Imagine your horse had no energy, his hair didn’t shine, he was cranky, and overweight. What would you do? You would probably take a good look at his nutrition program. You might do some research about supplements to improve energy level and coat condition. Maybe you’d consider changing his feed or even having blood work done. What you probably wouldn’t do is “nothing”. You’d recognize that your equine friend isn’t the horse he used to be and you would do everything you could to get him happy and thriving again. Now imagine you are the horse. What’s different?
If I’ve learned one thing over the years of working with equestrians, it’s that we will do everything within our power and often beyond our budget to make sure that our horse has everything he needs to be happy and healthy. The other thing I’ve learned is that we often won’t make a fraction of the same effort to provide the same quality of life for ourselves. I’m hoping to change that.
I’ve often said that nutrition is the foundation to good health and that education is the foundation to good nutrition. When there’s something wrong with our horse we will spend hours reading books or articles online to learn about how we can help them. When there’s something wrong with us, we want a pill to make it go away. In the scenario above, would you give your horse a pill to increase his energy level? Would you give him another pill to make his hair shiny? And yet another to help his crankiness and one more to help him lose weight? Most people would find that preposterous! Yet, that’s often the route that humans take. With our horses, we want to get to the root of the problem and correct it. Let’s take that same approach with ourselves.
Would you feed your horse a product with FD&C yellow #5, MSG, aspartame, sodium benzoate, high-fructose corn syrup, trans-fats, sulfites, and nitrates? No, you wouldn’t; because you know that wouldn’t be good for him. Well, it’s not good for you either! I have another expression: “If it’s not a nutrient, don’t eat it!”
Can you name the six primary types of nutrients? Go ahead and see how you do… Most people these days come up with three: vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. Sometimes they think of fats, proteins, or water too. A few people can name all six. But once you start asking people to talk about nutrition beyond the major nutrients, they often come up empty. However, just because they’re not as popular, don’t underestimate the value of probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes, and antioxidants.
When we talk about the digestive system of horses, colic seems to come bubbling to the surface, followed closely by parasites and ulcers. Most equestrians know more about the equine digestive system than they do their own. Diarrhea, constipation, gas, heartburn, and indigestion would warrant a red-alert if we observed them in our horses. But again, we tend to ignore them in ourselves. What do you know about the human digestive system? Do you know about the role the digestive system plays in immunity? Do you know that if you have gas, peppermint tea works much faster and much better than the chalky antacids people eat like candy? Do you know why chewing is important or how fiber can significantly affect your hormone levels?
If you’ve ever had a horse with a metabolic disorder than you probably know more about nutrition than most people. You know if your horse needs low carbohydrates, high fat, or low potassium because you needed to learn about it to make sure your horse stayed as healthy as possible. Do you know which foods to avoid if you have thyroid or adrenal issues? Do you know which foods are proven cancer fighters and which foods are known cancer-causing agents?
I’m not sure why we make the health of our horses a top priority and our own health is viewed an inconvenience. But I know that it’s as common as sore thighs after a long trail ride. With so many things on the to-do list, we just don’t make the time to learn about human nutrition– that is until we receive a diagnosis and then we’re all over the internet and reading tons of books about how to beat this disease or that disorder. I know I’ve given you a lot of my favorite sayings in this article but the one that I think is my favorite and that I’m most famous for is this: “Cancer, heart disease and diabetes run in families. Do you know what else runs in families?… Recipes!”
My goal is to help everyone I come in contact with to become a little bit healthier. I often ask people what holds them back from achieving their ideal life and health and very often the answer is “time”. So I set out to create a simple, convenient program to help people to become a little healthier by taking just a few minutes a week to learn more about nutrition and how to harness the power of food to create a strong foundation of holistic health on an equestrian’s schedule. You would do it for your horse!
Pssst! Your horse called. He said you should take a look at this!
Right you are, Patti. Sometimes healthy as a horse can mean more than imagined (sometimes not). Let me ask you this one – would low Vitamin D result in skin that bleeds easily and heals slowly? If so, what food supply this naturally?
Nanette – Vitamin D is important for tons of things and more are being discovered all the time. However, I wasn’t able to find any connection to low Vitamin D and skin disorders except that low vitamin D levels can exacerbate diabetes which can lead to wounds that won’t heal. The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Morning sun (no sunscreen) is best but any sunshine on skin will help. Most people are deficient and supplementation is often recommended vs. increasing your intake of a particular food. I take 5,000 IU per day. People who are very deficient often take 15,000 IU/day. As always, consult you preferred healthcare provider.
Great points you make!
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