Fibre in a Pet's Diet: Not Just Good For People
One of the most common problems I come across when talking to customers is dogs with digestive problems. This means diarrhea, constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and a myriad of other issues. The best way to fix a minor problem and to promote general intestinal health is to supply them with some good fibre, which should be part of their everyday diet.
There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble (benefits of each in the list below).
Soluble fibre is found inside plant cells. When you or your pet eat soluble fibre it creates a gel-like substance to hold water in the stool. This gel can start to break down in the gut and release helpful substances called prebiotics that feed healthy gut flora. An example of this is the inulin you would get from eating burdock root. Soluble fibres can be found in psyllium (seed and husk), beans, lentils, fruits, vegetable, bran, and peas, and burdock root.
Insoluble fibre is found in plant cell walls, it's what gives plants their structure. Insoluble fibres can be obtained from pumpkin and its seeds, wheat grass, fruit and vegetable skins, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains.
I usually refer to fibre as magical because it can do so much good for the body. So what are the benefits of fibre for pets? Well, they're the same benefits as for people! I'll list them below:
Constipation: Soluble fibre adds water to stool, aiding with dry boluses that are difficult to pass. Insoluble fibres add bulk and speed passage through the gut, which also helps to pass these difficult stools.
Diarrhea: Soluble fibre holds water and gives stool a gel-like consistency, making it a more consistent texture.
Feeds Gut Flora: Healthy gut flora love the prebiotics in soluble fibres, and happy gut flora means a healthy digestive system and a healthy body. If there are not enough good bacteria in the gut then bad, pathogenic bacteria can take over and cause illness.
Increase Satiety: Satiety is the feeling of fullness, and fibre is great at prolonging this feeling after eating since it creates a gel that slows down transit through the stomach and intestines. This means that pets will feel full for longer and decrease their need to overeat, so if you have a pet that needs to lose a few pounds try decreasing their food by 15% and adding a soluble fibre source, such as beans, peas, and burdock root.
For Heart Health: Soluble fibres bind bile, and since bile is made of cholesterol, the body has to replace this bile by using up cholesterol in the blood, which lowers the amount in the rest of the body. If there is too much cholesterol in the blood, harmful plaques can build up on arteriole walls and block arteries, which can lead to coronary heart disease.
Diabetes: Having lots of fibre in the diet also benefits those with diabetes because it slows down the rate of glucose absorption from the small intestine. When food is eaten it goes to the stomach, and then the small intestine to be digested. The small and large intestines then absorb nutrients and water needed from the bolus. Fibre slows down this absorption and therefore decreases the spike in blood glucose levels after a meal.
Cancer: Some cancers, such as colorectal cancer, can be prevented by having a high-fibre diet since it dilutes and binds possible carcinogens, as well as feeds good bacteria which protect the gut.
Try Earth MD's Digestive Supplement for the fibre your pet deserves!