And why is it important? Starch is a complex chain of sugar molecules. Within the plant, it is the energy storehouse, and is found in high levels in grains. Starches are considered nonstructural carbohydrates because they are found in the cell wall. Fiber, on the other hand, is considered a structural carbohydrate because it lends support to the plant. During digestion, starch is broken down into minute sugar molecules that can be readily absorbed. After digestion of a starch meal, large amounts of glucose hit the bloodstream and trigger the release of insulin. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin loses effectiveness, and the levels of glucose and insulin remain higher in the bloodstream for longer than normal High insulin levels can cause a host of problems, the worst being lamimitis.
Veterinarians recommend levels of ESC(simple sugars) and Starch be under 10% total for our sensitive horses. Testing of these critical levels should be done for hay, concentrates, and treats that are being fed to horses that have Insulin Resistance, Cushing’s disease, EMS, or PPSM.
“Low” sugar, “lower” sugar and “sugar-free” feed products are being advertised everywhere. Most of the products are not listed as low starch and low sugar, which is critical for our challenged horses.
What about the starch?
Red flag ingredients include: (Results from Equi-Analytical Laboratories)
Average ESC(Sugar) Starch
Oats- 2.1 43.5
Corn- 2.6 69.0
Rice Bran- 6.9 21.7
Wheat Bran- 4.8 22.3
Most can be considered “low sugar”, but you must factor in that starch will be digested and broken down into sugars.
As we all know, we must be very careful with our horse’s diets, and all of their feedstuffs should be tested. Much claim is made about these “lower” sugar products, with no mention of starches. Question products that are not tested, or results that do not include both ESC and Starch in the guaranteed analysis.
We use only high fiber, low sugar, low starch ingredients in our treats, and we guarantee the analysis in our products.