EP9: Algae-action for pet food...gut, immunity and poo.

In this episode of the Pet Nutrition Show, hosts Amanda and Dr. Anna delve into the world of algae...and the algae-based products, finding their way into pet food.

The episode features an interview with Anthony Jacobs from Green Blue Health, who shares insights on the nutritional advantages and sustainability of algae-based omega-3 sources compared to traditional fish oils.

The conversation covers the production process of algae oil, its environmental benefits, and its applications in enhancing gut health and immunity in pets.

Additionally, they explore Algimun, a marine polysaccharide product, its impacts on pet health, and interesting findings on faecal consistency in dogs.

Dr. Anna concludes with a home food hack involving sweet potato, explaining its nutritional benefits for pets.

00:00 Welcome to the Pet Nutrition Show!
00:17 Algae: A Sustainable Pet Food Solution
00:52 Q&A Session: From ORAC Scores to Sustainable Ingredients
02:29 Diving Deep into Omega-3 from Algae
06:31 The Fascinating World of Algae and Its Nutritional Benefits
10:31 Algimun: A Game-Changer for Pet Health
24:29 Innovative Research and Real-World Impact of Seaweed Bioactives
26:14 Home Food Hacks with Dr. Anna

Listen on Apple here.

Here are the headlines and some clips:

  • The benefits of algae-based omega-3 fatty acids as a sustainable alternative to fish oil.
  • Anthony explains what's behind Algimun, a product by Olmix, known for its marine sulfated polysaccharides that benefit gut health in pets.
  • He shares shares success stories of using Algimun in pet food, including improved coat health and digestion in dogs and birds.
  • Research conducted with Massey University in New Zealand shows Algimun's positive impact on pet faecal consistency.
  • Dr. Anna shares a food hack of feeding leftover sweet potato to dogs, emphasising its fibre and antioxidant-rich benefits for pet health.


Have a listen to the show, but if you’re more of a reader, here's the transcript:

[00:00:00] INTRO: This is the Pet Nutrition Show with Amanda and Dr. Anna.

[00:00:06] ANNA: Welcome to the Pet Nutrition Show. I'm Dr. Anna Sutton and with my co host Amanda Falconer, we're talking nutrition, sustainable pet food and food hacks you can do at home. This week, we're talking algae. I noticed a,

[00:00:20] ANTHONY: a cockatoo was literally brown from diarrhea.

[00:00:24] ANTHONY: It looked just terrible. It was flying around. So I thought, okay, let's see what happens if I feed the cockatoo with seeds and the right dosage of Algumin. The cockatoo within three weeks was healthy, it no longer had diarrhea, and its feathers had returned to the normal color.

[00:00:43] ANNA: That was Tony Jacobs, and full disclosure, I've known him and his company, Green Blue Health, for quite a few years now, and Amanda's interview with him is coming up.

[00:00:52] ANNA: But first, it's time for Q& A.

[00:00:55] INTRO: Pet Q& A, where we answer what you're wondering about food, [00:01:00] moods and poos.

[00:01:02] AMANDA: A couple of weeks ago, we interviewed Troy from Kagome about the way that they convert their carrot and tomato waste. Into NinjinFibre and LycoFibre. Now we've just heard that they've received their ORAC score results for LycoFibre and it was amazing, similar to Blueberry and Blackberry.

[00:01:23] AMANDA: But that begs the question, what on earth is an ORAC score?

[00:01:26] ANNA: Oh Amanda, well an ORAC score is a measure of antioxidant capacity. Essentially the ability of a product to survive. To function as an antioxidant and we use it to compare different ingredients when we're interested in things like how much antioxidants they have in them.

[00:01:45] ANNA: So in terms of lycophyber coming up close to blueberry that has a very high antioxidant activity, that's absolutely a great thing.

[00:01:55] AMANDA: Fantastic. Well, we'll certainly be using it more in our Planet A and Bestie pet [00:02:00] foods. Our guest has a career in plant and marine extracts for nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals.

[00:02:06] AMANDA: That is as long as your arm. He's been involved with everything from elderberry and bilberry extracts to green lip muscle and omega 3 from algae. And it's the last item that we'll be talking most about today. Anthony Jacobs is the co founder of sustainable ingredient supplier, Green Blue Health. Welcome.

[00:02:26] ANTHONY: Thank you very much, Amanda. It's a pleasure to be here.

[00:02:29] AMANDA: Great. Let's start with those omega 3 fatty acids. Most people know that fish oils are a good source of fatty acids, but increasingly we're hearing more about algae based sources. So why?

[00:02:42] ANTHONY: There's a general shift which we've all observed towards vegetarian source foods.

[00:02:47] ANTHONY: However, the shift has got two reasons. The second reason being the decline in the fish. Stocks in our oceans, the decline has escalated with [00:03:00] aquaculture, where we're having to feed using fish meal, more fish than what we're actually growing. So we have a net decline. At the moment there is actually a shortage of omega 3 oil because the anchovy populations and the sardine populations around Peru have declined to such an extent.

[00:03:24] ANTHONY: There's actually a moratorium on catching those species at the moment. We now have a need to address sustainability of our most 3 fatty acids.

[00:03:37] AMANDA: Well, no wonder we're looking then at algae based sources. So how do they stack up nutritionally, if you like, against fish oil fatty acids in terms of potency or efficacy?

[00:03:51] ANTHONY: We're just at the early stages of being able to produce and ferment, produce specific types of fish oil. [00:04:00] of omega 3. At the moment, the DHA fraction is the most available. It will take some years before other fractions become available. There are, there are a whole range of omega 3s. There are a whole range of fractions that make up the Omega 3 category.

[00:04:21] ANTHONY: EPA is the other really well known one, but for example, fish have up to, when I say fish, salmon, for example, they have up to 16, 17 different fractions. The New Zealand mussel, It's, it's famous for having over 90 fractions.

[00:04:38] AMANDA: Wow!

[00:04:39] ANTHONY: So, at the moment we, at the moment we, we're able to, to produce two of those fractions, one, one with quite a lot of history behind it, but we've got a long way to go before we get up to the 90.

[00:04:51] AMANDA: Okay, so I have read something from a competitor who also produce an algae based DHA, an algae [00:05:00] extract that provides DHA. And my memory of what I read about that was some, an argument that was something along the lines of, yes, our fish stocks are declining, on that we agree. But basically, the fatty acids that come from the algae are superior to those that come from the fish, because actually, the fish are feeding on the algae, so why don't we bypass the fish and we'll go get the stuff from the algae.

[00:05:23] AMANDA: But now that I'm, I'm listening to you talk about the, the algae. You know, the 19 fractions or the 90 fractions in the case of the muscle, I'm thinking, hmm, potentially that argument is a little simplistic, is it or not?

[00:05:37] ANTHONY: If you want a specific dosage, and you have a specific purpose, then a single fraction can be a monitored dosage, and that's the advantage.

[00:05:50] ANTHONY: So, we're getting much more specific, and if you only have one fraction, it also means that you can maintain its [00:06:00] stability much easier, whereas if you have three or four different fractions, they're all, their stability is going to be different, so you then have to maintain that product over a two to three year period, and it's very difficult.

[00:06:15] ANTHONY: So, one fraction has advantages. The synergy also has advantages, but you can get the synergy by eating a piece of salmon each, each week, or, you know, there, there are other ways to do that than, than a catfish.

[00:06:30] AMANDA: Yeah. So, um, help, help me understand the kind of algae that we're talking about here, because I guess you think algae, you think seaweed, you think going and harvesting it in the ocean, but you mentioned fermenting it.

[00:06:41] AMANDA: So perhaps you could just explain that process to us.

[00:06:44] ANTHONY: First of all, we need to, to think through what algae is. So, most people understand algae as seaweed. That's what we call algae. In the scientific area, that's macroalgae, [00:07:00] and then we have microalgae. So, microalgae is, is really important in the seaways.

[00:07:07] ANTHONY: It's really the, the starting point, the origin of the food chain. It's what, for example, mussels filter and survive on. We're taking one of those forms called schizokatrion, and we are removing it from the ocean, and we are growing it in fermenters. The fermenters operate using a dextrose solution. And it takes about two weeks to complete the process and at the end of it a large, a large tank farm.

[00:07:45] ANTHONY: There'll be up to 20, 30 tanks in the farm. They'll be on a rotation. At the end of each fermentation, you have the separation, we have the oil and then we start the process again. It's very similar to a [00:08:00] brewery where you're producing yeast.

[00:08:02] AMANDA: The other thing that's running through my mind as I'm listening to you describe that is the numbers.

[00:08:08] AMANDA: Are there some numbers that describe the beneficial sustainability impact on you producing, I don't know, a litre of DHA via microalgae? Versus getting them from farm fish.

[00:08:21] ANTHONY: There's a huge difference. So again, I like the idea of a brewery. So in a brewery, you're able to concentrate the hops, the malt and the yeast in vessels.

[00:08:36] ANTHONY: You're doing exactly the same thing. It's a very simple process to produce algae oil. And the space you require is, is small, so we would be talking, for example, a, a soccer ground. If it was covered in fermenters, would supply enough omega 3 for a large [00:09:00] percentage of our population. So, it's, it's efficient, it's a continuous process.

[00:09:05] ANTHONY: The costs are temperature control. Because you need to have the right ferment, temperatures for fermentation. You have the initial equipment, that equipment doesn't sustain any dramatic pressure. There are no high, high acidity or issues with any chemicals or so forth. So the life of that equipment is going to be very, very long.

[00:09:27] AMANDA: As well as space. You know, clearly we've got the whole knock on effect of not. You know, creating a whole lot of meat based meal or fish meal to feed the fish who also then infect, you know, natural fish stocks, which then go on to have all sorts of knock on reactions, et cetera.

[00:09:43] ANTHONY: Exactly. Yeah. So with fish oil production, you need heat, you need a lot of processing equipment, you have a lot of waste.

[00:09:50] ANTHONY: The waste is a real issue. In areas such as Peru, where they do a lot of fish oil processing, you've got miles and [00:10:00] miles and miles of contaminated. Coastline. You avoid tidally.

[00:10:05] AMANDA: Is that partly because if a fish is this big, we're kind of only using this much of it to get the oil out of? I know that's simplistic, but

[00:10:12] ANTHONY: You're also extracting and using solvents, and so you've got all sorts of residues coming out at the same time, and the volume of production is immense.

[00:10:22] ANTHONY: So, over time, the, you know, nature just can't clean up the areas and so the, the devastation just spreads out further and further.

[00:10:31] AMANDA: Now, your company also works specifically with a product called Algimun, which my company also uses. So, uh, what is Algimun and what does it do? 

[00:10:41] ANTHONY: is a, um, it's a product produced by a company called Olmix.

[00:10:45] ANTHONY: Now, Olmix started looking at using seaweed about 30 years ago. This company sits in the, in the north of France, in the um, Britannia region, and they've got the rights to collect all of [00:11:00] the seaweed that washes up on the north and west coast of France. So, before the seaweed hits the beach, they have tractors with forks that drive through the water, pick up the, pick up the seaweed.

[00:11:16] ANTHONY: And it, it, the seaweed's thrown into trailers. So it's a, it's a very simple way of, of harvesting. That region is famous for its seaweed, so Ireland and the West Coast of France, because the, the mineral content of the ocean is very, very high. So the seaweeds, macro and micro, are extremely nutritious and they have a very broad, concentrated compounds.

[00:11:46] ANTHONY: One of the most important for us is the marine sulfated polysaccharide. This particular compound is found in not all seaweeds, but a considerable number of seaweeds. And the [00:12:00] two that we're talking about is the green seaweed, which is the ulva. It looks like a sea lettuce. And the other is celeria, which is a red seaweed.

[00:12:09] ANTHONY: So, seaweed is not easy to digest. In fact, it's extremely difficult. The seaweed walls are very tough. I'm not sure if you've ever chewed on a piece of seaweed, but it's really hard to get your teeth through it.

[00:12:25] AMANDA: Well, we're vegan at home, so we use a bit of kombu. And I can tell you that that kombu hasn't been soaking for long enough.

[00:12:31] AMANDA: It's like rubber. It's tough.

[00:12:33] ANTHONY: Exactly, exactly. So Olmec's developed and patented a process where the seaweed which they harvest is brought directly to their factory, and it's put into hot baths, and it's cleaned, and then it is, it goes through a press. So you've got rollers, and, and you're, you're squeezing out all of the, all of the juice, you're [00:13:00] breaking down the cell wall, and that's our starting point.

[00:13:03] ANTHONY: And then that juice is effectively, goes through a centrifuge, and then you have a separation, and we get a concentration of the marine sulfated polysaccharides. We then blend those marine sulfated polysaccharides, which are very heat stable. We blend them with the clay, sepia light, and in that blending process, we dry and blend at the same time.

[00:13:29] ANTHONY: So, we end up with a, with a powder which has 6 percent of these marine sulfated polysaccharides protected and able to be used. Used in feed, for example, and this is where you realize just how, how powerful this compound is.

[00:13:47] AMANDA: So just to interrupt here for a moment. So it has great benefits in gut health.

[00:13:53] AMANDA: And so it's not just rich in minerals, it actually does some specific things in relation [00:14:00] to adaptive immune responses and also gut permeability, doesn't it? So I'm just wondering whether you could. Explain that mechanism a little bit, because we use it for pet supplements for precisely that reason.

[00:14:13] ANTHONY: There are two main benefits.

[00:14:15] ANTHONY: One is the marine sulfated polysaccharides from the ulva seaweed, they have the effect of On the cell junctions, so they're tightening, bringing together those, those cells so that pathogens can't pass through the cell walls. That's really important. And the best way to appreciate that is when mammals, it doesn't matter whether they're cats or dogs or humans, when they're transitioning from, for example, Breast milk and going on to, on to soft foods, that transition for the stomach is, is, is a huge challenge.

[00:14:58] ANTHONY: And many dogs, for [00:15:00] example, many puppies, struggle to transition. So the numbers are quite, uh, quite astounding with dog breeders. They can have up to 50 percent of a, of a litter transitioning over weeks and weeks before they're onto soft food. And, and that, that creates a level of, a poor level of health.

[00:15:23] ANTHONY: It sets up the preconditions for allergies. So the, the puppy during that transition isn't getting the nutrition that it needs. It's having diarrhea, it's vomiting. We've worked with breeders and they've added the algament into the, into the feed and the The results in terms of transition have been astounding.

[00:15:44] ANTHONY: So within, within 48 hours, we had 20 puppies transitioning onto soft food.

[00:15:52] AMANDA: And this is largely because the, the sort of, the gaps in these junctions are being sort of closed up and made less permeable, right? [00:16:00]

[00:16:00] ANTHONY: Exactly. And the production of mucin is being stimulated as well. So the mucin or the mucus is really important as part of that digestive process as well.

[00:16:11] ANTHONY: Cause it's, it's allowing the, the, um, the food to, to move.

[00:16:15] AMANDA: That leaky gut kind of situation isn't something that just arises at that feed transition moment though, is it? It can also come about when dogs are under stress or, or some at some other times in their life when they've got some food sensitivities.

[00:16:30] AMANDA: That's correct, isn't it?

[00:16:31] ANTHONY: Absolutely. So, the whole focus for using the seaweed based products is to assist production animals or pets with dealing with stress challenges. And those stress challenges can be heat, they can be the emotional, the physical. environment of their itis, uh, it can relate to the food that they're eating and injections that they're receiving.

[00:16:59] ANTHONY: There's a [00:17:00] whole range of reasons behind that. A really good example is poultry. So Olnix, they, they started in the feed area in France and their products have been hugely successful for poultry. So you have these huge, huge production. Locations, and you have 400, 000 broilers. in one location. And the, you know, historically they used to feed them with antibiotics to increase the, the rate of growth and to also protect them from disease and so forth.

[00:17:35] ANTHONY: The main issue for the broilers was that they're under intense stress and that the management, the farm management wasn't, was being compensated for by the antibiotics. So for many years, They have stopped the use of antibiotics. Algumin has been an important part of that process. So Algumin is not a replacement for an [00:18:00] antibiotic.

[00:18:00] ANTHONY: It's what it's doing is it's strengthening the digestive process and the immunity of the broiler so that it can deal with the stresses.

[00:18:10] AMANDA: And I, and I just want to leap in and touch on that immune response for just a moment because that's the other half of the equation, isn't it? We've got this tightening of these junctions.

[00:18:20] AMANDA: Um, from the lettuce like seaweed and, and if I've got that correctly and then, and then the other ones also sort of performing more of this adaptive immune response. So can you talk us through a little bit more about what that actually means?

[00:18:34] ANTHONY: So you're getting the immune system, it's being continuously stimulated by the polysaccharides from the celeria.

[00:18:45] ANTHONY: So you've got two things going on at the same time. Mushrooms are really good at that. This is happening on a continuous basis. Your immune system is active. And we're talking about a very low dosage required to [00:19:00] stimulate that activity.

[00:19:01] AMANDA: Because I guess when there's chronic stress, often what can happen is that the immune system kind of switches itself off and it goes into this, you know, dysfunctional state where it actually can't kind of regulate itself, right?

[00:19:15] AMANDA: So in that sense, this is a little bit like a seaweed, um, adaptogen, uh, immuno modulating.

[00:19:21] ANTHONY: Yes, it is. Yeah. Yeah. Immuno modulating is what people tend to refer, refer to. Yeah.

[00:19:27] AMANDA: Okay. Now, you're the distributor here in Australia for Algumin, but you're not really a typical distributor. So can you talk to us a little bit more about your own kind of R& D and how far that sort of extends?

[00:19:41] ANTHONY: At the beginning of COVID, we were all spending a lot of time at home and I have the, uh, the fortune of being in a native country. bush environment and have got many different birds coming into the garden. I noticed a, a cockatoo was literally brown from diarrhoea [00:20:00] and it, it, it looked just terrible and it was flying around.

[00:20:05] ANTHONY: So I thought, okay, let's see what happens if I feed the cockatoo with seeds and the right dosage of Algumin. And then the cockatoo within, within three weeks. It was healthy, it no longer had diarrhea, and, and its feathers had returned to the normal color.

[00:20:24] AMANDA: Wow. And

[00:20:25] ANTHONY: what was really interesting was the cockatoo knew really quickly that this was what it needed and kept on coming back.

[00:20:32] ANTHONY: So we started sprinkling the, the algamen on the meat for the kookaburras. Their feathers became much more vibrant and their, their reproduction rate over the last three years has gone crazy. So normally you get with, with say six or seven kookaburras, you get one to two fledglings. We've been seeing three and four, and we've been seeing that from [00:21:00] three different territory groups.

[00:21:03] ANTHONY: And the birds just know that this is happening. What they need and what they want. The lorikeets, I mean, they just glisten there. So I then showed up an exotic bird expert up in Queensland, Dr. Michael Evans, the results that we had, he started putting it in his bird feed mixers and he said he's been looking for something to improve the gut health of the various bird species that, that he focuses on for many years.

[00:21:34] ANTHONY: And his sales of bird feed have dramatically increased over the last three years as a result. It's something you can, you can see. So if you, if, if this is in your, in your dog's pet food, you can see the coat improving. You can see the dog is better able to cope with, with heat, with, with, with with most stressors that they, that they face.

[00:21:58] ANTHONY: So it's rewarding [00:22:00] to see the benefit and know that it's doing something positive.

[00:22:05] AMANDA: That's a great story. It's sort of encouraging me to make sure that Algumin is in more of our products, not just the ones that we have it in currently. Now you're also working, aren't you, on blue lit muscle as well? Have I got that correct?

[00:22:17] ANTHONY: We've worked with the green lipped muscle for many, many years. I became aware that there's a huge waste stream of blue mussel in Australia. So typically a supermarket will take a certain size, and if the mussel happens to be bigger or smaller, then it gets thrown out. And The nutritional value of, of a muscle which has been feeding on, on microalgae and algaes and so forth and planktons is, I mean, it's, it's at the top of the list.

[00:22:48] ANTHONY: So we've been looking at how we can collect those muscles, remove the, the meat efficiently, and then dry and put it back into the food chain rather than, [00:23:00] rather than simply treating it as a waste.

[00:23:02] AMANDA: And is blue muscle any different from green lip muscle from a nutritional benefit perspective?

[00:23:10] ANTHONY: The main difference is the water content, so the green shell mussel, when it's removed from the shell, you may remember from eating a green shell mussel, they tend to be quite chewy, they're solid, and the blue mussel, it holds about three times more water than the green mussel, so it tends to be quite mushy, and it's challenging to try and work out how you can dry that.

[00:23:36] ANTHONY: The nutritional value is a reflection of what it's feeding on. The green lipped mussel is unique because it has the Marlborough Sound's waterways.

[00:23:46] AMANDA: Right.

[00:23:46] ANTHONY: And, I mean, those waterways are very deep. I mean, it's 200 kilometres of waterways. It's huge. And it's very protected. So, um, And you have a food source in that region, which [00:24:00] is quite different to what you'd find, for example, in the oceans around South Australia.

[00:24:04] ANTHONY: So, I mean, in, in general, both of them have 50 percent protein. You have, you know, you have lipids, you have the polysaccharides, the proportions are a little bit different and amino acid spread will be a little bit different, but they're both very beneficial. And highly recommended for, for pets and, and for ourselves.

[00:24:25] ANTHONY: So

[00:24:29] ANNA: to wrap up our discussion today, we delved in to some innovative research around seaweed bioactives that really changing the game for nutrition or pet nutrition and animal, large animal nutrition in terms of gut and immune health. Now, what Tony didn't mention was their work that they've just conducted in partnership with Massey University in New Zealand, which focused on a crucial aspect of pet health and that is fecal consistency, or, you know, in simple terms, how the poos look.[00:25:00]

[00:25:00] ANNA: So fecal consistency is A huge concern for dog owners, and in fact, about 70 percent of dog owners cite this as one of the most important things they look out for. And let's face it, when you have to pick up poos, Amanda, it's a much more manageable, pleasant experience managing a firm, well formed poo rather than a sloppy mess, and it's something I can attest to.

[00:25:23] ANNA: Than a sloppy, stinky poo. That's right. And it's something I can attest to as a chief poo picker in my family, at least for my dogs. Which actually was a double crossover study, so it was really robust, with 20 dogs compared the effects of a standard kibble diet to one supplement with their, their product, which is called algemin, which is the marine sulfated polysaccharide.

[00:25:44] ANNA: And the results, well, the dogs fed with the diets containing the algemin had better fecal scores than the ones fed the control diet. What was really interesting about this is it not only highlights algemin's potential in enhancing the pet's overall well [00:26:00] being. through other mechanism, but it also offers pet owners a very promising solution to what's a really common concern, and that is the sloppy poo.

[00:26:09] AMANDA: Excellent, which is why we also include Algimun in a number of our products as well. But now it is time for a food hack.

[00:26:19] INTRO: It's time for Home Food Hacks with Dr. Anna.

[00:26:22] ANNA: Now this week, we had sweet potato. We actually had mashed sweet potato, um, sorry Amanda, sausages.

[00:26:30] AMANDA: Uh, we didn't eat Snags and mash, I still think of them fondly.

[00:26:33] AMANDA: Ha ha ha

[00:26:34] ANNA: ha ha! The sweet potato, we did make quite a lot, we had a bit left over. And so we decided, I decided today, well, the dogs can have a little bit of our leftovers. And sweet potato is fabulous because it's rich in Both soluble and insoluble fiber. You know, I'm big on fiber, which again is very good for their poos since we're talking about poos today, also rich in antioxidants and carotenoids and all sorts of good stuff to [00:27:00] support all sorts of physiological functions.

[00:27:03] ANNA: So sweet potato topped kibble is what the dogs had for dinner tonight.

[00:27:08] AMANDA: Oh, excellent. So if I recall correctly, they've got the fiber that acts like the broom and the fiber that feeds the bacteria. That's

[00:27:15] ANNA: dead right, Amanda. And along with a truckload of antioxidants to support those happy little cells.

[00:27:22] AMANDA: That was great, Anna. Really good tips. And we really hope you've enjoyed listening to the Pet Nutrition Show. If you've got a question yourself, feel free to ask us on any of our channels. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and we'll endeavor to find out the answer. We've got lots of great episodes coming up.

[00:27:40] AMANDA: Hope to see you on the next one.

[00:27:42] INTRO: The Pet Nutrition Show is proudly presented by Planet A Pet Food, bringing dogs a flexitarian diet that's good for them and the planet.

Join us in future episodes of the Pet Nutrition Show as we dig deeper into topics like the ideal protein content for pets, the importance of gut health, and the role of pet food in waste management. Let's create a sustainable and healthy future for our pets and the environment.

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