Here is this weeks’ article by guest blogger and our friend, Machelle Pacion
Amino Acids: The Building Blocks of “Complete Protein” – Malnutrition
If I were forced to name only one of the main causes of “The Mutilation Syndrome”, even though I believe there are many causes, I would probably have to list malnutrition at the top of my list. The reason I would feel safe in listing malnutrition as the main cause of this insidious syndrome is because it takes in a wide variety of nutritional aspects and it’s an umbrella for so many other causatives of poor health.
Malnutrition could be the lack of the vital base macro-nutrients in the diet derived from whole-foods such as vitamins and minerals. Or it could be the lack of Omegas in the form of fatty acids derived from the “good fats” from seed and nuts. What I wish to focus upon in this section though are the amino acids, and in particular the balance, or proper ratio, of those amino acids because they provide the protein the body needs for so many basic and primary bodily functions.
If the amino acids are imbalanced, or skewed, favoring one amino acid over another, then a “complete protein” is missing in the overall diet and as a result the body cannot metabolize proteins correctly causing malnutrition to set in if the diet lacks this “complete protein” nutrition over a long period of time.
If this situation occurs, the body, being the miraculous creation it is, will begin to “feed on itself” for the nutrition it lacks, absorbing all of the nutrients from within, slowly dying without notice to the outside world. Eventually the creature that is suffering malnutrition may even begin to consume itself, as in the case of The Mutilation Syndrome. The bird may begin to pick at its own feathers and nibble on the ends of the feathers for a short time hoping to find some of the nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and proteins, found within the feather shaft, to reabsorb back into its system before discarding them to the bottom of the cage. Or, in the case of skin mutilation, the bird may even be attempting to gain access to the very protein it is lacking by picking at the skin or gaining access to the tiniest droplets of blood seeping through the wounds it created by picking the skin open.
It really doesn’t matter the quantity of food a bird like this is fed if the amino acids are not properly balanced in the food the bird is being fed. The bird can consume large quantities of the food, even appearing to be obese, but in reality is suffering malnutrition. If the amino acids are not balanced, i.e. a “complete protein” is not present, then the bird will not be receiving a protein source that can be properly metabolized by its metabolic system and utilized as nutrition for bodily functions, therefore malnutrition is bound to set in at some point in time.
Yes, it is possible to supplement the diet with additional whole foods to ensure additional amino acids are being offered to round out the diet. But one must have a very good knowledge and understanding of the commercial diet they are feeding their bird in the first place. One must know just how those additional foods interplay with the commercial diet, their vitamin content, fatty acid content, and of course the amino acid content they are adding to the diet, in order to know for sure if their bird is receiving a total, complete and balanced diet overall so that malnutrition does not exist.
One way of knowing this is to have your bird’s blood panel checked on a regular basis. A regular blood count with additional vitamin, mineral and blood lipid counts should be performed in order to know exactly where your bird’s overall nutritional profile stands. But you need to know exactly what to look for clinically as well. Keep a good eye out on your bird’s energy and activity levels, coordination and movements, the condition of the feathers, the moisture and suppleness of the skin, even the legs, as well as the condition of the talons and beak making sure there are no cracks or scales and that they are not overgrown. Make sure the Ceres are clear and smooth, not congested. Make sure the breathing is smooth and not labored. Notice the droppings and make sure they are consistently the same, take notice of any abrupt changes.
Overall, malnutrition is very silent and insidious, but in my opinion it is pervasive in birds that pick, pluck and mutilate. I believe that most commercial bird foods are amino acid deficient and they lack the proper balancing of the most basic nutrients needed to build the “complete protein” our companion birds need in order to metabolize proteins efficiently. This is not all that difficult to remedy, but is does require more expensive ingredients than most commercial food producers are utilizing today. Being a strong advocate of preventative health care, I suggest the bird food industry begin producing foods that prevent malnutrition, thus preventing other health issues as well. I would rather see people spend their hard earned cash on wholesome foods that prevent health a crisis than to pay for health problems down the line and see their companion birds suffer, maybe to the point of no recovery.
Machelle Pacion / The BEST Bird Food / BirD-elicious! / Passion Tree House LLC © 2012 All Rights Reserved
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