Two new studies published in Nature (August 29, 2013) highlight the role of the microbiota in metabolic disease, inflammation markers, obesity, and diabetes. Before going into what these studies imply about the benefits of a good probiotic supplement, let’s go down the rabbit hole just a little — into the science behind it.
The studies conducted in France and Denmark point to the relationship between low colonies of GI tract microorganisms in people with high inflammatory markers, obesity, and diabetes compared with people with high colonies of GI tract microorganisms. The studies compared bacterial gene numbers: Low Gene Count (LGC) with High Gene Count (HGC) individuals.
Both the Danish study and the French study highlight once again the importance of diversity of the micro biome. The micro biome of the GI tract is not simply one strain. The micro biome of the GI tract is many, many different strains all working symbiotically.
Although these studies were not conducted on equines or canines, the studies do reinforce once again how critical the microbiota is, and how important real food is to the GI tract.
Of course real food isn’t Taco Bell, or Mc Donald’s or even Wendy’s Light; anymore than highly processed horse feed is, or highly processed dog food.
To take care of our own microbiota, and the microbiota of our horses and dogs, it is essential that we support the GI tract microbiota with food that is whole and minimally processed.
Neither the Danish or the French research examined any probiotic supplement, but the fact that the micro biome has been demonstrated in numerous studies to be diverse, and in healthy individuals, to have very populous colonies, adding a probiotic supplement along with real food could have long term health benefits.
Probiotics are measured in CFUs (Colony Forming Units). Horses need 100 Billion CFUs for colonization of the GI tract, canines need a minimum of 1 Billion CFUs for colonization, and humans need 10 Billion CFUs for colonization.
One issue with probiotic supplement delivery is how to get the multi-strain microorganisms through the stomach intact. On the human and canine side, some companies use enteric coating, or an algae micro-capsulation that coats the microorganisms and protects them from the strong acids of the stomach. This protective coating is difficult to find in an equine or canine probiotic supplement.
The microbiota of mammals has become an intensive area of research, as are the studies of the microbiota of soils. These micro biomes at large are inter-connected, and depend on one another. We need healthy micro biomes of soil to grow food that supports a healthy GI tract.