Turkeys and Tryptophan

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and with it comes the opportunity to eat a lot of turkey. I've heard for years that the tryptophan in turkey meat makes you tired after a meal, and I've hauled out that knowledge in a Cliff Claven like fashion year after year.

Turkey.: A turkey.

Now I come to find out that it's not tryptophan that makes you sleepy, its serotonin. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body produce niacin, a B-Vitamin, which helps produce serotonin, which makes you sleepy. However, according to nutritionists the tryptophan in turkey works best in an empty stomach — something most of us don't have on Thanksgiving, I certainly don't. After a large meal there are so many amino acids that the body is trying to use that the amount of tryptophan could even go down. Further, turkey does not have as much tryptophan as other foods such as beef or soy beans. Tryptophan is also found in chocolate, bananas, milk, peanuts and fish.

So why do I feel tired after a huge Thanksgiving meal? Probably because the meal is full of carbohydrates — potates, stuffing, breads, pies... The body has to work hard to digest all that food!

Neat. Now I have a great new Cliff Claven-ism to stun and amaze my family.

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