Of all the disciplines of equine athleticism, polo is probably one of the most varied and intense. Horses need to perform at high speed, for long periods, as well as have the flexibility to twist, turn and change direction – impact exercise at its highest!
Whilst we can feed these athletes to get the best from their musculature in terms of energy expenditure and activity, muscle work has a number of consequences. During exercise the protein in the muscle fibres begins to disassociate. Whilst this is perfectly normal, and the protein regenerates during rest (it is this breakdown that gives the weak feeling after exercise), there are other actions; principal amongst this is the generation of both inflammatory and oxidative factors.
Oxidation is the result of inefficient reactions in the biochemical pathways which release free radicals; these can attack the cell membrane structures. In addition, the generation of some oxidative enzymes can impact inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response to muscular damage, to provide a protective zone which allows regeneration. However, the combination of oxidation and inflammation may actually impede normal muscle recovery, especially after intense activity.
Recovering muscle function can be enhanced nutritionally, both through applying key amino acids (some, such as arginine are key stimulators for protein synthesis), energy replacement, and through modification of the oxidative processes. Key to this is the generation of inflammatory cytokines, including IL-1 which accelerates proteolysis (protein breakdown) as well as providing oxidative challenge. Nutritional products that act as antioxidants, mop up free radicals and interact with cytokine production can help slow proteolysis and enhance muscular recovery. The turmeric flavonoid, curcumin is one such nutrient.
By feeding natural antioxidants, reduction of muscle proteolysis can be achieved, recovery can be accelerated and physical activity and endurance improved.
Alongside the action on muscle protein, hard activity causes physical impact on the joints. Wear and tear, as well as additional stress through rapid turning, accelerating and decelerating, all have potentially damaging effects on the joints. As with all of the body’s major defence mechanisms, the first eaction is the release of inflammatory cytokines, to protect the compromised site. However, those inflammatory compounds can stimulate oxidative, and repress antioxidative enzymes that causes oxidative stress, which in turn affects collagen generation and increases collagen breakdown. Being a major component of the cartilage surrounding the joints, the degradation of collagen will lead to joint dysfunction. At the same time, the inflammatory factors can release other destructive compounds, such as metalloproteases, that have a direct effect on collagen breakdown.
Again, the actives in turmeric support the antioxidative enzymes, reducing oxidative stress and aiding collagen synthesis. And, with an integral relationship between oxidative stress and inflammation, the inflammatory markers can also be reduced.
Solely based on the two parameters of exercise and joint impact, there is evidence that turmeric, through its major component curcumin, can help the body’s natural processes to aid recovery. However, this is only one component of many.
Turmeric contains many bioactives, consisting of curcumoids, curcuminoids & essential oils, all of which can help support antioxidative processes, but have roles in a range of biological functions including insulin sensitivity, supporting the microbiome and acting as a skin conditioner.
TurmerAid has taken this one step further; by using a range of supporting ingredients, both the efficacy and extension of the bioavailability of active components have been enhanced. Polar lipids, saponins and various flavonoids enhance absorption, whilst naturally occurring compounds such as piperine and quercetin increase the activity of bioactives before they are removed from the body. This means that the turmeric in TurmerAid is really put to work, and makes an ideal supplement for equine athletes, like polo ponies.