You’ve done your homework when it comes to your horse’s nutrition. You’ve read all the books and consulted with experts. And you spare no expense to make sure that your horse’s nutritional needs are being met. You have the sugar content tested in his hay. You make sure that that hay is weed free, dust free and mold free. You’ve taken soil samples in and had them tested to determine which minerals your area is deficient in and you faithfully supplement those minerals to your horse every day. Okay, so maybe not all of us do quite all of that, but you get my drift. We really care about keeping our horses healthy and we know that that starts with nutrition. Let’s be honest though. How much effort do you put into your own nutrition? We sacrifice so much of our time and money just to be able to own our horses. We roll out of bed in the morning and trudge down to the barn in pajama bottoms and muck boots to do the morning feeding. Then we rush to shower and get out the door on time, hoping that we don’t have poop on our shoes, again. Breakfast? Breakfast is coffee, lots of coffee! The rest of the day doesn’t go any better. “I’ll get fast food today, but tomorrow I’m going to start food prepping,” we tell ourselves.

The Problem

According to the CDC, a staggering 29 million Americans have type 2 diabetes. Another 89 million have prediabetes. Over one-third of us either already has diabetes or are on our way. Why? I recently discovered Dr. Peter Attia when I watched a Ted Talk that he gave titled Is The Obesity Crisis Hiding a Bigger Problem?  Dr. Attia talks about how he, despite being an extreme athlete and eating what he thought was a healthy diet, developed prediabetes. Type 2 diabetes is directly linked to obesity and obesity is just a matter of eating too much and not exercising enough. Or is it? New research is showing that it’s more WHAT we eat that is causing the obesity epidemic. Diets full of refined carbohydrates with next to no nutritional value lead to insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that is made in your Pancreas. Its job is to get the sugar out of your bloodstream. When you eat a meal, your blood sugar level rises. In a normal person, insulin comes along and facilitates the transfer of the glucose (sugar) out of the bloodstream and into the cells through a channel called the GLUT 4 channel. Excess sugar is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles for later use. Once the glycogen stores are full, remaining glucose gets stored as fat. Sugar and refined carbs are easily digested so they give you a sudden burst of glucose that floods your system. Your body freaks out and signals the pancreas to make more insulin. Without even knowing it, you’re turning your body into a fat storing machine. You get really good at getting that glucose out of your blood and into your fat cells. Unfortunately, this makes you more hungry. You will likely crave more carbs and sugar from the sudden crash you feel from all of that insulin doing its job. And so begins a vicious cycle that leads straight to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

Insulin resistance is just one problem that is caused by the typical American diet of quick and easy refined and processed foods. As I mentioned, these refined foods are typically low in nutritional value. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can lead to so many problems. I’m not going to go into that here. If you’re curious, do a Pinterest search. There are a lot of helpful infographics there.

Another problem with refined foods is that the fiber is stripped out of those types of foods. Fiber is necessary for a healthy gut. Without it, the bacteria that live in your gut are forced to feed on the lining of your large intestines. Once that lining is gone, the immune cells that lie directly beneath it are no longer protected. This can lead to a whole myriad of allergy and auto-immune symptoms. It also leads to chronic systemic inflammation, and that leads to cancer. Have I scared you enough?

The Solution

Proper nutrition can feel like a moving target to hit. Remember when eggs were bad for you because they were high in cholesterol? Now they are a super food. Our understanding of the human body increases every day. The average person doesn’t have the time or desire to follow the studies, but there are people out there who do just that for a living. Some of those people share what they learn with us, for free! Find a trustworthy, science-based nutrition expert to follow. As I mentioned before because we’re equestrians we are short on time. If you don’t have time to read, listen to podcasts. I listen while I drive, or while I run. You could even listen while you ride.

Stay motivated! I don’t have to tell you how to keep yourself motivated to love horses. It comes naturally to you because you’re so passionate about it. You may not even realize that you’re feeding that passion when you read articles, talk about horses with friends, watch hours of youtube videos, and pin tack to your Wishlist board.  Become passionate about your health! Talk about it, read about it, look at motivational posters, get informed.

Talk to your doctor about it. Don’t wait until you have a problem to address your nutrition with your physician. Imagine if people didn’t see dentists until all of their teeth were already rotten, and then expected the dentist to magically fix them. That’s what we’re doing when we wait until we have diabetes to talk to our doctor about our diet.

I’m not going to tell you whether you should do Whole 30, Paleo, or Keto. You have to figure out what works for you. Let me put it in terms that you’ll understand. You can’t feed a Thoroughbred and a Welsh Pony together. Their dietary needs are so different that you’ll likely kill one of them eventually. People are no different. My husband can eat whatever he wants and remain a twig. Me, well it seems like I gain weight if I even look at food. Try things out. I tried keto and hated it, but my cousin loves it and is having great success with it. A combo of clean eating and time restricted eating with a healthy helping of both cardio and strength training is my magic recipe for feeling great.

Resources

Podcasts

Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s Podcast

Dr. Patrick explains things in ways that I have never heard before. She is a brilliant scientist. She can be a bit technical, but she is a wealth of information. She posts new episodes often and she interviews leaders in the field of health and longevity.

The Joe Rogan Experience

Yes, Joe Rogan from Fear Factor. Joe is into mixed martial arts, and as a result is very into health and nutrition. His show is where I first learned about Rhonda Patrick and Peter Attia. Joe’s interviews with super smart scientists are nice because he is a normal human being like us and he asks really good questions that make them easier to understand.

Peter Attia, M.D.

Dr. Attia left his successful surgical practice at Johns Hopkins to start his company. He now travels the world talking to leading experts in the field of longevity and compiles their findings. He has a podcast that is full of good information.

Films

The Science of Fasting

This film is available to stream on Amazon Prime. The rest of the world is using fasting as medicine. We are a bit behind but thanks to the work of people like Dr. Valter Longo, a professor at UCLA, and Dr. Satchin Panda of the Salk Institute, we are making good progress. I can tell you from personal experience that fasting is magic. It can undo so many wrongs.

I’ll leave you with a few parting words of wisdom from Arnold.

 

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