Good Dietary Fats. We have all heard about the benefits of essential omega-3 fatty acids and recent research now indicates that adding good fats to your pet’s diet may slow the aging process and extend your pet’s healthy years. Supplementing your pet’s diet with omega-3 fatty acids alters the ratio or balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids favorably, which slows a key biologic process associated with aging in dogs.
After 4 months of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, the study found that small segments of genetic material called DNA were actually preserved. Specifically, caps on the end of chromosomes called Telomeres which normally shorten with aging, lengthened.
In addition, dietary omega-3 supplementation reduced free radical damage and consequently lowered oxidative stress by approximately 15% over the group of dogs that did not receive the omega-3 supplements. The same group of dogs was also found to have lowered levels of generalized inflammation which was detected by measuring an inflammatory protein found in blood called Interleukin-6. A reduction of inflammation within your pet’s body is always beneficial.
The fact that the telomeres actually increased in length suggests that nutritional supplementation might make a substantial difference in the pet aging process.
Another factor scientists studied was the ratio or balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
In general, most commercial canine diets are high in omega-6 fatty acids and much lower in omega-3 fatty acids. The problem is that omega-6 fatty acids induce inflammation while omega-3 fatty acids relieve and reverse inflammation and its associated pain. Because commercial diets are naturally high in omega-6 fatty acids, the study revealed that supplementing pets with omega-3’s, alters the fatty acid ratio favorably reducing it from 15:1 down to about 3:1.
Scientists found that the combination of benefits achieved, suggests that this type of nutritional intervention has the potential not only to lengthen the healthy pet lifespan but also to lower the risk of developing an array of chronic diseases associated with pet aging. This array includes disorders ranging from arthritis and diabetes to heart disease and even neuro-degenerative disorders such as dementia often referred to as Alzheimer’s disease in dogs.
This study which was partially funded by grants from the National Institute of Health, suggests that inflammation is the ultimate driving force behind shortening telomeres. One can think of a telomere or the short fragment of DNA as a protective cap at the end of each chromosome. This is similar in theory to how the plastic coating protects the end of a shoe lace. When the plastic comes off, the shoelace unravels and no longer works. When the telomere shortens enough, the cell in question becomes diseased and dies.
Telomeres are currently a very hot topic in the study of aging and much more research is being conducted. For now, initial results show that omega-3’s offer many potential benefits when it comes to your pets aging process. Consider supplementing your pet’s diet with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and decide for yourself.