Many horse owners start their horses on Aloeride because of the support it offers for digestive health and function. Digestive health support means helping the digestive lining reconstruct itself or to help nutrient intake & uptake when your horse cannot keep condition. As you know, whatever nutrient is printed on the label of any feed/feed supplement, it won’t do your horse good if that nutrient doesn’t enter into its red blood cells, or if those red blood cells don’t reach the tissue that needs support. Aloeride boosts the Intake and the Uptake of nutrients, Aloeride also provides a placating buffer when your horse is sensitive to something in feed – this is a devil of a job to find out with compound feeds and just difficult with single feeds.
Teeth and Periodontal
A horse with teeth problems can be eating more than it is calculated to need (the ‘very healthy appetite’ remark) simply because feed isn’t mechanically broken down enough and nutrients won’t enter the red blood cells. Inefficient mastication ultimately causes peripheral tissue to remain hungry… so your horse eats more to compensate. Some equine dentistry telltales are: loss of condition (nutrient uptake), difficulty with fitting bridle & bit and avoiding the bit, not coming on the bridle (mechanical), head shaking when ridden (mechanical), large particles of feed in droppings (undigested), rushing & quidding of hard feed & hay (mechanical), dunking hay in the water (mechanical), excessive salivation (reactive), cheeks sensitive to touch (reactive), dropping or dribbling food when eating (reactive), bad breath from mouth or nostrils (purulent infection). Lucky in a way if an infection opens into the mouth because, if it occurs below a tooth or molar, debris seeps into blood and lymph vessels, leaving you to wonder why your horse isn’t quite right.
The lubricating saliva is alkaline for two reasons, primarily this enables amylases to work in the mouth (buffering and protecting dentition from decay through acid produced by the bacteria that feed on intradental, undigested feed) whilst secondly of course neither mouth nor oesophagus are lined with tissue that can tolerate anything but alkaline-neutral pH. Same goes for the top, non-glandular end of the stomach where this alkaline feed mass meets the (more) acidic feed mass in the glandular end of the stomach. The alkalinity of saliva is not there to undo the functional acidity of the stomach, in case you wondered.
The horse with a heathy stomach lining and a strongly acidic glandular stomach content has two advantages. First of all, the acid environment kills most pathogens that enter via feed or feeding surface. Secondly, the acid environment is necessary for enzymes to start breaking down protein in feed (or the protein of bacteria or larvae). If this section of your horse’s digestive tract falters, then the section behind it becomes susceptible to pathogens and protein-into-aminoacid transformation becomes poorer. The partially digested food that exits the stomach together with pancreatic juice sets the tone for the pH (acidity-alkalinity) of the bowel which in turn determines which species of bowel bacterial flora thrives or withers. Research suggests that microbial action in the least acid area on the lesser curvature contributes up to 30% digestion of the non-structural carbohydrates or starches prior to the digestive mass entering the small intestine. This area has been shown to be able to absorb and transport signiﬁcant amounts of volatile fatty acids produced by gastric microbial activity, which can be converted to energy and muscle glycogen stores in working horses. Thinking upstream is imperative when it comes to digestive challenges.
In this section of the digestive corridor a broad spectrum of digestive enzymes go to work. These operate best within a small bandwith on the alkaline-acid scale, so how well these can work all depends on the mixture of acidified stomach content and the secretion of alkaline bile. Most of the fats, proteins, aminoacids, about 50-70% of soluble carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals are absorbed here. For instance, for vitamin B6 to be absorbed, small intestine enzymes -these are made by equine bowel flora- first must remove a phosphate group and only then B6 can passively diffuse into the blood stream. Less than optimal pH ➾ less than optimal bowel flora ➾ less than optimal enzyme function ➾ disturbed vitamin availability to red blood cells, this really is a Domino Run. But that’s not all.
Particularly interesting by the way if you have foals, lactating mares or horses in hard work, is that microbial protein synthesised in the large intestine, can not be utilised to any great extent. This means that when there’s a high demand for protein, your horse must be fed high quality protein that can be broken down into aminoacids and then be absorbed primarily in the small intestine. That hurdle is cleared easily by supplementing foals, lactating mares and horses in hard work with Aloeride because this provides an abundance of readily absorbed aminoacids which is why development happens so positively!
You already know of the link between abnormal hindgut fermentation, endotoxemia and laminitis. What you may not know is that an irritated small intestine similarly can pollute, the mechanism behind this is known as leaky gut (proper name Hyperpermeability Syndrome) and this is explained in the below slider. Selective uptake only through enterocytes is healthy, non-selective uptake in between enterocytes is unhealthy.
The molecules that line your horse’ intestines should stand shoulder to shoulder (TJ, tight junction) so that all absorption happens discriminately (i.e. through the enterocytes), so only the wanted (nutrient) molecules enter the red blood cells. In irritated gut walls gate crashing happens as these TJs no longer stand shoulder to shoulder, now inappropriate molecules can gain access to the blood and lymph vessels. Now the small intestine isn’t only a place for absorption of the useful, but also the entry point of what is potentially harmful. If your horse digestive tract remains un-irritated, then its tight junctions remain shoulder to shoulder, the mucosal barrier keeps its normal thickness and nutrients that must pass will, whilst matter that ought to remain in the lumen will not pollute. This is one of the ways in which Aloeride contributes to digestive health and function.
The large intestine is where the microbial (not enzymatic) fermentation of cellulose into volatile fatty acids happens thanks to billions of symbiotic bacteria that break down plant fibres and undigested starches. Any methane produced is further metabolised by other microbes (horses don’t pass methane in their droppings). Excess protein (i.e. undigested into aminoacids) entering the large intestine is fermented to heat with some 6 times more heat waste than excess starches and fibre fermentation. Another ‘upstream’ issue resulting in a ‘downstream’ issue due to incomplete protein-into-aminoacid transformation.
You know that Ragwort causes anatomical liver damage (pyrrolizidine causes hepatocytes to become fibrous thus disabling detoxification) and the degree of damage shows in the symptoms you see. Once liver function drops below 30% the prognosis isn’t good. Coming back to these tight junctions (TJs), if these let gate-crashing molecules through, then this presents a higher workload for the liver which is functional liver burden. This shanghais nutrients for detoxification which then can no longer be used for other functions. Another Domino Run and don’t overlook what ‘liverish’ might mean in terms of behaviour. Aloeride helps those TJs and provides a very broad spectrum of nutrients to support normal physiological functions like detoxification. Between the herb milk thistle and phosphatidylcholine you can support a liver but it’d do little if you would not tighten those TJs. First things first!.. think Aloeride.
But we always used to…
That it isn’t useful to follow entrenched ideas about what to feed what kind of horse is shown by this scientific study on athletic horses fed high energy forage diets by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the Swedish National Trotting School. Their conclusion: “The studies and observations we have performed so far indicate that diets based on high energy forage may be an interesting alternative to the conventional high starch diets commonly offered to athletic horses. Forage-based diets could support better health and welfare and may not be a limitation to performance. However, the forages used must be analysed and any lack of nutrients (protein, Ca, P, Mg and trace minerals) supplemented. If body condition cannot be not maintained (this is where Aloeride would come into it!) an energy supplement must be provided.
“Although horses have evolved as grass eaters, performance horses are commonly fed diets including large amounts of starch-rich concentrates. There is little scientific evidence that such diets promote performance. In fact, it is well known that high concentrate diets are associated with gastrointestinal problems, stereotypical behaviour and perhaps also musculoskeletal problems.”
Keeping your horse’s diet as close as possible to what it was evolved to digest – fill in any nutritional blanks with natural supplements – probably is the most successful route to achieve and maintain digestive health for your horse. Read our article about ‘Oat Couture‘.
Guess What Came To Dinner?
The very last aspect of digestion, as far as nutrient-intake, nutrient-uptake and nutrient-expenditure goes, is about Other Species feeding on the feed that your horse ingests. Of course it is routine worming I am referring to and you monitoring this via Comprehensive Stool Analysis & Parasites (e.g. Worm Egg Count < 200epg) as per advice given by the British Horse Society. However it is interesting to note that the intestinal parasites that can settle in the digestive tract have survived the acidic pH of the stomach, they have survived the onslaught of pancreatic protases as well as the digestive force of the bowel flora (note that a parasite is motile lump of protein that makes toxic metabolic endproducts… proteases cleave protein), they have passed the brush border (TJs) that is covered with further digestive enzymes. Those are the natural, effective barriers any horse has when it lives in the wild. If you ever wondered why racehorses in Newmarket are almost permanently on wormers, just bear in mind that many are almost permanently on medication that reduces their acid barrier. Because Aloeride supports a healthy stomach lining, supports the growth of healthy digestive bacteria and supports a healthy pH in the intestinal lumen, it makes the intestine a less favourable environment for species wishing to feed on the feed your horse ingests. Read our article The Problem Of Parasites.
There is however also a species that actually feeds on your horse! With more wet weather than seemingly ever before, a flatworm with suckers that up to recently affected mainly sheep and cattle, may be observed in horses. Fascioliasis (liver fluke) can affect horses -younger horses seem to be more susceptible than older ones- that graze in marshy areas or drink from rivers especially if sheep and cattle share the pasture. Liver fluke are also carried by rivers or heavy rain run-off and infection can even occur where there’s no contact with sheep and cattle. It affects the bilary flow and with that, in addition to the chronic anaemia, dry coat and weight loss that occurs in poor worming, fascioliasis causes diarrhoea. Analysis of dung for the presence of fluke eggs is not very reliable because the immature fluke that cause the liver damage, as they migrate, do not produce eggs. Even when adult egg-producing flukes are present, the egg production itself can be intermittent. For this reason a negative test for fluke eggs does not mean the horse is clear. If there is a history of cattle and sheep in the same area being affected by fluke it would be assumed that co-grazing horses will have some degree of infestation.