Picture of Dr Anuska Viljoen

Dr Anuska Viljoen


Food as Medicine

Nutrition is a pervasive environmental factor that influences gene expression. Nutrients act as important biological response modifiers at every level of biochemistry and physiology. – (Institute for Functional Medicine)


It is well known that most of the “age’ or degeneration related diseases are closely related to the mismatch between dietary and lifestyle habits and the genetic predisposition in people. The same goes for animals.

Just because you have the genetics for certain types of diseases, does not mean that you will get the disease. It does not mean that these genes will be expressed unless they are opened up, triggered or amplified by environmental factors.

Since it can be very difficult to make huge changes in the direct space we live in and what we breathe (our direct environment), it may be easier to make changes with what we eat and what we put directly on our skins externally. By being very careful what we eat and expose ourselves to can help prevent the expression of digestive disorders, allergies, cancers, arthritis, auto-immune disease, endocrine and immune system disorders. These diseases have increased at an alarming rate in the last 20 years.

Inappropriate nutrition is different for everyone as we are individual and unique genetically and biologically and we all have a different set of environmental circumstances. This slight difference in how we function metabolically is called biochemical individuality within any species. There are species specific differences as well, which are much larger differences. Cats are obligate carnivores and dogs are mostly carnivorous and slightly omnivorous. Genetically animals need biologically appropriate nutrition to help prevent the expression of undesirable diseases.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” truth in reality. There may be guidelines to follow – but it is up to each animal caretaker to find the individual requirements or needs for their own pets. If there is illness or “dis- ease” present you may need extra help from a trained professional in finding all the requirements and with patient- centered nutrition or medicine.

Added to all this it is important to note that food particles work synergistically with each other and never in isolation. Certain minerals have to be together in concert to be properly digested and absorbed. Thus they must all be present together in one meal. Most substances need to attach to a protein chaperone or amino acid to be absorbed and transported to the place of need in the body. Without this chaperone it will not be adequately utilised. This is one of the reasons that inorganic or added chemically derived vitamins and minerals in processed foods are not as bio-available as food or food state vitamins and minerals. Many minerals require adequate stomach acid (HCl) to be digested and absorbed. Stomach acid is often weak and diluted in grain fed animals owing to the fermentation process of grains and carbohydrates in processed foods.

All these things lead to suboptimal physiological reactions and body function, causing subtle dysfunction and eventually chronic illness we tend to call “old age”. This is nothing but mostly preventable premature degeneration and rust. Using the right combination of food and lifestyle choices these illnesses can be avoided or greatly reduced.

For this reason I recommend a balanced grain free raw complete species appropriate diet, containing all the macro and micronutrients and trace elements in adequate amounts to synergistically create optimal health in our beloved pets.

This is the very best you can do for yourself and your pets.

Rather pay for wellness now than illness later.

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