Insulin resistance describes a metabolic condition where the cells do adequately respond to insulin. Insulin's main role is to remove glucose from the bloodstream by allowing it to enter the cells, where it can be burned for energy, or stored for later use. When the horse's cells are resistant to insulin, the glucose remains in the blood for a longer period of time. The pancreas responds by secreting even more insulin in an attempt to get the glucose into the cells and bring the blood glucose level back to normal.
The main risk for consistently elevated insulin is laminitis. Though the body can be harmed in other ways since insulin is highly inflammatory.
Excess body fat, along with little to no exercise can lead to insulin resistance. However, genetics can also play a significant role. Your goal is to help your horse maintain a normal body weight through stress reduction, a diet low in sugar and starch, and consistent opportunities to move.
The materials below help with overweight horses, those suffering from laminitis, and those genetically predisposed toward developing insulin resistance.
Listen to Dr. Juliet Getty, special guest on Jim Swanner's, "All About Horses" radio program or Monty Roberts' Horsemanship radio as she discusses the following topic(s). Recordings are each 30 minutes in length.
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