Friday, September 19, 2008

Living a Healthy Life

(Contributed by Dr. Jessica Levy)

The other day I was talking to my oldest sister. The topic was people we knew who were getting older and sicker. She discussed the health status of her in-laws, who are in their 80’s and suffer from diabetes, heart disease, and asthma; I brought up my husband’s only surviving grandparent, also in her 80’s, who has diverticulitis and is in an assisted living facility because she is too weak to walk.

My sister, who is 11 years older than I, was concerned that this is the way of the world, as you get older you get sicker, and it somehow seems unavoidable. I reminded her that our father is going to be 81 this year, and is in robust health, thanks to good genetic material and his wife, who monitors his diet a little closer than is comfortable. (Sometimes my siblings and I have to sneak Dad away to his favorite steakhouse, where he is not officially “allowed” to eat by the powers that be.)

On the other hand, he’s always interested in something new, spends summers in Israel and winters in Florida, and periodically sends me emails along the lines of: “We’re on our way to Vienna (or Frankfurt or Aruba), here’s our hotel contact information, etc.”

My lesson from this is that taking care of your own health really does pay off. Good old diet and exercise, as well as maintaining an active and interested mind, will keep us alive and healthy. We are lucky to have Dad as an example of how to do it right. Plus, we hope we got the good genes, too.

So there we were being all self-righteous, when we remembered that Mom’s been dead for 15 years. She died of myelofibrosis, which is one of those rare weird things that people die of. Not hereditary, as far as I know, and she lived several years with a disease that has a dire prognosis. She also quit smoking, watched her weight, read like a maniac, knitted like crazy, traveled the world, and never cooked the same thing twice.

Better clean up my act, before it’s too late.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Your Dog Doesn't Fear Raw Food, So You Shouldn't Either!

(Contributed by Dr. Jessica Levy)

Just recently I’ve read a couple of books which, while decrying the pet food industry and the health impact of feeding processed pet foods, then go on to say, “But I certainly don’t recommend a raw food diet!” Then the discussion begins of what makes a high quality dog food, etc, etc. Which is certainly an important discussion to have, yet why the avoidance of feeding raw food?

There’s always some discussion of whether dogs have evolved past the point of being wolf-like, and are no longer able to tolerate the raw diet of wild carnivores. Let’s be clear: Evolution takes a long, long time. Like tens of thousands of years. Processed pet food has been around for less than 100 years. No, dogs have not evolved into processed-food-eaters. It just ain’t so.

Dogs in the wild, while adept at catching mice and birds, are largely scavengers. The lions, hyenas, cheetahs, etc, do the bulk of the large-game hunting, and the dogs clean up the left-overs, often days later. Yes, dogs are made (or have evolved) to eat road kill.

This is what I love about dogs! They’re so adaptable, so opportunistic, so varied in their repertoire of things they can eat/pass through their intestines/digest. This is why they’re man’s best friend! Man trashes the planet, and dogs eat the trash!

When dogs are fed unnatural (processed) diets, disease results. Dogs do not naturally have delicate digestive systems, inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies, etc. These problems are induced by human actions upon the planet, which leaves us stuck in this 1950’s white bread, white rice, better-living-through-chemistry mindset.

People, of course, should not eat all processed foods, either. It induces disease in us, too. People should not suffer from delicate digestion, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, stomach cancer, diverticulitis, heartburn, gastric reflux, etc.

I encourage my clients to have courage, learn about feeding raw foods, and dive in! It's not nearly as hard as most people think! There is a ton of information available these days, both online and in books, about how to do it. The plethora of premixed raw foods on the market make it even easier to do right by our dogs.

Don’t be afraid to try it! You and your dogs will love the results!