4. NU­TRI­TIONAL FAC­TORS

EQUUS - - Longevity -

One of the newer fields of study in ag­ing is nu­tri­tional im­munol­ogy---which ex­am­ines how foods might in­flu­ence im­mune func­tion and in­flamm-ag­ing. We tend to fo­cus on the role the gut plays in di­ges­tion, but the en­tire lin­ing of the gas­troin­testi­nal tract, as well as the liver, is pop­u­lated with spe­cial­ized im­mune cells, col­lec­tively called gut-as­so­ci­ated lym­phoid tis­sue (GALT). In fact, by some es­ti­mates in other species, up­wards of 60 to 70 per­cent of the im­mune sys­tem is lo­cated in the gut. So it would make sense that the nu­tri­ents a horse eats, or lacks, might in­flu­ence the func­tions of those im­mune cells. Fur­ther, the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the gut mi­cro­biota and the im­mune sys­tem is im­por­tant to con­sider. Healthy gut mi­crobes may mean a healthy im­mune sys­tem.

Re­searchers are only just be­gin­ning to in­ves­ti­gate th­ese links, and some re­sults have been promis­ing.

“We are look­ing at whether we can im­prove im­mune re­sponses to vac­ci­na­tion and mod­u­late the in­flam­mag­ing re­sponses with nu­tri­tion,” says Adams. “We have shown some pos­i­tive changes---such as our work with pro­bi­otics and pre­bi­otics.”

In a couple of stud­ies done in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Pu­rina An­i­mal Health, ad­min­is­ter­ing pre­bi­otics---nu­tri­ents that not only have im­munomod­u­la­tory

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