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The Forbidden Food: Mushrooms

I constantly see posts on avian groups and forums telling people “Don’t feed mushrooms to your bird, they are poisonous.”Folks, this absolutely false information. Are we so unknowledgeable to think mushrooms don’t grow in the wild where our birds are from? They do! And birds eat them! -Most of Nature's creatures have a sixth-sense placed in them by Nature itself which tells them what foods to eat and not eat (the reason we have a difficult time getting our birds to consume some foods). Nature also placed inside these magnificent creatures the instinctive ability to know what to eat for the nutrition that food has inside, as well as what food to eat to counter any toxins they may ingest.

There are, of course truly poisonous mushrooms, but then again birds in the wild know which mushrooms to consume and those in which to stay away from. Also, remember, birds in the wild can handle toxins that captive birds cannot due to a difference in gut flora. As long as you feed only mushrooms that are credited as “edible,” then you really have no worry if you prepare mushrooms correctly before feeding to your bird, or yourself for that matter. Even humans should not eat raw mushrooms on a regular basis. However, I strongly recommend cooking edible mushrooms before consuming to drastically reduce hydrazines. (1) This allows digestive enzymes the ability to break down any remaining hydrazines and utilize the many health benefits mushrooms have to offer.

Here is a list of edible mushrooms: http://www.foragingguide.com/mushrooms/edible_by_common_name.

The naturally occurring constituent in mushrooms that give concern are “hydrazine agaratine.” Like most “anti-nutrients” found in plants, this hydrazine was placed to ward off pests from attacking and eating mushrooms in the wild.

Hydrazines are ammonia compounds that can potentially cause gastrointestinal upset leading to temporary dysbiosis. However, these constituents are greatly rendered inactive by thoroughly dehydrating, deep-freezing or cooking (yes, there are some foods that are actually more beneficial when served cooked, although rarely). Hydrazines are further rendered harmless by passing through the gastrointestinal tract. Digestive enzymes in the gut totally destroy the remaining hydrazines.

Mushrooms have a lot to offer in the way of nutrition.

Mushrooms are anti-carcinogenic, help manage diabetes, promote good heart health, support the immune system and are packed with trace minerals, especially selenium. Selenium in mushrooms is beneficial in preventing heart disease, supports cognitive function and the autoimmune system. It also lowers free radical activity, therefore preventing cancer and inflammation as well as staving off stress. (2)

All of us have long believed every article written, every post posted and all of the wives’ tales, rumors, and misleading information shared via social media, even from sources who think they know what they are talking about and passer’s on of misinformation simply because a friend “said it was so.” Finally, a new generation of avian nutrition specialists is rising who are not afraid of the popular consensus. These avian nutrition specialists not only have their own multi-species flocks they care for, but they also have credentials. The kind of credentials not only based on their own experiences but the fact they research, study and apply what they learn. Plus some of them actually formulate their own flock’s diet, and some even own companies that formulate, develop and laboratory-test their formulations for nutritional balance. These avian specialists don’t care for their flock based on hearsay. These new avian nutrition specialists are re-educating our avian community who have actually fed their birds many of the “forbidden foods” only to learn first-hand that these foods actually increase the overall health of their birds, not take away from their health or actually cause illness.

Feel free to rebuke and question those who think they know all about avian nutrition. Explore new foods so your bird can not only experience foods it would find if it lived in the wild, but also to introduce more foods and therefore better nutrition for the species you bird is.

Happy, healthy foraging!

Ref: (1) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1982.tb04978.x  (2) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/278858.php.

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