Grains Are Good Food: Helping Caregivers Move Beyond the Grain-Free Diet Trend

It’s been more than a decade since grain-free food became one of the fastest-growing trends in commercial diets for dogs and cats. The trend influenced home-prepared diet plans as well as, caregivers incorrectly believe that their canine and feline companions were inherently unable to digest foods like corn, wheat, and rice or would show signs of food sensitivities or allergies if they tried. Jan Allegretti the author of The Complete Holistic Dog Book: Home Health Care for Our Canine Companions explains how including a greater proportion of grains in the diet makes it possible to reduce the amount of animal-derived ingredients, it also carries environmental benefits.

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‘Grains Are Good Food: Helping Caregivers Move Beyond the Grain-Free Diet Trend’

In the early 2000s, the “low-carb diet” became the newest strategy for health- and weight-conscious humans looking for a new way to slim down and live longer. White breads and pastas became taboo, along with many foods rich in complex carbohydrates, like whole grains. It wasn’t long before adherents wondered if their canine and feline family members might benefit from a similar plan. When in 2007 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled hundreds of dog and cat foods made with contaminated wheat gluten, it stoked nascent concerns about grains in general as a food for companion animals, and soon an idea became a trend became an international movement. Commercial food developers responded, and grain-free dog and cat foods became the preferred choice of well-intentioned, but less-well informed, caregivers – that is, until 2018 when the FDA released a new report that forced everyone to take a step back and ask serious questions about whether grain-free food was such a good idea after all. Now, caregivers are confused, and it’s our job to help them find answers.

It’s been more than a decade since grain-free food became one of the fastest-growing trends in commercial diets for dogs and cats. The trend influenced home-prepared diet plans as well, as caregivers incorrectly believed their canine and feline companions were inherently either unable to digest foods like corn, wheat, and rice or would show signs of food sensitivities or allergies if they tried. As the movement took hold, all manner of canine and feline illnesses and ailments – from skin eruptions and gastrointestinal disruptions to eye discharges and coughs – were attributed to consumption of even small amounts of grain. The commercial food industry was listening, and countless brands introduced formulas proudly bearing a “grain-free” label. By 2018, the grain-free segment was the most popular in the market.

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