Christmas is nearly here so I thought I would address one of the most widely believed food myths, which is the idea that eating turkey can make you sleepy.
I find mostly, this is often used as an excuse to either not eat turkey, or a justification to take many naps during the day. While this myth is not true, there is some science to back up this belief.
Turkey contains Tryptophan- Which is an essential amino acid which is used by the human body to build proteins and is needed for it to function properly and for good health.
Tryptophan I have found out that it is used in the process of making serotonin, which is a chemical, that is involved in the regulation of sleep patterns.
Tryptophan, in a purified form, will make you sleepy and has in the past been used in sleeping pills according to my research. However, it usually needs to be taken on an empty stomach, as different amino acids tend to compete for access to the brain.
If there are lots of different amino acids competing all at once, as they do after you eat meals, the amounts of Tryptophan reaching the right places wouldn’t be high enough to make you sleepy.
Just to take this further, many other foods contain Tryptophan, including most animal products like meats and cheese and even soy beans.
Beef contains more Tryptophan than turkey, but it is never blamed for sleepiness–probably because it is not associated with enormous holiday meals like turkey is.
I find in general when a larger meal is eaten, it tends to make you sleepy regardless of what the meal contained. This is because digestive processes draw energy from other body functions, leaving you with an overall feeling of tiredness. Also, meals that are high in carbohydrates tend to increase an insulin surge, which can leave you feeling flat and tired after it passes.
Health Benefits of Turkey
Turkey is a very lean meat and the fats it does contain tend to be unsaturated, particularly if the skin is removed. It also provides a good amount of iron, B vitamins, zinc etc and of course more protein per ounce than chicken or beef. In fact, eating a small, high-protein meal, such as a salad with chopped turkey or a turkey sandwich is more likely to leave you alert and awake than a meal that is high in carbohydrates or sugars. Turkey is a “Super-Food” as it has superrrr healthy qualities.
While turkey does contain Tryptophan, it contains no more than other meats and less than some. Tryptophan, however, is not a factor that contributes to sleepiness after Christmas meal, Thanksgiving or any other time you eat it. Turkey is heart healthy and nutritionally dense, which makes it a good food to consider as a regular part of a healthy diet.
I hope you have found this myth debunk useful.
As always you’re more than welcome to leave a comment below, any questions same thing.
Until next time