March 16



By Sue Ingebretson

March 16, 2010

Eating clean, Pets

Many years ago, I was on a journey to learn about fibromyalgia and autoimmune conditions. Although I was told that fibromyalgia was not technically autoimmune, overlapping autoimmune conditions were common. One thing that I knew: poor nutrition and stress affect fibro and autoimmune conditions equally.

I asked a rheumatologist about what I should eat and he said, “It doesn’t matter what you eat. There have been no definitive studies proving that diet makes any difference.”

I was a complete fibro newbie, but even I knew that was phooey. I did my own research to understand the vital link between an impaired diet and chronic illness. I learned that repairing the digestive tract helps to repair the immune system. That was the beginning of my nutritional enlightenment.

As pets often do, they teach us more than we ever teach them. Foxy (a 9 ½ pound rescued Sheltie) arrived in our lives just as I was trying to cope with my new-found fibromyalgia diagnosis. Our pup was a delightful addition to our family, but soon after arriving, she stopped eating. Her coat (which wasn’t great when we got her) went from bad to worse. Her fur was missing from most of her face, legs, ears, and tummy. What fur she had was thin and stringy. For a Sheltie, she was quite a sight.

After many tests, our vet concluded she had an autoimmune condition. The combination of nutritional deficiencies and the stress of her abandonment culminated in significant hair loss (simply a symptom of a bigger systemic problem). We immediately searched puppy-friendly sites and found holistic, natural recipes. The moment we began making her food, she turned into a completely different dog. Her fur grew in like a Chia Pet and her digestive troubles disappeared. Poof!

The takeaway point here is, our vet clearly understood the connection between nutritional deficiencies and chronic illness. My MD did not. Problem is, many medical professionals still don’t. The source of information isn’t as important as the validity of the information.

“Eating clean” (eating healthy, natural, holistic foods at least 80% of the time) isn’t just for people. Many pets exhibit allergic/intolerance symptoms. The symptoms may stem from poor diet, environmental toxins (lawn fertilizers, etc.), and internal toxins (manufactured dog treats, vitamins, vaccines, etc.).

When it comes to nutrition, it makes me wonder what lessons the veterinary schools include and what ones medical schools lack?

More than a half decade ago, my vet said to me, “Let me explain to you a little bit about autoimmune disease.”

As an overwhelmed fibro newbie I responded, “Are you kidding? Let ME tell YOU about autoimmune disease!”

  1. I’m glad you found help, even if it was from your dog’s vet! 😀 Naturopaths and dieticians also understand the connection between diet and health, as do most D.O.’s (Doctor of Osteopathy). So does my chiropractor. From what I’ve heard, most M.D.’s take approximately 5 credit hours total on nutrition in med school.

    I highly recommend my naturopath.

  2. I agree with you 100% on the relation of food and its quality to our health. I believe that eating clean has alleviated my gallbladder attacks. Not to mention all the energy benefits of clean eating!

  3. I agree about Naturopaths. I wish I’d known one when I was first seeking information. My Dr. was a D.O., and had no information on nutrition whatsoever. It’s my understanding, though, that’s not typical. I’m always happy to hear about good resources. Thanks!

  4. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


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"True Healing requires a combination of healthy nutrition, healthy body movements, and emotional wellness. This is what I call the Restoration Trio" ~ Sue Ingebretson