Fibre Content

If you or your pet has problems with acid reflux, you can bet the chances are you have carrageenan somewhere in the ingredient lists of the foods you eat. Acid reflux could happen if your cat throws up clear liquid or anything more concrete without a lot of heaving before it is expelled from the mouth. There were online resources on this a few years ago, that seem to be absent at the moment, but I am researching to find more. The big concern here, to my mind, is that with repeated exposure to acid reflux, the esophagus becomes vulnerable to disease because the tissues are weakened. There are definite online resources regarding the coating of the stomach by carrageenan, and this reference also looks into other serious problems for humans, and in particular, infants. A good site showing scientific concern around feeding carrageenan to pets is at Review of Harmful Gastrointestinal Effects of Carrageenan in Animal Experiments. You may find the information helpful to members of your human family as well. When reading through the above site, I noticed that IBS is also being attributed to the inclusion of carrageenan in pet foods, which is new for me. Carrageenan Induces Interleukin-8 Production through Distinct Bcl10 Pathway in Normal Human Colonic Epithelial Cells does tend to confirm this for humans, too. This study was just reinforced with information published in March 2008, Carrageenan Induces Cell Cycle Arrest in Human Intestinal Epithelial Cells in Vitro1. There is also a study regarding the effect upon mammary cancer, just to name a few cautions here.

Guar GumThe use of guar gum in canned foods has been shown to reduce the bioavailability of proteins, as in the following study:
"Guar gum, a soluble nonstarch polysaccharide (NSP) , is a common ingredient in canned cat foods and has been shown to decrease the digestibility of protein in diets for cats (Harper and Siever-Kelly, 1997)."

There are a lot of studies out there showing that guar gum is inappropriate for cats, which has me wondering why the pet food industry insists upon using it in their food.........perhaps so the customer must purchase more product in order to fulfill nutritional needs? Actually, a more realistic assumption is that it provides the right consistancy to be pallatable for cats. Some cats are very picky about texture and consistancy.

"The apparent viscosities of stomach and small intestine contents from animals fed on diets containing 10 and 20 g guar gum/kg were increased relative to control animals, but large intestine contents were unchanged"

"The results suggest that the effects of guar gum and pectin on glucose tolerance and paracetamol absorption could be due simply to alteration in the rate of gastric emptying"

"It is concluded that materials which are classed as dietary fibre but which differ markedly in their physical properties may also differ in the functional changes to which they give rise in the small intestine. These changes may be at least partially mediated by effects on mucosal cell proliferation. "

"Anthranoid-containing plants (including senna [Cassia senna] and cascara [Rhamnus purshiana]) and soluble fibres (including guar gum and psyllium) can decrease the absorption of drugs. "

"Skin prick tests demonstrated an immediate skin reaction to guar gum. All three subjects had high levels of serum IgE antibodies to guar gum. Specific inhalation challenges in which the three subjects were exposed for short intervals (less than or equal to 4 minutes) to powder of guar gum elicited isolated immediate bronchospastic reactions in two subjects and a dual reaction in the other subject. "

"The most common side effects are gastrointestinal (eg, flatulence, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea); may lower levels of vitamins A and E in patients with diabetes; exacerbation of asthma and allergic rhinitis has been reported."

"Metformin blood levels showed that when given together with Guar there was a reduction in the absorption rate over the first 6 hours. These findings suggest that combination therapy may diminish the anti-hyperglycaemic action of metformin."

Guar gum is a powder derived from the seed of a plant called cyamopsis tetragonolobus. It is sometime used as a laxative and is not as good of a substitute for gluten as xanthan gum.

Flax Seed (Oil)

In order to access the essential oils in flax seed, it must be pre-processed to start with, as the outer husk is so hard that even the human digestive tract cannot digest it, which is why this is being listed under "Fibre Content", as flax seeds themselves make a rather harsh form of fibre for delicate cat digestive tracts and can cause destruction to the organ trying to absorb the food you provide, as well as maintain an effective immune system.

As for the oil itself, which I often see recommended for cats, the following information may be of use in making your choice to look for other oils more conducive to feline health. First, an example of the literature out there that will tell you that flax needs a specific enzyme for complete breakdown:
"The enzymes required for essential fatty acids metabolism are delta-6, delta-5 and delta-4-desaturase, of which delta-6-desaturase is the most important because if its function is impaired for whatever reasons, the other two enzymes have nothing to work with. It may also be that delta-6-desaturase is not produced by the body in sufficient quantities, which leads to the same malfunction. "

and following up on that:
"New research reveals millions of Americans are deficient in the vital digestive enzyme called D6D (delta-6 desaturase) required to convert flax oil into EPA and GLA, the two nutrients that fight inflammation. Unlike flax seed oil, borage and fish oils do not require that problematic enzyme, and are fast replacing flax oil among informed dieters."
There are scientific studies that would validate this problem further, but the important issue here is our cats, and the following quotes are more important reading:
"The cat is deficient in delta-6-desaturase, preventing its utilisation of the plant-derived essential fatty acids"

"This finding suggested that cats do not possess the necessary delta-6-desaturase to perform this conversion2-4"

"Cats are unable to synthesize linoleic acid and, because they exhibit low delta-6-desaturase activity, they are also unable to meet their physiologic requirement for
arachidonic acid through biosynthetic pathways. Cats, therefore, require a dietary source of both linoleic and arachidonic acids, from which other physiologically active metabolites may be derived.

"Cats are deficient in D6D and hence cannot synthesize GLA or the subsequent metabolites derived from from LA (3), and must therefore eat a meat-based diet to obtain DGLA. AA, and other longer-chain metabolites of LA, such as DGLA and AA."

Speaking of which, the above statement regarding D6D also applies to sunflower oil.

"However, cats have limited hepatic delta-6 desaturase activity and thus cannot effectively convert linoleic to arachidonic acid and both are considered essential dietary fatty acids in cats.18"

There are other studies online that show a slightly different slant by suggesting that the amount of D6D available, for instance, depends upon the balance of fatty acids already in the system:

It has previously been claimed and subsequently accepted that cats lack 6-desaturase. The present work demonstrates that when domestic felines are maintained on a diet devoid of long-chain n-3 and n-6 fatty acids, 6-desaturase activity can clearly be demonstrated.

The above only shows some information available on D6D, however there are other desaturases as is pointed out in a statement made a little further down in the study above:
"It is possible that the Δ6- and Δ8-desaturase both function in the feline as routes of 20:4n-6 and 20:5n-3 biosynthesis."

One study suggests 8-desaturase is not adequate in felines, either, for instance:

"The existence of a Δ-8 desaturase (Fig. 3), although suggested as an alternative
pathway for the formation of Δ 8,11,14-20:3 and AA (Sinclair et al. 1981) has not been
established. If it were present in cats to any considerable degree, AA synthesis from LA
might occur by this alternative pathway.
" Table 3 in this study shows a rather extensive list of the Δ-desaturase enzymes needed for obligate carnivores to correctly process fatty acids.

Here is another study published back in 1977 that doesn't show good activity with Δ8-desaturase
"This experiment confirms the absence of both the 6 and 8 desaturases in the cat, and suggests that this species has a dietary requirement for polyunsaturated fatty acids of animal origin."