Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pet Food Ingredients de-mystified: Beet Pulp

Beet pulp is probably one of the most misunderstood and aligned ingredients in manufactured dog foods. It is true that too much of a good thing is bad and this is the case with beet pulp too. Take the time to understand to understand the role of prebiotics and probiotics in the maintenance of the healthy body. If this is done, then one can begin to understand the role of beet pulp in a feeding program.
This post speaks to misinformation that has perpetrated about beet pulp. This is not just theory on my part. The input is from scientists, medical and nutrition people who have studied in the area of prebiotics and probiotics. I will address villae clogging, use of fiber, and sapponins. Please note that the positions held in the misinformation have not been proven scientifically. They are theories only.

1. Statement: Beet Pulp clogs the villae in the intestine. False
Beet pulp does not clog the villae in the intestine. This is a theory by an owner of a dog food company. There are no scientific studies, which support this theory. There are several studies, which show how beet pulp is beneficial in promoting a healthy digestive system.What can clog the villae? If villae are blocked, the prime cause is typically insufficient or total lack of a probiotic colony in the gut. (More on that later.) Another cause of villae clogging is bentonite, which is fine clay that is used in some cheap dog foods.

2. Statement: Beet pulp is an indigestible fiber.
While this statement is true, the beet pulp is not in the food for nutritive value to the dog. It is not supposed to be digested by the dog. The beet pulp has two purposes.
First, the beet pulp provides nutrition for the probiotics. (It is a prebiotic.) Having good food available encourages the colonization of probiotics. (Prebiotics, defined by Gibson and Roberfroid (1995) as "non digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon and thus improves host health," may include starches, dietary fibers, other non-absorbable sugars, sugar alcohols, andoligosaccharides.." Gibson et al., 1996).

1. Gibson, G. and Roberfroid, M.B. 1995. Dietary modulation of the human colonic mibrobiota: Introducing the concept of prebiotics. J. Nutr. 125: 1401-1412.
2. Gibson, G.R., Williams, A., Reading, S., and Collins, M.D. 1996. Fermentation of non-digestible oligosaccharides by human colonic bacteria. Proc. Nutr. Soc. 55: 899-912.

The second purpose is to provide bulk to the stool, which allows it to move through the digestive tract at a rate which assures maximum digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Note: The probiotics cling to the wall of the intestine and dine. While they are there, the bad bacteria cannot gain a food hold. Of course, they won't be there if there is not a proper servings at the banquet table on which to feast..

3. Statement: Saponins in the beet pulp might be responsible for bloat. False.
In the paper, "Toxic Substances and Crop Plants" by the Royal Society of Chemistry states that "saponins at the levels fed in modern diets are not toxic but in fact exert a variety of health enhancing benefits, (*including providing fermentation for probiotic viability.)

From Dr. K. Kern Wysong Corporation and Research Facility Jan 27, 1993
"The claims ...... that saponins cause bloat in is not documented by any reference to any scientific literature. It is simply conjecture and assertion and not fact" Saponins are found in over 100 plant families. These foods have been a part of the mammalian and human diet for thousands of years. Saponin-containing foods are also known to be of therapeutic and health enhancing benefits. . There is no documented proof that feeding a pet food with micro-amounts of saponins causes gastrointestinal paralysis and vomiting (bloat).

Below find information from documented scientific sources:

"Beet pulp has been found to be an ideal source of moderately fermentable fiber. Fiber sources such as cellulose, peanut hulls or soybean hulls are poor sources because they are not very fermentable. The correct amount and type of fiber is necessary for a normal healthy digestive tract. There are bacteria in the normal healthy digestive track. These bacteria have the ability to ferment or digest certain types of fiber. The ideal fiber is on the partially fermentable or digestible, i.e., beet pulp. We want some fiber left to provide that bulk to the stool that is necessary for a healthy digestive system, but we also want some of the fiber to be digested by the bacteria.

1. Beet pulp in a diet encourages colonization of those bacteria which best ferment or digest that form of fiber and discourage those organisms which do not effectively ferment fiber. It so happens that many good bacteria that commonly inhabit the large intestines can deal with beet pulp (Lactobacillus acidophilus and Enterococcus faecium are just two) and many pathogenic bacteria are not supported by its presence (Clostridium sp.,Salmonella sp. and e. coli)

2. Because beet pulp is an ideal food source for these good bacteria, they tend to overgrow potentially bad bacteria (pathogens and gas producers) and make the gut much more resistant to these harmful organisms. As a result of this digestive or fermentation process, vital nutrients called short chain fatty acids are produced which provide superior nutrition to the cells lining the large intestine enhancing their ability to function.These short chain fatty acids (SCFA) are the key to a healthy and efficient digestive tract. The cells that line the intestinal track feed voraciously on SCFA. These cells have a high turnover rate and rely on SCFA to provide adequate nutrition.

3. That portion of beet pulp left after the fermentation of bacterial digestive process promotes ideal nutrient digestibility. The volume of stool is not excessive thus allowing the motility of the gut to move the nutrients along at a rate which assures maximum digestion and absorption.

References:1. Buterwick, Maxwell. The effect of level and source of dietary fiber on food intake in the dog. Journal of Nutrition 1994 Vol. 1242. Collins MD, Gibson Dr. Nutritional modulation of microbial ecology. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 19983. Hallman JE, Moxley RA, et al. Cellulose, beet pulp and pectin/gum Arabic effects on canine microstructure and histopathology. Veterinary Clinical Nutrition 1995;2:137-1414. Albert s. Townshend DVM, Wellness for Life, Am Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999
Contributed by Jeff Baker,
Canine Caviar Pet Foods

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