Recently I saw a post where someone was asking if our exotic birds might benefit from drinking coconut water. As usual, this piqued my interest. I had thought about feeding coconut water to my own sanctuary birds in the past, and I have even tried it…for one day. When I saw the immediate results, I quickly stopped the very same day.
Many health-minded workout buffs like to drink coconut water for the specific trace minerals “potassium” and “sodium” it contains. Together these trace minerals help replenish the body of these minerals lost during harsh workout sessions. I totally understand the rationale behind drinking coconut water for this reason. When it comes to feeding coconut water to our feathered friends, though, there really isn’t any reason in my opinion unless a bird is suffering mineral loss from dehydration due to extremely loose droppings or dehydration due to severe illness. In those cases then feeding coconut water while monitoring on a very, very close basis may be warranted. For any other reason, I advise against feeding coconut water and here is why.
Potassium is in almost every food we feed to our birds in fairly high levels. Most plant matter contains potassium and if you look at the potassium levels, it’s pretty darn high. If you have read my previous post on “Excessive Nutrition: Stacking Nutrients” you will clearly understand the danger of feeding too many foods high in potassium to our birds. Potassium regulates heart rhythm. When we go messing around with how the heart beats we can cause acute strokes and/or acute cardiac failure.
That’s not all. Potassium is one of the precursors to the production of testosterone. Clearly most of our birds do not need to produce more testosterone! Feeding foods high in potassium can upset the delicate hormone balance our birds’ hormonal systems causing them to become aggressive and to delve deeper into that breeding cycle lasting longer than the cycle is meant to.
Also, coconut water is naturally high in sodium.While our birds require sodium for the hydrolysis process, (breaking down of dietary proteins and other nutrients into single unit molecules for total absorption), too much sodium is hard on the renal system (kidneys). Many of our feathered friends already suffer from kidney problems, even undiagnosed. This is why so many birds are suffering from kidney stones and even gout. The kidneys are unable to filter calcium, uric acid, and other minerals in the manner they are meant to. Adding more foods that are extremely high in sodium will not help flush the kidneys, but instead, overtax them. It’s good to have sodium in the diet, but it needs to be contained in foods that are balanced in the amount of sodium they offer; coconut water is extremely high in sodium. To boot because coconut water is, literally liquid the sodium goes directly into the metabolic system with no buffering from a fiber such as fruit pectin or hemicellulose from tender greens to moderate the flow of sodium from the liquid of the coconut water. The coconut water literally “dumps” the sodium directly into the kidneys all at once.
And finally, coconut water even though it may contain some good qualities like lauric, capric and caprylic acids which all help fight against bacterial and fungal infections also contain very high amounts of Omega 6s and naturally occurring salicylates. Both of these food constituents have been found to trigger feather destroying birds. It doesn’t take much coconut water to set a feather destroyer off.
If you decide to feed coconut water to your feathered friend, please only offer a very small amount and not on a daily basis. I would only offer, like I mentioned above if my bird was severely dehydrated from extremely loose droppings or in the case of illness. Even at that I would probably only offer in diluted solution of 1/4 coconut water and 3/4 regular filtered drinking water for one day. I would see how my bird does with that, go back to my bird’s regular water (hopefully you are feeding Fiji or Evian water or a similar naturally occurring pH of about 7.2 to 8.0). I would let my bird’s system rest, see how the droppings look, see if my bird increases in feather destruction, if my bird is a feather destroyer, and go from there. Offering coconut water every other day in a 25/75 coconut water/regular water ratio is what I would consider fairly safe for a severely dehydrated or ill bird.
To this end, please understand that “fads” like this are usually not good for our feathered friends. A lot of what you read is nothing more than “hype” to jump on the bandwagon. Do your research and think it all through before you go adding any one specific food in large quantity to your bird’s diet!
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