I get asked this question a lot about these fruits so I thought I would address these four specific fruits in one post.
Strawberries and cherries are in a family class known as Rosaceae. Each fruit contain their own very specific proteins that can potentially cause cross-reactive allergies in living beings that are sensitive to those proteins.
For instance, strawberries contain the Fra a1 and Bet v1 proteins that many react to causing a mild reaction up to an out and out full blown life-threatening anaphylactic shock reaction. In cherries it’s the Pru av 1 that cause a very similar type of allergic reaction. This protein has a potential cross reaction in apples, pears, celery, peaches and carrots.
Grapes are a member of the Vitaceae family. “There is good evidence that grapes will cross-react with a number of members of the Rosaceae family. Evidence exists for cross-reactivity with peach, tree nuts, mustard, mulberry, cabbage, figs, kiwi, bananas, melon.” The reactive proteins in grapes are many: lipid-transfer protein, a profilin, a thaumatin, endochitinase, and a glucanase. This is one reason why I caution my avian nutritional clients to avoid feeding grapes to their birds; we just don’t know when a bird will react to one of these many reactive proteins in grapes.
Aside from the possibility of these potential allergies we also need to take into account the base constituents in these foods in regards to birds who may be engaging in feather destruction.
Many foods are higher in histamines and/or salicylates than other foods. I have concluded after 15 years of research surrounding feather destruction in exotic birds, that histamines and salicylates trigger feather destruction in birds with unhealthy gut flora. Feeding foods high to moderately high in these constituents will, not might, WILL exacerbate additional feather destruction.
Of the four foods mentioned in this article strawberries, cherries and grapes are all high in salicylates, and the skin of apples is high. All of these foods are high in histamines. Also to note, the less ripe the food the higher they are in salicylates; the riper they are the higher they are in histamines. Is it any wonder that Nature gave wild creatures the instinctual ability to pick wild foods at just the precise time when the food is exactly perfect to eat?!!!
The point in writing this article is this; know your flock! If you have not previously fed any one of these foods to a specific bird in your flock be sure to watch that bird carefully for the next 24 hours after feeding that food. Also, introduce a new food slowly by feeding only a tiny amount at first. More is not better when introducing a new food. Our birds’ bodies and therefore their systems are much smaller than ours and thus more delicate. Our systems can handle allergens better than theirs. What sets us off with a little runny nose or slight red skin may cause our birds to go into a full blown anaphylactic shock; I’ve witnessed it. I’ve seen birds experience runny nares due to an allergic reaction to food, to blisters on their skin to self-mutilation because a certain food or foods caused such a strong reaction. It can happen even if rarely. You don’t want your bird to be that rare case. So introduce a new food slowly and build up from that small offering. It may take a full week before your bird reacts.
Remember too, just like humans a bird might consume a certain food for years without any problem or reaction and then all of a sudden, “BAM!” a major reaction occurs. This means that your bird has developed an allergic reaction to that food. Most likely this is caused by an autoimmune flare up originating in the digestive tract. It’s time to begin thinking about a good detox plan before your bird begins to show even more signs and symptoms, because your bird will. Consider this first reaction a warning and don’t ignore it by just removing this food thinking everything will be fine if you don’t feed this one food every again. Sooner or later some other food will cause a reaction, then another and then another. Remember the cross reactions mentioned above? Yeah, that.
I hope this article has been both helpful and informative. It’s not meant to scare anyone, but instead a preventative. Like you I want to provide as many foods to my flock as I possibly can in order to provide a varied and well-rounded nutritional profile so my flock can thrive. I also want to be aware of any potential harm that can be caused by the constituents in foods. It’s great to know the foundational benefits provided by individual foods such as the vitamin and mineral contents. However, if we don’t thoroughly understand the deeper constituents and how those micro-constituents can possibly cross react with nutrients in other foods, or each individual bird, we are fooling ourselves about what we truly know about nutrition.
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