Trendsetter Supplements – Good Choices or Not?

The horse-human partnership struck me as especially remarkable last week as I slurped down a fermented yeasty beverage at Whole Foods market. We humans are just so different from our equine friends. In fact, we lack most of the traits that we love about horses. Take simplicity, for one.

Being creatures of habit, horses are almost foolishly simple. For 20-plus years, they will get excited every day for their same bucket of grain or patch of green grass. They never stomp their feet and demand different flavors of grass or a more modern bucket. Nope, they just feel the same excitement for the same thing at the same time every day.

Then there’s us humans, about whom the same thing cannot be said. Evidence to this fact: me slurping a fermented yeasty– and mostly gross– beverage last week. This cup of bubbling Kombucha had made its way into my hands via some compelling marketing at Whole Foods. I had been drawn in by the fancy signage, the promises of better health, intelligence, strength, productivity, etc. Actually, the sign nearly promised that, upon consumption, each customer would instantly become a rock star or a wealthy supermodel or something along these lines. So, I plunked down $4 and sipped and waited.

In one word, I’d describe Kombucha as heinous. It made my taste buds want to jump up and run out of my mouth. Within minutes, my stomach rumbled unpleasantly, prompting me to scout out the nearest restroom. Meanwhile, the Kombucha’s acidic aftertaste made my eyes water. You might wonder if, after this disagreeable Kombucha encounter, I have tried it since. Well, this is the point I want to make about human nature versus horse nature. Not only have I tried the yeasty beverage again, I’ve committed to having it every day. Why? Because, simply, it’s the latest trend in the health world, and if it does turn consumers into rock stars, I don’t want to miss out! You might recall that last summer’s big craze was goji berries. For $18 per pound, foodies could get a bag of red pellets from the Amazon rain forest that supposedly cured cancer, balanced moods, caused weight loss, etc. This year, the goji berry trend has been replaced by Kombucha. And I, being a fickle human, have joined its ranks.

That’s what we humans do– we hop from trend to trend. We like the adventure, the newness. And our poor horses, those noble steeds that love the same old same old, often get dragged into this trend-hopping with us. While horses will live happily their entire lives eating the same grass and grain ration, we humans like to invent all kinds of new concoctions for them. A few years ago, garlic had become the latest trend for horse diets. Promoters said a few teaspoons of garlic daily would benefit horses in dozens of ways, like increasing circulation, warding off bugs, improving digestion. We humans responded by buying up tubs of garlic powder and feeding it religiously.

Then, research started to show that garlic actually wasn’t very good for horses. It can cause inflammation and irritate their stomachs. Oops. We all threw away our tubs of garlic. We were ready for a new trend anyway, and scooped up all the latest aloe juices and pro biotics to treat our horses’ now ailing stomachs. This hot new item– stomach soothers– shot to the top of every one’s equine shopping lists. Articles ran in every major magazine about stomach soothers and their unparalleled affects on health. Most recently, though, there’s been some debate on how to determine if these products actually work or not.

So, capitalizing on this budding doubt, equine food producers have tried to launch a new trend– fish oil. Many of us feel like feeding fish byproducts to horses is just inherently wrong somehow. But nevertheless, producers are gaining ground and these products are becoming a bonafide trend. After all, they promise enticing health benefits: strength, healthier digestion, circulation, etc. etc. Bags of grain infused with fish oil are showing up in barns. Folks are eagerly buying special Omega 3 supplements for their horses, wondering how these steeds ever stayed healthy before. How did they stay healthy before?

That’s a simple one. They stayed healthy by consuming the only things they need and still get excited about every day– grass and grain. It’s us humans, not them, that need these trend changes every couple years. Nothing excites us like believing we’ve discovered the ‘secret’ to ever-lasting health. Our horse friends are happy without further discoveries. They’re content with a diet that’s worked for them for centuries. I can’t say the same for myself. I’m hurrying out to Whole Foods to gag down my daily Kombucha and I need to rush before this trend gets replaced by a newer one!