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  • October 13, 2022 2 min read

    If your horse has ever suffered from gastric disease, your vet or equine nutritionist may have recommended feeding products or supplements high in pectins and lecithins. But what are these, and why are they recommended to feed for gut health? Let’s find out!

    If you have ever eaten jam, you will notice its jelly-like appearance. The gel is pectin and is naturally found in fruits. Pectin is a complex type of water-soluble fibre and is almost entirely digestible by gut bacteria. The reason why pectin is often recommended for gut health is that when pectin and water collide (or, in the case of a horse’s stomach, the acid), it forms a gel, and it is thought that this gel could help protect the lining of a horse’s stomach from ulceration. 

    Lecithins, on the other hand, are derived from soybeans and are phospholipids which are found in plant cell membranes. Phospholipids are made up of a glycerol head that attracts water and a tail that is made up of two fatty acids that repel water. The head of the molecule attaches to the stomach lining, leaving the tail, which repels water, exposed to the stomach. As the phospholipid is structured in this way, it helps to form a barrier between the stomach wall and the gastric contents and helps to propel any water (such as acid) away from the stomach wall.  Lecithins also have the added benefit of improving a horse’s skin, hair and hooves and contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. 

    So far, pectins and lecithins sound good and beneficial to gut health. It is important to note that the studies have mixed conclusions about whether these two gut supplements work as well as what we think of as protective mechanisms. However, the studies do suggest that pectin and lecithin appear to help horses with existing gastric ulcers. So, if your horse is suffering from gastric disease, it may be helpful to include pectin and lecithin in their diet, keeping in mind that these two substances should not replace the prescribed medication for the treatment of gastric ulcers. 

    So, how do I feed pectin and lecithin?

    There are many feed products on the market that include both pectin and lecithin. Pectin is available as a stand-alone product, and feeds such as sugar beet pulp, lupin fibre, and even apples will contain pectin. Lecithin is also available as a stand-alone product, which is how it is most commonly fed as a supplement. There are also products sold as supplements that will also contain pectin and lecithin, such as Kelato Gastroaid Recovery. 

    As always, we are here to help! If you have any questions or want to browse our range of products, please visit us in-store or online!

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