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Probiotics for a Happy Tummy

Apr 21, 2008
There is still much confusion in the world yet about probiotics and how they are useful in maintaining our horse's health. What are probiotics and what do they do?

The term probiotics comes from the Greek word "for life. Thus antibiotics mean "not for life" as anti means "against". Probiotics are living microorganisms, or beneficial bacteria that when ingested help the digestive system maintain a state of balance. This replenishment results in the promotion of a number of health-enhancing functions, including enhanced digestive support.

Historically, people used fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut both as food preservatives to limit spoilage, and to support their intestinal and overall health. As far back as Roman times, people consumed sauerkraut as a delicious food, and for health-related issues. These people knew they felt better if they consumed these foods, they just didn't know why and what was in them to improve their health. If the Romans knew what to do, why is it today that so many are skeptical of probiotics and their importance in your horse's diet (as well as yours)?

The processed feed diets so often fed to horses in most cases can upset the balance of bacteria needed for the support of your intestinal health. Also, many feed products are getting pasteurized or have high heat added in the production process, destroying the helpful bacteria your horse needs for promoting good intestinal health. Horses are natural grazers, and today most spend their time in a box stall on a feeding schedule and often intense training and showing plans. All these abnormalities to a horse mess with his normal digestive processes. Maintaining great intestinal health is akin to maintaining great overall health. When your horse is in great shape and has overall health, they will naturally feel better and be able to perform better and live a disease free life.
Did you know that?
1. About 80% of the immune system resides in your gastrointestinal tract.
2. 500 species of bacteria, over one trillion live inside the digestive tract
3. The weight of these bacteria constitutes about two to three pounds.
4. Some of these bacteria are referred to as "good" and some as "bad". The ideal balance between them is 85% good and 15% bad.
5. The ration between good bacteria and bad bacteria is one of the critical factors of optimal horse health.

What sort of things influence the ratio between good and bad bacteria? Diet, geographic location, age, stress, and health issues are some of the key factors. Helpful bacteria prevent the growth of undesirable ones by competing for both nutrition and attachment sites in the tissues of the colon.
Therefore, keeping the right balance of bacteria becomes critical in supporting your horse's immune system and keeps the stomach functioning. This reduces the chance of up set stomachs, belly aches and colic. Probiotics are important and should be an essential part of your daily feeding program.
About the Author
Audra Jensen owns 65 head of horse and is concerned about maintaining their health at a reasonable cost. For more information about probiotics in supplements: http://www.totalsupplements.com/about.htm and info about probiotics from mercola.com
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