It’s unfortunate how seldom Leaky Gut is talked about by equestrians. Leaky Gut is a serious condition and highly prevalent in performance horses today. It’s often a major cause or contributing factor to poor performance, decreased body condition, colic, laminitis and equine metabolic syndrome. In severe cases, it can even be the underlying cause of death.
But what exactly is Leaky Gut? And how is it caused? It’s time for equestrians to learn about this serious condition. The health of our horses depends on it.
What is Leaky Gut?
Leaky Gut, or the breakdown in the colonic mucosal lining, is a sequela to hindgut disturbance and inflammation. The technical term for inflammation of the colon is colitis. As a part of the underlying colitis, the mucosal barrier undergoes a breakdown of the tight junctions or connections between the single cell layer that line the colon. This destructive process leads to alterations of the intestinal barrier permeability.
The inflammation of this cellular layer can result in either the breakdown of these tight junctions, colonocyte death or both. This process has a negative effect on digestion and absorption. In some cases, it inhibits the digestion of vital nutrients. It can disrupt the transfer of nutrients to the bloodstream that supply the body with critical nutrition. Or even worse, it can aid in the absorption of toxins and pathogens that a healthy lining would normally defend against.
In addition to its role in digestion, absorption and protection, this lining to the hindgut is also responsible for the support of immunity. The breakdown of this barrier has negative consequences on the horse’s systemic immune functions.
Leaky Gut is caused by a variety of conditions. This includes physical and psychological stressors, decreased blood flow to the intestines and any other changes that can create inflammation in the digestive system.
How can you help your horse with Leaky Gut?
The good news about Leaky Gut is that you can fight back. Over the years, research has shown several nutritional ingredients that can help to combat or even resolve Leaky Gut.
The most important ingredients for fighting Leaky Gut include:
- Psyllium: When high quality and properly processed, psyllium has been shown to significantly and markedly increase butyrate production in the hindgut through a shift in the production of volatile fatty acids. Colonocyte repair and regeneration has been shown to improve with increased butyrate.
- Probiotics: Delivered live to the hindgut, probiotics have been shown to affect a positive microbial population in the hindgut. This reduces the toxic bacteria that contribute to the vicious cycle of Leaky Gut.
- Prebiotics: Shown to help with the shift in volatile fatty acids, prebiotics can improve colonocyte health.
- Digestive Enzymes: By helping with the breakdown of nutrients, digestive enzymes aid in the reduction of feed induced stress.
- Glutamine: A non-essential amino acid, glutamine is considered to be “conditionally essential” in times of stress and disease. It’s been shown to reduce the degree of intestinal damage in severe gastrointestinal disease.
Assure Guard Gold and Assure Guard Gold NG were both developed to deliver these essential components. These scientifically-backed products are proven to fight Leaky Gut and help restore GI health and optimal performance. They were made to protect your horse from Leaky Gut and deliver real results.
Stewart A, Pratt-Phillips S, Gonzales L. Alterations in Intestinal Permeability: The Role of the “Leaky Gut” in Health and Disease. J Eq Vet Sci. 2017; 52: 10-22.