Feeding Raw Broccoli and Raw Sweet Potato

Question…will feeding raw sweet potato or raw broccoli cause digestive issue for my dog?

Throughout the development period of the Rawproconcepts® Program, we have been feeding raw broccoli and sweet potato to our dogs for over 7 years with no adverse symptoms or gastrointestinal problems. Vegetables are prepared by first rinsing in hot water to remove extraneous dirt. The vegetables are then processed into a finely chopped consistency using a food processor. Next, the vegetables are mixed with other raw diet ingredients by combining all together in a commercial mixer. The time it takes to complete this process of preparing 2 weeks of premix for four large breed dogs is about 4 hours. The premix containers are then immediately placed into a freezer.

Use of each premix container for feeding requires the movement from freezer to refrigerator within 2 days of use for adequate thawing prior to use. Refrigerator thawing is recommended to prevent premature spoiling. The process of preparing meals required the removal from cold storage for no more than ten minutes each day over the course of four days (the number of days each premix container provided for 2 meals per day for four large breed dogs).

Over the 7 years of feeding raw broccoli and raw sweet potato, all of our dogs’ digestive transit time has been excellent and the consistency of the fecal matter has been uniform. None of the dogs have experienced gas or any other digestive issues. So what then should be the “take-away” or understanding of what research scientists report relative to enzymes that inhibit proper digestion of proteins? Specifically enzymes that are present in raw broccoli and raw sweet potato.

We must understand that:
•    Research science provides incredible information in order for experts to make science-based recommendations. Unfortunately much of the research is conducted in vitro (test-tubes or petri dishes) in controlled laboratory testing, with very little testing and results available based on actual testing with dogs.
•    Without getting into terms and names that will be difficult to remember, it is most important to learn that vegetables such as broccoli and sweet potato undergo significant change with regards to enzyme properties when their natural raw form is altered. The more the form is altered (stressed), the greater the change.
•    Vegetable chopping is a form of stress that is placed on the vegetables, similar to other forms of stress like extreme heat, extreme cold, dehydration, or other physical conditions. The more finely shredded or chopped (altered) the fresh vegetables, the more stress is placed on the vegetable.
•    Alteration occurs by cutting and chopping, and also occurs through heating and freezing. Alteration continues in the process of thawing and continues in daily use as changes in temperature occur when moving vegetables in and out of cold storage. With some vegetables such as broccoli and sweet potato, more beneficial enzyme and nutrient availability occurs prior to heating, and heating removes some of these properties.
•    The process of preparing (food processing) raw broccoli and raw sweet potato over a 4+ hour period of time alters the pure form of the vegetable significantly. Based on research science, the chopping and exposure to room temperatures for 4 + hours combined prior to freezing may significantly reduce or eliminate enzymes that inhibit digestion. Additionally, the process of thawing and daily use exposure in and out of cold storage continues the enzyme altering process.
•    Research science promotes factual information that significant changes begin to occur quite rapidly in cut vegetables…as much as 40% rapid change in raw broccoli and 300% rapid change in sweet potato. Most visible signs occur with sweet potato as the respiration process begins to darken finely chopped sweet potato quite rapidly.

Research science enables us to understand that anti-nutritional factors associated with vegetables occur in nature to protect the seed prior to germination. Seed germination occurs over three stages and it is in the third stage of germination that the inactivation of the digestive inhibiting enzymes occurs. Nature provides this process for seed to protect against ingestion by animals prior to germination.

From this knowledge there is an understanding that vegetable seed structures are not 100% consistent between seed type and location used, and therefore there is discussion among research scientists that suggest the levels of digestive inhibiting enzymes is not consistent among seed due to genetic changes or modification.

The “take-away” from all this is to understand that research science suggest that it is the alteration of the physical properties of raw broccoli and raw sweet potato that begins the process of counteracting the digestive inhibiting enzymes. Research relative to heating has been conducted with positive results, but no research relative to finely chopping and allowing time for respiration has been done. Additionally, no studies have been initiated studying the effects of freezing after chopping, thawing, and daily use of premix vegetables moving in and out of cold storage as it relates to the inactivation of digestive inhibiting enzymes.

Although no official science-based research has been initiated to analyze the effects of the process we use to prepare and feed raw broccoli and raw sweet potato, the science does support reasoning behind its success. Our Rawproconcepts® program may be the first actual test basis of information available for further discussion under this topic. Our success feeding raw broccoli and raw sweet potato is in the preparation, storage, and daily use procedures. Daily use procedures includes feeding a properly balanced diet. The Rawproconcepts® Program does not use more than 7% broccoli or sweet potato in any diet formulations.
As the discussion is relative to only a few ingredients of a nutritionally balanced homemade diet, whether or not the broccoli or sweet potato is cooked will be the least of your worries if you do not feed a properly formulated and supplemented diet.

Alan Anderson,  February 2015