food containing a lot of corn, wheat or rice can create inflammation in the gut of your carnivorous dog or cat, designed to digest meat – not grains.

I also have clients that feed a raw, species-appropriate diet without carbohydrates, which is wonderful, except they feed the same protein source for weeks, months or years.

Many animals (including humans) develop hypersensitivity to a food they eat over and over again. Inflammation is the result and can lead to IBD.

So overfeeding too much of even the right foods can lead to problems in the digestive tract.

Testing for IBD

There are two different diagnostic tests that are commonly done to detect IBD.

One test is what is known as a ‘confirming’ test, in which a biopsy is taken to assess morphologic characteristics common in the GI tracts of animals with inflammatory bowel disease. This is not my first choice because it’s expensive, invasive and involves anesthesia and the inherent risks that come with it.

The other test, which I use often in my practice, is a functional gastrointestinal test using a blood sample.

What we’re looking for with this test is two types of B vitamin absorption, the first of which is folate. Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that is not easily absorbed in the small intestine unless it is deconjugated there.

If your pet’s small intestine can’t deconjugate folate, meaning it can’t break it down into an absorbable form, she can end up folate-deficient, in which case her blood test will show low or suboptimal levels of folate.

A low folate level means either your pet’s assimilation and absorption of nutrients is poor, or her body is challenged by the deconjugation process, indicating a disease or disorder of the small intestine.

If your pet’s folate is high rather than low, it indicates another type of problem. Your pet’s small intestine contains a small amount of bacteria critical for the production and assimilation of certain B vitamins. If this bacteria blooms into an overgrowth, your pet can wind up with high folate levels and a condition known as SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.

The second blood test I use to assess GI function involves another B vitamin called cobalamin, which is bound to protein.

Cobalamin is released from protein through a complex series of events that starts in the stomach and finishes in the small intestine.

If cobalamin levels are low, we can assume this complex process is not occurring optimally. Cobalamin levels are a measure of digestion. This condition of maldigestion can sometimes also involve the pancreas. The disorder is called EPI – Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency and can be diagnosed via another GI blood test called a TLI (Trypsin-like Immunoreactivity).

If you suspect your pet has IBD but you’re not interested in doing a biopsy at this point, ask your vet to perform functional GI testing to determine a diagnosis.

In my practice, I also do two additional functional tests, TLI and PLI, which assess pancreatic function. Secondary pancreatitis is a very common condition in IBD patients, so assessing your dog’s or cat’s pancreatic function is also important.

These functional GI tests are available through the gastrointestinal lab at Texas A&M University.

Dietary Recommendations for IBD

Upon diagnosis, your veterinarian will probably tell you to feed a bland diet if your pet is symptomatic with vomiting, diarrhea or soft stool with mucus and/or blood.

My idea of a bland diet is different from a traditional veterinarian’s. I recommend ground cooked turkey and canned pumpkin or cooked sweet potato. I don’t recommend the traditional beef and rice. Beef is high in fat, which can exacerbate GI inflammation and pancreatitis.

Rice is a complex carb which can be fermented in the GI tract, causing gas, which can lead to additional digestive upset.

I recommend a grain-free, bland diet because in my experience it’s more suitable to pets with active symptoms of IBD.

While feeding your dog or cat a bland diet, you should be thinking about what’s next for her in terms of nutritional requirements. Bland is fine for a short time, but balance in the diet is crucial

I recommend you work with an integrative veterinarian to select a novel protein source — one your pet has either never consumed or hasn’t for a long while. This will give the GI tract and your pet’s immune system a good rest.

You’ll also want to select a novel vegetable or fiber source as well, to create an anti-inflammatory menu that will facilitate healing within both the large and small intestine.

An integrative vet can help you build a comprehensive protocol for your pet that addresses not only dietary issues, but also vaccinations, the use of drug therapy, and any potential toxins in your pet’s environment or lifestyle that could be contributing to unaddressed inflammation.


Connie’s notes: We start with cleansing and then nourishment. Do drink raw carrots juice with garlic and ginger. Limit refined foods, sugar, alcohol, smoking and unhealthy fats/trans fat. Email motherhealth@gmail.com for personal health coaching.

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