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Understanding Phytoestrogens

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The Holistic Parrot by Leslie Moran

Many common foods we feed our parrots daily, and that we may also eat ourselves, contain phytoestrogens. But what are phytoestrogens? Do they help prevent disease or cause disease conditions to develop? This month we’ll look into current research on this topic and how it may affect our birds. Be aware that there is much incomplete, inaccurate or misleading information online discussing this subject. When researching this topic yourself make sure you are referencing credible sources.

Phytoestrogens are plant based estrogens found in a wide variety of plants. Because its structural make-up is similar to estrogen it can mimic estrogen functions in the body.

According to Al Plechner, DVM, the controversy surrounding phytoestrogens involves how they act in the body. Do these plant based estrogens bind to the estrogen receptor sites, and prevent harmful estrogen from other sources, from binding to them? Or, do phytoestrogens actually cause a health risk by adding to and increasing the amount of estrogen occurring in the body like xenoestrogens do?

Xenoestrogens, even though, biochemically, they are different chemicals (having different structures) than estrogen, they have the ability to imitate some effects of estrogen in the body.

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