April Fools to the cat lovers that thought this title was in someway referring to love. But unfortunately, this title is still a true statement. Prior to 1987, a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) was one of the most common heart diseases in cats. Almost overnight, the incidence of this deadly heart condition reduced dramatically after correcting the way taurine was damaged during the manufacturing of cat food. Would it be great if heart disease in humans could be solved so easily. Maybe it can; read on.
Cats are “true” carnivores. Their diet is almost exclusively meat and hence, they have not developed the ability to produce certain nutrients only available in meat. Taurine, an amino acid, being one of them. A deficiency of taurine in a cat’s diet causes the walls of their heart to become thin. As a result, upon contraction, the flabby walls of their heart balloon out, losing much of its blood pumping power.
The link between DCM, and taurine deficient cat food, was discovered and corrected over 30 years ago. DCM used to be one of the most common heart disease in cats, but now is relatively rare. I thought maybe I should play it safe and check the ingredients list of the cat food we give Pickles. I have lost trust in most manufacturers of food for human or animal consumption. Even brands assumed to be high quality. So I read the labels of all the food we eat in our house, but I admit I am not as thorough with his food.
But after reading that cats suffering with DCM will often show signs of depression and loss of appetite, I did not bother checking on his food ingredients. I don’t need to be a veterinarian to rule out a diagnosis of DCM, or depression, or loss of appetite on Pickles. He is passionate about eating!
Can you image what veterinarians must have thought when seeing so many of their cat patients dying from heart disease? I don’t believe most of us associate cats with high stress, anxiety, or increased excitability. Those are traits typically seen with a type A personality and are also increased risk factors for heart disease. Not hardly the image portrayed by domesticated cats. Pickles sleeps, or at least lays around doing nothing, for about 16 hours a day. The rest of the time he spends annoying me for something to eat. Maybe I should take taurine. Actually I do. More on that later.
Soon after the prestigious journal Science published the research showing this taurine/cat DCM link, much attention was turned to finding this possibility in dogs with DCM. The link was more difficult to establish due to varying breeds and genetic influences. But after many years of research, again, taurine shows to have a direct link to heart health, not only in cats, but also dogs. So much so, in July 2018, the FDA posted this alert on the link between diet and canine heart disease, while highlighting the role of taurine in the development of DCM.
It is interesting to speculate upon some of the underlying take aways of these studies or even this FDA alert. A majority of these health issues are due to feeding these cats and dogs a diet comprised of processed food, or a diet not in alignment with their core metabolic design.
Some manufacturers will design their dog food listing starch, peas, lentils, potatoes, and seeds as the main ingredients as a way to appear more healthy. Some of the researches noted that many of these trendy or boutique diets were not in the animal’s best interest. It was also noted that some dog owners choose to avoid dog food containing “byproducts.” But these byproducts contain organ meat like heart and kidney, which are good sources of taurine.
Maybe the dog owner buys into these marketing gimmicks, but the dog just wants to eat raw meat. The proof is in the pudding. Just watch the level of gusto a dog has when raw meat is thrown into their bowl or on the floor. How many of you reading this fall for these gimmicks? Not only the food you give your pet, but for you and your families’ consumption.
One of the simplest diets to correct almost all digestive disorders, is a leaky gut diet. Look at the basics of this diet. Meat and vegetables. I’m using meat to include beef, poultry, fish, pork, etc. Vegetables does not include grains. Just plain vegetables, like you could grow in a garden. This is at the core of all healthy diets, except vegetarian of course. If we apply that to the best parts of the numerous trendy diets being promoted, you will see all or parts of all food categories eliminated except for meat and vegetables. Think about that. If you want to lose weight, lower blood sugar, reduce inflammation, or just about any health concern. Just eat meat and vegetables. It’s that easy.
On many occasions I will recommend taurine; the typical therapeutic dosage is 2000 mg per day. A common response I hear when I suggest taurine is, “Will it keep me awake?” I can understand that reaction due to that fact that taurine is an ingredient in many energy drinks. Red Bull, Monster, Rock Star, 5- hour Energy, and NOS all seem to have about 1000 mg per serving. It is reported that these energy drinks add taurine because it helps regulate heartbeat, muscle contractions, supports an excited brain state, has a calming effect on the nervous system, lowers blood pressure, improves blood flow and oxygen supply to heart cells. All the things to basically help people function better while in a hyper-stimulated state. All these attributes sound like a good thing for any state of being.
Taurine has profound health benefits way beyond heart health. That alone would be enough of a reason to consider supplementing with it, and there are many more accolades we can say about taurine’s health benefits. So I included this 14 page report provided by Dr. Schenker. It summarizes in great detail some of the reported health benefits from referenced journal sighting.
How many more years will it take until the FDA issues an alert for us to be aware of the link between taurine and heart health in men and women? After reviewing the 14 page report, how much additional research needs to be done? I suggest you don’t wait. Your health is your responsibility, not the government’s.
PS. Ask me how you can use taurine to improve your health. I have a criteria for it's clinical application.
PSS. I tried to find the first recorded cat heart attack but with no success. It does appear that cat food was invented in 1860 by an electrician. Look at how big the veterinarian industry has grown since then. Still not a big as our health care industry. Just saying.