Well-controlled studies in a diverse number of animal species have shown that calorie restriction, that is eating less, over a lifetime creates significant positive beneficial changes in physiological functions accompanied by a decrease in age-related disorders. Evidence from current research suggests that two major effects occur during calorie restriction, which may account for increases in a pet’s life, the first is the reduction in free radicals. The second involves controlling glucose and insulin spikes. Your pet’s built-in free radical defense system consists of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Here is a rare known fact: the mere act of eating is the single greatest producer of free radicals that we know of.
Unfortunately, your pet’s production of protectant antioxidants levels off between one and two years of age. The good news is recent scientific studies have demonstrated that specific nutrients have the ability to trigger an increase in the normal output of antioxidants produced by our pets. The bad news – don’t look for these nutrients in any of your pet’s foods.
The control of plasma glucose is dependent on insulin secreted by your pet’s pancreas. Poor regulation of plasma glucose results in serious complications including cardiovascular and renal disorders, neuropathies, cataracts, macular degeneration, collagen breakdown, hypercholesterolemia, a declining immune response, and diabetes.
A lifelong study in Labrador retrievers has confirmed that calorie restriction does increase the life span in dogs. Of course, this begs the question: are we overfeeding our pets? Most commercial pet foods take an overly simplistic approach to selecting the right nutritional mix and the ideal amount to feed our pets each day.