(above) Doc T gives a presentation on nutrition to horse owners at a “Horse Extravaganza” in Naples, FL February 2019.
There are a lot of you out there who drink beer and a lot who drink wine. Some drink both. Today’s newspaper has some bad news for you. There is weed killer in your favorite beverage.
All brands were tested, and all the common ones had glyphosate, including organic wine. This is a chemical made by about seven companies and used worldwide. Most of you know it as “Roundup.” This word strikes fear in many people. It is the reason for genetically modifying foods, so they are immune to the effects of glyphosate. Like the sticky note and Viagra, glyphosate with genetic modification was an accidental discovery embraced by all needing a solution to their problem. The problem was weeds in the crop competing for nutrition. The solution was to kill the weeds, not the crop, and soybeans were one of the first crops.
As you all know, I recommend soybean meal as a good source of quality protein for horses. But unfortunately, I get resistance from people because soybeans are genetically modified to allow the use of glyphosate. Horse owners don’t want their horses poisoned by this chemical, and now we find out that our beer and wine are poisoning us with this weed killer.
I want to introduce a subject that I am currently discovering that is mind-blowing. It is our liver’s incredible capacity to protect and feed us. If healthy, it can clean up and spit out glyphosate and a whole basket full of toxicants we consume each day.
If it is healthy…
In humans, livers from healthy donors are tested for nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) before they are transplanted into recipients. This is where the person passes a health check and blood work before their livers are harvested for a transplant. Unfortunately, almost half (42%) of the livers are rejected from these otherwise healthy people because of too much fat crammed into the crannies of the liver tissue. We don’t normally biopsy the liver, so we don’t know the actual degree of NAFL in the human or horse population. But if we assume that the healthy donors represent the general healthy population, then about half of the people, including you, have this condition that makes the liver less functional. We don’t know if horses have this subclinical problem, but their livers are similar to humans.
Think of the liver as the cupboard in your kitchen storing fuel, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins and more. When humans and horses do stuff, it creates a need for things stored in the cupboard. The liver realizes this and sends materials out from its storage on demand. It’s just like you making a cake. You gather the ingredients from the cupboard like flour, sugar, eggs, butter and baking powder, plus all the little things you need to make it a special cake.
Now imagine you want to make several cakes. You may not have enough ingredients in your kitchen, so stop cooking and go to the food store to resupply. That is exactly what eating is. It restocks our bodies with materials that the liver stores, ready for the constant need for these materials, such as fuel or minerals.
Fat In The Liver
When food is processed in the digestive tract, the resulting materials are sent to the liver before going anywhere else in the body. The liver is the port of entry from the gut. 70% of the blood flowing through the liver comes from the stomach, small intestines, cecum and most of the colon. The liver stores these materials or converts them into more useful materials keeping those. When the demand for material is signaled to the liver, it releases the material into the blood and sent to the area in need. This goes on in every moment of life.
In humans, the supply of fuel to the liver exceeds the demand by the body and the liver fat and sugar (glycogen) stores are filled to overflowing. The overflow goes into body fat and belly fat.
In horses, the same process occurs. In ponies, minis and donkeys, this process can become extreme, causing life-threatening issues such as fat in the blood. My concern is in the horse with a moderate amount of body fat. Underneath this is the conversion of protein into fuel. In other words, the muscle in the top line is consumed as food. How can this happen? I believe it is because the horse is being overfed throughout the year, and the fat in the liver cannot be used as fuel for the cells.
Some human research shows that the filled liver cannot process the fuel stored there. So the treatment being used is to increase protein intake and the intake of resistant starches. The treatment of horses with fatty livers is similar though they don’t mention resistant starches.
Resistant starches are also known as prebiotics. The sugar in these foods resists digestion in the small intestine. Instead, they are digested in the hindgut, lowering their impact on insulin and feeding the colon’s gut bacteria. In addition, the sugar from these starches sparks the process of proteins removing the stored fat from the liver cells. These freed liver fats are then used for cell fuel. As the liver fat is used, it is replaced by body fat stores, and the horse becomes lean.
In the meantime, the amount of food, especially sugar, entering the horse decreases. This is part of the reason that the no-grain diet works in slimming down the horse. In addition, adding soybean meal is adding protein needed to move out the stored fat in the liver. The protein plus the available liver fuel combine to lower the horse’s appetite, decreasing the amount of food eaten. The result is normal body fat in most horses, and a horse with a more efficient liver has more available energy to perform both cellular tasks (health) and body functions (compete in a sport).
Unclogging the Liver
Once the liver has reduced the amount of stored fat and the flow of blood through it is free, it is more capable of removing most toxins taken into the body. In the beer and wine story, the amount of glyphosate is, according to government standards, far below toxic levels. This is arguable, with none being the only acceptable level. Air pollution is well known, and so are toxicants in our water supply. They exist everywhere, as seen in organic wine.
If the liver is clogged with excess fuel, it cannot be efficient at any of the multiple processes it is in charge of, including removing toxins. Reducing body and liver fat is part of the wintering effect we see in all animals where food is limited. As long as we continue to feed our horses throughout the year with foods efficient in creating fat (grains), the livers will not be as efficient as possible. In addition, the clogged liver cannot effectively deal with toxicants such as glyphosate and minerals such as iron.
It is time to examine the real culprit behind toxicants and mineral excesses. It is most likely a clogged liver brought on by feeding our horses more than they need to survive. Feeding low starch forage plus adequate protein should help restore the health of your horses’ liver. Adding protein seems essential in restoring human liver health and has been reported in dogs and cats. The liver can regenerate itself in 4 weeks. This is one of the reasons so many see improvement in their horses in as little as two weeks by removing the inflammatory grains and grain byproducts. Adding temporary soybean meal will continue to restore health to your horse. After a year or two, most of the horse’s health will be corrected, and you can resume the all-forage diet they were created to eat without worries of toxicants such as glyphosate. Maybe then you can share a beer with them – on occasion.