2/7/2018 - The Forgotten Superfood: Entrails! (aka Organs) by Dr. Jodie Gruenstern, DVM, CVA
Natural and Cultural History
Dogs and cats have a lot in common with wolves and cougars. However, they are not the same and their sharing of physiology is often the subject of great debate, but with that aside, all are carnivores and nature has intended that all consume some organs. Offal also called pluck or organ meats refer to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. In America, this terminology and meal idea has become particularly foreign, but for the sake of great natural pet nutrition, we need to consider the positive impact that the addition of entrails can have to a carnivore’s diet!
Nutrients in Prey
Our little carnivores have been built to consume prey. A prey animal is composed of four major tissues: flesh or meat, bone, organs/sinews, and the ingesta found throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
When analyzed, each of these tissues contains an abundance of nutrients which when consumed by a predator provide a complete and balanced diet!
Which begs the question, what if the whole prey is not consumed? What if only a couple components are eaten repetitively? What if components are heat processed and nutrients are damaged or destroyed? What if tissues are eliminated from the predator’s diet because we feel they are objectionable?
Is it adequate to replace missing nutrients with synthetic versions? Let’s explore this!
Understanding the Glandular Theory
I explain the glandular theory in this way. If your pet has an illness with a particular body part and he ingests that body part, he may get nutrients from that food which feeds the weakened tissue. These nutrients may be vitamins and minerals, but they may be unidentified substances which cannot be derived from any other food source. Substances, for example, may mean thyroid hormone from thyroid gland or taurine from heart muscle or mineralocorticoids from adrenals.
Healthful Abundance in Entrails
Let’s take a look at each organ or gland tissue and see what it can provide. Note what your pet is missing if each vital prey component is left out of the diet.
The liver is likely the most common organ fed. It is mixed into raw diets and fed as treats.
One study demonstrated that liver, kidney, and muscle all act as detoxification organs. The liver has so many important functions it stands to reason that there would be a myriad of substances present in the liver which are beneficial to good health.
Liver is also the home to glutathione, the king of antioxidants. Glutathione is a metabolite which facilitates important detoxification functions. Liver provides more nutrients per gram than any other food and is particularly rich in vitamin B12 and vitamin A.5
The heart is high in an amino acid called taurine which is vital to proper heart function and is destroyed in the heating process. Interestingly, it is highest in the heart muscle of mice. The species most profoundly affected adversely by a dietary taurine deficiency is the feline. Cats succumb to a disease called dilated cardiomyopathy.
Heart is the best food source of CoQ10, an enzyme important for energy balance and preventing oxidative stress.5 Many patients with chronic conditions are deficient in CoQ10 and have mitochondrial damage. Mitochondria are the furnaces in your pet’s cells. Bison, venison and beef heart are some of the best sources of CoQ10.6 Heart is a source of iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins. The heart is a superfood because of the presence of these important nutrients.
It is vital that heart, with all its diversity of nutrients, be included in the carnivore diet.
Haggis is a savory pudding, eaten by the Scottish, containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver, and lungs) minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal's stomach.2 The USDA has banned the use of lung for human consumption saying that stomach fluids sometimes make their way into the lungs of an animal during the slaughtering process, making the lung unsafe. However, this restriction does not apply to the use of lung in animal feed.3
Lamb's lung is very high in Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, and iron.4
Tripe specifically refers to the lining of a ruminant’s stomach. This might be from a beef cow, lamb or venison. The organ takes on the odor of the animal’s ingesta or stomach contents, the “cud”, a churned, fermented herbaceous and grassy food material. Green tripe is rich in healthful probiotics which are vital to a healthy microbiome and immune function. Tripe’s strong odor and for carnivores, delicious flavor, increases the palatability of other foods to which it is added. It can also be used to mask the odor of other supplements added to the food.
Kidney contains an incredible amount of protein and folate.5 Kidney is nutrient dense like liver. Beef and lamb kidneys are commonly available. Grass-fed beef or lamb kidney fat contains omega 3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory.6
Many organs are overlooked in the preparation of a pet’s meal and in the production of commercial pet diets. Learn to read pet food ingredient labels. Choose products which contain whole foods and organs and glands that work synergistically to provide the balance that your pet needs. Entrails are super foods which provide nutrition above and beyond what science has yet to recognize as required nutrients. Give your pet’s body the opportunity to choose nutritional components to repair and thrive for a fabulous quality and longevity of life!