GOOD FOR ME, GOOD FOR MY HORSE: Diet Changes and Detox Can Make A Powerful Difference
You and your horse have a special bond. Did you know you also share a lot of the same health challenges? Both humans and horses are experiencing chronic lifestyle issues and diseases at alarming rates, due in large part to toxicity in our environment, food and water. The good news is that both equine and human health problems, from navicular and laminitis (akin to osteoporosis and gout), arthritis, slow healing injuries, and insulin resistance (like Type 2 diabetes) can be prevented or dramatically improved with a combination of diet changes and detoxification.
Here’s a deeper look at what our two- and four-legged bodies are facing – and some powerful steps you can take to help you and your horse lower bodily toxins, strengthen disease resistance and speed healing.
OUR BEAUTIFUL, DIRTY WORLD
Numerous studies continue to prove that chemicals, food additives, drugs, pesticides, heavy metals and other pollutants in everything from bread and milk to bottled water and detergent can overload our bodies’ self-healing mechanisms. Our horses are subject to a nearly constant bombardment from chemicals and petroleum residue in feed, toxic ingredients in fly sprays, de-wormers and grooming products, antibiotics, heavy metals and carcinogens like formaldehyde in vaccines, pesticides on seeds and hay, and chemicals, bleach and fluoride in water.
This poison load puts pressure on organs, especially the liver, kidneys, lungs and skin — the body’s organs of elimination. When this “drain field” gets overloaded, the body can’t detoxify and waste backs up. The resulting hit to the body runs the gamut, from mental fog, mood swings/behavior issues, depression, allergies, cravings and weight gain to slowed recovery, weakness, infections, skin issues, premature aging, bone/skeletal issues, chronic illness, organ toxicity, cancer and almost all degenerative diseases.
OUR PROCESSED FOOD AND FEED
The human body was designed to run optimally on the nutrition provided readily in nature, so it best recognizes, digests and absorbs the nutrients in real food, the way you would find it in nature: vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and animals. Back at the dawn of civilization, our diet was mostly alkaline (with the exception of animals, which required a lot of work to hunt down and were not necessarily an everyday staple). Even our blood is slightly alkaline at a 7.3 to 7.45 pH.
Your horse’s body was also designed to fulfill its nutritional needs with a natural alkaline diet, accomplished by grazing 16-20 miles a day and feasting on a variety of alkaline grasses that provide the necessary balance of nutrients.
OK…now fast forward to our real world of microwaved burritos and meal-in-a-bag sweet feeds. Our diets are now mostly acidic, with daily doses of muffins, bagels, sandwiches and convenience foods whose combinations of fat, sugar, salt and chemicals are short circuiting our biochemistry. Most of these foods rapidly break down into sugar that shocks our systems, causing “silent” inflammation that is the cause of all the major diseases in our society. No wonder 50% of all Americans and one in four children has pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. What’s more, diets high in acid-producing foods lead to lack of energy, excessive mucous production, infections, anxiety, irritability, headache, sore throat, nasal and sinus congestion, allergic reactions, and increased risk of conditions such as gout and arthritis. The body, seeking to balance and buffer its high acid load, pulls alkaline substances (minerals) into the bloodstream and out of the bones, ligaments and tendons. The result: weakened, brittle and demineralized bones (osteoporosis), arthritis, fractures and injuries.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, your horse is probably dining on popular brands of highly processed, acidic stuff from a bag, the main ingredients of which were genetically modified (GMO) starchy by-products of flour and liquor manufacturing. Since there is little taste or nutrition in this sawdust, manufacturers have to heavily disguise it so horses will eat it. They add lots of cheap sugars (from cane molasses), and (inflammatory) fats from GMO soybean and corn oil. In order to call this “nutritionally complete feed” they add doses of indigestible minerals (e.g., calcium from limestone which can lead to painful enterolyths) and a whole mess of synthetic vitamins and sometimes toxic preservatives.
Treats from a box, sugar cubes and peppermints are further examples of how we think we’re treating our horses with love, but we’re actually setting them up for diabetes, hyperactivity, colic, founder and equine Cushing’s disease. Further, if you’re supplementing with name brand commercial electrolytes, your horse is also guzzling down saccharin (a known cancer-causer), artificial color and artificial flavor. Who decided that these toxic bombs were a good idea?
Not surprisingly, our horses are suffering, as we are, from the effects of a high-acid, highly sugared and chemical-ridden diet that their bodies were not designed to handle. It is no wonder that obesity and metabolic syndrome, hypothyroidism, kidney problems, arthritis, decreased resistance to disease, dehydration, and a multitude of structural injuries due to depleted bones, tendons and ligaments are so common.
TAKE CHARGE: EAT AND FEED FOR HEALTH
Whether you or your horse are dealing with illness, annoyed by joint or back pain, allergies, respiratory issues or mood swings, or whether you’d like to steer clear of them, these two steps to detoxify your organs and strengthen your immune function are a smart bet:
1. Eat/Feed Alkalizing Foods and Replace Sugar/Starch with Healthy Fat
Cut down or eliminate added sugars, baked goods, white flour products and fast food. Nix soda and artificial sweeteners. Eat more good-for-you fats that are rich in nutrients and help stabilize appetite and blood sugar, including avocados, nuts, seeds, unsweetened coconut and coconut oil, olives and omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring (wonderful for brain and heart health). Load up on cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, collards, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, garlic, onions, kohlrabi. These increase sulfur in the body and aid detoxification; so does the supplement MSM. Chlorella is also a powerful superfood and detoxifier. Cucumber, sprouts, grasses, all-veggie green drinks, sprouted greens, green vegetables and Himalayan salt are all alkalizing.
When looking at the total components of your horse’s diet and striving for a healthy balance, it’s important to remember that alfalfa (high protein) is acid forming, most grass hays are alkalizing, grains are acid forming and fats and minerals are alkalizing. The more alkaline the horse’s diet, the closer you are to what they naturally select in the wild (so most of the horses I work with thrive on a diet of hay plus hay cubes or pellets.
To raise the alkaline balance with healthy fats (and to add weight or maintain your hard keepers) many horse experts substitute Copra (partially defatted coconut meat) for part or all of their horse’s feed. They also add pH-balancing, amino-acid chelated (most absorbable) free choice minerals so the horse can choose which ones it needs, as it would in nature, constantly varying proportions as needs continuously change. Two great options are Free Choice Minerals by Dynamite Marketing and Redmond Equine’s Daily Gold brand natural equine minerals. They also round out nutritional needs with a high quality vitamin supplement and prebiotic/probiotic like those made by Dynamite or Advanced Biological Concepts.
For those who feel they absolutely need to feed grain, switch to a whole grain option that even finicky eaters will gobble up, like Crypto Aero Wholefood Horse Feed https://www.facebook.com/CryptoAero, full of gut-healing, health building ingredients and free of soy, corn, molasses, wheat, barley, fillers, chemicals and artificial ingredients. Or try Genesis Organic Feed http://www.organic-horse-feed.com with only five ingredients- that’s free of alfalfa.
2. Find a Great, Safe Detox Product
There are wonderful products on the market for humans that bind with and absorb toxins, enhance blood flow and support the immune system with antioxidants. Look for ingredient mixes that include Zeolite, organic medicinal mushrooms, alpha lipoic acid, gluthathione, quercetin, diatomaceous earth, dandelion, ProCoQ10, turmeric, Vitamins C & E to aid in cleansing and fighting inflammation and infection. For horses, you’ll find all these in VivoZeoCompleteEQ (top dress feed for at least 4 months to create a change in the blood).
Following these few lifestyle changes will make a powerful difference in how you and your horse feel, and in the state of your health over time.
Sandra Mendelson, HC, CPT, CLT is Board Certified as a Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach, AADP, an Equine Photopuncture Therapist and Certified Light Therapist, BANHS. She helps horses, and the humans who love them, to reduce and eliminate chronic and injury-related pain and inflammation, improve energy and performance and achieve a state of balanced health through the use of photopuncture, (acupuncture with light), red and infrared light therapy, anti-inflammatory nutrition and detoxification.