I promised I would be explaining how we can feed our birds those cancer-preventing, botanically classified vegetables known as “cruciferous” veggies without the fear of introducing laxative-inducing, nutrient-leaching “cellulose” into our birds’ diets!
Many of you already know why I strongly suggest shying away from feeding the mature versions of these veggies; the fiber they contain is “cellulose” fiber, a tough insoluble fiber exotic birds cannot digest. Parrots don’t produce “cellulase” the digestive enzyme necessary to break down cellulose, nor do they have the organ known as “ceca” necessary to liquefy cellulose in order for it to be reabsorbed into the metabolic system to be used as a nutrient. As a result when our birds are forced to consume produce high in cellulose, which botanically classified vegetables are, that cellulose passes through their digestive tract undigested without providing any nutrition whatsoever to their nutritional profile. Acting like a laxative stripping the nutrients in their digestive tract, cellulose causes nutrients to be excreted through the feces, urates and urine. Is it any wonder so many of birds are suffering malnutrition when so many of us are feeding our companion birds diets high in mature vegetable matter?
Wouldn’t it be a perfect world if we could feed those anti-cancer vegetables without the concern of our birds dealing with the cellulose stripping nutrients from our birds’ digestive tracts? Yes! It’s even just as good to know that we can easily remove the anti-nutrients like phytic acid from the veggies we feed. It is of utmost importance to reduce or remove phytic acid by sprouting due to the fact that phytic acid prevents the breaking down and absorption of dietary protein and the digestive enzyme “amylase”. Amylase as you will recall is necessary for the breaking down of starches in the diet.
How do we accomplish both of these tasks so easily? Sprouting of course!
I am now sprouting seeds like broccoli, broccoli raab (aka “rabe” or “Rapini”), kale, swiss chard and arugula for those birds in my flock who can consume them. I will not be offering these to my feather destroyers due to the high amount of salicylates and histamines in these foods. Naturally occurring salicylates and histamines are triggers for feather destroying birds. –At any rate, young and tender sprouts contain higher amounts of many of the nutrients that the mature plants contain, including reliable levels of anti-inflammatory Omega 3s. Instead of containing cellulose fiber they contain “hemicellulose” fiber, the very fiber exotic birds require for their digestive tract to hum along perfectly! Hemicellulose is a soluble fiber that gently flushes the digestive tract and aids in delivering nutrients to the digestive tract as it passes through. When feeding cruciferous veggies in this manner it is a win/win situation all the way around!
Don’t limit your list to what I have listed above, think about all of the other cruciferous veggies like collard greens, cabbage, cabbage, mustard greens, bok choy, cauliflower and more! Remember though, cruciferous veggies are “goitrogens” meaning that they may potentially reduce thyroid hormones. If your bird has thyroid problems please feed cruciferous sprouts in moderation only to ensure that hypothyroid (low thyroid) doesn’t become a problem for your bird.
These varieties of veggies can be fed as soaked, sprouted or even as microgreens up to about 2-3 inches tall. Once they reach over 3 inches they begin developing cellulose fiber. At that point I would no longer offer them as microgreens to my parrots, but they may be yummy to mix into my own salad!
(Ref: http://www.isga-sprouts.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/SproutNutritionFacts.pdf; http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/7359/2; http://skipthepie.org/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/kale-raw; http://skipthepie.org/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/kale-raw/compared-to/chard-swiss-raw; http://skipthepie.org/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/kale-raw/compared-to/arugula-raw; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruciferous_vegetables; http://thyroid.about.com/od/symptomsrisks/a/All-About-Goitrogens-thyroid.htm)
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