What are the top chronic diseases that parrots get?
- Metabolic disorder (e.g. Fatty Liver Disease)
- Heart Disease
Sound familiar? We can’t ignore the fact that parrots get the same chronic diseases we do. Yet we feed our parrots the same way we are told to feed ourselves. Eat a low fat diet, especially saturated fat, and avoid cholesterol.
Previously I wrote a number of articles relevant to this one:
- Animal research into fat, carbohydrates, and disease
- Animal research applied to parrot diets
- Are seeds high in fat?
- What causes Fatty Liver Disease?
In the first article, I referenced two painstakingly researched books (The Case Against Sugar and The Big Fat Surprise) about fat and carbohydrates in the diet and how they contribute (or not) to chronic disease.
In this article, I’d like to quote from these books to see if I can chip away at the conventional wisdom about fat and cholesterol being evil and carbohydrates being benign.
In the first quote, note that Ancel Keys was a physiologist who first promoted the never definitively proven theory that “dietary saturated fat causes cardiovascular heart disease and should be avoided” — he spent much of the 20th century adamantly standing by his claims.
It was Ancel Keys himself who first discredited this notion. Although in 1952 he stated that there was “overwhelming evidence” for the theory, he then found that no matter how much cholesterol he fed the volunteers in his studies, the cholesterol levels in their blood remained unchanged. He found that “tremendous” dosages of cholesterol added to the daily diet—up to 3,000 milligrams per day (a single large egg has just under 200 mg)—had only a “trivial” effect and by 1955, he had already decided that “this point requires no further consideration.Ancel Keys, “Human Atherosclerosis and the Diet”
And a study that evaluated six other studies. Note that the current trend is to label unsaturated fat as “good fat” and saturated fat as “bad fat” but the most recent and strongest studies find no such distinction.
None of the six studies found a significant relationship between CHD [Coronary Heart Disease] deaths and total dietary fat intake. One of the six studies found a correlation between CHD deaths and saturated dietary fat intake across countries; none found a relationship between CHD deaths and saturated dietary fat in the same population.Evidence from prospective cohort studies did not support the introduction of dietary fat guidelines—British Medical Journal—Volume 51, Issue 24
The Framingham Heart Study is commonly used to justify the current dietary guidelines but people in the original study are still being tracked and the latest results not only refute the original claims, sometimes they are completely reversed.
The Framingham data also failed to show that lowering one’s cholesterol over time was even remotely helpful. In the thirty-year follow-up report, the authors state, “For each 1% mg/dL drop of cholesterol there was an 11% increase in coronary and total mortality [italics added].” This is a shocking finding, the very opposite of the official line on cholesterol lowering.The Framingham Heart Study Shows No Increases in Coronary Heart Disease Rates from Cholesterol Values of 205–264 mg/dL,” Giornale Italiano di Cardiologia (Padua) 21, no. 6 (1991)
Another data point showing adverse effects from pursuing the recommended low fat diet.
In Japan, for instance, a country of interest to heart disease researchers due to the relatively low rates of heart disease found in rural areas, NIH investigators found that Japanese people with cholesterol levels below 180 mg/dL suffered strokes at rates two to three times higher than those with higher cholesterol.Letter to the Editor: Is It Desirable to Reduce Total Serum Cholesterol Level as Low as Possible?,” Preventive Medicine 8, no. 1 (1979)
This next one comes with a helpful chart showing how Americans dutifully reduced fat and cholesterol in 1980. They actually succeeding in hitting the guidelines, getting massively fatter in the process. Carbohydrates get you fat, not eating fat.
Obesity started rising in America after the USDA first recommended the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.Consistency between US Dietary Fat Intake and Serum Total Cholesterol Concentrations: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 66, no. 4
And to talk about carbohydrates and provide a nice summary.
Sugar, white flour, and other refined carbohydrates are almost certainly the main drivers of these diseases. Recent scientific research and the historical record all lead to the conclusion that the consumption of refined carbohydrates leads to a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.Excerpt From: Nina Teicholz. “The Big Fat Surprise.” Apple Books.
What can I say. Everything you know about fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates is wrong. As I detailed in Animal research applied to parrot diets, humans and birds share most of the same chronic diseases and many of the same body systems. We feed our birds pellets (high carb, low fat) and inadequate seed mixes (also high carb, low fat) and then we’re surprised they become obese or suffer from chronic diseases.
Read the two books I mentioned in the beginning. They will be eye opening and it’s not fringe thinking anymore. The only thing missing is people believing in it and changing what they’ve always thought to be true. And bring your birds along with your ride to better health.