Tryptophan Explained

thanksgiving nap

On Thanksgiving, I will be surrounded by 40-50 family members. After we share our feast from appetizers to desserts, several of us will find a spot in front of the television to watch football and doze through commercials. Although I would like to see the Lions hand the Titans another loss (I am a true blue Colts fan!), surrendering to “turkey-daze” is part of the holiday, right? It is commonly believed that the tryptophan in turkey induces sleepiness; however, there is more to our holiday drowsiness than this one chemical.

Tryptophan is one of ten amino acids that the body cannot manufacture on its own and must be supplemented through diet. Tryptophan aids in the production of the B-vitamin niacin which then assists the body’s production of serotonin. Serotonin helps us regulate mood, aggression, anxiety, impulsiveness, body temperature, appetite, and sleep. However serotonin cannot cross the blood brain barrier, meaning we cannot create more serotonin in our bodies. Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (SSRI) medications work by trapping the available serotonin between neuron receptors to elevate

Tryptophan molecule

Tryptophan molecule

mood. Tryptophan is the only way to increase the amount of serotonin available to your body. The stuffing may be just as important as the turkey for your Thanksgiving nap; carbohydrate-rich foods increase the absorption of tryptophan in the brain. In fact, tryptophan alone works best on an empty stomach.

Other foods that contain tryptophan include: chocolate, oats, bananas, mangoes, dates, milk, yogurt, cottage choose, red meat, eggs, fish, sesame, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts.

On Thanksgiving, you are probably already relaxed with a break from work and the nearness of loved ones. A large meal, including tryptophan, is only one variable that helps create our holiday drowsiness.

2 Responses to Tryptophan Explained

  1. Brooke says:

    For the record, I do know the records of both the Lions and the Titans. Favre and the Jets pulled it out last week, and I like to hope for miracles on holidays. It’s just an AFC South rivalry. A Lions win would certainly spice up football this Thanksgiving! Enjoy your holiday, everyone!

  2. Delores Doyle says:

    I have been infinitely more relaxed recently and thought there was something wrong with me…now I found the reason with your article’s help! I started making my protein smoothies with sunflower seed butter
    They are DELICIOUS, and, providing me with a truckload of tryptophan. Good info for Vegans to know! Momas should make them for their children instead of getting them hooked on medications to mellow them out.

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