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Glycosylation vs. Glycation: What Is It and How Does It Affect Our Birds? – Cooked Foods

Irregular glycation can potentially be life-threatening. In fact, it is one of the major contributors to premature and advanced aging.

Various “glycosylation” definitions:[gli-ko″-sĭ-la´shun]

"The process by which sugars are chemically attached to proteins to form glycoproteins."

Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc

"The addition of saccharides to proteins or lipids to form a glycoprotein or glycolipid."

The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Various “glycation” definitions: (glī-kā′shən) n

"The nonenzymatic covalent bonding of a sugar molecule to another molecule,
especially protein."

The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

"Increased,  non-enzymatic deposition of starch within structural proteins,
causing loss of joint mobility(especially subtalar joints) in diabetics."

Illustrated Dictionary of Podiatry and Foot Science by Jean Mooney © 2009 Elsevier Limited.

“Glycation is a reaction that takes place when simple sugar molecules, such as fructose or glucose, become attached to proteins or lipid fats without the moderation of an enzyme.”

Glycation results in advanced glycation end products (AGEs). (1)

What is the importance of understanding glycation where our birds are concerned?

Normal glycation requires necessary enzymes for sugar molecules to be properly utilized as energy. Without the necessary enzymes, sugar becomes “stuck” in the liver, potentially causing both liver damage and kidney damage. It can also contribute to many ill-health issues.This is one reason food should always be fed raw (even gently dehydrated) and/or digestive enzymes added to foods since soils are very depleted now. Naturally occurring digestive enzymes found in foods require trace minerals for their production.

Endogenous (synthesized within the body) are normal as long as the necessary enzymes are present to break down the sugars for energy utilization. However, when foods are cooked the “Maillard Reaction” occurs. This results in “non-enzymatic glycosylation from the introduction of exogenous sugars (outside of the body).The Maillard Reaction produces melanoidin polymers which can be potentially carcinogenic and can contribute to the progression of diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular complications, and Alzheimer's disease. (2,3)

“Exogenous” (introduced by food – outside of the body) glycosylation can become very damaging to health when sugars are “cooked” prohibiting the production of energy from sugars. This interrupts normal metabolic functions and eventually leads to “AGEs” which enhances the possibility of certain health issues as mentioned above.

The most common side-effect of “cooked sugars” is insulin resistance and avian diabetes.

Birds have a much higher blood glucose level than most mammals, including humans. Nature designed their systems to consume, metabolize and transfer sugars into energy without the normal insulin process our endocrine systems perform. However, similar to humans, if “cooked sugars” are consumed all bets are off regarding the proper and efficient utilization of exogenous sugars introduced into their diets. Those of us who have been feeding “cooked” foods for years to our beloved birds may now have one explanation as to why one of our birds develops cancer, avian diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. Food should not be cooked for exotic birds, ever.

The caveat (ah, there is always an exception to every rule): extremely ill birds may need food that is cooked to allow their digestive tract to heal before it can digest, absorb and metabolize foods. However, if a bird is extremely ill it probably arrived at ill-health due to a poor diet, to begin with.

Basically speaking, when foods containing monosaccharides (sugars) are consumed, a bird’s endocrine system can handle the sugar as long as the sugar is not cooked. Most exotic birds consume tropical fruits very low in fructose and starch. The exception would be nectarivorous birds. Species in the nectar-feeding family consume flower nectar and fruit high in fructose. A few “domestic” fruits are low in fructose. (4,5)

Both fructose and starch can be damaging to their endocrine systems when fed in large amounts. It is for this very reason we need to feed mostly tropical fruit and foods low in starch.

Some fructose is okay but in very limited amounts. Sucrose immediately converts to glucose, so any food containing sucrose is easily metabolized without straining the endocrine system.There are eight monosaccharides that are the healthiest for our companion birds to consume and found in abundance in their respective indigenous regions: 1. Fucose, 2. Xylose, 3. Mannose, 4. Galactose, 5. N-Acetylneuraminic Acid, 6. N-Acetylgalactosamine, 7. glucosamine and 8. Glucose. (6)

These glyconutrients “combine with proteins within the cells in our body to form cell surface structures called glycoproteins. Glycoproteins are the key to proper and effective inter-cellular and intra-cellular communication and adequate total body function.” (7)

Starchy foods should be fed in limited amounts and never, never cooked. In fact, starchy foods are best fed along with pineapple, papaya and green banana which supply the necessary enzymes to break down starch and other sugars.

Foods highest in harmful sugars (carbohydrates) are foods where sugar has been added and then cooked. Also highly processed foods, grains (whole/raw or highly processed and/or cooked), legumes (whole or highly processed and/or cooked – sprouted is the healthiest manner in which to feed legumes), most domestic fruit and even some botanical vegetables, especially when cooked. It is, for this reason, we must be absolutely sure we are feeding a laboratory-tested, nutritionally balanced diet to our beloved birds! –Again, some amount of fructose and starch is fine as long as they are not cooked and they are balanced with other foods low in fructose and starch.

In the end, we must remember that birds retain a much higher blood glucose level than us humans. Feeding a lot of fruit, mostly tropical is fine as long as we balance their diet with other, less sugary foods and we never, never cook any of their foods. Birds who develop cardiovascular disease, avian diabetes and cancer are usually birds who have been fed a diet high in cooked foods over a long period of time; an ave’s system was designed by Nature to consume raw foods (which can be dehydrated but not cooked in any way). Yes, there are other factors that come into play in the development of all of the above illnesses, but why add fuel to the fire by feeding cooked foods? It just doesn’t make any good health sense for exotic birds!

Ref: (1); (2); (3); (4); (5); (6) MCMURRY, J. E.

Organic Chemistry with Biological Applications

In-text: (McMurry Pg. 762)

Your Bibliography: McMurry, John E. Organic Chemistry With Biological Applications. 1st ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2014. Print.;



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