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Vegetables, fruits, grains and seeds contain phytonutrients. These are neither vitamins nor minerals but are instead pigments with names like "anthocyanins" that give foods their color. It is being proven in clinical trials that these phytonutrients boost the immune system and help the body to heal itself and to prevent or possibly to cure some cancers. There was an excellent article in the 12/6/99 issue of Newsweek magazine entitled "Focus on Your Health- A Prescriptive Palette". This article described various phytonutrients found in various foods and the scientific and anecdotal evidence of their importance for good health.

Scientists are finding that foods once considered to be low in nutritional value are actually packed with powerful antioxidants. In numbers of studies, these antioxidant pigments have been found to reduce heart disease, cancer, and other ailments that are the result of oxidative damage.

For example, anthrocyanins, the pigment found in berries such as blueberries, plums, and cherries, are believed to relieve arthritis and to boost brain power. Lycopene, found in tomatoes, helps to prevent prostate cancer. Alpha and beta carotenes that occur in orange vegetables and fruits such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, and cantaloupe ward off lung cancer. Zeaxanthin, which is found in egg yolks, spinach, and corn protects vision. Another pigment which has been found to preserve eyesight is lutein which occurs in green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collard greens.

So what does this have to do with birds? Birds (other than strictly carnivorous or insectivorous species) in the wild eat a large variety of fresh plant material. They eat lot of colorful fruits and berries from tropical trees, young green leafy shoots, tree bark, tubers etc. that vary from season to season. Birds often fly great distances to search out seasonal fruits. Gut contents from birds caught in the wild show that they eat a large variety of such foodstuffs. I guarantee you there are no pellet trees in the wild. Pellets are processed food, no matter the brand, no matter how organic, no matter how they are stored, no matter WHAT! Processed food has all the life oxidized, ground, heated, pressurized, and extruded out of it. Often synthetic vitamins are added to give these pellets "nutritional value" so that these vitamins can be listed on the label to reassure the consumer that the birds will be getting complete nutrition. Sure, these pellets will probably keep the bird alive but do they provide complete nutrition? We strongly believe that they DO NOT and CANNOT! Phytonutrients boost the immune systems of people and birds and help us to ward off illness (bacterial, fungal, and viral), degenerative disease, and to keep our organs functioning well, thus helping us to live longer and healthier lives!

This is a quotation from the article: "In fact, the best Rx for preventing troubles as we age may be a diet featuring a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables- preferably five to nine servings a day. By far, the best way to take in pigments is through whole foods, not supplements. People who rely on supplements miss out from the synergistic effects between the nutrients in the foods."

At Aves International we STRONGLY believe there is a correlation between the good health of our birds and feeding a natural, varied, and healthy diet.We feel that a large variety of fresh foods should be the BASIS of the diet with pellets and seeds given as supplemental additions.
Please click here to see our diet recommendations.

There have been some studies that have shown that organisms often considered pathogenic can be found in healthy appearing wild-caught birds. Why don't these "bad organisms" cause disease in these wild birds? The difference between wild birds and captive ones is that the wild ones are eating fresh natural foods that contain the phytonutrients they need to keep their immune systems healthy and able to repel infections. I have personally seen wild Amazons eating ficus (fig) fruits that were absolutely covered in fungus. Who is to say that these birds were not eating a natural antibiotic (where do you think penicillin originally existed?)

This diet is more time consuming to prepare than pouring pellets out of a bag but aren't your birds worth it? We are what we eat!

Some people have commented to us that they cannot get enough fresh foods in winter. We are quite spoiled here in southern California as we have a huge variety year-round but most areas can get some fresh produce in the winter. Next to fresh produce, frozen is nearly as good and is better than canned. Root vegetables can also be obtained fresh year-round. Boiled beet root, carrots, and sweet potatoes are excellent dietary items for birds. Squashes are also nearly always available. We also highly recommend sprouted seeds and grains. This can be done year-round and is not as difficult to do as some think. China Prairie Company ( makes some wonderful sprouting kits that are safe and easy to use. We highly recommend their products and we have used their sprouting kits for three years. We have seen increased health, vitality, and egg production since we began our sprouting program. Fresh living sprouts impart their life force to the consumer.

We have also heard people say that they are concerned about bacterial growth in fresh foods. We have heard this many times but do not find it to be a valid concern. We feed over 1000 birds here. They are fed once a day in the early morning and they eat nearly everything in their plates by early afternoon. Then they sit around and nap and in the afternoons they become vocal and social and go to sleep shortly after dusk. This mimics the feeding behaviors of parrots in the wild. We have observed them many times feeding in the wild. Surely some bacteria does grow in food over the course of hours but this is not a problem. Bacteria are normal gut flora and if the bird has a healthy immune system, it can handle a small amount of bacteria with no problem whatsoever. We do not have problems with bacteria as a primary health problem here. Bacterial overgrowth is generally secondary to another health problem.

Here's to good health for our birds and ourselves! Please do not think we are saying that pellets are bad foods. We just think they are fed instead of fresh foods way too much. Just keep our suggestions in the back of your mind and consider whether you think a bird would rather eat green leaf shoots, purple berries, pink-fleshed figs, orange fruits from a forest tree, etc or a boring, homogeneous, processed dry pelleted diet?

Please take a look at photos of our breeders to see how birds look that are fed a nutritious natural fresh diet!

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