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Maillard Reaction in Pet Foods
September 06, 2014

Commercial Pet Foods and the Maillard Reaction

As I mentioned in my previous email a couple of weeks ago, Pet Food Diva is dedicated to providing you with the latest nutrition information to keep your dog (or cat) in optimum health. With that in mind, I came across a recent scientific paper on the Maillard Reaction in commercial pet foods, which I want to share with you. If you haven't heard about the Maillard Reaction before and how it affects your dog's (or cat's) food, I think you'll find this information interesting.

The Maillard Reaction is a food science phenomenon that gives browned foods their particular textures and flavors. It is a chemical reaction that occurs between amino acids (those building blocks of protein) and reducing sugars that give browned, cooked foods their yummy flavors, such as the lovely brown crust that envelopes the perfect loaf of bread or the crispy browned caramelization that occurs on pan-seared foods. The Maillard Reaction is named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described the reaction. But what does the Maillard Reaction have to do with your pet's food? It turns out, plenty.

The Maillard Reaction also occurs during processing of pet food, and it has nutritional consequences for your pet's health. According to this recently published scientific paper I was telling you about (read more here: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf502064h), the Maillard Reaction reduces the bioavailability of certain essential amino acids, such as lysine, and creates the formation of what are called advanced Maillard Reaction Products, or MRPs.

Both canned and dry foods contain high levels of advanced MRPs. The study showed that, on average, dogs eat 122 times more of the MRP hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) each day than humans do (and cats eat 38 times more). This is likely because the primary form of nutrition for most pets is commercially produced dry and canned foods.

As we strive to feed our pets the most biologically available proteins, understanding the effect of the Maillard Reaction on the health of our dogs (and cats) is important information because it shows one more way that mass-market commercial pet foods may come up short in providing optimum nutrition. In this case, it is because the processing of these foods decreases the bioavailability of the amino acids. This study also shows that processed commercial pet foods may have long-term health effects on our pets that we are just beginning to see occur in the form of the many chronic illnesses rampant in the canine (and feline) populations.

This new information is one more reason to include as many freshly prepared foods into your pet's diet as possible.

Pet Food Diva, which will be launching soon, will be dedicated to providing you with the latest nutrition information to optimize the health of your dog or cat through the science of nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics is the study of how the foods we eat literally communicate with our genes and cause them to turn “on” (activate) or turn “off” (suppress). This process, known as gene expression, plays a huge role in determining whether your pet (or you) will live a life of vibrant health, or one plagued by chronic illness.

I am also super excited to tell you that my new book, Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feed Your Dog for Optimum Health, will be out soon from Dogwise Publishing. This is the result of more than two years of research into nutrigenomics, and I can't wait to hear what you think of it!

Together, we WILL slash pet obesity and chronic illness, one pet at a time.

Thank you!

Diana Laverdure

The Pet Food Diva


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