Why You Should Feed Your Dog Ancient Grains
Ancient grains seem to be popping up everywhere recently. They are being touted as a health food, but what exactly are they and why are they so good for us? And why are they being added to dog food?
What Is An Ancient Grain?
In the west our diets are mostly made up of wheat, corn and rice. These are the crops that civilizations have grown for centuries, and in the process changed their makeup through selective breeding in order to protect from disease and to encourage high yields. Unfortunately these crops also require large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides to thrive, which aren’t always great for us.
Ancient grains are things like spelt, barley and millet that haven’t been selectively bred in this way, and so are largely still as they were before humans began to grow them. Genetically they are very similar to the grains that our ancestors would have been eating hundreds of years ago.
These grains are often lauded as being healthier than the grains we are used to. In reality what makes these grains healthy is the fact that including them in our diets makes our diets more diverse, and therefore allows us to take advantage of a wider range of nutrients. They are also often better for us because they aren’t so intensively farmed, which means firstly that the grains are better able to absorb nutrients from the soil because they aren’t competing with so many other plants, and secondly that there isn’t the level of harmful pesticides and fertilizers that there are for other grain crops. These benefits not only apply to us, but to our pets as well.
How Are They Beneficial To Dogs?
Dogs are omnivores, meaning that they can digest both meat and plant matter. This means that in the same way that humans can take advantage of the beneficial nutrients found in ancient grains, so can dogs. A food formulated of good quality meat and well-constructed ancient grains for dogs can support the wellbeing of your dog.
Some of the benefits of giving ancient grains to your dog are:
- They are naturally high in fiber and have a rich protein content, which means they’re packed with life sustaining amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of cell growth, maintenance and repair and must be provided in the diet. Dogs use around 30% of their amino acid intake on growing hair and fur.
- Some ancient grains provide phenols, which act as natural antioxidants.
- They can help to maintain steady blood sugar levels, which is especially good news if you have a diabetic pet.
- Ancient grains contain a broad spectrum of the vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to stay healthy.
- They can be soothing to the digestive system as they are not only high in fiber, but some ancient grains can act as prebiotics.
Ancient grains more closely resemble the grains and grasses that your dog’s ancestors may have grazed on in the wild, which some people have theorized is more aligned with a dog’s natural digestive process.