Now this may be of interest to you and your horse! As a human, your gut contains over a thousand different species of bacteria, weighing over 2kg in total. It is called your gut microbiome. The balance of good and bad bacteria is crucial to how you digest food, make and absorb vitamins, your immune system and your metabolism. It can even affect your behaviour and your mental health! The types of food you eat significantly affect the balance of your gut microbiome. Every year millions of people worldwide undertake dietary cleanses or fasts, and a recent study was carried out to see what the effects are on the human gut. The results from the study show that dietary cleanses do change your microbes, though individual responses vary. The 3 day dietary cleanse involving only fruits and vegetables (eg, healthy juices and smoothies) showed a spike in a genus of bacteria thought to help ward off obesity and diabetes. However, about 10 days after finishing the cleanse and returning to a (unhealthy but) normal Western processed diet, the microbes had returned to their previous state also. Therefore three days is not sufficient to maintain a “plant-fed” healthy microbiome – you need to eat healthy fruit and vegetables all of the time! Take home message is – if you want to be healthy and stay healthy, you have to eat healthy all of the time! No more processed Western junk food!
Now your horse’s gut also contains thousands of species of bacteria, yeast, protozoa, etc to break down fibres, digest food, manufacture and absorb vitamins, and they too are crucial for your horse’s healthy immune system and metabolism. As a hind gut fermenter, your horse’s gut is proportionally a greater volume of his body than our gut is of a human body, highlighting the importance of a healthy balanced gut microbiome in the horse. Humans and horses are both mammals, and some early research has also shown that different diets change the gut microbiome of the horse, so it makes sense that a ‘western style processed horse feed diet’ will encourage a different balance of gut microbes to that of the natural healthy diet that a wild horse evolved to eat, for hundreds of thousands of years. If chemically processed, pesticide laden, waste byproduct containing, genetically modified, additive included, pelleted, molassed, preservative added, commercial feed in a sack is a typical ‘western style diet’ for a horse, what do YOU think is that truly natural diet for a horse? smile emoticon
Photo copyright Thunderbrook Equestrian Ltd.
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