Non-nutrients – Are They Essential in Your Dog’s Diet?
As dog owners, we strive to provide our beloved companions with the best possible nutrition to ensure their overall health and well-being. We often focus on essential nutrients, such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, which play a crucial role in a dog’s diet. However, there is another group of components known as non-nutrients that can offer extraordinary health benefits for our dogs. In this article, we will explore the world of non-nutrients, their importance, and the best plant-based sources to incorporate into your dog’s diet.
What are the essential nutrients in dog food?
To understand the significance of non-nutrients, it’s essential to first grasp the concept of essential nutrients. Dog food typically consists of proteins, which are the building blocks for muscle development and repair. Carbohydrates provide energy, while fats help maintain a healthy coat and aid in nutrient absorption. Additionally, vitamins and minerals are vital for various bodily functions, including immune system support, bone health, and overall vitality.
What are non-nutrients in food?
Non-nutrients, as the term suggests, are components found in food that do not fall into the traditional categories of essential nutrients. They include various bioactive compounds, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and dietary fibres. While these substances may not provide direct nutritional value, they possess unique properties that contribute to a dog’s well-being and overall health. (1)
What health benefits do non-nutrients deliver for dogs?
Non-nutrients offer a range of health benefits for dogs, and their consumption has been associated with improved immune function, reduced inflammation, enhanced cognitive function, and even a reduced risk of chronic diseases. These bioactive compounds can act as antioxidants, neutralising harmful free radicals and protecting cells from oxidative damage. They can also support cardiovascular health, promote a healthy digestive system, and aid in reducing the risk of certain cancers.
What are the best plant-based sources of non-nutrients for dogs?
When it comes to incorporating non-nutrients into your dog’s diet, plant-based sources are an excellent choice. Fruits and vegetables are rich in various phytonutrients and antioxidants that can provide remarkable health benefits.
The following is a list (not exhaustive but a healthy beginning) of the healthiest fruit, best vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, herbs and spices you should include as part of elevating your dog’s food beyond simple nutrition.
- Cranberries: Non-nutrients: Cranberries are rich in flavonoids, including anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins. Health Benefits: Cranberries promote urinary tract health by preventing the adhesion of harmful bacteria to the urinary tract walls. They also possess antioxidant properties, which help reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system.
- Pineapple: Non-nutrients: Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that aids digestion and reduces inflammation. Health Benefits: Bromelain supports digestive health by assisting in the breakdown of proteins. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, which can help alleviate joint pain and reduce swelling.
- Papaya: Non-nutrients: Papaya contains papain, an enzyme that aids digestion and facilitates nutrient absorption. Health Benefits: Papain helps break down proteins and promotes efficient digestion. It can also support immune function and reduce inflammation in the body.
- Blueberries: Non-nutrients: Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins and other antioxidants. Health Benefits: Anthocyanins in blueberries provide neuroprotective effects, promoting brain health and cognition. Blueberries also have anti-inflammatory properties, support cardiovascular health, and contribute to healthy aging.
- Baobab: Non-nutrients: Baobab is high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and prebiotic fiber. Health Benefits: The high vitamin C content in baobab boosts the immune system and supports collagen production. The antioxidants protect against cellular damage, and the prebiotic fiber nourishes beneficial gut bacteria, promoting digestive health.
- Mushrooms: Non-nutrients: Mushrooms, including the adaptogenic Reishi mushroom, contain beta-glucans, polysaccharides, and other bioactive compounds. Health Benefits: Beta-glucans found in mushrooms support immune function and have anti-cancer properties. Mushrooms also provide essential nutrients like vitamin D and selenium, which are beneficial for overall health.
- Oats: Non-nutrients: Oats contain beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber. Health Benefits: Beta-glucans in oats help regulate blood sugar levels, promote satiety, and support a healthy digestive system. They also contribute to heart health by reducing cholesterol levels.
- Barley: Non-nutrients: Barley contains beta-glucans, lignans, and antioxidants. Health Benefits: Beta-glucans in barley improve cholesterol levels and support healthy blood sugar regulation. Lignans provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, contributing to overall well-being.
- Potato: Non-nutrients: Potatoes contain resistant starch and various antioxidants. Health Benefits: Resistant starch in potatoes acts as a prebiotic, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. The antioxidants in potatoes offer protection against oxidative stress and cellular damage.
- Peas: Non-nutrients: Peas contain saponins, carotenoids, and flavonoids. Health Benefits: Saponins in peas have anti-cancer and cholesterol-lowering properties. Carotenoids and flavonoids provide antioxidant benefits and support eye health.
- Quinoa: Non-nutrients: Quinoa contains flavonoids, saponins, and antioxidants. Health Benefits: Flavonoids and antioxidants in quinoa protect against cellular damage and inflammation. Saponins contribute to heart health by lowering cholesterol levels.
- Turmeric: Non-nutrients: Turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. Health Benefits: Curcumin in turmeric reduces inflammation, alleviates joint pain, and supports cognitive function. It also provides antioxidant benefits and aids in maintaining a healthy immune system.
- Kale: Non-nutrients: Kale is rich in carotenoids, flavonoids, and glucosinolates. Health Benefits: Carotenoids and flavonoids in kale support eye health and offer antioxidant protection. Glucosinolates have anti-cancer properties and promote detoxification processes in the body.
- Spinach: Non-nutrients: Spinach contains lutein, zeaxanthin, and various antioxidants. Health Benefits: Lutein and zeaxanthin in spinach promote eye health and protect against age-related macular degeneration. Antioxidants in spinach provide overall cellular protection.
- Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Basil: Non-nutrients: These herbs contain various phytochemicals and volatile compounds. Health Benefits: These herbs possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, supporting overall health and well-being. They can also aid in digestion and provide antimicrobial effects.
- Ashwagandha: Non-nutrients: Ashwagandha contains withanolides, alkaloids, and flavonoids. Health Benefits: Withanolides in ashwagandha have adaptogenic properties, helping the body cope with stress. Ashwagandha health benefits for dogs include support for cognitive function, reduced inflammation, and promoting a healthy immune system.
- Carrots: Non-nutrients: Carrots are rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids. Health Benefits: Beta-carotene in carrots supports eye health and vision. Carotenoids also provide antioxidant benefits and support overall cellular health.
- Pumpkin: Non-nutrients: Pumpkin contains beta-carotene, fiber, and antioxidants. Health Benefits: Beta-carotene in pumpkin supports eye health and provides antioxidant protection. The fiber content promotes healthy digestion, and the antioxidants contribute to overall well-being.
- Apples: Non-nutrients: Apples contain quercetin, catechins, and other antioxidants. Health Benefits: Quercetin and catechins in apples offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Apples also support heart health and provide fiber for healthy digestion.
- Peppers: Non-nutrients: Peppers contain capsaicin, carotenoids, and flavonoids. Health Benefits: Capsaicin in peppers has anti-inflammatory properties and aids in pain management. Carotenoids and flavonoids provide antioxidant benefits and support overall cellular health.
- Nuts and Seeds (such as almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds): Non-nutrients: Nuts and seeds are rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber. Health Benefits: Nuts and seeds offer various health benefits, including cardiovascular support, brain health, reduced inflammation, and improved digestive function. They are also excellent sources of essential fatty acids.
- Broccoli: Non-nutrients: Broccoli contains glucosinolates, carotenoids, and flavonoids. Health Benefits: Glucosinolates in broccoli have anti-cancer properties and support detoxification processes. Carotenoids and flavonoids provide antioxidant protection and overall cellular health benefits.
- Chickpeas: Non-nutrients: Chickpeas contain saponins, polyphenols, and fiber. Health Benefits: Saponins in chickpeas contribute to heart health by reducing cholesterol levels. Polyphenols provide antioxidant benefits, and the fiber content supports healthy digestion.
- Fava Beans: Non-nutrients: Fava beans are rich in flavonoids, vitamins, and fiber. Health Benefits: Flavonoids in fava beans offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They also support cardiovascular health and provide fiber for a healthy digestive system.
- Lentils: Non-nutrients: Lentils contain polyphenols, folate, andiron. Health Benefits: Polyphenols in lentils offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Lentils are also a good source of folate and iron, supporting energy production, cardiovascular health, and overall well-being.
- Cabbage: Non-nutrients: Cabbage contains glucosinolates, anthocyanins, and vitamin C. Health Benefits: Glucosinolates in cabbage have anti-cancer properties and support detoxification processes. Anthocyanins and vitamin C provide antioxidant benefits and contribute to a healthy immune system.
Each of these plant-based sources of non-nutrients offers specific health benefits for various physiological aspects:
- Digestive Health: Papaya, pineapple, oats, potatoes, peas, chickpeas, fava beans, lentils, and fibre-rich foods like broccoli and cabbage contribute to healthy digestion and support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
- Bones, Muscles, and Joints: Turmeric, kale, spinach, and other foods rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds help reduce inflammation and support bone, muscle, and joint health.
- Eyes and Vision: Carrots, spinach, kale, and foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin, such as spinach and broccoli, promote eye health and protect against age-related macular degeneration.
- Brain and Cognition: Blueberries, cranberries, turmeric, and foods rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds support brain health, cognitive function, and memory.
- Skin and Coat: Blueberries, pumpkin, flaxseeds, and foods rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids contribute to healthy skin and a shiny coat.
- Heart Health: Berries, oats, barley, nuts and seeds, and foods high in antioxidants, fibre, and heart-healthy fats support cardiovascular health and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- Weight Management: Fibre-rich foods like oats, barley, chickpeas, lentils, and cabbage promote satiety and aid in weight management.
- Immune Health: Foods rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, such as blueberries, cranberries, baobab, mushrooms, and citrus fruits, support a healthy immune system. These foods provide vital nutrients that strengthen the immune response, help fight off infections, and protect against oxidative stress. The antioxidants in these plant-based sources help neutralise harmful free radicals, reducing cellular damage and inflammation, and promoting overall immune function. Additionally, ingredients like garlic and ginger possess natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that further support immune health in dogs.
By incorporating a variety of these plant-based sources into your dog’s diet, you can provide them with a wide range of non-nutrients that offer exceptional health benefits.
Non-nutrients: Dog food or supplements?
While it is possible to find dog food that contains non-nutrients, it’s important to note that the quality and quantity of these compounds in the food may vary considerably and may not contain sufficient levels of the ingredients necessary to provide the health-giving support for your dog’s best health. Select a high-quality dog food that includes healthy non-nutrients from a broad variety of sources.
Alternatively you can incorporate non-nutrient-rich supplements into your dog’s diet to ensure they receive optimal benefits. Finding an all-in-one supplement with the variety of non-nutrients is nearly impossible.
While essential nutrients are essential for a dog’s overall health, non-nutrients should not be overlooked. These extraordinary components found in various plant-based sources can deliver remarkable health benefits, including immune system support, reduced inflammation, and improved cognitive function. By incorporating non-nutrient-rich foods or supplements into your dog’s diet, you can enhance their well-being and help them thrive. Remember to consult with a veterinary professional to ensure the best approach for your furry friend’s specific dietary needs. With a balanced and nutrient-rich diet, your dog can enjoy a long, happy, and healthy life.
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Bonza includes PhytoPlus®, a proprietary blend of ingredients with powerful non-nutrients formulated by vets, nutritionists and canine herbalists to deliver exceptional support for your dog’s physical health and mental wellbeing throughout their precious lives.
We believe that Bonza plant-based dog food unique formulation and inclusion of potent non-nutrients make it the healthiest, and most nutritious, dog food available, a functional food with nutraceuticals.