Alfalfa (Medicago sativ) is known as one of those “super green foods”. It contains many, many vitally important macro and micro nutrients so important to a living creature’s basic body functions. I decided it would be a really good base ingredient in our bird food, much better than what most major commercial bird food manufacturers used in their highly processed foods, corn or wheat, which are basically empty nutrition, when compared to a super green food such as alfalfa.
Alfalfa is a legume, a member of the pea and bean family. It is high in natural protein that is easily digested by the body. The natural protein it contains is strongly supported by the eight amino acids that act as a “foundation” for a building block of solid protein supplementation and absorption. The amino acids also participate in the biosynthesis of enzymes and DNA. *New information as of 10.18.11-The amino acids L-Lysine and L-Arginine are fairly balanced in alfalfa with L-Lysine being the predominate of the two. This is wonderful news in light of the fact of the recent research revealing that L-Arginine may contribute to “The Mutilation Syndrome” in our birds’ health via the production of nitric oxide causing flushing, hives and/or itching. The L-Lysine in alfalfa may help to balance out any overabundance of L-Arginine in other foodstuffs our bird may be consuming.
Alfalfa contains high concentrations of Vitamins *A (See below-because many birds are deficient in this vitamin, it is a good idea to provide it in the base ingredient of any diet you feed to your bird), B1, B2, B6, B12, C, *D (See below-because our companion parrots spend much of their lives inside, and therefore don’t receive Vitamin D through the natural means of sunshine, receiving it in a highly absorbent form of the base ingredient of their diet is vitally important), E and K and also Niacin, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin and Folic Acid. It is also rich in the following minerals: Boron, Calcium, Chlorine, Cobalt, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sulfur and also some trace minerals. Trace minerals are important for normal growth, and all kinds of biological functions such as digestion, hormone function, bone growth and strength, normal cell function, normal immune function, and cardiovascular health.
Because alfalfa contains chlorophyll and bioflavonoids, it is an excellent antioxidant too.
Chlorophyll neutralizes the pollution breathed in by the respiratory system. It also chelates magnesium and other heavy minerals. It stimulates red blood cells and improves the oxygen supply. It neutralizes free radicals that do damage to healthy cells. It may reduce the ability of carcinogens to bind with DNA thus harming major organs in the body.
Alfalfa appears to lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL (“Lousy”, bad cholesterol) while having little effect on HDL (“Healthy”, good cholesterol). Alfalfa has also been touted to help guard against allergies, fending off the activation of histamine receptors. This is because of the bioflavonoids. But there are additional benefits bioflavonoids offer. Other benefits are better eyesight, improved cardiovascular health, increased capillary strength, and improved structure of connective tissues and skin condition, and a stronger immune system. Bioflavonoids also help lower the possibility of atherosclerosis, cancer, arthritis, and gastrointestinal disorders. And they can help treat coronary heart disease, inflammation, hemorrhoids, respiratory diseases, viral infections, some types of cancer, and peptic ulcers. It has also been thought to help lower blood glucose levels in diabetics.
With all of the very basic good benefits of this supper green food, alfalfa just seems like a realistic foundation for a parrot’s diet. Barley grass is another great super green food, but, in my opinion, it is too high in nutrition to use as a base ingredient for daily nutrition for a normally healthy adult parrot. I would reserve that super green food for baby bird food only, and I will discuss that much later on.
We know we cannot begin to provide the exact same diet a parrot would find in their own, natural habitat. But we can provide a lot better than a highly processed diet that is found on most store shelves. We have choices, so we must make the best choices possible. Beginning with a sound foundation, like a super green food ingredient, and then adding to it to make the overall diet even better, is what I will be discussing throughout this entire blog.
I will also be promoting “organic” as I continue to pour my heart out about diet and how important it is to your parrot’s well-being. I cannot stress enough just how important it is that you obtain the highest quality of foodstuffs you possibly can for your beloved parrot. They have very delicate systems and must be treated accordingly. Conventional foodstuffs, over-laden with pesticides, and then treated with preservatives as they are processed, are just not for these beautiful creatures of the Wild. Please go the extra distance, find and pay the difference. In the end it will all pay off giving you a healthier and happier parrot. And hopefully you will realize fewer visits to the veterinarian too!
I am hoping you can find fresh vegetables in your region. But if you cannot find organic foodstuffs in your neighborhood, often you can order them online. You may need to order them in dried, or dehydrated form. Retailers like Frontier Foods Co-op ( http://www.frontiercoop.com/ ) sell dehydrated vegetables and herbs. I also like Mountain Rose Herbs for many of my supplies: ( http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/ ) These companies sell to the public.
- Vitamin A is responsible for the growth and repair of tissues and the proper function of eyes, hearing, skin, bones, and mucous membranes. It has a great effect on the respiratory, digestive and reproductive tracts.
- Vitamin D is responsible for maintaining proper blood calcium levels. It is suspected that companion birds do not metabolized the proper amount of calcium. For the most part our birds receive the proper amount of calcium, they just don’t absorb it. Why? Lack of vitamin D. Without the proper levels of this important nutrient, phosphorus also does not get properly absorbed. Vitamin D is also responsible for the balancing control of cell proliferation. In other words, vitamin D is extremely important in the prevention of various cancers.
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