Always, always, always attempting to find raw nutrition for our permanent rehab residents here at Providence Exotic Parrot Sanctuary, we have to be very, very careful we meet or exceed their nutritional demands while maintaining a healthy Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio, but still provide a well-rounded diet that includes a variety of foods. Whew! It’s a full time job for sure! We understand your own concerns when it comes to trying to feed your personal flock and provide all of the healthy nutrients in just the correct ratio without causing malnutrition or obesity.
Here in our sanctuary we try really, really hard to ensure that we keep our birds’ diets as close to what mimics what they may consume in their indigenous habits as possible. Of course living in a concrete civilized city in the United States that’s almost next to impossible, but still we do our very best. There are times though that we will deviate slightly from what we think mimics an exotic bird’s diet in the wild to a more human type of food simply because of the nutrients that food provides in a manner no other food can. Sprouted brown Basmati Rice from California is one of those rare times we will deviate. (Although this one particular food is a food that mimics what ground-foraging birds like Cockatoos and Cockatiels would consume in the wild.)
Why do we specifically use “Brown Basmati Rice from California?” It has shown to contain some of the lowest levels of arsenic in the nation. That’s a huge factor when considering using any rice at all for our companion birds! (http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/ucm319916.htm)
Whenever we feed starch to our birds we try to feed “living” starch due to the fact that birds don’t produce the digestive enzyme “amylase” in their mouths like humans do. In fact birds don’t produce amylase until later down in their digestive tract near their endocrine system. It is our theory that when we feed them dead, dried out starch in the form of seed, grains and legumes, especially in their cooked form we are placing unnecessary strain on their overall endocrine system potentially adding to the onset of avian pancreatitis and/or avian diabetes. All because they lack the digestive enzyme amylase in their mouth!
Starch is a hard, waxy molecule, very difficult to digest and break down. Knowing this and understanding that starch requires amylase to be digested and parrots do not produce amylase until later down in their digestive tract just think how hard their digestive tract must be working in attempt to break a hard, waxy molecule down, especially because it is impossible to do so without the correct digestive enzyme! In addition once the starch does hit the endocrine system, as a dead and dried out version when we feed it cooked, our birds’ endocrine systems immediately turns it into sugar! The endocrine system is overloaded with sugar and our birds’ blood sugar level immediately spikes and then just as rapidly falls. How can this possibly be healthy for our birds’ endocrine systems? It can’t.
Now let’s take “living” starch when introduced by way of sprouting rice properly, and that’s when the tail is just barely showing, at this tender age the young sprout contains amylase when it is at its highest level in the rice. Now the rice is fed already containing the amylase needed to aid in the digestion of the starch in the upper digestive tract! Voila! Our birds’ digestive tracts don’t have to work as hard and once the starch reaches the endocrine system there is no sudden rush of starch to the blood. Instead there is a much more steady and even influx of “living” starch going into the blood on a continuous level all the way through the digestive tract. In addition the starch is mixed with “hemicellulose” fiber, a soluble fiber from the sprouted rice due to the fact the rice is now “living” not dead. Hemicellulose fiber aids in slowing the absorption of the starch, leveling the influx of the “sugar” into the blood even further. Hemicellulose also aids in nutrient absorption simply because it slows down the transit time of the rice traveling through the digestive tract. Not so much that our birds can’t eliminate properly, just enough that our birds’ digestive tracts have enough time to absorb all of the nutrients they possibly can before elimination occurs.
Ahhh….the miracles of Nature! They never cease to amaze me how she has it all under control!
So…what are some of the other nutrients sprouted brown Basmati rice has to offer?
One of the main nutritional benefits is the high level of GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). GABA is responsible for producing hydrochloric acid in the gut. This is extremely important because this is one of the main proteases that breaks down dietary proteins and also is the precursor to building healthy neurotransmitters in the brain. Living creatures need these neurotransmitters in as protection against anxiety, depression, and other neurological disorders. If your parrot is suffering any kind of behavioral disorder it is likely that your feathered friend is not producing adequate hydrochloric acid.
These neurotransmitters are also responsible for calibrating the sleep cycle helping to deepen the quality of sleep. This is very, very important for our birds who require long and deep sleep.
Sprouted rice is high in magnesium, the mineral of relaxation. Magnesium is also necessary for proper calcium uptake in order to prevent calcification of soft tissues including the heart and arteries.
Sprouted rice is high in Vitamin E which is good for collagen production, maintaining smooth and supple skin, maintaining healthy eyesight and a healthy heart.
Naturally occurring Vitamins B6 and B12 are increased in brown rice when it is sprouted. Both of these vitamins are important for maintaining mental alertness and clarity, keeping the memory sharp, physical energy and emotional calmness.
The essential amino acid, Lysine that helps in the regeneration of skin and feathers, and also helps to protect the heart as well as with calcium uptake is increased in sprouted brown rice.
Yes, Nature is really efficient. All we need to do is follow her lead to enjoy the benefits of eating a healthy diet for ourselves and our pets!
(Ref: http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/health-benefits-of-sprouted-grains; http://wholegrainscouncil.org/files/ValleySelectGABA.pdf; http://www.naturalnews.com/031148_brown_rice_nutrition.html)
How to sprout brown rice: http://www.food.com/recipe/how-to-sprout-brown-rice-515843
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