They are not buzz words, but they are words I have seen a lot in the last two or three years. The words are Free Radicals and Antioxidants. I don’t know about you, I got the gist that free radicals are bad and antioxidants are good. I really did not know much more about them.
A few weeks ago, when the weather was over 80 degrees, I started thinking about what I would feed my dog this summer. (I follow the Chinese feeding methods of feeding hot/cold depending on the season.) There is so much information out there about grain free and how grain, especially corn is bad. Is it true? I don’t know. I know when I was a child our dogs lived past 10 years old and were fed cheap bagged dry kibble.
My heart dog, Amadeus, had medical conditions or reactions that led me to investigate different types of dog foods. He lived 10.5 years on premium kibble. 10.5 years might not seem like much, but I thought I was going to lose him at 6 years of age.
So now I have decided to learn more about free radicals and antioxidants and how they impact what I am feeding.
I learned that free radicals are energetically unstable and highly reactive molecules with missing or unpaired electrons. These molecules travel though out the body looking for an electron they can steal from another molecule, thereby altering its chemistry. In other words, it makes healthy molecules, unhealthy.
Free radicals can be produced by exposure to air pollutants, sun, radiation, drugs, viruses, bacteria, parasites, dietary fats, emotional stress and physical trauma or infections.
Free radicals are known today to be an underlying factor in many diseases including osteoarthritis and in degenerative conditions such as cancer, kidney and liver disorders, vascular disorders or immune-mediated disorders.
How do antioxidants help? Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize and deactivate free radicals and diminish damage they may cause. By donating electrons, antioxidants can convert free radicals into harmless compounds that may be safely excreted from the body.
In normal conditions the body can take care of itself. However, under conditions where excess free radicals are produced, the body needs extra quantities of antioxidants from another source in order to stop the free radicals. These additional antioxidants can be obtained through nutritional supplementation.
Examples of well-known antioxidants are vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, zinc and selenium. There are many others, but these were the ones I am most familiar with. I also learned that grape seed extract is 20 times stronger than vitamin C and 50 times stronger than vitamin E.
When you feed your dog tonight, look at the bag or can and see if it mentions antioxidants or list any of the examples I mentioned. They do not appear to raise the cost much compared to other factors in pricing pet food. But antioxidant help is something I will now be looking for via dog food.
Let me know what you think. We learn more when we share.
“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.”
― Dean Koontz