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Podcast 26 – No Lectin’s and Grain-Free Confusion!

Hello everyone! Welcome to Bella and Duke Podcast 26! On this episode, our hosts (turned myth busters!) dismantle the recent claim that grain-free dog food can increase your dog’s risk of heart disease and serve up an education in lectins! Join the conversation on Instagram and Twitter @BellaAndDuke and make sure to join our growing Facebook community! –…

0:20 Hello! 2:14 Lectins! 4:24 What does hypoallergenic mean? 6:12 There is an increased risk in heart disease in dogs fed grain free food? But really… 10:34 Go on then Rowan, What is a lectin? 12:30 What happens to lectins when cooked? 16:29 How much lectin can be found in Bella and Duke? 18:58 Hang on! Bella and Duke is grain free and it’s raw!? 21:03 Canines at the Castle 22:05 Come to join the pack and Toodaloo! 😀

Mark: Hi everyone, this is Mark and Rowan and we’re doing the Bella and Duke Podcast. And this week we’re going to be covering Doctor Gundry’s latest report, video that has been flying around t’Internet. How are you doing Rowan?

Rowan: Oh Mark, welcome. Why have you frozen now, of all times? Oh, you’re back. Hello.

Mark: I’m here. I just like to do that statue game with you sometimes just to freak you out. We have to remember people aren’t watching us on video.

Rowan: Yeah, fortunately. Fortunately for them. I like the way you have just severed the umbilical with numbers. We’re not mentioning it’s Podcast number 26. Do you see my [inaudible] there?

Mark: You just couldn’t resist it, because I may have wanted to said, let’s put that one back, let’s put that one back until September, if you like, this is a September one. But no, you stuck a number in anyway.

Rowan: I did, because I like a bit of sequence. You know me I love a bit of structure. I’m doing great thanks Mark. Yes I’m excited about talking about this. Why? Because I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about it for quite some time and then suddenly it’s gone crazy on the internet. It’s gone viral. And actually this is something that popped up in our wolf pack, isn’t it?

Mark: Months ago you and I were talking about what’s come out in this report.

Rowan: It was actually, and it was as we were starting to design the food and I think we had a meeting and we said let’s… It might have be when we were in Scotland, a year last August and we said — let’s make this the most hypoallergenic healthy food available on the planet. And we were talking about that and said to do that, we need to get rid of lectins. And everybody said, oh, what are they? We had a big old discussion about lectins and how they’re associated with heart inflammation, disease, impairing absorption of nutrients and a whole host of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis.

Mark: And this came after the booklet came out, which I think was called “The Plant Paradox,” which is a fabulous book and it covers a lot. But like all these guys, doctors who come out early, they often get ridiculed and look crazy until actually mainstream goes — er hm, maybe there’s some truth behind all this.

Rowan: Well, you know, I’ve found that doctors rarely sit around old smoking, massive amounts of CBD going — I’m going to write a book about nothing. Normally they’re bringing something to the public, it’s because they’re quite passionate about it.

Mark: Or skint. Or skint, let’s just put it out there.

Rowan: Or both. Or both Mark, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Mark: So dive into this video then, I guess, there’s no — oh, wow this is new news to you. I think what I’d like to do is explain your take on it and also “hypoallergenic.” It’s a large word that I find very difficult to spell without using my old spellcheck. Can we just cover what that actually means? Because hypo means the opposite in my mind.

Rowan: OK. Right. It’s Hypo Allergenic, now where does this confuse people, well, I guess, one it’s got “allergenic” in it. But two, they either think it creates allergies or… I can see you nodding your head going — yeah, that’s what I think. Or two, they feel that it is impossible for dogs to be allergic to it. Neither are correct.

So what does Hypoallergenic mean? It just means the likelihood of you or your dog or a being developing an allergy to this particular food is massively reduced. So if you imagine that you’ve got a normal, you’ve got a hyper-allergenic which is going to be stuff like corn and wheat and egg whites and other stuff and then you’ve got hypoallergenic.

Mark: Aah. So it’s the “o.”

Rowan: So it’s less likely than a normal food. However I don’t know if there’s a barometric scale.

Mark: So it’s the po rather than the per.

Rowan: Yes, exactly. The po rather than the per.

Mark: Now that makes sense. Why didn’t they teach me that? Well actually I didn’t go to school. That’s why, they might well have taught it.

Rowan: Well you did go to school Mark, but you were forcibly excluded.

Mark: So diving into this then. Lectins, raw food. I mean there’s a whole heap of stuff.

Rowan: Well shall we just kind of like reel back? What was the video about? There’s a huge, huge, huge thing. It’s Rodney Habib, it’s doctor, the American lady.

Mark: Yeah, Karen…

Rowan: Becker, Doctor Becker. Thank you. So it’s Rodney, it’s Karen and there’s this guy called Dr Steven Gundry who’s a leading eminent cardiologist in the US and they’re exploring the reasons behind this whole thing. And maybe we should put this in the title so people get to it straight, it’s right at the beginning. Is that there is an increased likelihood of heart disease in dogs in grain free meals. Now this has set off a whole fireball of panic amongst people.

So part of this podcast is about reassuring people that it is a billion miles away from applicable to anything Belle and Duke do. Why? Because we’re aware of the issues of this and have avoided it right from the beginning. Secondly, it’s to have a deep dive and explain exactly what’s going on, because there’s the raw, cooked taurine and lectin elements which we can cover really simply and quickly. And it’s just to inform people. So reassurance, education, information, and for me to see your face.

Mark: Beautiful. Let’s dive in with the raw because, where does the raw come into Lectins being an issue.

Rowan: OK. So should we maybe cover what lectins are or what’s in the title first, so we can take people along on the journey?

So people are saying — hang on, there’s a report that’s come out and that’s been investigated by the FDA at the moment, showing that in grain free dog food dogs tend to have an increased likelihood of heart disease, specifically, I seem to recall it’s DCM, which is dilated cardiomyopathy. OK, we don’t need to dive into that to be honest. I don’t know much more about it than that, but it’s basically inflammation in the heart leading to heart disease. Not Good. Is it to do with the fact it’s actually grain free? No. So grains are in no way protecting the heart.

So the fact that there isn’t grains in the food is nothing to do with this, at all.

Mark: It just suits certain companies and brands to point that it has no grains in it.

Rowan: Well it’s just the way the report’s been formulated, but it’s just… I don’t know if there’s a conspira bubble or whether or not it’s just been clumsily worded. Nothing to do with it being grain free. It’s what people have added in, instead of the grains. So what they’ve done is lots of manufacturers going — my goodness is going to be way too expensive for us to just put meat and vegetables and do the 80 10, 10 template like we are. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to fill it up with loads of plant starches and it so happens like pea proteins, lentils, quinoa, look dogs are carnivores, they don’t live in a commune and you’re going to have to cut this out, Mark — they’re not fucking hippies.

So dogs are carnivores, they’re evolved to eat these “earth saving crops,” and moreover… So one, they’re not evolved to do this, two, all of these so called healthy alternatives, these legumes, like lentils, chickpeas, like quinoa are super high in a plant protein called lectins.

Mark: In the past we spoke about this that people have heard of gluten with and a lot of the things they’re replacing gluten with are high in lectins. Correct or incorrect?

Rowan: Yeah and I’m kind of keen to avoid going too far down this. Why? Because it could be really confusing. Gluten is is just an example of a lectin style inflammatory proteins. If we go back, it’s always easier to understand what’s going on and then people go — oh, and they have the aha moment. Cry Wolf, A-Ha, it’s time to hurry now. For all you ’80s pop fans.

So what is a lectin? It’s a sticky inflammatory plant protein. If we think that everything on this planet has been designed to try and survive so it can procreate if we just work on that basis. Everything is trying to survive, so it can procreate so the species can continue. If we go back to that, everything else is kind of detail. So what’s happening, some plants like fruits survive by being eaten, because they’ve got seed in the middle and then they get pooped out and they have more likelihood of survival. Lots of plants don’t want to be eaten. The doing A-O-K without being munched by us, so thank you very much, wheat being an example. So what they’ve done is they’ve evolved with a really toxic protein in them so that when we or animals eat them they create gastric irritation and illness, which means the types of animals that eat them are going to die off sooner so that they’re less likely to be eaten and they survive and thrive. Have I explained that really neatly?

Mark: You have, you have, great.

Rowan: So that’s a lectin. What do lectins do? Lectins create intestinal permeability or leaky gut, if you want to call it that. They pave the way to auto-immune disease, they create massive inflammation in the body and basically…. Well there’s a thing called LPS, lipopolysaccharides, which surrounded the bacteria in the guts and lectins help feed these lipopolysaccharides and release them into the body by creating intestinal permeability, leaky gut.

Mark: So not that’s what happens when they’re in the raw. Is there a process, does some happen to lectins when you cook the food?

Rowan: This is really interesting. So to keep it clear, I’ll just give you the bullet points and then you can go, hang on, what about this? Because I really don’t want to make a simple conversation, really complicated.

Lectins are deactivated if they are done in a pressure cooker. That gives you an idea that we weren’t evolved involving evolve to eat it. Oh yeah, caveman. I’ve got an idea, have you got one of those pressure cookers?

Mark: I’ve had it sitting in the corner for years and I think we’ve got a use for it now.

Rowan: I wondered what this was for? What’s this lead? Have we invented electricity yet?

Mark: Get on that bike. I’ve found what the use of that bike is now [inaudible]

Rowan: Stan, if you don’t rustle up a solar panel soon, me and you are over.

Mark: Yeah, you can go and fight the dinosaurs yourself.

Rowan: Give me that sheepskin back.

Right, so pressure cookers. A pressure cooker will deactivate the inflammatory proteins in lectin. So for instance, if you were to eat lentils raw, they’re going to make you really ill. If you were to pressure cook them for quite some time and rinse them so the lectins are both deactivated and washed away, then no problem. But therein lies the problem, because if somebody is feeding raw grain free as we are for instance, but if as we are not, if they were putting in lots of legumes like lentils, then not only have you got these active, basically lectins in there, but the lectins stop the dogs absorbing taurine.

Mark: And taurine is important for…

Rowan: Well it’s normally in dogs, it’s a nonessential amino acid because they can make it themselves, but it stops the dog absorbing the building blocks for taurine.

Mark: Ah, in their own body. Oh wow.

Rowan: And they think that the inflammation created by the lectins may stop them producing it anyway. So you’ve got adsorption production…

Mark: And extra strain on the body because of the inflammation.

Rowan: Exactly.

Mark: Three things there. So that’s where this report shines light. So that’s interesting. So cooking gets rid of the lectin, but also stops the taurine being produced and absorbed.

Rowan: Hang on, we’ve jumped onto another thing here. So if for instance, this report is talking about raw, grain free and it’s saying heart disease, why? Two things going on. Raw, grain free, normally people fill it full of legumes. We don’t. They fill it full of legumes. Legumes have got lectins in. Lectins create inflammation. But there is taurine in the food, but the dogs can’t absorb it or they can’t absorb the amino acids to make the taurine themselves. If you want to deactivate the lectins, you have to not just cook it, you have to pressure cook it.

Mark: OK, critical.

Rowan: And that then kills the taurine in the food. So if you were having cooked food with legumes in, it would have no taurine in. So either you get the lectins and you can’t absorb the taurine or you don’t get the lectins and the taurine is dead anyway. In either option, no taurine.

Mark: In Bella and Duke, our food has low or no lectin.

Rowan: It has virtually no lectins. The guidelines at present is less than 20% of the food contains lectins. I would be surprised if we weren’t less than 2%.

Mark: OK, so we’re tiny, tiny.

Rowan: And we’re currently working on something which will eradicate all lectins, whilst up-regulating the substrate for dogs to make even better microbiome in the gut.

Mark: Brilliant. And that’ll come out soon. The taurine is then absorbed because we’re cooking it so the body can easily absorb it.

Rowan: Yeah. So this is also important. So the taurine’s de-activated by a couple of things. One is, if for instance, it’s tinned food and it’s been stored for a long time. If it’s been cooked for a long time, processing or even if it’s been frozen and it’s been frozen for ages, you know, like a long, long time, that can do it. Now as it, we flash freeze it and we freeze it for a short time so that it can be delivered in batches, fresh.

Mark: I mean very rare is our food actually, you know by the time you get it out…

Rowan: None of it’s arriving cold anyway.


Mark: Yeah, you’re funny. Yeah, the food’s literally from fresh being made to getting to people’s doors is usually within a week or two. So apart from some food, venison we have to hold a little bit longer, just because the type of food is, is wild food. But most of it’s getting to customers pretty, pretty, you know, within a few weeks of being produced. So that’s good. Excellent. So in a nutshell then.

Rowan: You cut out there, I missed the last part. Your back.

Mark: Everything’s good. Basically everything that we’ve been working on, we knew a lot, this has come out in this report and this video, it’s no surprise to us, but there’s a lot of people maybe had a few questions are concerned by it. We already addressed it when we first set up Bella and Duke

Rowan: Yeah, I think it’s the way it’s been phrased. It’s a bit scaremongery. You know, people hear and see a report from credible commentators… People see a report saying — grain-free raw causing heart disease. And understandably it’s worrying, because they go — hang on Bella and Duke’s grain free and it’s raw, ah, we thought we were doing the right thing? You are doing the right thing.

This is why, just to recap, it’s only if people have actually replaced grain with some legumes or some other lectin rich vegetables. And if we go back even further than this, this all stems back to the horse shit that is feeding your dog loads of carbs, which we don’t agree with anyway whichever source it is. The point is, dogs are carnivores. Yes, they can be to some extent, flexi-vores, they can be flexibly omnivorous. Do you like what I did there?

Mark: I did. Just doing a bit of yoga.

Rowan: Yeah, downward dog.

Mark: Yeah, go and pick some dog poo up.

Rowan: Or in our case, upward dog.

So they can be a little bit flexi-vore, in terms of surviving, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to thriving. But the point is if you’re feeding them raw ethically sourced, good quality meats, which is what they’re meant to eat, with soluble fibers in and some substrate for them to grow good bacteria, well you’re doing a great job. You’ve picked up nearly all the easy marks, you’re 95% of the way there, super easy. Your dog is going to thrive. It’s only when there’s a severe health deficit you might need to add in or do some extra stuff as covered in other podcasts. Just like anything, we have these sensationalist titles which are designed to instill fear or to create sales and a report like this comes out and people get frightened. So you can chill. It’s all cool. We’ve got you covered.

Mark: Chillax. We’re sorted. We’re on it.

Rowan: We’re done.

Mark: Beautiful.

Rowan: Next bit of news Mark is tell us about “Canines at the Castle?”

Mark: Yeah, are you going to be there?

Rowan: Well the plan is yes and funnily enough I was about to book my flights and I had to stop because I had to go to the vets and obviously we found out that little Kismet is super cheggers.

Mark: That means a mummy to be?

Rowan: It means a mummy to be. And she is due I think the week before this. So I have not had puppies before. I am totally green at this. If anybody wants to come out and help me, please do, spare room, free whatever. Free lectin chat all day.

Mark: I’m glad you qualified that.

Rowan: I need to work out what I’m going to do in terms of dog setting because I don’t know how many dogs I’m going to have. But I’m sure we’ll work something out. And my plan is to be there.

Mark: Oh beautiful. So we’ll see you in September. And the thing I love about these videos that come out by the way and go viral, it makes our next podcast really easy. So let’s see what else comes out on Facebook. So again we’ll catch up next week. Any questions come and join our Facebook group. Again we’re open, honest, a lovely place to ask your questions and not feel like, oh, I shouldn’t ask questions. The group’s there to help people on their journey of raw feeding their dogs, and cats to be very soon.

Rowan: Yes, indeed. Indeed. There’s no such thing as a bad question.

Mark: No. So I will see you next week.

Rowan: I am agog with anticipation. In fact, we might even try and slip an extra podcast in later this week.

Mark: Ooh you risky devil. Right, see you later.

Rowan: Mark, it’s been a pleasure. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Mark: Fabulous. Speak to you later.


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