At health food stores, customers are complaining about food allergies more often now with statements like, “I can’t eat this”, or “I can’t eat that.” Why do so many people, especially those who frequent health food stores, believe they have food allergies? It’s funny, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m allergic to coffee, cookies, cakes, popcorn, pizza or candy”, and yet these are things that people ingest regularly without a second thought. So, what’s up with all these health food store shoppers who have food allergies?
Food allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a protein molecule in the offending food Bottled and jarred packaged goods. This can happen even with those who stick to food from health food stores. The body is unable to break down that particular protein molecule, so it reacts by trying to “get rid of it”. It produces a chemical called ‘histamine’ and symptoms appear in the form of rashes, hives, itching, wheezing, breathing problems, and lots of mucus being expelled through the mouth, nose, ears, lungs, or sexual organs. More serious reactions from food allergies are: vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, drop in blood pressure, or even death.
Intolerance to certain foods is different than true food allergies, and this is a more common complaint at health food stores. With food intolerances like lactose intolerance, where a person has difficulty breaking down the sugar in the milk, the symptoms are much milder. One may have some bloating, excess gas, cramping or diarrhea. While food intolerance is unpleasant, it is not life threatening like food allergies can be in some severe cases. The usual distresses are intolerances to wheat, soy, dairy and anything at health food stores that the shopper feels is too expensive.
Just looking at the pet food ads on TV and in magazines, you’d get the impression that all commercial pet foods are healthy. All those fresh ingredients could tempt you to try these pet foods yourself! Unfortunately, the truth about most pet foods may be far from what artful ads would have us believe. If you’ve ever opened a pet food can that was marketed as healthy, and then found a glob of unrecognizable, grayish something-or-other, then you probably know what I mean.
Now, if you’re already aware that not all pet food commercials and ads live up to their promises, you should ask yourself a simple question: how can I tell if a particular pet food is healthy? The answer to this is often hidden in plain sight, on the pet food label, often in the midst of a bunch of unfamiliar terms. To do well for your pet, you need to be able to interpret pet food labels correctly.
Healthy commercial pet foods are made from natural food ingredients that reflect the needs of the pet for which the foods are intended. Remember that ingredients are listed in the order of their relative quantity in the pet food. Healthy dog and cat foods should contain animal-derived products as their first ingredients. The quality of these ingredients is absolutely essential to the health of your pet. If you see terms like ‘chicken meal’, ‘fish meal,’ ‘animal by-products,’ or ‘animal fat,’ you should know that these ingredients are of extremely low quality. Better choices are products that list terms that precisely describe the ingredient, such as chicken, cod, or animal parts, such as chicken heart or beef liver. Finally, the addition of synthetic chemicals should be kept to a minimum, as most of the available pet food supplements added routinely to pet foods are of low or questionable quality and value.