Turkey Things – This and That!
Well according to the articles below, eating turkey does NOT make you tired, as the common myth alleges, but in fact is a high source of protein, much like protein powder.
Protein! We’ve all heard that turkey makes you tired (think Thanksgiving), but protein found in turkey, fish, chicken, and other animal products all contain generous amounts of tryptophan and tyrosine that increase the production of dopamine and serotonin. These are both ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters.
Fact or fiction:
Does turkey tryptophan really make you tired?
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thanksgiving is right around the corner. All the signs are there: the trees are bare, there’s a chill in the air and grocery lists are as long as the crowded checkout lines in the food stores. Turkeys are flying off the shelves — well, not literally — frozen or fresh, that is. It’s time to get out grandma’s china. It’s time for family, friends, too much turkey and afternoon naps. So is it true that naps and turkey go together? It is commonly said that eating too much of it causes drowsiness due to the high levels of tryptophan found in the meat. However, according to Leah Devlin, division head of science and engineering and interim assistant dean of Academic Affairs at Penn State Abington, the “I-can’t-do-the-dishes-because-I’m-too-tired” excuse is more myth than truth. “Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in many foods, including turkey,” said Devlin. “It’s a precursor to forming the neurotransmitter serotonin which has a sedating effect on the brain.” But — and this is a big but — “what is not true is that the levels of tryptophan one eats in turkey are enough to cause drowsiness,” Devlin said. “The primary culprit of post-Thanksgiving meal sleepiness is simply over-eating, which causes a large shunting of blood toward the digestive tract and away from the brain. This is compounded by a release of insulin from the pancreas that moves the carbohydrates (potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, etc.) away from the digestive tract and into storage sites in various body tissues. Insulin can cause slight sleepiness.” “If you want to stay awake for the entire football game or be perky while doing the dishes, eat a moderate amount of food, high in turkey (protein) and vegetables and avoid the carbs.” So when that menacing mountain of Thanksgiving dishes looms, dishwashers unite. Get plenty of dish towels ready because there’s no longer a turkey-related “I’m-too-tired-to-do-the-dishes” excuse.
Tryptophan is an amino acid commonly found in our food and in our body as well. It’s also an essential amino acid that must be obtained from food in order for many of our body systems to function properly.
Amino acids (including tryptophan) are primary known as building blocks for protein. Therefore, virtually all foods that contain protein will contain tryptophan. Generally speaking, the higher a food is in protein content, the higher it will be in tryptophan. Of course, there are some protein-rich foods that are higher in tryptophan than others. Shrimp, halibut, tuna, chicken, turkey, beef, and lamb are good examples of foods that contain substantial amounts of tryptophan (more than 325 milligrams per 4 ounce serving).
Even though tryptophan and other amino acids can be purchased as dietary supplements, they are not typically added to food in any form but rather occur naturally within food proteins. Within the context of your diet, I recommend that you think about tryptophan as a health-supporting part of protein that belongs to the world of whole, natural foods.
by Teresa Bateman, Jeff Shelly (Illustrator) The townspeople of Squawk Valley try to trick a turkey into being their Thanksgiving dinner, but are frustrated in their efforts when the turkey tricks them instead.