Insulin is a hormone that is produced by cells that are present within the pancreas. The action of insulin in the body is widespread targeting the metabolism of sugar, starches, fats, and protein and is required by most cells in the body to transport glucose across the cell membrane, providing fuel and energy at a cellular level. The body’s natural response to the release of insulin is elevated blood glucose.
When the food source is high in starch a higher proportion of glucose is required in order to complete the digestion of the starchy substance.When a horse or pony has the condition known as Insulin Resistance (IR) this means that their body does not process glucose properly not only depleting their energy stores but causing the delivery of glucose to the cells to not occur, instead storing the glucose in fat and muscle instead of in the cells. Insulin resistance can lead to the equine having fatty deposits around the body, an increased level of inflammation, body and hoof pain, lack of energy and a higher risk of laminitis.
Insulin Resistance in horses is becoming an epidemic and growing every year throughout the UK and beyond. Research has indicated Insulin Resistance results from an improper lifestyle for our equine’s very specific, sensitive metabolic requirements. It is reported that 51% of horses are overweight or obese from a lack of exercise and an improper diet contributing to the risk of our equines suffering Insulin Resistance. So what does this mean for horse owners?
Regular exercise and low levels of concentrated feed are essential alongside maintaining a forage based diet.
Forage provides natural fibre for our horses, giving a low carbohydrate and low sugar food source. In addition feeding a quality supplement (such as Competition Horse Supplement or Horse and Pony Multi Vitamin Supplement from Scientific Nutritional Products) will help boost the levels of vitamins and minerals in the diet, ensuring the horse receives optimum nutrients which promote health but without increasing the calorific quantity of the diet.
In addition, reducing excessive access to lush pasture and maintaining regular, correct hoof care plays a crucial part in preventing Insulin Resistance. Reducing stress levels has also been beneficial in reducing the instances of the condition so your horse’s environment should offer calm, solstice and meet your equine’s needs.
Studies have shown that including Magnesium in the diet can help to reduce stress.
Research has highlighted that Magnesium is involved in the secretion of insulin so the inclusion of Magnesium in a feed supplement can prove highly beneficial.
Peter Fishpool represents www.horsesupplementsdirect.co.uk