Monday, April 7, 2014

Turkey Makes You Sleepy?

I always wondered if eating turkey made you sleepy because I get sleepy even after eating dinner not just turkey dinner. I’m always hearing that it’s the tryptophan in turkey that makes you sleepy. Well what exactly is tryptophan? According to an article on WebMd, L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the body cannot manufacture on it’s own so it has to get it from foods. Amino acids are building blocks of proteins. Tryptophan is in turkey but also in other poultry, meat, cheese, yogurt, fish, and eggs. It is used to make niacin, a B vitamin which is needed for digestion, skin and nerves, and serotonin. The body needs Tryptophan to produce serotonin which is needed to make melatonin, a hormone that controls sleep and wake cycles. Actually turkey has less tryptophan than chicken. So why is it we feel so sleepy at Thanksgiving than when we eat the other foods the rest of the year? According to Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LDN, (author of The Flexitarian Diet) "if we're sleepy on Thanksgiving as a direct result of eating turkey, then eating other foods rich in tryptophan should have the same effect".

Even though turkey has tryptophan, according to Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD (author of "Eat Your Way to Happiness) "it's a myth that eating foods high in tryptophan boosts brain levels of tryptophan and therefore brain levels of serotonin." She also said that along with proteins like turkey, chicken, and fish, which are high sources of tryptophan, a person needs foods high in carbohydrates to affect serotonin levels. "Tryptophan is quite high in milk and turkey, but that's not the food that will give you the serotonin boost," she says. "It's a small, all-carbohydrate snack -- no more than 30 grams of carbohydrates -- in combination with the tryptophan stored in your body from food you've already eaten that will give you the biggest boost of serotonin." According to Ms. Somer, the research shows that a light, 30 gram carbohydrate snack just before bed will help you sleep better. So, people who are sleepy at Thanksgiving feel that way not just because of the turkey but probably the stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

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