Turkey Troubles: Don’t Blame the Turkey, Blame the Tryptophan!

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, turkey is often on people’s mind, well maybe not vegetarian’s minds, but the sleepy feeling from Thanksgiving still resonates as a common characteristic. But is it really the turkey?

Yes and no. Turkey contains something called L-tryptophan, an amino acid that creates a feeling of sleepiness. It is used to produce vitamin b and niacin. One website also added that “Tryptophan also can be metabolized into serotonin and melatonin, neurotransmitters that exert a calming effect and regulates sleep.” Despite these known effects, the L-tryptophan in turkey does not make you drowsy. In order for L-tryptophan to make you sleepy, it has to be taken on an empty stomach, without any other amino acids or proteins present. t Thanksgiving, there is often other food on the table, and turkey contains a lot of protein, a sure sign that turkey is no the cause of the sleepiness. Based off one article, “It’s worth noting that other foods contain as much or more tryptophan than turkey (0.333 g of tryptophan per 100 gram edible portion), including chicken (0.292 g of tryptophan per 100 gram edible portion), pork, and cheese. As with turkey, other amino acids are present in these foods besides tryptophan, so they don’t make you sleepy.” L-tryptophan is carbohydrate rich, and leads to serotonin synthesis, which creates a sleepy feeling. The process is that carbohydrates jump start the pancreas to make insulin, and other amino acids enter muscle cells. Serotonin is then synthesized.

With the holidays coming up, the object is to feel happy when stuffed with lots of good food including turkey, and not avoiding it to make the memories last based off some myth. Now that the truth is out, and the turkey does not actually induce sleep, rather the overstuffing of food into one’s body, everyone can have a happy, and healthy, Thanksgiving! Happy Turkey Day!

Links:

http://chemistry.about.com/od/holidaysseasons/a/tiredturkey.htm

So ta ta for now and I hope to see your chemical reaction soon!

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