NSC, Fructans, and EMS — Again

Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD

It’s like the movie Groundhog Day. The same incorrect information keeps surfacing again and again.

Self-proclaimed experts on forage for horses, and forage carbohydrate fractions, state that Nonstructural Carbohydrates (NSC) is the hay fraction to be concerned about with when dealing with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS).

Not so.

NSC = nonstructural carbohydrates, which includes oligosaccharides and fructans. Oligosaccharides and fructans are NOT digestible in the small intestine and do NOT cause a significant insulin rise .

Since over 90% of laminitis cases are caused by high insulin, this is an important point.

There has never been a documented case of laminitis caused by fructans in hay. Never. It’s just not an issue and telling people to use NSC instead of Ethanol Soluble Carbohydrates (ESC) + starch, less than 10% total, leads to rejection of perfectly acceptable hays.

Evidence- based science means statements made have properly determined evidence and proof behind them. There is ample evidence that insulin is by far the major cause of laminitis and no evidence that the fructan levels found in hay pose a laminitis risk.

Additional reading available here:

It’s Time to Put the Fructan Theory to Rest  https://wp.me/p2WBdh-gn

Forget About Fructan and NSC https://wp.me/p2WBdh-13O

Diet and Laminitis – No Link to Fructan https://wp.me/p2WBdh-Va

Forage Analysis: How and Why https://www.ecirhorse.org/proceedings-2015.php

About ECIR Group Inc.
Started in 1999, the ECIR Group is the largest field-trial database for PPID and EMS in the world and provides the latest research, diagnosis, and treatment information, in addition to dietary recommendations for horses with these conditions. Even universities do not and cannot compile and follow long term as many in-depth case histories of PPID/EMS  horses as the ECIR Group.

In 2013 the Equine Cushing’s and Insulin Resistance Group Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation, was approved as a 501(c)3 public charity. Tax deductible contributions and grants support ongoing research, education, and awareness of Equine Cushing’s Disease/PPID and EMS.

THE MISSION of the ECIR Group Inc. is to improve the welfare of equines with metabolic disorders via a unique interface between basic research and real-life clinical experience. Prevention of laminitis is the ultimate goal. The ECIR Group serves the scientific community, practicing clinicians, and owners by focusing on investigations most likely to quickly, immediately, and significantly benefit the welfare of the horse.

1 Hall, MB. Methodological challenges in carbohydrate analyses https://www.scielo.br/j/rbz/a/hmkLqbxRqhS9pbKxpM8w4Xm/?lang=en#ModalFigf1

2 Borer, KE, Bailey, SR, Menzies-Gow, NJ, Harris, PA, Elliott J. Effect of feeding glucose, fructose, and inulin on blood glucose and insulin concentrations in normal ponies and those predisposed to laminitis. Journal of Animal Science. DOI: 10.2527/jas.2011-4236

Contact:  Nancy Collins

Stock photo available