Letter To University Researcher Regarding Allergies In Pets
The wild card in diagnosis is the variability in food biochemical composition that can result from various processing methods. In other words, it is one thing to have an owner feed, for example, raw chicken breast to a dog and observe for signs of sensitivity, it is quite another to conclude that if such sensitivity to the raw chicken breast does occur that it will occur with a pet food that lists chicken on the label. As I mentioned, chicken products can vary widely from heads and feet, to offal (viscera), backs and necks, to chicken meat, to feathers and combinations of any of these. Additionally, when these materials are subject to the rigors of processing, such as the HTST extrusion methods whereby temperatures reach 270 degrees plus, under 600 psi and high shear, wondrous things happen to these "chicken" ingredients.
These include but are not limited to: The physicochemical alteration of the food bolus resulting in colloidal changes that negatively affect food digestibility as well as solubility of minerals. Modern processing methods can racemize nutritionally valuable amino acids to a 50% mixture of L- and D-forms wherein only the L- is available to be utilized by the body. Additionally, amino acids can be leached from the food. Vitamin B6 can also react with epsilon amino groups to form complexes of epsilon pyridoxal lysine, rendering both the lysine and the B6 altered and unavailable. Oxidation and desulfurization of amino acids can also occur and conjugation with reducing sugars (Maillard reaction) further alters nutrient value. Succinylation and acetylation can occur to not only the epsilon amino of lysine, but the hydroxal of serine and threonine, the sulfhydral of cysteine, the phenol of tyrosine and the imidazole of histadine. Fatty acids can conjugate forming trienic substances which are highly reactive chemicals that are also generated from radiation. Fatty acids can also lose their nutritionally important cis-isomeric forms and be converted to trans-isomers. As a result of the rigors of processing, they can also polymerize, interesterify and undergo other isomeric changes rendering them unavailable nutritionally. Cholesterol can oxidize forming toxic compounds capable of inducing a variety of pathologies including atherosclerosis (The real cause of atherosclerosis in humans I believe.) Vitamin and mineral alteration and loss is extensive in processed foods with losses exceeding 90% in some instances. The science of what happens to food as it goes through all the changes of processing from the point it is "picked from the vine" is extremely significant but by and large ignored in most nutritional considerations. Also ignored is the fact that food alterations not only result in loss of bioavailability, but the creation of new toxic compounds that are potentially carcinogenic, mutagenic, atherogenic and free radical- generating — this latter process likely the underlying cause of the former.
The very nature of the biochemicals capable of inducing sensitivity or an allergic response is changed in the processing method. A report from France, for example, published in the Journal of Food Science (Vol. 3, No. 1. 1988, pg. 222) showed that affinity antibodies against ovalbumin had higher avidity against heat denatured ovalbumin than against the raw molecule. In another report by Grabar and Kaminski (Bull. Soc. Chem. Biol. 32 (9-10): 620) it was shown that ovalbumin lost all of its antigenicity after heat treatment. This of course stands to reason considering the nature of the immune complex and its dependence upon the highly fragile three dimensional nature of protein structure.
So this is why I would argue that a chicken is not a chicken is not a chicken. Feeding raw chicken breast is entirely different than feeding chicken viscera which is entirely different than one pet food with a "chicken" product in it vs. another product with "chicken" in it. Given this it becomes important to perform elimination provocation testing with specific complete foods rather than extrapolating from laboratory results or isolated food components which are not a part of finished pet food products. It must also be argued that even if raw chicken breast was being compared to a pet food that started with raw chicken breast, that the comparison would still not be valid since the combination of the proteins within the chicken with various carbohydrates and fats during processing changes the nature of the end finished product. In other words, finished processed products are not simply a summation of ingredients but an entirely new milieu of substances with features deleted and added to the original ingredients.
Actually, which major ingredients we have in our foods we believe to be of less importance than the way we are processing the foods. It is what else we are doing nutritionally to the food to increase its value — such as increased activity micronutrients, probiotics, omega 3 fatty acids, proper stabilization of EFA's and other features as discussed in our literature, that makes our diets work — not whether they have chicken, lamb, or rice in them. I know this may sound rather unconventional but for the reasons stated above it is nevertheless true.
We believe it is this discrepancy between what is tested in the lab or provocation tested at home, and what is actually in our food that results in the positive reaction of many sensitive animals to not only Anergen but other products we produce as well — regardless of presumed sensitivities. Unfortunately, when people fix it in their minds that an animal is "allergic" to corn or to chicken or to some other ingredient, they find it very difficult to feed anything that would have that component in it and believe that negative results don't occur. As I mentioned to you, emperically the results we are getting back from using our products with chicken (now being fed to several thousand animals) are very positive, showing no definitive instances where animals are reacting negatively to the formulation.
However, the power of suggestion is real and significant. We have had instances with this diet where we tested the new formulation but put it in the old bags, where chicken was not listed, in patients who were believed to be sensitive to chicken and no difference in results was obtained. But, as soon as the new bag was introduced and the owner saw "chicken" on the bag, they reported that their animal was not faring as well.
As you know, medicine is an art, a far-from-exact science with many variables and unknowns all interplaying to create what are not always the most rational results.
I'm sure much of what I have said here you are aware of, but perhaps a fresh look at the "processing" variable will offer some diagnostic options for you.