How Can Most Animals Survive on a Very Narrow Diet?

How Can Most Animals Survive on a Very Narrow Diet?

We know that as humans we need a balanced diet to stay healthy. But this is not the case for most animals.

For an example, when you think of, say an owl, we all know that owls eat mice. If humans were to eat just one food like that, we would not get enough nutrients to live. How do animals get all their nutrition from such a narrow diet?

A complete answer to the above question can be found in the following four explanations.

1.

Very few animals have extremely narrow diets, and animals tend to eat things that we don’t. For example, carnivores will eat organs and entrails, while most of the time humans throw these out. Those organs often are packed with nutrients which are almost impossible to find in muscle tissue, which is most of what we think of as “meat”. Plant eaters usually eat a lot more by volume and often have lots of helpful microbes in their gut to help digest their food.

It is possible to stay alive on a very limited diet. It’s healthier to eat more whole foods and get a broader range of nutrients. Also, eating “just one food” is a little misleading. If that one food is whole cooked potatoes, you can probably survive indefinitely. If that one food is white bread, you’ll suffer from metabolic issues due to a lack of essential nutrients (white flour is made by removing the most nutritious parts of the grain, so it’s missing a lot of good stuff)

2.

Very few animals have extremely narrow diets, and animals tend to eat things that we don’t. For example, carnivores will eat organs and entrails, while most of the time humans throw these out. Those organs often are packed with nutrients which are almost impossible to find in muscle tissue, which is most of what we think of as “meat”. Plant eaters usually eat a lot more by volume and often have lots of helpful microbes in their gut to help digest their food.

It is possible to stay alive on a very limited diet. It’s healthier to eat more whole foods and get a broader range of nutrients. Also, eating “just one food” is a little misleading. If that one food is whole cooked potatoes, you can probably survive indefinitely. If that one food is white bread, you’ll suffer from metabolic issues due to a lack of essential nutrients (white flour is made by removing the most nutritious parts of the grain, so it’s missing a lot of good stuff).

3.

It’s worth noting that animals tend to live considerably longer in captivity (and being fed balanced diets) than they do in the wild – even if you exclude factors such as predation.

If you want to live to 40, you don’t need a balanced diet. You can live on Twinkies and cocaine if you want. However, if you want to live to 80, you really need to add some leafy green vegetables to the mix.

4.

There was an issue in the US where we had alligators dying of a mysterious neurological disease.

It turned out that the alligator’s food chain was decimated and they only had a particular species of fish to feed on. They were mainly eating gizzard shad.

This mono-fish diet caused a thiamine aka vitamin B1 deficiency and that was killing the alligators.

Source


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