Numerous diseases, degenerative conditions and even the aging process itself, have been linked to free-radical damage. A free-radical is a highly reactive molecule that can bind to and destroy other molecules. Also known as oxidative damage, free-radical damage can cause irreversible damage to body cells and physiological processes. Feeding your parrots a “Balanced Exotic Avian Food Plan”, includes feeding antioxidant rich foods–and this includes our BBFE sprouts. Because our BBFE sprouts also contain complete protein, in an easily digested form, this means your birds are receiving foods that nourish their body in many ways. Keep reading to learn more about why having you birds eat a wide variety of antioxidants is so important for their good health.
Although the body’s natural biochemical processes produce many of the body’s free-radicals, when free-radical levels rise above what the body can control they can begin altering the way the cells code genetic material. This means that these free-radicals damage the DNA in each cell and this causes errors in the way the body puts proteins together. Because of this damage the body’s immune system may mistake these damaged proteins for foreign substances and try to destroy them. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own cells. The formation of mutated proteins can eventually damage the immune system and lead to leukemia, other types of cancer, and many other diseases.
How Antioxidants Work
Antioxidants, also called free-radical scavengers, are the only way the body can successfully deal with free-radicals. Antioxidants target free-radicals at the molecular level. They do this by combining with the free-radicals. When antioxidants adhere to free-radicals this prevents the free-radicals from being able to bind with, and destroy, the molecules that make up the cells of the body. These cells make up all the vital organs and systems in a bird’s body, such as the nervous system, cardiovascular system and the immune system.
Although many of the fresh fruits, vegetables and sprouts we may already feed our parrots naturally contain antioxidants, because of avian malnutrition it is difficult for a bird consume enough antioxidants from food sources to combat the free radicals. This is the case because other nutritional deficiencies in a bird’s diet, that causes avian malnutrition, compromises the overall wellness and proper functioning of the body. All aspects of a bird’s body chemistry are adversely affected by avian malnutrition. And then when you consider pesticides and pollutants in our environment and chemical residues in food and our water supplies the need for Balanced Nutrition becomes even more important.
Free-radicals in Our Environment
Exposure to toxins from our surroundings or lifestyle increase the free radical load in the body. Sources include poor indoor air quality, second hand smoke, pesticides, chemical-based cleaning products, personal care and cleaning products that contain artificial synthetic fragrances, artificial colorings and flavorings in process foods, chemical preservatives, radiation, water treatment processes and other chemicals in our food, water or air. What ever your parrot is exposed to his body must process. Limiting exposure to these elements reduces the body’s free-radical load. And when you start feeding a “Balanced Exotic Avian Food Plan” this balance of nutrients supports the body’s ability to more effectively use all the antioxidants in the food being eaten.
Effects of Stress
It is well documented that emotional stress adversely effects the entire body. When stressed the body uses up antioxidants and essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes at a faster rate. When these vital metabolic nutrients are depleted the body’s ability to metabolize harmful free-radicals stops and oxidative damage occurs. This is where feeding foods that contain high amounts of antioxidants, and enzymes like our BBFE sprouting blends, can help close the gap.
For more information on how stress affects your birds read: Changing Bird Feeding Customs: Understanding the Avian Stress-Response.
More Variety is Best
Antioxidants come in a variety of forms – each providing unique chemical components when binding to free-radicals. Extensive research data indicates that a combination of antioxidants will provide greater antioxidant protection than any single nutritional antioxidant alone. Fortunately, foods that contain high levels of antioxidants naturally contain a diverse mixture of these life-promoting nutrients.
Important antioxidants include vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, lutein, alpha lipoic acid – a remarkable oxidative-reductive agent and superoxide dismutase (SOD) – the only antioxidant whose specifically targets a toxic, free-radical molecule known as superoxide. Another important category of antioxidants include proanthocyanidins.
This category of antioxidants belongs to a group of plant pigments called flavonoids. Over 4,000 flavonoid compounds have been classified. Research has shown that flavonoids may be useful in the treatment and prevention of many health conditions. Many of the medicinal actions of foods and juices are directly related to their flavonoid content. Proanthocyanidins are one of the most beneficial groups of plant flavonoids that have powerful antioxidant effects.
Another important biochemical property of proanthocyanidins is their ability to inhibit specific enzymes which are the precursors of arthritic inflammation, degenerative joint disease, allergic reactions and allergies. Proanthocyanidins are found in deep colored fruits such as purple or red grapes, blueberries and pomegranates.
Supplements vs Real Food
Early in my aviculture career I used to feed my birds a wide variety of supplements. But this was because I was just starting to learn about the correct combination of foods that makes up a TRUE–‘Balanced Exotic Avian Food Plan’–TRUE Balanced Nutrition. Since 2002, when I started writing for Parrots magazine, I’ve done background research–having read hundreds of peer-reviewed published papers–and I’ve used the information I learned as the scientific foundation for the hundreds of articles I’ve written on avian nutrition. I stopped feeding any and all avian nutritional supplements many years ago. The only exception is DMG, and then even using that is on a case by case basis, as improving a parrot’s basic nutrition is the first step before using any type of nutritional supplements. When you’re feeding your parrots and finches a ‘Balanced Exotic Avian Food Plan’, you don’t need any avian nutritional supplements.
Supplement Companies Have It Backwards!
All those companies that sell supplements for parrots and finches have convinced you that you NEED to buy their products to round-out the nutrition in the foods your birds eat. However, when bird lovers are feeding caged companion parrots and finches extremely poor quality diets of dry seeds, pellets, and other random foods–of course birds eating this type of poorly balanced diet are suffering from avian malnutrition. However, supplements will not fix avian malnutrition. The only way to reverse avian malnutrition is to feed your flock my ‘Balanced Exotic Avian Food Plan’.
I’ve Learned From My Parrots & Finches
Over the past 17 years my birds have taught me that feeding them a wholesome blend of foods, a blend that provides them all the hundreds of nutrients they must eat everyday, is the best way to fully support their good health, well being and longevity. Feeding them this completely balanced nutrition (my ‘Balanced Exotic Avian Food Plan’) also helps them to have happy, playful dispositions–parrots who are a joy to live with and play with. Feeding my ‘Balanced Exotic Avian Food Plan’ is the first step in working to heal feather destruction issues, or to help you birds cope with any existing disease condition–or to prevent them from contracting an avian disease.
And, honestly, following and feeding my ‘Balanced Exotic Avian Food Plan”, is really simple and really easy. The companies who make and sell avian nutritional supplements are the ones who want you to think that providing balanced nutrition for your flock is hard–or even impossible. But nothing could be further from the truth. The best way to start feeding your flock a Balanced Food Plan is to start feeding our BBFE sprouting blends. Because BBFE is so nutrient dense, it is the main food–the foundational food–in my ‘Balanced Exotic Avian Food Plan”.
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