Can you name a few games where a single, small action has a significant ripple effect on the overall outcome? Pick-up Sticks, House of Cards, Dominoes and Chess all come to mind. So it is with a new term that arose recently.
Catching up on reading some back issues of Dogs Naturally magazine introduced a new word- phenolics. A dictionary definition of phenolics is “a substance which possesses an aromatic ring bearing one or more hydroxy substituent.”
If you don’t find that definition particularly enlightening, try another. Phenolics may be easier to understand simply as tiny molecules that are found all around us which help define an object’s appearance, smell, flavor, and other properties.
There are many different types of phenolics
The properties of phenolics are inter-related in the effect they may have as different foods are metabolized. These properties can be either beneficial or problematic, which is key to understand when addressing food sensitivities.
You’re likely familiar with the concept of rotating proteins (chicken, fish, lamb, etc) to obtain a broader spectrum of amino acids. Since each protein has a different amino acid profile, rotation over time offers greater diversity than simply sticking with a single profile. This can help keep food sensitivities to a minimum.
Phenolics add another dimension to the reasoning behind food rotation
Individual proteins contain combinations of phenolics. As a result, in some cases, switching from one protein to another may change some, but not all phenolics shared between the proteins.
When a sensitivity is a result of a single or specific combination of phenolics, it may be found in more than one protein. Until you’ve found a protein that eliminates the suspect(s), the sensitivity will likely remain. As the Dogs Naturally article states, “one food alone can contain several phenolics while one single phenolic can be in hundreds of different foods.”
Many common phenolics are relatively benign
There are approximately 8000 forms of phenolics, which are divided into flavanoid and non-flavanoid classes. While we normally take their presence for granted and benefit from their properties, some can be problematic.
Gallic acid, one of the more common phenolics, is found in many familiar foods. If your dog has a sensitivity to gallic acid, switching between the common proteins will have little effect since most contain this phenolic. Rabbit is one of the few proteins that is gallic acid free, which is why it is often the protein of last resort (and one of the most expensive).
Trial and error is one way of addressing food sensitivities
For most pet parents, a change of protein can minimize a sensitivity. Since sensitivities often develop over time from extended exposure to a particular protein, rotation can help minimize these problems.
In extreme cases, relief can remain elusive even after multiple proteins have been sampled. In these situations, a homeopathic approach may be worth trying. A holistic veterinarian should be able to assist with a phenolic neutralization / desensitization approach using an oral protocol. While not guaranteed to be effective, it may well be worth considering as an alternative to costly and ongoing allergy testing and shots.
Read more about rotating proteins
You can read more about phenolics in food here, follow a slide presentation here and learn how phenols factor in skin irritation here
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