There is little doubt today that nutrition plays a key role in maintaining the health and longevity of human and animal populations and their resistance to disease (1-3). Food and diet can directly affect the expression of our genetic potential. In the last 15 years, medical, veterinary and nutrition scientists have begun applying genomics to the field of nutrition. Nutritional genomics (nutrigenomics) has become an essential part of and vital role in assuring the quality and safety of human, livestock, and pet foods (4-7).
In this regard, foods are considered as functional ingredients. Different diets alter gene expression and the production of proteins and metabolites. Understanding the relationship between nutrition and gene expression enables one to design an optimal diet based on a person or animal genotype, which will ultimately affect the individuals on the level of their genomes (1-4). This, in turn, will have profound effects on their phenotype of observable traits. Food constituents act by “up-or down-regulating” target genes, thereby altering their expression. Thus, diets for animals should be designed and tailored to the genome or genomic profile of individuals in order to optimize physiological homeostasis, disease prevention and treatment, and athletic, obedience, growth or reproductive performances. This approach individualizes dietary intervention to prevent, mitigate or cure chronic diseases (4-6).
Recent attention has also been focused upon the need for sustainable agriculture and the methods and oversight applied to raising animals, fish and plants, as a source of organic foods.
Issues with GMO Foods
Food quality and safety issues are paramount in both human and animal foods (8-9). But safety claims related to the ingestion of GMO foods, for example, are based solely on industry-funded studies (8). Industry-independent studies have linked GMOs and glyphosate to kidney damage and disease as well as other health problems (9-10). While limited testing on processed human foods has detected significant levels of GMOs, no testing appears to have been performed on commercial pet foods.
Mycotoxins in Pet Foods
Similarly, contamination of extruded commercial dry food with several types of mycotoxins was recently described (11). Levels above the defined detection limit were found for three types of mycotoxins in 81-100 % of the 48 tested feeds. Further investigation is clearly needed into the potential risk derived from chronic exposure of pet animals to low doses of mycotoxins in commercial pet foods (11).
Support for applied basic and clinical nutrition research is even more important today when our planet and world population is feeling the effects of global warming with reduction of the ozone layer. The future of animal and plant agriculture and the well-being of our companion animals is dependent upon funding and completing for this research.
1. Dodds, WJ, Laverdure, DR. Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health. 2015. DogWise Publishing, Wenatchee, WA, pp.323.
2. Essa, MM, Memon, MA. Food as medicine. New York: Nova Biological, 2013.
3. Kaput, J, Rodriguez, RL. Nutritional genomics: Discovering the path to personalized nutrition. Somerset, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.
4. Dodds WJ. Functional foods: the new paradigm based upon nutrigenomics. J Am Hol Vet Med Assoc 2014; 36: 26.35.
5. Swanson, KS, Schook, LB, Fahey, GC. Nutritional genomics: Implications for companion animals. J Nutr 2003;133(10): 3033-3040.
6. Fekete, SG, Brown, DL. Veterinary aspects and perspectives of nutrigenomics: A critical review. Acta Vet Hung 2007; 55(2): 229-239.
7. Broome MR, Peterson Me, Kemppainen RJ et al. Exogenous thyrotoxicosis in dogs attributable to consumption of all-meat commercial dog food or treats containing excessive thyroid hormone. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2015; 246:105-0111.
8. GMO Science – Studies and research http://www.gmofreeusa.org/research/gmo-science-research/
9. De Vendomois JS, Roullier F, Cellier D, et al. A comparison of the effects of three GM corn varieties on mammalian health. Int J Biol Sci, 2009; 5:706–726. http://www.ijbs.com/v05p0706.htm
10. Krüger M, Schledorn P, Schrödl W, et al. Detection of glyphosate residues in animals and humans. J Environ Anal Toxicol, 2014; 4:2. http://www.ichnfm.org/library/GMOglyphosate-residues-in-animals-and-humans.pdf
11. Gazzotti T, Biagi G, Pagliuca G et al. Occurrence of mycotoxins in extruded commercial dog food. An Feed Sci & Technol 2015; 202:81-89.