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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Good for Me, Good for My Horse: Diet Adjustment and Detox Power Healthy Change

Sep 01, 2014 04:44AM ● By Sandra Mendelson

You and your horse have a special bond.Did you know you share a lot of the same health challenges?Humans and horses are both experiencing chronic lifestyle issues and diseases at alarming rates, due in large part to toxicity in our environment, food and water. The good news is that both equine and human health problems, from navicular and laminitis (akin to osteoporosis and gout) to arthritis, slow-healing injuries, and insulin resistance such as type 2 diabetes, can be prevented or dramatically improved with a combination of diet changes and detoxification.

Here’s a deeper look at what our two- and four-legged bodies are facing and some powerful steps you can take to help you and your horse lower toxins, strengthen disease resistance and speed healing.

Our Beautiful, Dirty World

Numerous studies continue to prove that chemicals, food additives, drugs, pesticides, heavy metals and other pollutants in everything from bread and milk to bottled water and detergent can overload our bodies’ self-healing mechanisms. Our horses are subject to a nearly constant bombardment from chemicals and petroleum residue in feed, toxic ingredients in fly sprays, de-wormers and grooming products, antibiotics, heavy metals and carcinogens like formaldehyde in vaccines, pesticides on seeds and hay, and chemicals, bleach and fluoride in water.

This poison load puts pressure on organs, especially the liver, kidneys, lungs and skin — the body’s organs of elimination. When this “drain field” gets overloaded, the body can’t detoxify and waste backs up. The resulting hit to the body runs the gamut, from mental fog, mood swings/behavior issues, depression, allergies, cravings and weight gain to slowed recovery, weakness, infections, skin issues, premature aging, bone/skeletal issues, chronic illness, organ toxicity, cancer and almost all degenerative diseases.

Our Processed Food and Feed

The human body was designed to run optimally on the nutrition provided readily in nature. It best recognizes, digests and absorbs the nutrients in real food, the way you would find it in nature with vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and animals. Back at the dawn of civilization, our diet was mostly alkaline with the exception of animals, which required a lot of work to hunt down and were not necessarily an everyday staple. Even our blood is slightly alkaline at a 7.3 to 7.45 pH.

Your horse’s body was also designed to fulfill its nutritional needs with a natural alkaline diet, accomplished by grazing 16-20 miles a day and feasting on a variety of alkaline grasses that provide the necessary balance of nutrients.

Fast forward to our current world of microwaved burritos and meal-in-a-bag sweet feeds. Our diets are now mostly acidic, with daily doses of muffins, bagels, sandwiches and convenience foods. Most of these foods rapidly break down into sugar that shocks our systems, causing “silent” inflammation that is an underlying cause of major diseases in our society. Fifty percent of all Americans and one in four children are pre-diabetic or have type 2 diabetes. In addition, diets high in acid-producing foods lead to a lack of energy, excessive mucous production, infections, anxiety, irritability, headache, sore throat, nasal and sinus congestion, allergic reactions, and increased risk of conditions such as gout and arthritis. The body, seeking to balance and buffer its high acid load, pulls alkaline substances (minerals) into the bloodstream and out of the bones, ligaments and tendons. The result: weakened, brittle and demineralized bones (osteoporosis), arthritis, fractures and injuries.

Back at the ranch, your horse is probably dining on popular brands of highly processed, acidic stuff from a bag, the main ingredients of which were genetically modified (GMO) starchy by-products of flour and liquor manufacturing. Since there is little taste or nutrition in this sawdust, manufacturers have to heavily disguise it so horses will eat it. They add cheap sugars—mainly from cane molasses—and inflammatory fats from GMO soybean and corn oil. In order to call this “nutritionally complete feed”, they add doses of indigestible minerals (e.g., calcium from limestone which can lead to painful enterolyths) and synthetic vitamins and sometimes toxic preservatives.

Treats from a box, sugar cubes and peppermints are further examples of how we think we’re treating our horses with love, but we’re actually setting them up for diabetes, hyperactivity, colic, founder and equine Cushing’s disease. If you are supplementing with name brand commercial electrolytes, your horse is also guzzling down saccharin (known to cause cancer) and artificial colors and flavors.

Take Charge: Eat and Feed for Health

Whether you or your horse are dealing with illness, annoyed by joint or back pain, allergies, respiratory issues or mood swings, or whether you’d like to prevent them, these two steps are a smart way to detoxify your organs and strengthen your immune function.

1. Eat/feed alkalizing foods and replace sugar/starch with healthy fat

For Humans: Cut down or eliminate added sugars, baked goods, white flour products, fast food, soda and artificial sweeteners. Eat more “good-for-you” fats rich in nutrients and help stabilize appetite and blood sugar, including avocados, nuts, seeds, unsweetened coconut and coconut oil and olives. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are wonderful for brain and heart health. Load up on cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, collards, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, garlic, onions and kohlrabi. These increase sulfur in the body and aid detoxification as does the supplement MSM. Chlorella is also a powerful superfood and detoxifier. Cucumber, sprouts, grasses, all-veggie green drinks, sprouted greens, green vegetables and Himalayan salt are all alkalizing.

For Horses: When looking at the total components of your horse’s diet and striving for a healthy balance, remember that alfalfa (high protein) and grains are acid-forming while most grass hays and fats and minerals are alkalizing. If you need to feed grain, switch to a whole grain option that even finicky eaters will gobble up, like Crypto Aero Wholefood Horse Feed ( The feed is full of gut-healing, health-building ingredients and free of soy, corn, molasses, wheat, barley, fillers, chemicals and artificial ingredients. For alfalfa-sensitive horses, Genesis Organic Feed ( is a complete feed alternative with just 5 ingredients.

To raise the alkaline balance with healthy fats, which provide energy and help build and maintain muscle, many horse experts substitute copra (partially defatted coconut meat) for part or all of their horse’s feed. They also add pH-balancing free choice minerals so the horse can choose which ones it needs, as it would in nature, constantly varying proportions as needs continuously change. Two great options are Free Choice Minerals by Dynamite Marketing and Redmond Equine’s Daily Gold brand natural equine minerals.

2. Find a great, safe detox product

There are products on the market that bind with and absorb toxins, enhance blood flow and support the immune system with antioxidants. Look for ingredient mixes that include zeolite, organic medicinal mushrooms, alpha lipoic acid, gluthathione, quercetin, diatomaceous earth, dandelion, ProCoQ10, turmeric and vitamins C and E to aid in cleansing and fighting inflammation and infection. Horse folks have also discovered a product called VivoZeoCompleteEQ, which can be used by both humans and horses.

Following these few changes can make a powerful difference in how you and your horse feel, especially over time.

Sandra Mendelson, HC, CPT, CLT, is board certified as a holistic health and nutrition coach, AADP, equine photopuncture therapist and certified light therapist, BANHS. For more information, visit

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