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Eleanor Blazer

The Perils of Sugar

By Eleanor Blazer
           Horse owners are well informed about the perils of feeding sugar (soluble or non-structural carbohydrates) to their equine companions.  Veterinarians, the internet, magazines, equine nutritionists and feed companies have beaten into our heads that the equine digestive system is designed to utilize forage (fiber)....and horses are happier and healthier.  

            But what about your diet?  Your horse depends on you for his care.  What will happen to him if you become sick?

            Sugar is a source of empty calories - sure it gives us quick energy, but does not provide any protein, minerals or vitamins.  The nutrient profile of sugar is:  calcium - 0, iron- 0, magnesium - 0, phosphorus - 0, potassium - 0, sodium - 0, zinc - 0, copper - 0, manganese - 0, selenium - 0, vitamin A - 0, vitamin C - 0, vitamin D, vitamin E - 0, vitamin K - 0, vitamin B Complex - 0, protein - 0, fat - 0 and fiber - 0.   The only thing one serving of granulated sugar provides is 2.7 grams of carbohydrates.

            Increased consumption of sugar has led to an escalation of obesity and diabetes in our society. 

            The American Cancer Society states one in four deaths in the United States will be due to cancer.  We all have the risk of developing cancer and on what does cancer cells thrive?  Sugar! Granted, the sugar did not cause the cancer, but it is feeding it.

            It's interesting - when a PET (positron emission tomography) scan is used for cancer detection, the doctors use a solution of radioactive tracer mixed with glucose (sugar).  They know the cancer cells will attract the glucose.  The PET scan detects the energy coming from the radiaotracer, which is heavily concentrated at the tumor's location - thanks to the sugar!

            When we think about sugar, most of us picture the pure white granulated substance we put on cereal in the morning.  Learn to look for these hidden sources of sugar on food labels: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, cane syrup, cane juice, malt syrup, dextrose, fructose, lactose, maltrose, sucrose, sorbitol, galactose, polydextrose, mannitol, xylitol and maltodextrin.  Food manufactueres will also state how many grams of sugar is in one serving on the label.

            Starch is also converted to sugar in our bodies.  Foods that are high in starch, such as potatoes, white rice, bread, pasta, bagged snacks (potato chips, corn chips, pretzels, etc.), cereal and other foods based on refined grains should be avoided. 

            Ir will be difficult to eliminate all sugar from your diet.  But if given a choice between a candy bar and an apple - pick the apple!  Your horse will love you for it.