(Mirror Daily, United States) – In spite of the popular myth, it’s not the turkey’s fault you’re sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, there are numerous others factors that might make you rush to the couch after enjoying a wonderful feast along with your family to take a nap.
It’s considered a vast exaggeration of the truth to think that the compounds found in turkey meat are the ones to make you want to take a nap. And yet, it has been around for quite a while.
The myth started with the fact that turkey contains tryptophan. It’s one of the 22 essential amino acids that humans need, and acquire from food. Tryptophan has also been attributed to sleepiness because it causes chemical reactions in the brain that produce serotonin, which affects sleep. And the math seems pretty simple from there.
Turkey contains lots of protein and it’s rich in tryptophan. If tryptophan produces serotonin, and serotonin levels affect sleep, then it must mean that the amino acid is the cause of that feeling of drowsiness after a Thanksgiving meal. However, it’s not. The deliciously cooked bird has little to do with it.
In fact, one would have to eat tremendous amounts of turkey alone to achieve that reaction. That doesn’t ordinarily happen at Thanksgiving, when the table is filled with all sorts of delectable food. Regardless, researchers stated that tryptophan in the blood does not mean there’s more tryptophan in the brain, where it’s needed to produce serotonin. Other amino acids occupy that brain space, and they don’t really make room for tryptophan.
However, that sleepiness is coming from somewhere, even if it’s not from turkey.
It’s mostly in the carbohydrates that are littered around the Thanksgiving dinner table. This means mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, cakes, and pies. The carbs increase the levels of other amino acids in the brain which produce serotonin. This, combined with consuming more amounts of fat is what leads to becoming drowsy.
Fat requires a lot of energy from the digestive tract, which means our bodies prioritize the blood supply for that purpose. That is why most of us get tired after overindulging or overeating, as it causes lethargy.
Taking both carbs and fats into consideration, combine them with alcohol, and you get the result of why most of us want to take a nap after Thanksgiving dinner. Carbohydrate-rich meals, with high content of fat, and mixed with a couple of drinks is what causes sleepiness, not the turkey.
A bit of control over portions sizes, keeping to less fat foods, and limiting those glasses of wine could rid you of the problem. That is, if you don’t want to sleep right after the feast.
Image source: theodysseyonline.com
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