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Home » 2009 - Issue 2, Companion Parrots, Issue, Nutrition

Feeding Your Bird the Best Nutrition Available

By Leslie Morán


When you think about the variety of foods you can select from when feeding the parrots under your care, what criteria direct the choices you make?  Do you want to choose foods that will help improve their health and prevent illness and disease?  Would you like to feed foods that can increase a parrot’s longevity?  Have you considered how diet affects your bird’s temperament and behavior?  Are your bird’s feathers as richly colored and as healthy as you’d like them to be?  Perhaps you would like to feed a diet that can help your bird in all of these areas, but you’re unsure of what to feed.

First, let’s turn to what experienced breeders and several nationally known US parrot rescue organizations feed the birds under their care. When these experts say, “I want to provide the best nutrition possible for my birds”, what do these accomplished professionals hold in high regard as the best nutrition available for parrots? They are talking about the most nutrient dense food on the planet - sprouts.

In case you’re wondering how feeding sprouts can really help your parrots in all the ways we’ve just described, let’s review what improvements these experts have seen after feeding sprouts to their birds.  They reported observing the biggest improvement in feather condition and color they had ever seen.  They noted fewer illnesses, and those with health issues had a stronger recovery. Problems associated with egg production decreased, resulting in a higher quality of viable eggs. Sprouts have also been instrumental in eliminating obesity problems.  Even birds who had developed feather destruction behaviors have responded well to being fed a diet rich in sprouts.

As the body receives the type of nutrition it craves, regeneration and healing begins at the cellular level.  This results in improved health, increased longevity, a more congenial temperament, and beautiful plumage.

If your primary area of concern centers around temperament and behavior, take note that the first area a trainer or avian behavior expert will review when assessing a situation is to ensure that a parrot’s basic needs are being met.  Medical concerns - illness or pain from chronic disease - must be ruled out. The bird’s nutritional requirements and current diet are evaluated, along with all the elements that make up a healthy living environment for an alert, active and inquisitive parrot.

Well nourished parrots have a natural resistance against illness and disease, and handle stress much better than those who are missing key nutrients in their diet. How can you ensure that your birds are receiving the best nutrition possible?  By feeding a variety of foods that are rich in an assortment of nutrients.  Each nutritional component - each vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, enzyme, and amino acid - provides unique properties which the body needs to retain or regain good health.

Providing a diet that is balanced, nutrient dense, and contains complete protein, is the cornerstone of good health.  By including a layer of home grown sprouts in the fresh foods you feed your birds, you are providing them the most nutrient dense food available.  Let’s explore why sprouts are so nutritious for your birds.

When any seed, nut, grain or legume is sprouted, the entire chemical composition changes. Soaking triggers germination. After soaking, a sprout’s growth has just begun. Germinated seeds, grains and legumes must be allowed to grow in order for them to reach their peak nutrition.

Sprouts possess two qualities not present in any other food.  First, sprouts are alive. They contain life force energy, and are living up until the moment they are eaten. No other food can make that claim. Secondly, because they are alive, they are brimming with a rich assortment and volume of nutrients not available in any other single food or combination of foods.  The nutritional value of fresh fruits and vegetables is limited when compared to what sprouts offer.

The germination and sprout growing process transforms whole foods into a super food. Sprouting causes the formation of vitamins, and an increase in all vitamins present.  Because of this, they are a rich source of vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, E and the B complex.  At Yale University, Dr Paul Burkholder studied the results of oats being germinated.  He found that thiamine (vitamin B1) increased 10 percent, riboflavin (vitamin B2) jumped 1300 percent, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) levels climbed 200 percent, pyridoxine (vitamin B6) increased 500 percent, and biotin levels rose 50 percent.

During the sprout growing process any minerals that are present become chelated. This means they have the ability to combine with protein in a way that makes them easier for the body to assimilate and use.

Sprouts also contain an overwhelming abundance of antioxidants.  Antioxidants are vital for your bird, because they neutralize free radicals throughout the body. A free radical is an unstable, highly reactive molecule that can quickly bind with and destroy other molecules.  Free radicals naturally occur within the body as a result of numerous biochemical processes.  They also develop in the body from exposure to chemicals, toxins, and pollutants in our food, water, air and living environment.

When the level of free radicals rises above what the body can manage, they begin altering the way in which cells code genetic material. The damage done by free radicals - also known as oxidative damage - causes the malfunction and collapse of delicate body cells, tissues and vital organs.  Numerous natural healthcare professionals agree that diseases and degenerative conditions are the direct result of the damage caused by free radicals.

Antioxidants come in a variety of forms, each one providing unique chemical components as they target and bind to specific free radicals.  Extensive research data has shown that a combination of antioxidants provides greater protection than any single nutritional antioxidant alone.

Important antioxidants found in sprouts include vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and  E, flavonoids and superoxide dismutase (SOD).  Bean and legume sprouts contain anthocyanins, a powerful flavonoid. More than 4,000 flavonoids have been identified in nature.  Wheat berry sprouts supply rich amounts of SOD - the only antioxidant that specifically targets the toxic molecule superoxide.

When sproutable foods are germinated and allowed to grow, they become an abundant source of enzymes. By nature enzymes are catalysts - substances that induce hundreds of thousands of biochemical processes in the body.  Enzymes make every single biochemical process in the body possible. The brain, nervous system, vascular system, cell regeneration, growth, immunity, the digestive system, and all the vital organs - the liver, kidneys, heart, and lungs, all depend on enzymes to function properly.

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