Here is this weeks’ article by guest blogger and our friend, Machelle Pacion:
Amino Acids: The Building Blocks of “Complete Protein” – Part 1
We don’t often think of amino acids in relationship to the protein requirements of our companion birds when we pick up a package of food for them at our local pet shop, we simply may look at the protein percentage on the back of the package and think, “Hmmm…okay, this looks good enough” and be on our merry way. But what actually goes into formulating that protein percentage? What has to be mixed and calculated to arrive at that number in order to make sure our feathered friend is receiving the “complete protein” it needs to not only survive, but thrive?
“Complete protein” is what is needed in order for any living creature to survive. But complete quality proteins are what is needed for a living creature to thrive. Any food manufacturer can throw ingredients together and force the protein percentages to come out to a level that meets the criteria equaling the amount necessary for survival for the particular animal species they desire to sell to the consumer purchasing the food for their beloved pet. But it takes a nutritionist who is passionate about the health of animals, and one that really has the animal’s best interest at heart to formulate a food that not only meets the protein percentage criteria, but also combines the amino acids in a balanced manner that they complement each other in a symbiotic and synergistic way that actually forms an actual “complete protein” in every aspect of the true nature of the definition.
The absolute best way to provide complete protein to an overall diet is to combine a vast array of fresh, organic whole-foods, based on the nutrients that would be found in the natural habitats of the living creature, and understanding what each food contributes individually to the overall equation.
The only way to come close to maintaining the integrity of the nutrients, resulting in high-potency food, is to utilize a method of minimal process. That usually requires the food being mixed by hand, using minimal equipment, and only stainless steel equipment so as not to introduce metal toxicity, leaving most of the ingredients whole, or semi-whole then gently dehydrating as the means of preservation. Dehydration is the oldest method of preservation known to civilization and is still being used by present-day naturalists.
But back to the amino acids and building a complete protein for our birds’ daily diets. Amino acids are the “building blocks” of proteins in a living creature’s dietary needs, as well as within their very bodily make up, they provide the fiber of a living being’s physical existence!
There are many amino acids that go into the equation of a complete diet, but there are specifically two main amino acids we need to take into consideration when building the complete protein profile in which our birds need in order to thrive. Unfortunately here again, most commercial bird foods do not provide these two essential amino acids in balance in the ingredients they include in their packaged foods. The reason most manufacturers do not include ingredients that contain both amino acids is because the price is more costly because they are more difficult to grow and process in mass quantities, in order for commercial foods to contain both amino acids in balanced ratios. So commercial manufacturers use a laboratory produced synthetic source for one of the primary amino acids, Lysine. They use laboratory produced L-Lysine as a cheap substitute. But this should not be any excuse for the proper formulation of commercial foods for our beloved feathered friends, their very lives are at stake!
The term “essential” amino acid means that it is not synthesized by the body itself. In other words, it must be introduced into the body by other means, hopefully by whole-food sources rather than a laboratory-produced supplement. The body recognizes whole-food sources, in my opinion, more efficiently than it does laboratory-produced substances. This is a topic of long-debate by scientists spanning the entire globe. Still no concrete decisions have been made on this issue.
The two most essential amino acids we need to take into consideration when building our birds’ daily diet are Lysine and Arginine and they must be balanced in order to provide the complete protein your bird needs to thrive, not just survive. Too much of either and your bird will, eventually, begin to suffer some kind of ailment, disorder, illness or disease, mark my word.
In addition to those two amino acids your bird needs another essential acid, in a more limited amount, but essential nonetheless, Methionine, in order to metabolize the proteins, because first of all birds do not synthesize methionine on their own; neither do they metabolize proteins very well.
What does all of this boil down to? Well if you are going to be feeding your bird(s) fresh, organic, whole foods yourself, without any commercially packaged foods, you need to know how to go about providing a “complete protein” source for your bird’s daily diet. Otherwise you’re only guessing at what your bird needs in the way of a total diet.
And complete protein isn’t the only dietary need you should be taking into consideration. You have to take into consideration your bird’s fat requirements, calcium and other mineral needs, and make sure your bird isn’t receiving too much iron in its diet that could lead to “Iron Storage Disease”. When it comes right down to it, formulating a complete and total diet for your bird just isn’t a snap! And if you are feeding a commercial food that contains synthetic vitamins, or you are feeding synthetic vitamins yourself, you need to be really careful because you can easily overdose your bird and cause hypervitaminosis, a case of too much synthetic nutrition, which your bird’s system, primarily the liver and kidneys, just cannot metabolize. This is usually due to overdosing of “oil-soluble” vitamins, those which cannot be thrown off the system by the dilution of water-soluble body fluids, they need to be metabolized by the liver and kidneys. This can lead to an enlarged liver, fatty liver or liver and/or kidney disease. Many commercial bird foods contain these types of vitamins in them.
And if you are feeding, or you decide to feed, a commercial diet to your bird(s), please find one that is as close to organic, whole-food, minimally processed without synthetic vitamin supplements as you can possibly find. I know that’s a tall order considering what’s on the market today, but please try. Optimum health for your bird begins with optimum nutrition. It’s all about using food as a natural, holistic medicine, the first line of defense against all ailments, disorders, illness and disease.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of “The Building Blocks of Complete Protein”!
Machelle Pacion / The BEST Bird Food / BirD-elicious! / Passion Tree House LLC © 2012 All Rights Reserved
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