Mike: Let's talk about what's in your pet food, the Azmira Holistic Animal Care products. I found this product in the local health food store, and I was buying it before I even met you or invited you to do this interview.
Newman: Or before you knew I was right in your back yard.
Mike: Exactly. What a pleasant surprise. I was attracted to this product because of what is found in the ingredients. I would like to go through the first three or four, just to give people a sense of what is in this pet food.
Newman: It is a good way to educate people about their labels.
Mike: Absolutely. If they are not reading it, then they are just paying attention to the marketing claims on the front. Those are easy to distort.
Newman: Did you know that most of the money a company earns on its pet food goes into marketing? It doesn't go into the bag of food. There are literally pennies on the dollar of nutrition in the food. You can buy a four-pound bag of food for $4 in a grocery store. You have to take into consideration that the food had to be shipped. That is at least $1 anywhere in the country. Well that's at least 25 to 35 cents for a four-pound bag. The handling is going to run about another $1.50. Then, you have to decide how much markup the distributor, the one that is going to take it to the retailer, gets. They get another 15 to 20 percent. The retailer has to take out their 30 to 40 percent. How much do you think is left in the bag that went into the ingredients? What, maybe 25 cents? I mean, how much nutrition is left in those ingredients?
In contrast, we don't do a lot of marketing. People are always asking me, "Why don't I see you on TV? Why don't I hear you on the radio? Why don't you do big splashy magazine campaigns?" We can't afford to because we put the money into the ingredients. Now, I'm earning a very nice living, and everyone should earn a very nice living. There is a middle ground where you can take very good care of the customer while taking care of yourself. You don't have to gouge the customer in order to have a healthy company. At the same time, you can't afford to do all this fancy marketing if you're putting your money into the ingredients.
Mike: You see that with food for people all the time. There are a lot of heavily marketed, coupon foods out there.
Newman: How much do you think went into making a bag of potato chips? And look at what is spent on their advertising. That is why you pay $3 to $4 for a bag of potato chips today.
Mike: Soft drinks are my favorite. It's all marketing and no substance. But here we go. The first two ingredients in this particular bag of pet food are lamb meal and whole ground barley. The first is lamb, which is very important because it is not filler.
Newman: Right. You should always have a meat as your first ingredient, whether it's lamb, beef, chicken or whatever. But more important is the meal part of it. Now, people are scared of meat byproduct and meal byproduct, and that is something you should be afraid of. The difference between meal and whole meat is the fact that you take three pounds of whole muscle meat and you dehydrate it down to one pound of meal. So, the difference between my bag and most of the competitors' bags is that I have the lamb, chicken or beef meal as my first ingredient. Most companies will put the beef, lamb or chicken as the first ingredient.
Now, remember they have 85 percent moisture in that meat content, so that makes the meat weigh more. Of course, the first ingredient is the heaviest ingredient in the bag. So, you can put the plain meat source as your first ingredient, and yet your meat protein is the lowest count in the bag because the grains that come after that are what they use for protein. AFCO says you can use grains as a protein. Animals can't digest grains very well, and they need animal protein in their system to digest and properly utilize that protein. Protein is the most important ingredient in the diet.
Mike: Exactly. Now their whole digestive tract is set up for protein assimilation. The word meal here qualifies this in a way most consumers wouldn't recognize. This ingredient is two to three times more expensive than lamb.
Newman: It is three times more expensive. It takes three pounds of whole muscle meat to dehydrate into one pound. So, if it takes five pounds of muscle meat to list on the first part of the bag, my bag has 15 pounds of meat versus the competitor's five pounds of meat. That is a big difference bite for bite, Mike.
Mike: That's huge. It is like eating concentrated whole food supplements versus munching on lettuce. We will talk more about that when we talk about supplements, because that is a big one for me. You can't get everything out of your diet; you just can't. We have lost the nutritional value of most of our foods, which is why we have lost the flavor in them. About the lamb meal, some people are going to want to know, what parts of the lamb go into the meal?
Newman: Whole muscle meat.
Mike: So no hooves, nose or lips?
Newman: No. None of that is in there. That is why our food is more expensive, too. We're using USDA choice meat. We're not using the four D meats -- dead, dying, diseased or disabled. There is a big price difference between the two. There is a big difference between how the body can assimilate it and utilize it. You can't digest putrefied meat as well as you can fresh meat.
Mike: Again, this is something that is not apparent on the label, but if someone is educated, they know that this is a big deal to have lamb meal.
Newman: Often what they will see, Mike, is lamb as the first ingredient. They'll see three or four grains, then they'll see something like carrots, and then they'll see chicken meat at the end of the label.
Mike: This is in other foods.
Newman: This is in other foods. So, what they are doing in these other foods is upping the protein level with animal meat a little bit higher. But they are doing it so low on the label that it is still so much less meat per bag than we offer with our meal.
Mike: What does it mean on a pet food bag when it says "minimum crude protein?" What does that mean?
Newman: That means the percentage of the bag, 33 or 36 percent (38 percent for cats) that is through a protein source. Now remember, that protein source can be corn. That protein source can be wheat. That protein source can be rice. They use the majority of that. You know, 32 percent in a grain base instead of a meat base.
Mike: So, this is the trick if you are a big name pet food producer and you want to have a highly profitable product. The trick is to get as much protein without spending any money on ingredients.
Mike: You said these foods are mostly vegetable-based and contain undesirable proteins for animals.
Newman: Yes, like swamp rats or like road kill.
Mike: So, there is crude fiber and crude fat. We see these on all pet food bags.
Newman: Exactly. Again, that is just the percentage of the fiber, the fat and the nutrients in that bag. It doesn't tell you the quality of those ingredients. It's also misleading in that if that's 32 percent, for example, my 32 percent protein is a much higher quality of animal protein than other bags that say 32 percent protein at 10 percent coming from animal meat and 22 percent coming from animal sources. Even worse, they use soybean because it's high in protein. They'll use soybean in dog food. If you see soybean in your dog food, run. Dogs are missing an amino acid, which they need to break down and convert soybean into protein. All soybean does is create gas in the digestive system. It can actually cause a deadly condition called bloat, where the intestines swell up and twist over each other. This is fatal to dogs.
Mike: It blows my mind, when I'm looking at pet food in the grocery store, and I see these vegetarian pet foods. As a human, I'm vegetarian, and a lot of people are vegetarians. That's fine for a human, but for a pet? They have got to have some meat. This is a carnivore here. What's the designation?
Newman: The designation is carnivore. We turn them into omnivores by giving them grains and vegetable in their diet. Now, they will choose to chew on grass and pull up and chew on certain vegetables. They are carnivores by designation, so when you put them on a vegetarian diet, you create a lot of problems and create symptoms you're actually trying to reverse. The only time a vegetarian diet is good for a dog or cat is as an interim diet. If they are having allergic reaction, then get them on as simple a diet as possible, and then reintroduce the meats to see which one they are reacting to.
Another case along that line is allergies. Dogs and cats have a lot of meat allergies today. We have found, through clinical studies, that it is not actually the meat itself, but it's the quality of the meat that is creating the allergy. If it is less than a desirable quality, it makes it harder to break down and digest. Therefore, the meat stays in the digestive tract longer, produces more toxins and this is why the animal has a reaction. Do a blood test on the animal and see what allergens are in the blood. You come up with a beef allergen. This can all be from the toxicity that the beef is creating. We take them off that poor-quality beef diet. We detoxify them and put them on a short-term vegetarian diet, if possible. And I'm talking about only three or four days. Detoxify their body with a short 24-hour fast. This will clean a body out, and then you introduce a quality beef product. The animal no longer has the allergy.
Mike: Where can people find this food? Then I want to ask you about these other ingredients.
Dr. Lisa Newman's pet care product line (Azmira) is available online through these websites:
Dr. Lisa Newman's pet health consultation clinic can be reached at 520-886-1727.
Mike: Again, this is the pet food I have been purchasing for my dog, a Rottweiler mix. In case this testimonial sounds like an infomercial, it isn't. No money has been exchanged here. I haven't been given any free pet food, either.
Newman: Remember, we don't put a lot of money into marketing.
Mike: Exactly. People know my style. I never accept money from product manufacturers, so this is unbiased. I think Dr. Newman has a very important message, so let's continue exploring that message. The second ingredient on the bag is whole ground barley. Why is this the second ingredient, and what is the advantage of it?
Newman: When you're making a dry food, you need something to create a biscuit-type quality, so you can end up with the dry kibble. Barley is a great grain that is easily broken down by dogs and cats. It provides a really nice nutty flavor in the food, which the dogs seem to prefer. It provides good fiber, and we also have oatmeal in our foods. The combination of the barley and the oatmeal helps maintain a really clean digestive tract. Remember, a clean digestive tract helps the food get assimilated after it gets broken down and helps the nutrients get assimilated into the blood stream. It's very important through the lifestyle process that the animal has a clean digestive tract. These two grains help to promote that.
Mike: Some would say that is the essence of being free of disease -- a clean digestive tract.
Newman: As a naturopathic doctor, Mike, I couldn't agree with you more.
Mike: You also have flax seed in there. You have omega-3 oils.
Newman: Yes. Wonderful fatty acids. Fatty acids are very important for the utilization of different hormones and chemicals in the body.
Mike: There is also fishmeal.
Newman: Again, for the fatty acids and a little flavoring. Let me talk about the fishmeal. We use Manhattan fishmeal, which is the cleanest fishmeal in the country today. It has the lowest level of mercury in it. I'm one who is very concerned about mercury in our food chain and how we are exposed to it. We know as humans how much disease it can create. It does the same thing in our animals. One of the biggest problems is vaccinosis, which are reactions to vaccines. The biggest thing they react to in the vaccine is the mercury, which acts as a stabilizer. We know there are species of fish with very high levels of mercury, depending on where they are caught. So, we made great strides in making that fishmeal, because it is very important to have that fishmeal. It provides flavor and vitamin A. It provides fatty acids, which in no way can you get from a vegetable. We went out of our way to shop the Manhattan fishmeal to get that lowest level of mercury.
Mike: Interestingly enough, there is another ingredient I like to see here -- kelp.
Newman: Oh, kelp is wonderful. I love kelp. Kelp is such a healing food.
Mike: How does it help in ways some people may not be familiar with?
Newman: The mineral base of kelp helps maintain good coloring in the skin and coat. It is important for pigment. It is very important for processing in the body and maintaining sodium levels in the body for good function. When you start adding table salt, you are just covering up the putrefied meat you're using. Remember how they used salt in the old days to try and stabilize meat and preserve it? When they're using poor quality meat, it really stinks. That smell you get when you open up a bag of food is the putrefied meat smell. You don't get that smell in my food when you open it, do you Mike? It smells just like baked goods.
When you see salt in the bag, this is usually over-salting the food. The body becomes unbalanced in its sodium content. It creates bloating and heart conditions in pets, just as it does in humans. When you're using the kelp, you're getting a more balanced sodium dose through the kelp. It is more natural for the body to maintain homeostasis.
Mike: Garlic powder is an interesting ingredient to see.
Newman: It helps with digestion and helps keep away fleas and ticks. I stay away from yeast. You'll never find yeast in my foods, except for one whole food supplement that we have. For those who are purists, we supplement yeast for the B vitamin supplement. You should not have yeast in your dog food. It can actually become toxic to the liver. It becomes very hard for the body to break down. Unfortunately, a lot of people will get into the habit of using a lot of nutritional yeast in their diet. They will start to get sore joints, and they don't consider it's the yeast. When I used to work with humans as a naturopathic doctor, I couldn't believe the amount of people who were coming to me as heavy yeast users. We took them off the yeast, and we reversed a lot of symptoms just by doing that. So, this got me interested in how this affects animals, too. I started to see old dogs with arthritic joints, for instance. We took them off all yeast products, and they would start to recover.
This interview continues in part 3 (published tomorrow), where Dr. Lisa Newman discusses pet nutrition.
Dr. Lisa Newman's pet care product line (Azmira) is available online through these websites:
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