Does Turkey Actually Make Us Tired?

By Myles Goldman

Ah… Thanksgiving, the holiday where we un-do our belt buckles and stuff our faces with every holiday’s favorite phylum: turkey. Now, it’s no secret that people love to lay down and take a nap after their thanksgiving dinner, but why?

If you’ve ever taken a biology class in high school or college, you’ll learn that tryptophan is what puts us to sleep. You’re probably wondering, “Does it actually make us tired?” Good, that means you’ll keep reading because I’m going to answer that question.

Tryptophan (TrP) is an amino acid that interacts with a chemical in our bodies called serotonin. Basically what happens in our bodies is once the TrP settles in at home in our bodies, it is formed into serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin, a hormone in our bodies that causes us to fall asleep. However, turkey has the same amount of tryptophan in it than most other meats. So, unless you’re eating that entire turkey that was made for your entire family, then you’ll most likely be awake for the rest of the evening.

However, there is still something than can really make you tired that’s on your table, which are the deserts.

One of the most popular desert foods for Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie; due to the high amounts of carbohydrates and sugar in the pie, your body will start to create more insulin.

It’s pretty simple, the more carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin your pancreas creates and the more tryptophan you absorb from the food you eat, the more serotonin your body creates which ultimately makes you sleepy.

So, while turkey doesn’t have a lot of tryptophan, when you eat it with something like pumpkin pie, you will in fact feel that fatigue, not just from the turkey alone. Try it at your next Thanksgiving party!



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